Much has been written about what corporations owe society and whether it is appropriate to hold them responsible. In contrast, little has been written about whether anything is owed to corporations apart from what is owed to their members. And when this question has been addressed, the answer has always been that corporations are not worthy of any distinct moral consideration. This is even claimed by proponents of corporate agency. In this paper, I argue that proponents of corporate agency should recognize corporations as worthy of moral consideration. Though particular views of moral status are often taken for granted in the literature, corporations can satisfy many views of moral status given the capacities often ascribed to them. They can even meet the conditions of the views assumed. I conclude by suggesting that recognizing the moral status of corporations may not be as drastic or harmful as we might imagine.
Kenneth Silver, Can a Corporation be Worthy of Moral Consideration?, Journal of Business Ethics. First Online: 23 January 2018.