The Moral Responsibility of Corporations1

Ken Hanlya1

a1 Brandon University

This paper examines the concept of moral responsibility as it applies to the actions of corporations. I argue that it is both conceptually and morally appropriate to hold corporations morally responsible for some of their actions, and I attempt to show that arguments to the contrary are unsound. Although I hold that corporations may legitimately be held morally responsible I also argue that one can expect capitalist corporations to follow moral principles only to a rather limited extent.


1 A condensed earlier version of this paper was read at a Western Canadian Philosophical Association meeting in Lethbridge in October 1989. Several helpful comments were made by my commentator, Eldon Soifer of the University of Regina, and those present. I would also thank Prof. Philip Gosselin for extensive comments he made on the earlier draft.