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Chapter 17A: Appropriating Individual, Joint and Corporate

Moral Responsibility for Market Turbulent Losses

Ozzie Mascarenhas SJ
JRD Tata Chair Professor of Business Ethics
November 12, 2019
There has been over half a century of raging debate regarding the nature, domain, scope and assigning of
moral responsibility to corporate executives either as individual corporates or as corporations or as joint bodies
of executives and corporations. The debate has been mostly focused on the necessary and sufficient conditions
for moral responsibility to be assigned to individual corporate executives or to corporations as business entities
or jointly to corporation composed of human and non-human resources. Necessary or sufficient conditions
have been argued from philosophy (such as metaphysical notions of individualism versus collectivism) as also
from the complex nature of corporate decisions, policies and processes. Often, conditions derived have been
strong and over-determining that m oral responsibility was unduly exonerated, or so underdetermining
that moral blame, guilt and costly forms of responsibility were freely imposed. After reviewing this debate, we
redefine the notions of executive, corporate and joint rationality (R), intentionality (I), causality (C , and
accountability (A) and revise the domains of legal, ethical, moral, spiritual, ecological and cosmic sustainability
responsibilities, such that responsibility can be more practically understood and assigned to corporate
individual, corporations and joint business organizations. Limitations are discussed and areas of future
research are indicated [200 words].

[Key words: legal, ethical, moral, spiritual, ecological and cosmic sustainability responsibilities;
allocating responsibility to individuals, corporations and joint bodies].

When and why should a corporation as a group of top executives (e.g., the Board of Governors, or the
group of its CXOs) take responsibility (legal, ethical, moral and spiritual) for its actions, both
individually and/or collectively, when the actions result in serious physical and/or social harm to any
of its stakeholders? That is, under what necessary and/or sufficient conditions is a corporation morally
obliged to accept and fulfil its moral responsibility for its group plans and strategies, decisions and
activities that result in foreseen or unforeseen malfeasance?

Since business ethics is a part of philosophical ethics generally, we expect and find that its divisions
correspond to the divisions most frequently made in philosophical ethics, namely, descriptive ethics,
normative ethics and analytical ethics (sometimes called meta-ethics).

 Descriptive Ethics: For instance, it is possible to describe the values and moral obligations that business
persons or business organizations subscribe to, or accept and seek to foster, as part of a neutral portrait
of their beliefs and attitudes. The portrait is neutral because it does not itself favor or oppose the moral
beliefs and attitudes it describes. It merely states a company or its executives have these beliefs or
 Normative Ethics: concerns itself not with describing values and obligations as perceived in the business
world, but with prescribing and defending values and obligations, sometimes in very general terms,
sometimes in very specific terms. Unlike descriptive business ethics, which neither favors nor opposes
the moral beliefs and attitudes it describes, normative business ethics is not morally neutral.
 Analytical Ethics deals with questions of meaning and justification, the use of moral discourse in the
business environment, the appropriateness of applying moral categories to institutional actors as
individuals and corporate and the problems presented by moral dis agreement both within and
between different societies.

The concept, domain and context of corporate moral responsibility is primarily normative and analytical
and secondarily descriptive. (Goodpaster 1983:5).

What is Responsibility?
We may distinguish among three uses of the term 'responsible' as it is used without the modifier 'moral'.
Goodpaster (1983) refers to those uses of the term as causal, rule-following, and decision making,
respectively. In the causal sense a certain action or event was brought about by the individual in
question, wholly or in part; for example, we might ask who was responsible for a broken window; we
speak of 'holding' persons responsible, and we are concerned with determining such matters as intent,
free will, degree of participation, as well as reward and/or punishment.

We also speak of an individual's 'responsibilities' as a parent or as a citizen or in other roles. This use
of the term reflects the rule-following sense, not the causal sense. Here the focus is not on determining
who or what brought about a certain action or event, but on the socially expected behavior associated
with certain roles. Parents have responsibilities for their children, doctors for their patients, lawyers for
their clients, and citizens for their country. To speak of a person as responsible in such contexts is
essentially to commend him or her for following the rules or meeting the expectations of his or her

The third use of the word 'responsible' relates to the way in which an individual thinks about and
responds to situations, we can call it the decision making sense of the word. When we say of Bill Jones
that he is a responsible person, we convey that he is reliable and trustworthy, that he can be depended
upon to interpret situations and take actions that manifest both integrity and concern for those affected
by them. The emphasis is not on Bill Jones as the agent who brought about a certain result (the causal
sense), or on his following rules or role-expectations (the rule-following sense) but on his independent
judgment and the ingredients that go into that judgment. This third sense of 'responsibility' will be of
primary concern for us.

What is Moral Responsibility?

The second distinction relates not to the senses or uses of 'responsibility' so much as to the function of
the modifier 'moral'. When we speak of an individual as 'morally responsible' we contrast moral
responsibility with other possible interpretations of responsibility. Most frequently, the contrast is with
'legal responsibility'. We acknowledge a difference in the causal sense when we distinguish between
individuals being legally responsible ("liable") for an event and their being morally responsible for it.
Similarly, we understand the difference (rule-following sense) between a person's legal responsibilities
and his or her moral responsibilities in a certain role. The latter are often said to include but go 'beyond'
the former. For example, the legal responsibilities of parents to their children are part of their moral
responsibilities, but their moral responsibilities do not stop at the boundary of the law. It is not illegal
for a parent to criticize a child to the point where the child loses any sense of self- worth, but a parent
who did this would act in a morally irresponsible manner.

Manuel Velasquez (1983; 2003) distinguishes three meanings of responsibility: First, the terms are
sometimes used to describe a person as having the character trait of dependability or integrity as in "He
is a very responsible person," or "He acted with great responsibility." We can call this the virtue sense
of responsibility. Second, the terms can be used to mean "obligation" or "duty" as in "The social
responsibility of business is to serve its stakeholders," or "Business is responsible for serving its
stakeholders." We can call this the deontic sense of responsibility. In its deontic sense, responsibility is
about what ought to be done but might not yet have been done. Third, the terms can be used to denote
who or what is to blame for something that happened, as in "The storm is responsible for the damage,"
or "The ultimate responsibility for World War II belongs to Hitler." We can call this the causal sense
of responsibility.

The notion of responsibility that Velasquez (2003:33) discusses is a form of this third or causal sense
of responsibility. In this causal sense responsibility looks toward the past, toward some act or event that
someone or something has already caused. The responsible party in this sense is the party (or parties)
that is identified as the (or one of the) primary, or most salient, or most significant, cause of the past act
or event. But there are two kinds of causal responsibility. The first is what I am going to call natural
responsibility. Natural causal responsibility is the kind of responsibility that we attribute to natural or
non-intentional agents. Hurricanes, avalanches, tornadoes, and earthquakes are examples of natural
agents, and obviously they can be responsible for inflicting damage on the world. The actions of natural
agents, however, are not intentional. The second kind of causal responsibility is what we ordinarily call
moral responsibility. Moral responsibility is the kind of causal responsibility that we attribute to an
agent when the agent acts intentionally. We can call such agents intentional agents. While natural
agents, like hurricanes, avalanches, tornadoes, and earthquakes, cannot be morally responsible for the
injuries they cause, intentional agents like human beings often are. Moral responsibility, then, is the
kind of causal responsibility that we attribute to intentional agents like human beings when they caused
(or helped to cause) some past event and did so intentionally.

