Many people think of corporations as essentially amoral. By its very nature, they say, a corporation only seeks to deliver value to its shareholders. It's a category mistake to criticize corporations for acting immorally, since this misunderstands their purpose. To the extent that we are concerned to ensure that corporations act morally, that is the purview of lawmakers and regulators, not the corporations themselves. As long as corporations act legally, they are beyond reproach. I was wondering if the panel had any remarks about this. It strikes me as a perverse conflation of what corporations tend to do, or what they have incentive to do, and what they ought to do. I see no reason not to view corporations as moral actors in more or less the same way as ordinary people.

A great question/topic. I'll offer no particular insight except to add to it an additional question: what reasons are there, if any, to distinguish the moral responsibility of corporations from that of individuals in the first place? As candidate Mitt Romney put it a few years back, corporations ARE people, they're made up of people, their decisions are decisions that people take, ontologically they are presumably reducible to people (don't think Romney would put it that way!)--so why even introduce the idea of a 'corporation' as any sort of morally relevant entity distinguishable from the individuals who (say) make the decisions for the corporation? .... This in turn raises the very interesting question of whether groups of individuals might have decision-making processes that are different in nature from (say) individuals acting alone, and whether those differences are morally relevant ... We may (eg) recognize morally relevant influences on individuals who are acting within or as part of a group v those acting purely individually (if that ever genuinely occurs); perhaps those would introduce factors relevant for "corporate responsibility." I'm not familiar with any literature on this topic, but I would imagine it is out there -- perhaps in the business ethics world?

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