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Corporations and Non‐Agential Moral Responsibility

Journal of Applied Philosophy

Published online on


One of the core challenges presented by ascriptions of moral responsibility to corporations is to identify who or what is being held responsible. A significant source of controversy in attempts to answer this challenge is whether or not responsibility can fall on a ‘corporate entity’ distinct from the individuals that make it up. In this article I argue that both sides of this debate have incorrectly assumed that the possession of moral agency is a necessary condition for holding moral responsibility. I go on to argue that it is sufficient for a corporate entity to be a ‘morally significant system’, that is a non‐agential system created by moral agents, and I develop an account of such systems. I conclude by setting out the implications of this analysis for our practices of holding corporations morally responsible.