The concept and cognates of moral responsibility are still ambiguous and there exists no standard
terminology (Braham and Hees 2012: 604). Much of the literature speaks about moral responsibility
as blameworthiness for bad outcomes; it is retrospective. That is, moral responsibility is primarily for
harmful social outcomes that have already happened. Taking blame or responsibility for prevention of
harm or violation of one’s duties towards others is prospective responsibility, also called “substantive
responsibility” or “accountability” (Watson 2004), or “attributive responsibility” (Scanlon 1998). This
type of responsibility does not get the attention it deserves.

The problem of Moral Responsibility:

The debate whether corporate individuals as executives or as corporation collectives should be held
morally responsible for the armful consequences of their choices and actions has been raging for more
than seven decades in Theoretical and Applied Ethics under three aspects:

 Individual corporate Moral Responsibility but not collective moral responsibility (e.g., Virginia Held
(1970); Searle (1980), Velasquz (1983, 1985, 2003), Goodpaster1983), Goodpaster and Matthews
(1982); John Ladd (1984); Sherker (2014);

 Collective Moral Responsibility and no individual responsibility: ( Stanley Bates (1971); Peter French
(1975, 1982, 1984), Thomas Donaldson (1980; 1982), Ladd (1970); Larry May (1987), Larry May and
Stacey Hoffman (1991) Michael Keeley (1979), Ozar David (1979), Patricia Werhane (1985), Robert
Rafalko 1989) Jeffrey Nesteruk (1992), Michael Philips 1992, 1995a, 1995b); William (1998);Walt and
Laufer (1991) Christopher McMahon (1995); Mark Seabright and Lance B. Kurke (1997);

 Individual and Corporate Moral Responsibility: Arnold (2006), Frankena (1980), Goodpaster (1983;
Goodpaster and Matthews (1982), Soares (2000), Surber (1983); Werhane (1985).

What is Individual Moral Responsibility?

Peter French (1979) in a seminal article identified what he believed to be two necessary and sufficient
conditions for moral responsibility: (1) causation - that a potential subject of moral responsibility
be capable of acting so as to be the cause of an event and (2) intentionality - that "the action in question
was intended by the subject or that the event was the direct result of an intentional act of the subject
(French 1979, p. 211)." Because all corporations have institutional decision-making procedures such
as corporate internal decision (CID) structures (French 1979, p. 211) concluded that corporations can
both cause events and act intentionally. Because of the CID structures and the level of involvement
they involve, French claimed that this was sufficient to show not only that corporations are proper
subjects of moral responsibility, but also that they are "full-fledged moral persons and have whatever

privileges, rights and duties as are, in the normal course of affairs, accorded to moral persons (French
1979, p. 207)."

Velasquez (1983: 7) argued the opposite: that a corporation cannot act intentionally unless through its
executives, who alone can be attributed with moral responsibility for their decisions and actions: moral
responsibility for an act can be “attributed only to that agent who originated the act in his own body,
that is, in the movements of a body over which he has direct control. In corporate agency, action does
not originate in a body belonging to the corporation to whom the act is attributed, but in bodies
belonging to those human beings whose direct movements constituted or brought about the act that is
then attributed to the corporation. Consequently, whether considered as a fictional legal entity or as a
real organization, corporations do not originate acts in a manner required by attributions of moral
responsibility- namely, by directly moving one's own body.”

Michael Keely (1979: 149) also argued that corporations cannot be moral persons because
"organizations have no intentions or goals at all." Keely contended that although an organization's CID
structure "may serve to identify organizational behavior, it does not ordinarily establish the
organizational intent of that behavior or that it has any real organizational intent at all (Keely 1979, p.
151)." That is, organizations may act such that actions produce effects (good or bad); but it does not
follow that organizations intended that effect. Only corporate executives do, and hence can incur moral
responsibility (Ibid. 152). Similarly, John Ladd argued that formal organizations such as corporations
are capable of only means-end rationality; that given a pre-determined goal, corporations can make
empirical judgments about the best means to achieve it, but contended that corporations have no
mechanism by which they can process or evaluate normative propositions. Consequently, corporations
cannot produce moral intentions to act rightly or wrongly in a moral sense (Ladd 1970).

Thomas Donaldson argued that being an intentional causal agent is not sufficient for moral personhood,
and hence, that French (1979) had not shown that corporations were full moral persons. (Donaldson
1982, p. 22). Werhane (1985: 57) similarly claimed that French's argument could not establish
corporate moral personhood because "although [corporations] indeed have some of the characteristics
of persons, they lack the autonomy necessary to perform primary actions, one of the conditions
necessary to be ascribed full personhood." In addition, Donaldson (1982) contended that there were
good reasons to believe that corporations cannot be moral persons. French’s (1979; 207) argument
implied that corporations "have whatever privileges, rights and duties as are, in the normal course of
affairs, accorded to moral persons." But Donaldson (1982: 22-23) claimed that this is either undesirable
- do we really want corporations as “moral persons” to have the right to vote, worship, be sentenced to
prison or the right to pursue happiness (Donaldson 1982, pp. 22-23).

Yet despite their criticism of French, both Donaldson and Werhane argued that corporations can bear
moral responsibility. This is because full moral personhood is not necessary for moral responsibility-
although all moral persons are morally responsible, subjects that do not satisfy all the requirements of
moral personhood can nevertheless be morally responsible agents. To demonstrate this, both Donaldson
(1982) and Werhane (1985) supplied their own set of conditions for moral agency. According to
Donaldson, to qualify as a moral agent, a corporation need only "embody a process of moral decision-
making (Donaldson 1982, p. 30)." This requires (1) the capacity “to use moral reasons in decision-
making," and (2) "the capacity of the decision-making process to control not only overt corporate acts,
but also the structure of policies and rules (Donaldson 1982, p. 30)." Donaldson claimed that many, if
not most, corporations meet these two requirements. While admitting that corporations "are unable to
think as humans," he argued that corporations can be morally accountable in the sense that "with the
proper internal structure, corporations, like humans, can be liable to give an account of their behaviour
where the account stipulates which moral reasons prompted their behavior (Donaldson 1982, p. 30)."
Further, there is no reason why a corporation's internal decisions procedures cannot be applied self-
referentially so that it is the corporation itself that controls the creation and "maintenance of the
corporation's decision-making machinery (Donaldson 1982, p. 30)." Hence, although not moral persons,
corporations can nevertheless be morally responsible agents.

