Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 109, Issue 1, pp 3–13 | Cite as

Citizens as Contractualist Stakeholders



This article examines the way that for-profit businesses should take into account the interests of the citizens in the liberal democratic societies in which they operate. I will show how a contractualist version of stakeholder theory identifies the relevant moral interests of both shareholders and citizen stakeholders, and provides a method for giving their interests appropriate consideration. These include (1) the interests that individuals have with respect to private property, (2) the interests citizens have in receiving equitable consideration in the political process, and (3) citizens’ interests which give them the collective right to determine the legal and economic structure of their societies. Using this contractualist analysis, I argue that corporations should consciously take into account the interests of citizen stakeholders when there is no other social mechanism for protecting their interests as citizens.


Ethics Contractualism Democratic theory Political philosophy Stakeholder theory 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chair in Business and Professional Ethics, W. Maurice Young Centre for Applied Ethics, The Sauder School of BusinessThe University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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