Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter May 9, 2017

From Corporate Moral Agency to Corporate Moral Rights

Avia Pasternak

Abstract

Recent literature suggests that organizational entities, such as states and business corporations, can qualify as moral agents. Does it follow that, as members of our moral community, group agents are entitled to moral protections? This article explores the connection between groups’ moral agency and moral rights. I argue that corporate moral agency does not, in itself, ground a group’s claim for moral protections. Nevertheless, a group agent can be entitled to derivative moral rights protections, which attach to the group itself but are grounded in the interests of individuals, such as the group’s members. Furthermore, the agential status of a group helps to identify which rights can attach to it, given its moral agency. One such moral agency related right is a right not to be morally subverted. This right generates a duty for the group agent’s members to ensure that its decision-making process incorporates sound moral reasoning. The final part of the article applies these conclusions to recent debates on the rights of states. I argue that, as moral agents, states have a moral right not to be morally subverted. It follows that citizens have a pro tanto duty, directed at their state, not to engage in political activities that would subvert its moral powers.

Published Online: 2017-5-9
Published in Print: 2017-5-8

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston