The Journal of Value Inquiry

, Volume 47, Issue 3, pp 319–335 | Cite as

“If You Tickle Us….”: How Corporations Can Be Moral Agents Without Being Persons

  • Kendy M. HessEmail author

“The court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the… Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution… applies to these corporations. We are all of the opinion that it does.” – Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific1

“Corporations are people, my friend!” – Mitt Romney2

“I’ll believe that corporations are people when Texas executes one.”3 – sign at Occupy Wall Street

There are two very important debates currently underway in both the philosophical literature and public discourse: the first is about whether corporations are moral agents, and thus have moral obligations; the second is about whether corporations are persons, and thus entitled to a very specific suite of rights and protections. These conversations have occasionally been conflated by critics of corporate moral agency who argue (or assume) that recognizing corporations as moral agents requires us to recognize them as persons, that moral agency entails personhood. 4 This entailment is then treated as a kind of reductiofor...


Business Ethic Rational Agent Moral Agency Corporate Responsibility Corporate Action 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of the Holy CrossWorcesterUSA

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