Moral Imagination

Moral imagination, according to philosopher Mark Johnson, means envisioning the full range of possibilities in a particular situation in order to solve an ethical challenge. Johnson emphasizes that acting morally often requires more than just strength of character. For example, moral action requires empathy and the awareness to discern what is morally relevant in a given situation.

Moral imagination, as defined by Minette Drumwright and Patrick Murphy, is the ability to be simultaneously ethical and successful by envisioning new and creative alternatives. In other words, can people look beyond the dollars-and-cents impact of a decision to see how it affects others?

For example, consider Nestle Foods. The company refused to target young children with advertising for its high sugar, high fat products. Instead, to keep the company competitive in that market, it innovated and created new, healthier products to advertise to young children.

Indeed, moral imagination, combined with creativity and moral courage, enables both individuals and businesses to act more ethically in society.