Corporations and the Cause of Environmental Protection

Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 12 (1):11-15 (2002)
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This essay deals with the following issues: (1) whether corporations can have moral responsibilities; (2) whether, granting that corporations can have moral responsibilities, nature can be an object of these responsibilities; and (3) what moral theory can appropriately justify why corporations ought to contribute to the cause of environmental protection. It is here argued that while it can be shown that corporations can have moral responsibilities, such responsibilities are limited towards humans and other corporations. The main reason is that the morally relevant functional capacities which corporations can be shown as possessing are limited to those functional capacities that give moral status to humans. As such, natural nonhumans are beyond the scope of these responsibilities. But this does not mean that it becomes justifiable for corporations to disregard environmental concerns. For part of the moral responsibilities of corporations towards humans is to respect the right of humans to a livable natural environment. In addition, because of their enduring existence and long-term goals, corporations can act as a bridge between humans of the present generation and those of future generations. This bridge makes it meaningful to speak of the moral responsibilities of humans of the present generation towards those of future generations.



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Napoleon Mabaquiao
De La Salle University

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