Patricia Werhane's conditions for moral agency were essentially the same as French's conditions for
moral personhood: (1) the capacity to act, and (2) the ability to form intentions (Werhane 1985, pp. 57-
59). Werhane contended that corporations have the capacity to act because they can undertake
secondary actions - actions taken by individual corporate agents who are authorized to act on behalf of
the corporation by the corporate charter and by-laws as interpreted and amended by the board of
directors, corporate management, and market forces (Werhane 1985, pp. 52-56). These are true
corporate actions because they "cannot be re-described in terms of the actions of constituents (Werhane
1985, p. 56)." Further, Werhane agreed with French that the corporate structure incorporates the
intentions of individual human beings. She also argued that a corporate intentional system combines
the sum of the decision-making procedures carried out by boards of directors, stockholders at Annual
General Body Meetings (AGBM), management, foremen, and other employees, with the advice of
outside agents such as lawyers, accountants, and public relations persons, which together form
collective "corporate" "intentions" that are exhibit "corporate decision-making,” corporate "action,"
and organizational goals (Werhane 1985, p. 56).

Thus, although corporations are not moral persons, they "like persons, are and should be, held morally
responsible for actions within their control (Werhane 1985, p. 59)." However, all these considerations
still do not prove that corporations have intentions or act with full rationality and intentionality (Danley
1990: 204). While individuals within the corporation can intend, greed, combat with malice, and so
forth, the corporation cannot (Danley1990, p. 203). In the same vein, Velasquez argued that
corporations do not possess the integration of body and mind required for intentional action because an
act is intentional only if it is the carrying out of an intention formed in the mind of the agent whose
bodily movements bring about the act. The underlying reason for corporate policies and procedures
being unable to generate intentional action is that the concept of intentional action ... is rooted in the
concept of an agent with a certain mental and bodily unity that corporations do not have (Velasquez
1983: 8).

Later, Peter French possibly influenced by Thomas Doanldson (1982) and Patricia Werhane (1985),
revised his position: corporations are not full moral persons; but to be morally responsible, one need
only be a moral "actor” (French 1995, p. 10). Accordingly, French’s (1995) new necessary and sufficient
conditions to be a moral actor are: (1) the ability to act intentionally, that is, having "purposes, plans,
goals, and interests” that motivate behaviour; (2) the ability to make rational decisions and consider
rational arguments regarding their intentions (French 1995, p. 12), and (3) "the facility to respond
to events and ethical criticism by altering intentions and patterns of behavior that are harmful to others
or detrimental to their own· interests” (French 1995, pp. 10-12). However, French contended
“because corporations possessed CID structures, they satisfy each of these conditions” (Ibid. 12).

We might argue, for instance, that corporate strategic plans include market scanning, searching for
various market opportunities and alternatives (e.g., new product plans and designs, new market
territories, new brands, new mergers and acquisitions, new joint ventures and alliances), discernment
and evaluation, deliberation and final selection of competitive choices, strategic implementation,
strategic exclusions of other choices – all these CID stages require high levels of rationality,
intentionality, causality, commitment, dedication and accountability, indirectly of the corporation but
directly of its corporate members, and for which both can appropriate moral responsibility (see also
French 1996: 145-52). But Velasquez (2003) rejects French’s (1995) argument about corporate
intentions: French's CID structures simply could not do the work required to transform individual
intentions into corporate intentions. "The fact that we attribute intentional qualities to groups - including
corporate organizations - that are not attributable to their members, then, does not imply that those
groups have real intentions. The intentions that we attribute to groups are metaphorical, based on
analogies to the literal intentions we attribute to humans ...” (Velasquez 2003, pp. 545-546).

Arnold (2006: 286) asserted that corporate plans or commitments may consist of true
shared intentions. Shared intentions consist of the mutual intentions of individual parties
to engage in a joint activity, the meshing sub -plans of the intentions of the parties, and
the common knowledge of the par ties of corporate goals and objectives Pettit (2007:

175) introduced his own version of the necessary and sufficient conditions for moral
responsibility: (1) value relevance - the subject "is an autonomous agent and faces a
value relevant choice involvi ng the possibility of doing something good or bad or right
or wrong," (2) value judgment - the subject "has the understanding and access to
evidence required for being able to make judgments about the relative value of such
options," and (3) value sensit ivity - the subject "has the control necessary for being
able to choose between options on the basis of judgments about their value .”

Pettit argued that corporations satisfy the first condition because they can (1) qualify as agents, and (2)
act autonomously. Corporations qualify as agents "when members act on the shared intention that
together they should realize the conditions that ensure agency (Pettit 2007, p. 179)," which they do by
acting in accordance with a constitution "whereby the members of a group might each be assigned roles
in the generation of an action-suited body of desire and belief and in the performance of the actions that
it supports (Pettit 2007, p. 179)." Further, corporations can act autonomously because the corporation's
judgment cannot be reduced to the judgment of the individuals who comprise it. Thus, "autonomy is
intuitively guaranteed by the fact that on one or more issues the judgment of the group will have to
be functionally independent of the corresponding member judgments, so that its intentional attitudes
as a whole are most saliently unified by being, precisely, the attitudes of the group (Pettit 2007, p. 184)."
Pettit claimed that corporations satisfy the second and third conditions as well. They can form value
judgments "over a certain proposition when the proposition is presented for consideration and the group
takes whatever steps are prescribed in the constitution for endorsing it (Pettit 2007, p. 186)."

According to (Braham and Hees 2012) at least three conditions should be fulfilled for moral

1. Agency Condition (AC): The person is an autonomous agent who performed his or her action
2. Causal Relevancy Condition (CRC): There should be a causal relation between the action of
the agent and the resultant state of affairs;
3. Avoidance Opportunity Condition (AOC): The agent should have had a reasonable opportunity
to have done otherwise.

AC is a necessary condition for moral responsibility because we may do many things that effect
outcomes but do not bear the mark of 'authorship', where such authorship is a requirement for blame or
praise to be justified or appropriated. Similarly, CRC is a necessary condition for moral responsibility
because we cannot say that an outcome bears the stamp of 'authorship' of a person if the person played
no causal role in bringing it about. Whereas the two conditions are necessary, they are not yet sufficient
for a judgement about a person's praise - or blameworthiness. The question is, then, what additional
necessary condition is needed? A common line of thought is that some form of control other than
being a causal factor is required. In Watson's (2004, p. 280) view, because blaming responses
potentially affect the interests of those blamed, moral responsibility is closely related to the issue
of avoidability. Hence, AOC is needed as a necessary or a sufficient condition. If an agent knew,
could have known, or should have known, that a certain action of hers could lead to a particular
outcome, then we shall assess her responsibility for the outcome differently than if she could not
possibly have known, or not known, or need not have known, that the outcome would have resulted.
To avoid these circumstances we could assume the agents had “full information” and hence, ignorance
cannot excuse (Braham and Hees 2012: 608). But even with full knowledge, one may not have the
freedom to avoid it (Benn and Weinstein 1971; Sugden 1998), or is the avoidable opportunity “eligible”
for affecting executive freedom (Braham and Hees 2012: 618)? What is eligibility and to what extent
can it be fully ascertained before the action?

