Debunking Corporate Moral Responsibility

Business Ethics Quarterly 13 (4):531-562 (2003)
Abstract
I address three topics. First, I argue that the issue of corporate moral responsibility is an important one for business ethics.Second, I examine a core argument for the claim that the corporate organization is a separate moral agent and show it is based on anunnoticed but elementary mistake deriving from the fallacy of division. Third, I examine the assumptions collectivists make about whatit means to say that organizations act and that they act intentionally and show that these assumptions are mistaken in their failure to understand the nature of intentional causality and of “as-if” intentionality. In exposing these mistakes I set out my own view in the form oftwo theses, the first of which states that individual members of an organization are always causally responsible for any corporate act,and the second of which states that attributions of intentions to corporations are always either descriptive or prescriptive attributionsof “as if” intentionality
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