Volume 17
Issue S
Fall '19

Androids and Corporations: Why Their Rights Derive from Purpose

Written By: Thomas Donaldson

Abstract

Understanding the normative structure of corporate purpose clarifies the limits for assigning moral rights to business corporations. Two kinds of confusion arise when thinking about moral agency and corporations. The first is the simple mistake of concluding that because something is not a human person, it therefore lacks a particular right. The second is interpreting corporations as ontological black boxes that allow the imposition of any kind of moral property. A careful analysis of the normative dimensions of corporate purpose dispels both confusions by setting preconditions for the assignment of rights to corporation. It shows, for example, why the assignment of either the moral right of religious freedom or of political expression to business corporations makes no sense.

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