Reflections on Corporate Moral Responsibility and the Problem Solving Technique of Alexander the Great

36 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2012 Last revised: 8 Apr 2014

See all articles by John Hasnas

John Hasnas

Georgetown University - Robert Emmett McDonough School of Business; Georgetown University Law Center

Date Written: September 1, 2011

Abstract

The academic debate over the propriety of attributing moral responsibility to corporations is decades old and ongoing. The conventional approach to this debate is to identify the necessary conditions for moral agency and then attempt to determine whether corporations satisfy them. This article recommends abandoning the conventional approach in favor of an examination of the practical consequences of corporate moral responsibility. The article’s thesis is that such an examination reveals that attributing moral responsibility to corporations is ethically acceptable only if it does not authorize the punishment of corporations as collective entities, and further, that this renders the debate over corporate moral responsibility virtually pointless.

Keywords: Corporate moral responsibility, Collective punishment, Shared intention, Collective responsibility

Suggested Citation

Hasnas, John, Reflections on Corporate Moral Responsibility and the Problem Solving Technique of Alexander the Great (September 1, 2011). Journal of Business Ethics, January 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1987174

John Hasnas (Contact Author)

Georgetown University - Robert Emmett McDonough School of Business ( email )

3700 O Street, NW
Washington, DC 20057
United States

Georgetown University Law Center ( email )

600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States

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