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Corporate Moral Agency

It is not uncommon to hear people attribute moral characteristics to corporations. This is especially true of moral agency. Journalists write that “Company X was responsible for deceiving customers.” Others note that even though employees of corporations engage in misconduct, “the corporation itself is often to blame.” These instances illustrate that while individual persons are prototypical examples of moral agents, there are times when it is common to think of corporations as possessing a moral agency of their own. Under U.S. law, the class of agents includes corporations. The law attributes personhood to corporations on pragmatic grounds, finding it a useful convention to allow corporations to enter into contracts, be held financially liable, and persist over time. The question, however, of whether there are grounds ...

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