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Should corporations have "moral responsibility"?
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Corporations eliminate the individual

Corporations are designed to eliminate individuality in favour of uniformity. Without individual morals, the corporation must adopt a moral compass and business ethics.
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When an individual is a small cog in a machine, they do not feel the moral weight of their actions.

The Argument

When Joanne Pettitt aggregated testimonies from those that participated in the Holocaust under the Nazi regime, she found a common trend. Many of those interviewed depicted a mentality of being a ‘cog in a machine’.[1] If these people had been asked to kill 6 million Jewish people, they would have likely been unable to undertake the task. It would have jarred with their sense of morality. However, when their small action—of transporting Zyclon B gas, putting Jews on trains, or compiling lists of those to be rounded up—contributes to a larger machine, even though the outcomes are the same, the individual is more willing to commit unspeakable atrocities. This is because corporations erode the individual. They foster a culture of group think or detachment. Therefore, an absence of moral agency develops. If corporations do not fill that gap, nobody else will and evil will proliferate.

Counter arguments


The inherent structure of large corporations and the reduction of large tasks into very small parts performed by individuals erodes the margin of individual moral agency. If corporations don’t undertake the role of becoming moral agents, there will be no moral forces within corporations.


Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Thursday, 9 Apr 2020 at 09:15 UTC

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