Despite all the three necessary or sufficient conditions being fulfilled, does it automatically or logically
follow that a corporation should realize these predicates before being attributed moral responsibility,
with or without being recognized as a moral person? These three conditions may fulfil moral agency,

but are they necessary and sufficient for moral personhood? Further, by asking for states of full willing,
causation and avoidance, are we “over-determining” to exonerate responsibility (Braham and Hees
2012: 607) or underdetermining it so that individuals an corporates can be easily blamed or held morally
responsible? Moreover, can the corporation be held morally (and not only legally) responsible, even
though legally it may not be a moral agent or a moral person? For instance, if majority vote decided
the choice, execution of an action that produced harmful consequences, and any individual abstaining
from vote would not have changed this choice, then seeking to verify all three conditions from each
corporate agent for unilaterally controlled outcomes is too strong a condition of over-determination? In
which case, we are far better off by attributing “joint moral responsibility” to all the “co-authors” of
“crime,” rather than victimize and chastise each to full causality? This was a suggestion independently
arrived by McKenna (1997), Wyma (1997), and Otsuka (1998). Even if a given executive acted
autonomously under non-autonomous conditions, we can still assign some “joint responsibility” to that
individual. Alternately, even if an autonomous agent acted non-autonomously under certain
circumstances, we can still ascribe “joint responsibility” to that person on the grounds he was part of
the team that decided the action.

In the narrative of the Tragedy of the Commons, it is difficult to assign moral responsibility for a
common outcome arising from several actors such as corporations and corporates (e.g., Global Climate
Change, Depletion of common resources such as forests, deep sea mining, deep sea fishing) where no
individual or corporation has direct control over the outcome in the form of actions that are necessary
or sufficient conditions for such an outcome to occur. In such cases it is not obvious who is to be
assigned responsibility for the outcome. But we can all take joint responsibility to prevent further
damage to the Commons.

Even though a corporation is a fluid institution with regularly changing CXOs, BODs, even with
changing vision, mission and identity, is that stable enough to accept and own moral responsibility?
Or, regardless of the three conditions verified or not verified in the corporation, can we be satisfied that
the corporation is legally held liable for its harmful effects, while its corporate members might be held
additionally moral responsible for the harmful effects of the corporation they belong to? Or, can we
consider both attributions to corporation and to corporates just as metaphorical or “as-if” propositions
without necessarily reifying them or vilifying them?

Table 17A.1: summarizes Individual and Corporate Moral Responsibility from Thought to Action

What is Collectivity and when Morally Responsible?

According to Soares (2003: 145) ,corporate moral agency enables the possibility of describing
an event in two ways: First, the intentional action of the individuals, and second, the intentional
action of the corporation for which the individuals work. This means that intentionality is
not only confined to the level of the individual, but also to the collective corporate. Often, the two
vectors of individual and collective intentionalities may clash and overpower such that individual
intentionalities may be overruled or suppressed by the collective thus minimizing individual moral
responsibility; and often the vice versa may be true when individual rationality and intentionality may
supress the collective, thus reducing corporate moral responsibility. But more often than not, the two
vectors of wills and rationalities may complement each other. This is tantamount what French (1996:
41) calls the internal decision structures (CID) of corporations where by policies, rules, codes,
procedures and decisions are jointly made, and hence, form the basis for attributing moral agency to
them. It is even possible for the CID structure to be so tightly construed that individual
responsibility and freedom no longer makes sense. However, French ( 1 9 9 7 ) argues that, in
practice, it makes sense to talk about actions, which are informed by the corporation's plans,
aims and interests beyond those of the individuals who work inside the company

Assigning individuals with moral responsibility for collective action is relatively easy if the collective
action is merely the aggregate of identical individual actions (e.g., gang rape, group riot, team

conspiracy). While there might be some mitigation related to group psychology (e.g. in a riot),
assessments of culpability would likely not be too different from a case in which a person performed
the contributory action alone.

A "goal-oriented collective" is a loosely-organized ad hoc group oriented toward accomplishing a

commonly held goal, such as a group of picnickers, and an "organization" is a formally organized, long
lasting group often characterized by hierarchy and well-defined roles occupied by rotating personnel.
Commonly-held goals are not always universally present in organizations but are in goal-oriented
collectives (Isaacs 2011). Assessment of contributory actions is harder for collective actions irreducible
to members' identical component actions, composed as they are of different types of actions (some of
them marginal, indifferent or counter-productive to the collective action), linked together by a corporate
intention imposed through orders or role specifications, with few if any members knowing the full scope
of the collective action they advance. The challenge is to see which if any of the vectors of individual
moral agency can connect to collective action in a way tainting or ennobling group members'
contributory actions according to the collective action's character. Something analogous to a human
intention guiding collective action can be present in organizations irreducible to the intentions of all its
members. (Sherker 2014: 11).

Collective intentionality, rationality, causality and hence collective accountability, are complex
organizational realities that entail several discrete, sequential, and connected strategies such as group
intention, group planning cells, group understanding of goals and objectives, group action projects,
group prediction of outcomes, group willing of outcomes, and group culpability and blame for bad
outcomes, and group achievement and praise for good outcomes. Lack of active and willed participation
in some of these group activities may reduce culpability, individual or collective.

Synthesizing Necessary or Sufficient Conditions for

Attributing Mora Responsibility
Table 17A.2 describes the usual content, domain and scope of rationality (R), intentionality (I), causality
(C), and accountability (A), at both individual and collective levels of an organization. R, I, C, and A
can serve as rewarding or inculpating conditions for collective action. What is needed for assigning
moral responsibility to corporate individuals, and to corporation as a business entity? Exhibit 17A.1 is
one such characterization.

However, apportioning moral responsibility to individuals in "corporate groups" or "organizations" can

be problematic. For instance, Miller (2001: 174-6) argues that participants in "joint mechanisms" are
individually responsible for their contributory actions. A joint mechanism is a set of interlocking
behaviors like a company's decision-making procedures used to coordinate actions and bring about
certain types of outcomes. The "corporate actions" produced by mechanisms are irreducible to
individuals' contributing actions because the joint mechanism allows for outcomes contrary to some of
the participants' preferences (Miller 2001 p 174).

For instance, consider the following combination of R + I + C + A in Table 17A.2:

A. As a promoter & member of the governing board I voted against certain action of the corporation
and the BOD (-I-C) [i.e., did not intend it (-I) nor voted for it (-C)], and lobbied heavily against it
(-R) [i.e. reasoned and argued against it].
B. As a member of the governing board I voted against (-I-C) this action but did not lobby against it
as I should (+R) [i.e., silence is consent (+R)].
C. As a CEO of the same company at a pre-BOD meeting I voted for this action (+I+C) and lobbied
heavily for it (+R).
D. As a shareholder at the annual general body meeting (AGBM) I voted against it (-I-C).

Exhibit 17A.1: Characterizing Legal and Moral Responsibilities of Various actors by
Behavioral Stages

Possible Legal Liability Moral Responsibility to Concerned Stakeholders

Behavioral to Concerned Individual Corporate Joint
Stages Stakeholders
Sole Physical NC NC NC NC
Joint Causality SC SC SC SC
Moral Rationality NA NC NC NC
Action: Physical- NC NC NC NC
Action: Moral- NA SC SC SC
Moral Intentionality NA SC SC SC
Moral Discernment NA SC SC SC
Moral Deliberation NA SC SC SC
Moral Personhood NA NC NA NC

Legend: NA = Not applicable; NC = Necessary condition; SC = Sufficient condition

What is the accountability (or its correlative, culpability) of each person in the final outcome that turned
to be socially harmful? Just based on the allocation of ± R, I, C and A, one rank of descending culpability
would be C, B, D and A. But if this allocation is weighted by the hierarchical importance of the person
involved in the action, the rank of descending culpability would be C, B, A and D; [i.e., accountability
for the promoter still remains despite her voting and lobbying against it; perhaps, she could have
deployed other promoter resources against the corporate action.

