The Corporate Baby in the Bathwater: Why Proposals to Abolish Corporate Personhood Are Misguided

Journal of Business Ethics, Forthcoming

44 Pages Posted: 15 Dec 2021

See all articles by David Gindis

David Gindis

University of Hertfordshire - Business School

Abraham Singer

University of Toronto

Date Written: December 9, 2021

Abstract

The fear that business corporations have claimed unwarranted constitutional protections which have entrenched corporate power has produced a broad social movement demanding that constitutional rights be restricted to human beings and corporate personhood be abolished. We develop a critique of these proposals organized around the three salient rationales we identify in the accompanying narrative, which we argue reflect a narrow focus on large business corporations, a misunderstanding of the legal concept of personhood, and a failure to distinguish different kinds of constitutional rights and the reasons for assigning them. Corporate personhood and corporate constitutional rights are not problematic per se once these notions are decoupled from biological, metaphysical or moral considerations. The real challenge is that we need a principled way of thinking about the priority of human over corporate persons which does not reduce the efficacy of corporate institutions or harm liberal democracies.

Keywords: Corporate abolitionism, corporate personhood, corporate rights, liberal democracy, pragmatism

Suggested Citation

Gindis, David and Singer, Abraham, The Corporate Baby in the Bathwater: Why Proposals to Abolish Corporate Personhood Are Misguided (December 9, 2021). Journal of Business Ethics, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3983013 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3983013

David Gindis (Contact Author)

University of Hertfordshire - Business School ( email )

Hatfield, Herts AL10 9AB
United Kingdom

Abraham Singer

University of Toronto ( email )

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