Volume 17

The Law’s Missing Account of Corporate Character

by Mihailis E. Diamantis

People commonly talk about corporations in anthropomorphizing terms—corporations “do” and “think” things of consequence. Correspondingly, the law has doctrines for attributing acts and mental states to corporations. People also commonly talk about corporations as having a broad range of familiar character traits—sincerity/insincerity, honesty/deceitfulness, altruism/egotism, etc. Yet the law has no corresponding doctrine for discerning these corporate attributes even though they, like corporate acts and thoughts, have important social, economic, and moral implications. The present article argues that this oversight should be remedied. It discusses examples from civil, criminal, and constitutional law where a theory of corporate character could plug doctrinal holes, further the law’s internal objectives, and open conceptual space for promising research.

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