But, what is the moral responsibility of each person in the final outcome that turned to be socially
harmful? Again, just based on the allocation of ± R, I, C and A, one rank of descending moral
responsibility would be C, B, D and A. Now, assume that moral responsibility is proportional to the
duration of involvement and level of control that you had before the action and the extent you used both
for stopping this action. Further, if this allocation is weighted by the hierarchical importance of the
person involved in the action, the rank order of descending moral responsibility would be C, B, A, and

Thus far, in the allocation of accountability or moral responsibility as done above, the persons A, B, C
and D and their actions and responsibilities are considered independently. But as Miller (2001) argues,
being fully, individually responsible for their contributory actions such as votes, participants in joint
mechanisms are "jointly responsible" for the relevant corporate action, meaning that each member is
morally responsible, but this responsibility is dependent on the other members' being equally
responsible. Miller argues that even those whose preferences are not reflected in the joint mechanism's
outcome, such as those on the losing side of a committee vote, are still morally responsible for the
outcome. This follows because they committed themselves to abide by the mechanism's outcome and
thereby, in a sense, connected their own conscious agency with the power of the group. Here; even the
opponent to a proposal is responsible for the associated action when the majority of her peers bring it
about through a joint mechanism (Miller 2001: 241).

But Sherker (2014: 212) questions Miller: how can an individual participant be held morally responsible
for actions she cannot control, such as the joint actions of the corporation? Unless one follows a
prudential rule: one should avoid situations where one is responsible for bad actions—usually situations
where one performs, endorses, or supports bad actions causing unmerited harm and deserving
punishment. But how could one predict the future bad outcome and stay away from it? In practice this
would mean avoid joining corporations where such bad outcomes could happen. This is difficult to

provide, unless one knows the bad track record of certain companies prone to fraud and corruption.
Then, of course, one is prudentially bound to avoid joining such corporations, and may face

The framework of Table 17A.2 suggests alternatives. One could join any company where she can offer
and control her rationality, intentionality, causality and accountability and thus foresee contingencies
of moral hazard or adverse selection. Accountability and moral responsibility are more prospective than
prescriptive, and descriptive more than meta-analytic. We join corporations where basic moral
principles and convictions (e.g. personal conscience, family conscience, neighbourhood conscience,
city conscience and national conscience) are not compromised or jeopardized. One is bound by
prescriptions and not by descriptions; the latter can be arbitrary and hence, rationally accepted or
refused. One can always choose one’s values and the companies that live by them.

Should the executive abstain from the vote or not? If an organization member whose presence is
necessary for a quorum desires collective action X, she stands to help accomplishing X if she wins the
vote, but risks enabling~X if she participates in the vote and loses. If she prevents the vote from
occurring by refusing to participate, she prevents~X from occurring, but also forfeits the chance that
the organization accomplishes X. Further, she forfeits the chance of lobbying her peers to vote for X if
she is replaced because of her non-participation (Wolgast 1992 p 90).

But asks Sherker (2014 213): should I abstain from the vote or not? If an organization member whose
presence is necessary for a quorum desires collective action X, she stands to help accomplishing X if
she wins the vote, but risks enabling X if she participates in the vote and loses. If she prevents the vote
from occurring by refusing to participate, she prevents X from occurring, but also forfeits the chance
that the organization accomplishes X. Further, she forfeits the chance of lobbying her peers to vote for
X if she is replaced because of her non-participation (Wolgast 1992 p 90).

Also, much would depend upon what is voted: a fair outcome or a policy Y or a defective product Z,
and if one has a duty to vote, or if not voting would amount to subversion... “If the "outcome of a fair
procedure" is construed as the dissident's end instead of "policy X," so that her end is met no matter
what the procedure's outcome, then there is a much stronger case to say the participant who intentionally
and knowingly participated in the procedure is culpable for its outcome” added. In general, participants
in joint mechanisms ought to have as an end the mechanisms' fair outcomes, and act accordingly
(Sherker 2014: 213-214). While increased knowledge ® and causal efficacy (C) will increase one's
individual responsibility all group members are responsible for the group's actions once they join the
group (Ibid. 215). Kutz focuses on the subjective meaning agents ascribe to their acts—the reasons
they have for acting—in part because an exclusive focus on causality would exonerate malicious actors
whose contributions to bad joint projects were marginal or ineffectual or when their contributions made
no individual difference to over-determined collective actions (Kutz 2000: 140). Mitigating
circumstances reducing accountability include the difficulty of learning information contextualizing the
agent's action and the lack of alternatives forcing the agent's hand (Kutz 2000 p 161). One is
accountable for harm if one chose to enter an organization that ended up doing harm (Sherker 2014:

Can Corporations Act Morally or Immorally?

This question, innocuous as it may sound, assumes the following: a) that corporations may be said “to
act;” b) that corporations can be “subjects” of actions; c) that besides being “subjects,” corporations can
be “moral agents” who can act rightly or wrongly, morally or immorally; d) morality can be applied
univocally to these “acts” and “subjects;” and hence e) a corporation that acts wrongly can be a proper
object of moral disdain and criticism, one from whom others (e.g., possible investors, shareholders,
bondholders, or consumers) ought to disassociate themselves. (Sandbu 2012: 99-100). These
assumptions can be defended (e.g., Sandbu 2010, 2011). For the present let us assume that moral

responsibility is preceded by and is equivalent to everyday words such as “moral liability,” “moral
imputability,” “moral culpability,” “moral implication,” “moral tainting” or “moral complicity.”

In this connection, Sandbu (2014) seeks to assess moral responsibility of stakeholders such as
shareholder and bondholders for investing in companies that eventually turn out bad outcomes. His
assessment is premised on three investing activities: enabling, financing, and complicity. All three
activities may not be necessary inculpating conditions since much of the time shareholders and
bondholders may not full represent the companies by their investments. Moreover, as investors they
may not know (ignorance) what the company is doing in terms of generating bad outcomes, and not
being (impotence) in doing anything about it. However, shareholders and bondholders can incur some
moral responsibility to the extent their enabling, financing or complicity activities are big enough to
influence corporate behaviour; the latter are mitigating or exonerating circumstances.

Organizations Do Not Enjoy Moral Immunity

In general the modifier 'moral' is used to signal a broad context in which the notion of responsibility is
to be situated, a context that validates attributions of responsibility to individuals according to criteria
distinct from, e.g., law, religion, etiquette, and custom. The third distinction has to do with the force of
attributions like "She is morally responsible in her decision-making".

