The central distinction in the theory of corporate moral personhood

Journal of Business Ethics 9 (6):473-480 (1990)
Abstract
Peter French has argued that conglomerate collectivities such as business corporations are moral persons and that aggregate collectivities such as lynch mobs are not. Two arguments are advanced to show that French's claim is flawed. First, the distinction between aggregates and conglomerates is, at best, a distinction of degree, not kind. Moreover, some aggregates show evidence of moral personhood. Second, French's criterion for distinguishing aggregates and conglomerates is based on inadequate grounds. Application of the criterion to specific cases requires an additional judgment of a pragmatic nature which undermines any attempt to demonstrate French's thesis that actual conglomerates are moral persons and aggregates are not. Thus, French's theory is seriously lacking both empirical basis and empirical relevance.
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