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20. Corporate moral agency


Subject Business and Management
Ethics » Practical (Applied) Ethics

Key-Topics agency, morality

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631201304.2002.00022.x


The problem of corporate moral agency is one aspect of a much broader set of concerns about the role of collectivities in explanations and descriptive models, in logic, in metaphysics, in law, and in ethical theory and social-political philosophy. Collectivities include loosely assembled groups such as the passengers on the bus, a mob, a group of conspirators, the people of the USA, as well as more formally organized groups such as teams, the medical or legal profession, labor unions, churches, social clubs, corporations, and various forms of government. Although ordinary language involves frequent references to these entities, what we mean when we make judgments about collectivities is often far from clear. There are, for example, metaphysical, semantic and methodological perplexities. • In what sense do these groups exist? • To what do we refer when we speak of a collectivity, such as a corporation? • Is there really an entity to which we refer, or is this noun merely some kind of placeholder which could be replaced by a list of the names of individuals? • In explanations and descriptive models, what role will be played by references to collectivities? • Do “real” explanations refer only to individual actors? Lurking behind all these is the question of how to categorize different kinds of collectivities. Are there different kinds? How are they to be distinguished? Making normative ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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