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Business and Professional Ethics Journal

Volume 32, Issue 1/2, Spring 2013

David Rönnegard
Pages 77-107
DOI: 10.5840/bpej2013321/24

How Autonomy Alone Debunks Corporate Moral Agency

It is uncontroversial that corporations are legal agents that may be attributed with legal responsibilities. However, can corporations also be moral agents that are the proper subjects of moral responsibility attributions? The concept of corporate moral agency entails that corporations can be the proper bearers of moral responsibilities in a manner that is distinct from their human members. The paper acknowledges the important work done by Velasquez in debunking the purported intention and action abilities for corporate moral agency, but suggests that a simpler debunking is possible by focusing on the moral agency ability of autonomy. Furthermore, a proper grasp of the autonomy ability provides a greater understanding for why corporations cannot have autonomous intentions nor perform autonomous actions. The autonomy ability demonstrates the fallacy of corporate moral agency because it shows the impossibility of establishing the corporation as the proper bearer of moral responsibility in a manner that is distinct from the corporate members.