That is, once we are clear about which sense of 'responsible' is at issue (in this case, the decision-making
sense), and once we recognize that it is moral responsibility rather than, say, legal responsibility that is
meant, the question arises: In saying that an individual is morally responsible, are we merely describing
certain of his or her cognitive, emotional or decision-making characteristics or are we instead (or also)
commending and recommending them? Put another way, is the concept of moral responsibility, as we
are pursuing it, a normative concept or a descriptive concept or some mixture of the two? The last is
true. In any case, we may distinguish attributing moral responsibility to the person who acts (in the
causal or rule-following or decision making senses) or to the action of the person (in the same three
senses). To say that individuals are morally responsible, e.g., in the decision-making sense, is to say
something about them, about the cognitive and emotional processes that precede and accompany their
actions; it is not to issue a verdict about the rightness and wrongness of their actions in every case. Some
philosophers would characterize this feature of the concept of moral responsibility by saying that it
refers to 'subjective' rightness (or in the case of irresponsibility, wrongness) while 'objective' rightness
and wrongness are the central concerns of ethics. But this would be too hasty. For the fact is that though
moral responsibility may be a virtue insufficient to insure complete moral rectitude in what one does, it
is clearly to be thought of as an essential, even dominant, component. Actions that are taken without it
might in some cases be 'objectively' right, but more frequently they will not be. And actions that are
taken with it might in some cases be 'objectively' wrong, but more frequently they will not be.

William K. Frankena, a leading American moral philosopher, poses this question: whom should a moral
spectator rank higher, a person who does the right thing from bad motives or one who acts from good
motives but does the wrong thing? Which person should we regard as morally better? (1980:5).

Our first observation, writes Goodpaster (1983:7) is that the concept of moral responsibility is
normative with respect to the virtues of individual decision-making more than with respect to the
rightness or wrongness of specific actions or behavior. It is what we might call a process-concept. The
second observation supplements the first: Attributions of moral responsibility are not only process-
oriented rather than aimed directly at the content of behavior, they are also generic. That is, the cognitive
and emotional processes associated with moral responsibility are less specific than those associated with
the principles usually discussed in normative ethics. To attribute the normative-cum-descriptive concept
of moral responsibility to an individual, then, is to allude to certain generic decision making traits
(cognitive and emotional dispositions) of the individual. It is not to pass judgment directly on the
rightness or wrongness of the individual's acts, nor is it to impute a specific normative ethical principle
to the individual's reasoning.

Is our concept of corporate moral responsibility based on excess “moralizing” of organizational

Arguably, Kenneth Goodpaster (1983:3) started the discussion of corporate moral responsibility in the
context of the then famous Ford Pinto Case, and said “Ford Motor Company confronted a long series
of difficult policy questions, starting with competitive response to foreign imports and including
engineering safety, product liability, and public relations. Issues of corporate responsibility therefore,
are of larger scope than the issues at stake in personal executive choices. Individuals make corporate
policy decisions, of course, but these decisions are not merely personal; they are choices made for and
in the name of the corporation. The notion of corporate responsibility finds its home in this larger
context. At the same time, issues of corporate responsibility are of smaller scope than the ethical
foundations of capitalism, since they presuppose to a great extent the fundamental legitimacy of
capitalism, private property, for example, and free enterprise.”

“Corporate moral responsibility, like its analogue in the individual, argues Goodpaster (1983:19),
requires management: management of people and resources, but most importantly what we might call
self-management. The modern challenge for the professional manager lies not with the growing number
of tasks associated with the growing complexity of the role. Though formidable, the quantitative
dimensions of the challenge can be met by more sophisticated approaches to control, production, and
organizational structure. The most dramatic challenge lies in the qualitative domain, the domain in
which management must exercise judgment and self-understanding. The competitive and strategic
rationality that has for so long been the hallmark of managerial competence must be joined to a more
'disinterested', community-centered rationality. Gamesmanship must be supplemented with moral

“Armchair reflections about business ethics are no longer sufficient (they never were) for those who are
serious about the central issues. The complexities of corporate decision-making generate corresponding
complexities for responsible corporate decision-making. Without the understanding of such
complexities that comes from case study research, the quest for moral understanding in modern business
life is empty. But without a philosophical framework and a set of norms reflectively reached, the study
of cases is blind (ibid. 20).

Following, Goodpaster (1983), we could conceive moral responsibility as a function of several

sequential stages such as moral perception, moral reasoning, moral coordination, moral projection and
moral implementation. Table 17A.3 spells out these stages for both corporate individuals as well as
corporate collectives.

On the other hand, Velasquez (2003) visualize moral responsibility as a function of several components
such as rationality and intentionality, and therefore causality and accountability. Table 17A.3 details
this approach in relation to both individual and corporate moral responsibilities. Velasquez (1983,
2003) argues that corporations as a group do not have “intrinsic” rationality and intentionality, other
than those of its corporate members, and hence cannot be attributed any causality or moral responsibility
other than metaphorically. Citing John Searle (1980), he describes intentionality of corporations as “as
if” or extrinsic, and not intrinsic. Intentionality is the necessary condition of moral responsibility, and
since corporations do not exhibit intrinsic intentionality they cannot held morally responsible. But in
the real world of today corporations “perform” by making certain (often risky) choices backed by
appropriate strategies (e.g., new product design and development, purchases, mergers and acquisitions,
strategic alliances, divestitures, and joint ventures).

Some of these have good processes (e.g. research, rationality, intentions) and good outcomes (revenues,
profits, dividends, growth), while other choices are riddled with bad processes (e.g., fraud, corruption,
bribery, misleading, deception, cheating, obfuscation) and bad outcomes (e.g., money-laundering,
embezzlement, losses in reputation, equity and market capitalization, that lead to insolvency and/or
bankruptcy). Corporations as individual executives or collective groups can assess bad processes (such

as policies, procedures, routines, and rituals) and avoid them and thus minimize bad outcomes. This is
their individual and collective, causal and moral, agency and responsibility. Even if it is “as-if”
rationality and intentionality, corporations cannot be totally exonerated from moral and agent,
accountability and responsibility (see Mascarenhas 1995). Neither should responsibility of corporate
executives be exaggerated since they clearly exhibit intrinsic rationality, intentionality, causality and
accountability. Individuals and corporate collectives can both exhibit enough of rationality,
intentionality, causality and accountability to be attributed causal and moral responsibility for certain
outcomes they initiate, process and cause.

Even Velasquez (2003: 547-48)) admits: “When we attribute intentionality to a collection of people that
cannot be attributed to the individual members of the collection, then, we generally do so because the
actions of the collection meet certain conditions: they exhibit a pattern that we think is sufficiently
analogous to the actions of intentional humans to merit de- scribing them in that way…. The law, for
example, attributes to sellers certain so-called "implied" promises of usability. Such laws are not saying
that sellers have actually made such promises, nor that sellers behave as if they are making such
promises. Instead, the law is simply declaring that sellers are to be treated as if they have made such
promises. Prescriptive attributions are also the pre-legal basis of a certain legal device that I noted
earlier: the device of declaring that some entity is to be treated as if it had characteristics that it does not
in reality have.” “Intentional characteristics are not the only kinds of features that can be prescriptively
attributed to persons, groups, or objects. We can prescriptively attribute to persons, groups, or objects
virtually anything at all, including actions, functions, emotions, rights, obligations, liabilities,
relationships, and so on. In adoptions, for example, the law prescriptively attributes to certain
individuals the relationships (along with its attendant rights, obligations, and liabilities) of father,
mother, son, or daughter. In certain cases, the law of torts prescriptively attributes to a parent the actions
of his or her child, along with their attendant legal consequences. The law can attribute to corporate
groups the status of personhood (along with its attendant legal rights and obligations), and it attributes
to that fictitious legal entity we call a "corporation," the actions of its officers” (Velasquez, footnote 45,
p. 559).

