Toward an Intermediate Position on Corporate Moral Personhood

Journal of Business Ethics 101 (S1):71-81 (2011)
Models of moral responsibility rely on foundational views about moral agency. Many scholars believe that only humans can be moral agents, and therefore business needs to create models that foster greater receptivity to others through ethical dialog. This view leads to a difficulty if no specific person is the sole causal agent for an act, or if something comes about through aggregated action in a corporate setting. An alternate approach suggests that corporations are moral agents sufficiently like humans to be treated as persons, which leads to questions of intentionality and the organizational structure required to support the claim. In this article, I make an intermediate claim combining Goodpaster and Matthews' (60:132–141, 1982 ) view that a corporation may have a moral culture which affects subjective choices, with those of Painter-Morland (17(3):515–534, 2007 ) who points out that we should move from a model that posits discrete persons acting on each other to one where morality comes about through shared experience between agents who participate in each other’s lives. I argue that the discussion has been trapped in traditional dichotomies, and is better served by language that more accurately represents the dynamic interplay between organization and individual. I underwrite this claim by looking at recent changes in British and American legal approaches to corporate responsibility. These provide greater incentives for owners and business leaders to encourage employees to discuss the reflexive nature of legal and moral responsibility in business, facilitate workers to voice their moral concerns, and create structures and processes that allow those concerns to be heard
Keywords Responsibility  Corporate personhood  Moral agency  Affine agency  Teleopathy
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10551-011-1174-5
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Revision history
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 30,807
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Corporations and Morality.Thomas Donaldson - 1982 - Journal of Business Ethics 1 (3):251-253.
The Corporation as a Moral Person.Peter A. French - 1979 - American Philosophical Quarterly 16 (3):207 - 215.

View all 19 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Corporate Responsibility and Corporate Personhood.Rita C. Manning - 1984 - Journal of Business Ethics 3 (1):77 - 84.
A Political Account of Corporate Moral Responsibility.Jeffery Smith - 2011 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 14 (2):223 - 246.
Unredistributable Corporate Moral Responsibility.Jan Edward Garrett - 1989 - Journal of Business Ethics 8 (7):535 - 545.
Debunking Corporate Moral Responsibility.Manuel Velasquez - 2003 - Business Ethics Quarterly 13 (4):531-562.
Corporate Speech as Commercial Speech.Jeffrey Nesteruk - 2007 - Business Ethics Quarterly 17 (1):97-103.
What is Necessary for Corporate Moral Excellence?W. Michael Hoffman - 1986 - Journal of Business Ethics 5 (3):233 - 242.
Corporate Versus Individual Moral Responsibility.C. Soares - 2003 - Journal of Business Ethics 46 (2):143 - 150.
Corporate Executives: Disasters and Moral Responsibility. [REVIEW]Robert Larmer - 1996 - Journal of Business Ethics 15 (7):785 - 788.
Added to PP index

Total downloads
23 ( #242,602 of 2,214,646 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #173,937 of 2,214,646 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature