Corporate moral agency and diachronic responsibility

Publikation: Konferencebidrag uden forlag/tidsskriftPaper uden forlag/tidsskriftForskningpeer review

Resumé

The purpose of this paper is to explore the notion of corporate responsibility across time, socalled diachronic responsibility (French 2017; Khoury 2013). The motivation for taking up the issue is twofold. First, guidance is needed in order to make corporate moral agents who are capable of responding to large-scale systemic problems such as digitalization and climate change (Mulgan 2018). Corporate agents with a moral capacity for solving systemic problems should at least be able to account for their historic responsibility for past harms they have caused (Mena et al. 2016; Schrempf-Stirling et al. 2016), but they should also acknowledge the present and forward-looking duties of a communal, political, and shared kind of responsibility (Young
2011). A formalistic, a-temporal concept of corporate moral agency is not fit for accounting for how to respond to larger systemic problems, as these are typically of a historical nature and pertain to future generations.
The second motivation for this paper’s focus on time and corporate moral agency responds to a gap in the research literature. For decades, the debate on corporate moral agency – initiated by Peter French’s seminal 1979 article on the corporation as a moral person – has tended to be marginal, except for a few major contributions (e.g. Donaldson 1982). However, more recently, the debate has gained renewed traction (e.g. List and Pettit 2011; Orts and Craig Smith 2017)
with a resurgence in the philosophy of the organization (Herzog 2018; Tollefsen 2015) and a wider debate about the political theory of firms (Ciepley 2018; Anderson 2017). A commonality of these debates is the shared and underlying consensus of making business firms morally accountable (Hess 2017); not least due to the corporate failures revealed by the financial crisis (Rangan 2015). But a gap can be identified in this emerging literature: not taking the time dimension into account. Peter French, though, proposes such an account of the diachronic moral responsibility of firms (2017), while also retaining his prior ‘synchronic’ view that corporations are equal members of the moral community. French explores two theories about corporate diachronic identity, viz. psychological connectedness between prior and present identities, and the corporate self-narrative that can provide for consistency in the organization over time – French refers to this as diachronic ‘sameness’. The focus is on the narrative theory in this paper, probing whether it provides a convincing amendment to the influential and more synchronically-oriented theory of corporate moral agency offered by List and Pettit (2011; Pettit 2007; 2017). More generally, the paper probes how corporate diachronic responsibility provides an account for how business firms and
organizations in general can take the future into account when responding to present crises of a systemic nature. Here, the cases of climate change and digitalization are explored.
OriginalsprogEngelsk
Publikationsdato14 jan. 2019
Antal sider6
StatusAfsendt - 14 jan. 2019
BegivenhedEGOS - Edinburgh, Storbritannien
Varighed: 4 jul. 20196 jul. 2019

Konference

KonferenceEGOS
LandStorbritannien
ByEdinburgh
Periode04/07/201906/07/2019

Citer dette

Toft, K. H. (2019). Corporate moral agency and diachronic responsibility. 1-6. Afhandling præsenteret på EGOS, Edinburgh, Storbritannien.
Toft, Kristian Høyer. / Corporate moral agency and diachronic responsibility. Afhandling præsenteret på EGOS, Edinburgh, Storbritannien.6 s.
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Toft, KH 2019, 'Corporate moral agency and diachronic responsibility' Paper fremlagt ved EGOS, Edinburgh, Storbritannien, 04/07/2019 - 06/07/2019, s. 1-6.

Corporate moral agency and diachronic responsibility. / Toft, Kristian Høyer.

2019. 1-6 Afhandling præsenteret på EGOS, Edinburgh, Storbritannien.

Publikation: Konferencebidrag uden forlag/tidsskriftPaper uden forlag/tidsskriftForskningpeer review

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T1 - Corporate moral agency and diachronic responsibility

