Moral Agency in Charities and Business Corporations: Exploring the Constraints of Law and Regulation

Journal of Business Ethics 159 (1):59-73 (2019)
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Abstract

For centuries in the UK and elsewhere, charities have been widely regarded as admirable and virtuous organisations. Business corporations, by contrast, have been characterised in the popular imagination as entities that lack a capacity for moral judgement. Drawing on the philosophical literature on the moral agency of organisations, we examine how the law shapes the ability of charities and business corporations headquartered in England to exercise moral agency. Paradoxically, we find that charities are legally constrained in exercising moral agency in ways in which business corporations are not. Implications for charities and business corporations are then explored.

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