Canadian Journal of Philosophy 51 (3):221–238 (2021)

Adam Lovett
London School of Economics
Stefan Riedener
University of Zürich
Organizations have neither a right to the vote nor a weighty right to life. We need not enfranchise Goldman Sachs. We should feel few scruples in dissolving Standard Oil. But they are not without rights altogether. We can owe it to them to keep our promises. We can owe them debts of gratitude. Thus, we can owe some things to organizations. But we cannot owe them everything we can owe to people. They seem to have a peculiar, fragmented moral status. What explains this? Individualistic views explain this in terms of individualistic notions alone. Such notions don’t invoke any distinctive features of organizations. They just invoke the features of individual members of organizations. Collectivistic views, instead, explain this in terms of collective notions alone. Such notions don’t invoke the features of individual members of organizations. They just invoke the features of those organizations. We argue that neither approach works. Instead, one needs to synthesize the two approaches. Some individual interests, we think, are distinctively collective. We, as individuals, have a distinctive interest in playing a part in successful collective action. From this, so we argue, flows the apparently peculiar, fragmented moral status of organizations.
Keywords group agents  organizations  interest theory of rights  moral status  political obligations  promises  gratitude
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2021
DOI 10.1017/can.2021.8
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Guide to Ground.Kit Fine - 2012 - In Fabrice Correia & Benjamin Schnieder (eds.), Metaphysical Grounding. Cambridge University Press. pp. 37--80.
The Morality of Freedom.Joseph Raz - 1986 - Philosophy 63 (243):119-122.

View all 37 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Corporations, Rights, and Lobbying.Quentin Gee - 2016 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 19 (2):397-408.
The Ontological and Moral Status of Organizations.Christopher Mcmahon - 1995 - Business Ethics Quarterly 5 (3):541-554.
Toward an Ethics of Organizations.Joshua D. Margolis - 1999 - Business Ethics Quarterly 9 (4):619-638.
Interpreting Organizations.Deborah Perron Tollefsen - 2002 - Dissertation, The Ohio State University
Personhood and Moral Status.Julie Tannenbaum & Agnieszka Jaworska - 2019 - In Antonia LoLordo (ed.), Persons: A History. Oxford University Press. pp. 334-362.
Power and Collective Responsibility.David T. Risser - 1978 - Kinesis 9 (no. 2):23-33.


Added to PP index

Total views
140 ( #83,555 of 2,507,563 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
32 ( #28,036 of 2,507,563 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes