Corporations as the Outgroup?

15 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2018

See all articles by Ryan Murphy

Ryan Murphy

Southern Methodist University (SMU)

Date Written: November 6, 2018


The paradigm of liberalism – the preeminence of some form of universal human rights – has taken hold in much of the developed world, with obvious exceptions. Prior to liberalism, certain subgroups in society were not accorded full moral status and were considered morally as part of the outgroup. With many now professing the belief in universal human rights across all creeds, races, ethnicities, citizenship, gender, and sexuality, to whom is the psychology of the outgroup applied? This paper observes the rhetoric and moral sentiments that have historically been invoked when making ingroup-outgroup distinctions now invoked to characterize large corporations. This characterization, when applied to all businesses in competitive markets, is actually approximately correct, but its most important implication is merely the accuracy of the profit-maximizing assumption already found in all of neoclassical microeconomics. The analysis here may have some implications for the literature on corporate social responsibility, as consumer sovereignty implies that ethical actions by businesses not already demanded by consumers are violations of consumer sovereignty.

Keywords: Ingroups, Outgroups, Corporate Social Responsibility, Business Ethics, Psychopathy, Ethics & Economics, Armen Alchian

JEL Classification: Z10, M14, G30

Suggested Citation

Murphy, Ryan, Corporations as the Outgroup? (November 6, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Ryan Murphy (Contact Author)

Southern Methodist University (SMU) ( email )

6212 Bishop Blvd.
Dallas, TX 75275
United States

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