• Marian Eabrasu
Part of the CSR, Sustainability, Ethics & Governance book series (CSEG)


Disagreements on moral personhood do not entirely exhaust the moral issues in business, and an important aspect of these relates to disagreements over interpretations of ‘ownership.’ Can—and should—a firm own the air, water, body parts, an idea, a font, or a color? The answers to these questions depend on how we understand ownership. The concept of ‘ownership’ is used here to refer to legitimate full control of resources. This conception of property implies that owners have the right to use resources at will and that their choices are protected by their property rights—i.e., they have the right to exclude others from such use if they wish. Thus, property rights also play a crucial role in assessing the morality of a transaction. Only after determining whether property rights were respected can we establish whether a transfer of resources is a commercial transaction or a theft. Ownership is particularly relevant for moral assessments of business activities because it raises several crucial questions: Can everything be owned? Who should have ownership? How should resources be managed? Providing precise answers to these questions is fundamental to moral assessments of business. This chapter aims to address the key moral controversies in business in relation to ownership. The first section details discussions about the limits of commodification. The second examines the key matter of who should own things, focusing on the debate over private and public ownership. Finally, the third concludes with a consideration of the debate over how things should be managed.


Moral Assessment Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOP) Public goodsPublic Goods Collective Consumption Goods Good Box 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marian Eabrasu
    • 1
  1. 1.South Champagne Business SchoolTroyesFrance

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