Benjamin Franklin's Plan for Attaining Moral Perfection

By: Bradley Bowers  

Benjamin Franklin’s “Plan for Attaining Moral Perfection” puts into action his belief that virtuous behavior is the only path to success; in “The Way to Wealth,” he asserts there is “nothing so likely to make a man's fortune as virtue.” Since organizations benefit from ethical and well-considered decisions at every level, Franklin’s plan offers a low-key, self-administered, self-improvement program that benefits both individuals and organizations.In 1726, the twenty-year-old Franklin developed “the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection.” In 1791, he writes, “I soon found I had undertaken a task of more difficulty than I had imagined.” Franklin’s plan is not about strict adherence to rules or moral precepts; he emphasizes thoughtfulness, moderation, reflection, and a sense of humor, admitting that he never achieved true humility, only the appearance of it. Franklin’s "Plan" consists of 13 virtues, each with short descriptions; however, his list can be modified to suit the individual situation: Temperance, Silence, Order, Resolution, Frugality, Industry, Sincerity, Justice, Moderation, Cleanliness, Chastity, Tranquility, and Humility (“Imitate Jesus and Socrates”).

Ethics Franklin
Organizational Cultures
Poster/Exhibit Session

Bradley Bowers

Professor, Barry University

Bradley Bowers is a professor at Barry University, Miami Shores, Florida. He has been a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University, the American Academy of Rome, and the American University in Rome.