“If You Tickle Us….”: How Corporations Can Be Moral Agents Without Being Persons

Journal of Value Inquiry 47 (3):319-335 (2013)

Authors
Kendy Hess
College of the Holy Cross
Abstract
I aim to disentangle two very important debates: one about whether corporations can be moral agents (and thus have moral obligations), one about whether corporations are persons (and thus entitled to certain rights and protections). Critics often conflate these two debates, arguing that moral agency entails personhood and then treating that entailment as a kind of reductio for claims of corporate moral agency. My primary purpose is to rebut the claim of entailment, demonstrating that even the highly sophisticated moral agency of corporations does not entail the kind of personhood at issue here: to be a person requires a kind of vulnerability that corporations do not have. Additionally, exploring how this is the case reveals a flaw in the Supreme Court’s reasoning in Citizens United.
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DOI 10.1007/s10790-013-9391-z
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Corporate Crocodile Tears? On the Reactive Attitudes of Corporate Agents.Gunnar Björnsson & Kendy Hess - 2017 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 94 (2):273–298.
The Metaphysics of Social Groups.Katherine Ritchie - 2015 - Philosophy Compass 10 (5):310-321.

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