Using Aristotle’s Metaethics to Assess the Moral Responsibility of Organizations as Artificial Persons

  • David ArdaghEmail author
Living reference work entry
Part of the Handbooks in Philosophy book series (HP)


The argument presented in this chapter challenges three related positions: (i) that collective entities, such as organizations, do not, strictly speaking, have real existence; (ii) that organizations do not act, strictly speaking; and (iii) that, as non-agents, organizations are not responsible and so are amoral. Using the Neo-Aristotelian doctrine of analogy of attribution with regard to existence, action and goodness, with a quasi-person model of organizations, analogies are made between natural persons and artificial persons (organizations) in six respects grounding the use of an analytical procedure that assesses goals, repertoires, evaluations, acts, outcomes, and society (abbreviated as GREAOS). Organisations are not persons but act, exist, and make moral judgments in similar personal ways. In order to establish the collective ethical responsibilities of organizations as organizations, this chapter describes the presuppositions underpinning the GREAOS procedure, presents an explanation of how its component criteria should be applied to define the ethical responsibility of an organization, and illustrates the utility of such an application for management.


Analogy of attribution Aristotle Artificial person Collective responsibility Ethical responsibility Management Metaethics Organization Quasi-person model 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Formerly Charles Sturt UniversityNewcastleAustralia

Section editors and affiliations

  • Cristina Neesham
    • 1
  • Rob Macklin
    • 2
  1. 1.Newcastle University Business SchoolNewcastle upon TyneUK
  2. 2.University of TasmaniaHobartAustralia

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