Corporations are moral persons to the extent that they have rights and duties, but their moral personality is severely limited. As artificial persons, they lack the emotional make-up that allows natural persons to show virtues and vices. That fact, taken with the representative function of management, places significant limitations on what constitutes ethical behavior by management. A common misunderstanding of those limitations can lead ethical managers to behave unethically and can lead the public to have improper expectations of corporations.
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Bob Ewin is Associate Professor of Philosophy at The University of Western Australia. He is the author of Co-operation and Human Values(1981), Liberty, Community, and Justice(1987), and Virtues and Rights: The Moral Philosophy of Thomas Hobbes(forthcoming).
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Ewin, R.E. The moral status of the corporation. J Bus Ethics 10, 749–756 (1991). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00705709
- Economic Growth
- Significant Limitation
- Ethical Behavior
- Moral Status
- Natural Person