Limitations and Directions for Future Research

All three tables (17A.1, 17A.2 and 17A.3) need more work on content clarification and justification. In
particular, notions such as Moral Perception, Moral Reasoning, Moral Coordination, Moral Projection
and Moral Implementation of Table 17A.1, Rationality, Intentionality, Causality an Accountability of
Table 17A.2, and the concepts of individual, corporation, and joint moral responsibility need more
dialog until we have a better intersubjective consensus.

Responsibility, whether legal, ethical, moral, spiritual, ecological or sustainability, is market contextual.
We need to restudy the scandals or tragic events in terms of their randomness or Black Swan content
so that we might be better equipped to explain, predict, detect, prevent, monitor and control such events
far before they get slammed on their victims. In this connection the theoretical discussions by Nassim
Nicholas Taleb in Fooled by Randomness (2001, 2004) and The Black San: The Impact of the Highly
Improbable (2007, 2010) are very valuable, and offered as directions for future research.

Concluding Remarks
No matter how elaborate or simplified the processes of identifying the domain, scope and allocation of
moral responsibility, the final critical point is how willing we are to appropriate legal, ethical, moral ,
spiritual, planetary ecological, and cosmic sustainability as individuals, corporations or joint corporate
organization and members. What is taken back from the society in the form of greed, fraud, corruption,
money-laundering, safety violations, system breakdown, outsourcing, relocation, plant closure,
insolvency and bankruptcy must be restored to the society as its due and entitlement and not as charity.
The world and its corporations will have a better future, and mankind better peace and posterity, if all

the agents involved in a given scandal or tragic or Black Swan events event take full responsibility for
their role, actions and consequences..

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Table 17A.1: Individual and Corporate Moral Responsibility from Thought to Action

Variable Corporate Individual Corporate Collective

Scanning the environment Scanning the corporate environment
Selectivity in scanning, testing, Selectivity of data: test data, test procedures,
Moral Perception research, analysis, inference, consumer worker safety, worker rights and duties;
satisfaction, consumer welfare, worker consumer health, consumer rights and duties;
safety and welfare, consumer ecology, cosmic sustainability consumer

Individual rationality and intelligence Organizational tacit knowledge and routines,

of selecting, storing, analyzing relevant skills and procedure: Corporate collective (e.g.,
information, facts, figures, ethical Board of Directors) rationality of gathering,
theories, moral principles in relation sorting, selecting, storing, archiving, retrieving,
subjects, objects, properties and events analyzing relevant information, facts, figures,
(SOPE); customs, mores, traditions, ethical theories,
Moral and non-moral criteria in corporate policies, corporate moral principles and
Moral Reasoning reasoning; the like regarding a given case or litigation;
Moral judgment calls; Moral reasoning can be refined and enhanced by
Moral judgment justification; top management and BOD, consultors and
Moral ignorance and weakness; corporate lawyers;
Moral law compliance & abidance; Moral ignorance/compliance of regulations;
Industry law compliance or defiance; Corporate moral congruence and convergence;

Individual moral competence; Organizational moral competence;

Moral intelligibility; Shared plans and intentions;
Personal corporate goals/ objectives; Shared goals and objectives;
Individual motivation and autonomy; Corporate motivation and autonomy;
Individual efforts to corporate Corporate strategies for corporate congruence
Moral Coordination congruence and accord; and accord;
Coordination in creativity, discovery, Corporate ambitions and aspirations;
invention and innovation; Shared corporate vision, mission and identity;
Coordination in explanation, Corporate moral agreement/disagreement;
prediction, monitoring, control; Corporate moral journey;
Corporate moral governance philosophy;
Moral projection from thought to Organizational conscience;
action, individual to team and groups, Corporate moral purpose and passion;
microcosms to macrocosms; Corporate conscience for local communities;
Moral Conscience; moral intentions; Organizational moral climate;
Employee entitlements; Corporate social responsibility;
Consumer entitlements; Corporate philanthropy;
Moral Projection Local community rights and duties and Corporate outreach;
entitlements; Global community right, duties;
National rights, duties & entitlements; Global justice, harmony and solidarity;
Global community right, duties, Global human equality& eradication of poverty;
Global ecology and sustainability; Global ecology and sustainability;
Cosmic ecology and sustainability. Cosmic ecology and sustainability;
Corporate contribution to employment &welfare;
Corporate influence on industry, nation and the
global community;
Personal commitment/promise to Institutionalizing worker/consumer safety and
worker/consumer safety and welfare; prosperity;
Passionate commitment to corporate Responding to employee & customer complaints;
implementation of moral Handling short-term vs. long-term objectives;
responsibility; Handling competitive pressures;
Individual commitment to creativity, Handling litigation pressures and actions;
Moral Implementation discovery, invention and innovation; Sustainable competitive advantage (SCA);
Commitment to enhancing corporate, Avoiding trade-offs via seeking newer
brand, identity, and mission; alternatives;
Commitment to global harmony, peace Corporate trade-offs for growth and survival;
and solidarity; Corporate returns to shareholders (ROE, EPS,
Background/foreground Individual Executive Moral Corporate Collective Moral Responsibility
for: Responsibility

