Ethics, Economics and the Corporation

  • Peter RonaEmail author
Part of the Virtues and Economics book series (VIEC, volume 1)


The paper analyzes the capacity of corporation for moral agency and concludes that corporations do not have such capacity. Instead, morally unacceptable corporate propensities are better addressed by crafting legal rules that accord with the quiddity of the corporation. Unlike theories that find the source of this incapacity in the purported duty of corporations to maximize shareholder value, and unlike stakeholder theories, the paper proposes, that the incapacity has three sources. First, the interposition of the corporation between the individual or group actor destroys the unity of the actor and the act. Second, corporations, with their power to define roles through binding rules replace the moral self of the actor with the prescribed role. Third, the prevailing economic theory adopts the methodology of the natural sciences and condenses corporate decision making into the quantitative methodology of corporate finance with the result that the numerically expressible trumps qualitative judgment unless the latter is bolstered by binding legal rules.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Blackfriars HallUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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