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Should corporations have "moral responsibility"? Show more Show less
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With BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Volkswagen’s emissions scandal, and Apple’s ‘batterygate’, there is no shortage of corporations behaving in a morally reprehensible way to cut costs or increase profits. Should corporations have morals? Are business ethics important? Is it a firm’s collective responsibility to behave in an ethical way?

No, corporations shouldn't have moral responsibility Show more Show less

Corporations are the sum of individual decisions. They don't know right from wrong and cannot be punished. Therefore, it makes far more sense to limit morals to the individual.
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Corporate morals dehumanize the individual

Once a corporation attempts to force its values on its employees, it risks dehumanizing them. "Moral responsibility" is a message that so clearly disenfranchises the individuals within that company who must fall under and conform to that ambiguous mantra, blanketing over them with a meaningless phrase that steals their senses of expression.
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Context

When a corporation is anthropomorphized, it dehumanizes the individuals that work for that organisation.

The Argument

In making corporations define their morals, you are anthropomorphizing corporations. In doing so, you dehumanize the individual. Taking away that sense of humanity from employees and throwing it onto an arbitrary corporate structure does away with so many individual traits and qualities that make people unique. Digitaldoughnut writes, "At the end, brand anthropomorphism can be a double-edged sword; if making brands more humane can create connections and engagement with the customers it can as well allow more liberty for judgment as viewing the brand as a human."[1] The humanistic qualities of a brand or company are what disenfranchise its employees and make them blend into this corporate cookie-cutter framework that robs them of their individuality. When someone shows up to work and is told by their corporation what values they must adopt in their professional life, they lose part of their identity and humanity. In the interests of preserving individual autonomy and identity, corporations should avoid imposing their morals on the individual.

Counter arguments

"Moral responsibility" for a corporation is not always a bad thing. With the many loopholes and write-offs that huge companies receive, it is refreshing to hear some of them calling for accountability in the ways their structure is processed. They should always have the moral obligation to put both their employees and their customers first, no matter what. An ethically beneficial attitude and mindset toward their constituents would raise their brand and, in turn, provide them with better business and quality of products. An individual worker should focus on the ways in which "moral responsibility" in their company works for them rather than finding a problem in the anthrpomorphizing of the company itself.

Framing

Corporations should aim to preserve the individual’s autonomy or humanity. Setting corporate morals and instilling them on corporate employees dehumanizes the individual.

Premises

[P1] Dehumanizing the individual is always bad. [P2] When companies force their employees to adopt company-wide values, it dehumanizes them. [P3] Therefore, corporate morals are bad.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P2] Company-wide values are not always negative, especially when they apply to an ethical and moral relationship between a company and its employees. [Rejecting P3] Corporate morals are not necessarily always bad.

References

  1. https://www.digitaldoughnut.com/articles/2016/january/anthropomorphism-of-brands-humanizing-our-compani
This page was last edited on Wednesday, 8 Jul 2020 at 00:10 UTC

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