AU - Toft, Kristian Høyer

PY - 2019/1/14

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N2 - The purpose of this paper is to explore the notion of corporate responsibility across time, socalled diachronic responsibility (French 2017; Khoury 2013). The motivation for taking up the issue is twofold. First, guidance is needed in order to make corporate moral agents who are capable of responding to large-scale systemic problems such as digitalization and climate change (Mulgan 2018). Corporate agents with a moral capacity for solving systemic problems should at least be able to account for their historic responsibility for past harms they have caused (Mena et al. 2016; Schrempf-Stirling et al. 2016), but they should also acknowledge the present and forward-looking duties of a communal, political, and shared kind of responsibility (Young2011). A formalistic, a-temporal concept of corporate moral agency is not fit for accounting for how to respond to larger systemic problems, as these are typically of a historical nature and pertain to future generations.The second motivation for this paper’s focus on time and corporate moral agency responds to a gap in the research literature. For decades, the debate on corporate moral agency – initiated by Peter French’s seminal 1979 article on the corporation as a moral person – has tended to be marginal, except for a few major contributions (e.g. Donaldson 1982). However, more recently, the debate has gained renewed traction (e.g. List and Pettit 2011; Orts and Craig Smith 2017)with a resurgence in the philosophy of the organization (Herzog 2018; Tollefsen 2015) and a wider debate about the political theory of firms (Ciepley 2018; Anderson 2017). A commonality of these debates is the shared and underlying consensus of making business firms morally accountable (Hess 2017); not least due to the corporate failures revealed by the financial crisis (Rangan 2015). But a gap can be identified in this emerging literature: not taking the time dimension into account. Peter French, though, proposes such an account of the diachronic moral responsibility of firms (2017), while also retaining his prior ‘synchronic’ view that corporations are equal members of the moral community. French explores two theories about corporate diachronic identity, viz. psychological connectedness between prior and present identities, and the corporate self-narrative that can provide for consistency in the organization over time – French refers to this as diachronic ‘sameness’. The focus is on the narrative theory in this paper, probing whether it provides a convincing amendment to the influential and more synchronically-oriented theory of corporate moral agency offered by List and Pettit (2011; Pettit 2007; 2017). More generally, the paper probes how corporate diachronic responsibility provides an account for how business firms andorganizations in general can take the future into account when responding to present crises of a systemic nature. Here, the cases of climate change and digitalization are explored.

AB - The purpose of this paper is to explore the notion of corporate responsibility across time, socalled diachronic responsibility (French 2017; Khoury 2013). The motivation for taking up the issue is twofold. First, guidance is needed in order to make corporate moral agents who are capable of responding to large-scale systemic problems such as digitalization and climate change (Mulgan 2018). Corporate agents with a moral capacity for solving systemic problems should at least be able to account for their historic responsibility for past harms they have caused (Mena et al. 2016; Schrempf-Stirling et al. 2016), but they should also acknowledge the present and forward-looking duties of a communal, political, and shared kind of responsibility (Young2011). A formalistic, a-temporal concept of corporate moral agency is not fit for accounting for how to respond to larger systemic problems, as these are typically of a historical nature and pertain to future generations.The second motivation for this paper’s focus on time and corporate moral agency responds to a gap in the research literature. For decades, the debate on corporate moral agency – initiated by Peter French’s seminal 1979 article on the corporation as a moral person – has tended to be marginal, except for a few major contributions (e.g. Donaldson 1982). However, more recently, the debate has gained renewed traction (e.g. List and Pettit 2011; Orts and Craig Smith 2017)with a resurgence in the philosophy of the organization (Herzog 2018; Tollefsen 2015) and a wider debate about the political theory of firms (Ciepley 2018; Anderson 2017). A commonality of these debates is the shared and underlying consensus of making business firms morally accountable (Hess 2017); not least due to the corporate failures revealed by the financial crisis (Rangan 2015). But a gap can be identified in this emerging literature: not taking the time dimension into account. Peter French, though, proposes such an account of the diachronic moral responsibility of firms (2017), while also retaining his prior ‘synchronic’ view that corporations are equal members of the moral community. French explores two theories about corporate diachronic identity, viz. psychological connectedness between prior and present identities, and the corporate self-narrative that can provide for consistency in the organization over time – French refers to this as diachronic ‘sameness’. The focus is on the narrative theory in this paper, probing whether it provides a convincing amendment to the influential and more synchronically-oriented theory of corporate moral agency offered by List and Pettit (2011; Pettit 2007; 2017). More generally, the paper probes how corporate diachronic responsibility provides an account for how business firms andorganizations in general can take the future into account when responding to present crises of a systemic nature. Here, the cases of climate change and digitalization are explored.

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Toft KH. Corporate moral agency and diachronic responsibility. 2019. Afhandling præsenteret på EGOS, Edinburgh, Storbritannien.