Business and Professional Ethics Journal

Volume 43, Issue 1, Spring 2024

Andrés Felipe López LatorreOrcid-ID, Ulf ThoeneOrcid-ID
Pages 83-112

Corporations as Imperfect Communities
Toward a Theory of Business and Human Rights

This article presents an alternative understanding of corporations from the two problematic visions that see corporations as either the shareholders’ property or as nexuses of contracts. The alternative proposed here is based on the theories of pre-eighteenth-century philosophers, particularly Aristotle’s political philosophy, which Thomas Aquinas later refined. The article aims to advance a theory of corporate legal and moral responsibility for human rights based on the conception of corporations as imperfect communities whose purpose is to produce a good or service through participatory work that allows individuals to self-develop while contributing to the community by satisfying consumers’ needs through collaborative work. The critical account of corporations presented here provides a sound foundation upon which to build a justification of corporate responsibility for human rights violations, providing a more accurate description of the reality of a corporation than most mainstream contemporary accounts do.