Table 17A.2: Composition of Individual and Collective Moral
Responsibility Individual Executive Collective Corporate
Rationality ( R) Individual perception, market scanning, Collective rationality represented by collective
selection of events, gathering information, perceptions, joint market opportunity scanning,
description, analysis, explanation, collective selections of opportunities via
rationalization, justification, prediction, gathering information, restricted
monitoring; agreement/disagreement and
Problem solving, seeking alternatives, convergence/divergence;
evaluating alternatives and histories; Collective description, analysis, explanation,
Individual learning, skills, expertise, prediction, control of good or bad events;
intellectual properties and patents. Collective organizational learning and routines,
tacit and overt knowledge, skills, intellectual
property rights, patents and technologies.
Intentionality (I) Individual intent and intentionality Collective intent and intentionality
marked by personal preferences, purpose, characterized by group preferences, corporate
beliefs, values, family upbringing and conduct, corporate vision, mission, identity,
traditions, personal desires, dreams, corporate loyalties/disloyalties;
ambitions, loyalties/disloyalties; corporate expectations, standards;
Personal expectations, standards; Corporate codes, industrial codes, mores,
Individual levels of commitment, customs, conventions, injunctions;
dedication, and promises; Corporate commitment, thrust, dedication,
Individual challenges of being good; contribution, promises;
Individual civility, integrity and Corporate challenges and difficulties of being
citizenship. good and contributing;
Corporate civility, integrity, transparency and
Causality ( C) Individual action composed of individual Collective action marked by group decision-
choices, intentions, selections, actions, and making via corporate choices, options,
foreseen and unforeseen consequences intentions, selection, elections, commissions,
insight, intuition, hindsight, efforts, omissions, strategies, implementation and
abilities, skills, contributions, initiations, control;
creativity, invention, discovery, innovation, Corporate command and mandates via common
ventures, adventures, expeditions; policies and procedures, shared planning, goals
Understanding and handing risk, and objectives, commonly enforced standards,
uncertainty, chaos; norms and expectations;
Individual rights, duties, entitlement, Collective combatting of competitive pressures
compensation, salaries, wages, perks, and environments;
shares, bonuses, commissions; Sustainable competitive advantage (SCA);
Corporate rights, duties, entitlements,
Accountability (A) Personal accountability, answerability; Collective accountability & answerability,
Personal attributions, appropriations, Corporate attributions, appropriations,
Individual expectations, obligations, Corporate expectations, obligations, duties,
duties, rights, entitlements, social justice; rights, entitlements, compensations, social
Good (socially benefitting) outcomes – justice, corporate justice;
individual attribution/appropriation of Good (socially benefitting) outcomes – corporate
praise/reward; attribution/appropriation of praise/awards;
Bad (socially harmful) outcomes - Bad (socially harmful) outcomes - corporate
individual attribution/appropriation of attribution/appropriation of collective liability,
liability, guilt, blame/punishment; guilt, blame/punishment;

Causal agency R + C = Individual causal agency; R + C = Corporate causal agency;

Moral agency I + R + C = individual moral agency; I + R + C = Corporate moral agency;
Responsibility I + C + A = Individual responsibility; I + C + A = Corporate responsibility;
Causal R + C + A = Individual causal R + C + A = Corporate causal responsibility;
responsibility responsibility;
Moral I + R + C + A = Individual moral I + R + C + A = Corporate moral responsibility;
Responsibility responsibility;
Note: R, I, C, A as defined in this column R, I, C, A as defined in this column

Table 17A.3: Domain and Scope of Individual, Joint and Corporate Moral
Dimensions of Domain, Scope and Mandate of Responsibility
Responsibility Individual Corporate Joint
(Executive) (Organizational) (Executive/Corporate)
Executive Law Awareness; Corporate Law Awareness; Shared Law Awareness;
Executive Law Compliance; Corporate Law Compliance; Shared Law Compliance;
Executive Law Abidance; Corporate Law Abidance; Shared Law Abidance;
Legal Executive unjust Law Defiance; Corporate Unjust Law Defiance ; Unjust Law shared Defiance;
Responsibility Executive non-malfeasance; Corporate non-malfeasance; Joint non-malfeasance;
Executive Legal blameworthiness; Corporate legal blameworthiness; Joint legal blameworthiness;
Executive Legal liability. Corporate legal liability. Joint legal liability.

Individual executives must: Corporations must: Corporations & its Executives must:
Do the right thing; Do the right thing; Do the right thing;
Avoid any wrong thing; Avoid any wrong thing; Jointly avoid any wrong thing;
Prevent people from all harm; Prevent all harm to society; Jointly prevent all harm;;
Protect people from all harm; Protect people from all harm; Protect people from all harm;
Ethical Execute teleological justice; Fulfil teleological justice; Fulfil teleological justice;
Responsibility Execute deontological justice; Execute deontological justice; Bring about deontological justice;
Foster distributive justice; Work towards distributive justice; Promote distributive justice;
Support corrective Justice; Support corrective Justice; Support corrective Justice;
Reduce buyer-seller information Collectively reduce BSIA. Be transparent and reduce BSIA.
asymmetry (BSIA).
Executives are full moral persons; Corporations must: Corporations & its Executives must as
Hence, they must: Do the right thing rightly; moral institutions :
Do the right thing rightly; Deserve moral praiseworthiness; Do the right thing rightly;
Deserve moral praiseworthiness; Respect human dignity; Jointly deserve moral praiseworthiness;
Moral Respect human dignity of all; Foster cardinal virtues; Promote equal human dignity of all;
Live the cardinal virtues of Restore human equality; Jointly nurture cardinal virtues;
Responsibility prudence, justice, temperance and Uphold moral plans & intentions; Jointly restore human equality;
fortitude; Promote moral vision and mission; Share corporate moral plans & goals;
Have moral intent and intentions; Nurture moral brand identity; Foster moral vision and mission;
Have moral vision and mission; Institutionalize categorical Nurture moral brand identity;
Internalize categorical imperatives. corporate moral imperatives. Share categorical imperatives

As moral persons, individuals must As quasi moral Person, the Corporations & its Executives must as
do the right thing rightly & for the corporation must: moral institutions :
right reasons; Do the right thing rightly and for Do the right thing rightly and for the
Spiritual Cultivate interpersonal trust; the right reasons; right reasons;
Responsibility Live immanence & transcendence; Cultivate interpersonal trust; Nurture corporate Interpersonal trust;
Live personal honesty & integrity; Live corporate transcendence; Share Corporate transcendence;
Live national & global citizenship; Value integrity and honesty; Witness integrity and honesty;
Restore human equality of all. Uphold corporate citizenship; Value corporate citizenship;
Restore human equality; Uphold human equality.

As individual corporate executives As a global citizen, the corporation Corporations & its Executives must as
they must: must: moral institutions:
Be aware of ecological concerns; Respond to ecological concerns; Address ecological concerns;
Fulfil ecological obligations; Fulfil all ecological obligations; Fulfil ecological obligations;
Responsibility Seek partnership with Nature; Nurture partnership with Nature; Strive Partnership with Nature;
Restore and recreate Nature; Restore and recreate Nature; Restore and recreate Nature;
for Develop and transform Nature; Develop and transform Nature; Develop and transform Nature;
Planetary Eradicate or alleviate poverty; Eradicate poverty under all forms; Eradicate poverty as social violence;
Combatting pandemic disease; Combat pandemic disease; Combat pandemic disease;
Ecology Assure housing, nutrition and Assure housing, nutrition and Assure housing, nutrition and healthcare
healthcare skills for all workers; healthcare skills for all workers; skills or all workers;
Assure legacy of renewed nature to Ensure legacy of restored nature to Ensure legacy of restored and
posterity. posterity. transformed nature to posterity.

As cosmic citizens all corporate As a cosmic citizen the corporation Corporations & its Executives must as
executives must: must: moral institutions must:
Responsibility Engage in cosmic conservation; Engage in cosmic conservation; Engage in cosmic conservation;
for Fight cosmic anthropomorphism; Fight cosmic anthropomorphism; Fight cosmic anthropomorphism;
(the universe is for man); Foster cosmic spirituality; Foster cosmic spirituality;
Cosmic Foster cosmic spirituality; Seek cosmic partnership; Ensure cosmic partnership;
Sustainability Nurture cosmic partnership; Promote cosmic harmony & peace; Promote cosmic harmony & peace;
Promote cosmic harmony & peace; Respect cosmic fulfilment & Respect cosmic fulfilment & happiness.
Respect cosmic fulfilment & happiness.