Corporate Social Responsibility, Social Contract, Corporate Personhood and Human Rights Law: Understanding the Emerging Responsibilities of Modern Corporations
Australian Journal of Legal Philosophy, Forthcoming
Posted: 12 May 2008
The social contract theory has been advanced as a theoretical basis for explaining the emerging practice of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) by corporations. Since the 17th century the social contract concept has also been used to justify human rights. The concept is the constitutional foundation of many western states starting with England, US and France. Business ethicists and philosophers have tried to construct and analyse the social responsibility of corporations from a social contract perspective without linking it to human rights or the political social contract. This paper posits that there is no need for a separate social contract between society and business and that a proper understanding of the legal status of today's corporation would recognise them as new entrants into the existing social contract. The consequence of this for international human rights law will be that corporations as "persons" will stand in the same position as natural persons under the law.
Keywords: Corporate social responsibility, Corporations, Corporate Personality, Social contract, Human rights, law
JEL Classification: K19, K20, K33
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