Corporate Moral Duties: Consequentialism, Collective Moral Agency and the “Ought” Implies “Can” Maxim


  • Leandro Martins Zanitelli Ritter dos Reis Universitary Center (UniRitter)



corporations, moral obligation, consequentialist duty, moral agency, “ought” implies “can”


The claim according to which corporations are morally responsible is a controversial one. At the same time, it is nowadays common to assign moral duties to companies, especially in work confronting the business and human rights issue. Can companies bear moral duties without being morally responsible? This article presents three different accounts of the duty to follow the course of action with the best consequences (consequentialist duty). The ascription of that duty to business is compatible with the claim that, by not being volitional agents, companies are not morally responsible for anything they do. The paper also addresses two possible objections against the claim that companies bear the duty of taking the course of action with the best consequences. These objections state that corporations are incapable of acting, be it in a general way (i.e. corporations do not possess the moral status of agents), be it regarding particular acts (the objection grounded on the “ought” implies “can” maxim).

Author Biography

Leandro Martins Zanitelli, Ritter dos Reis Universitary Center (UniRitter)

Faculty of Law; Professor and Coordinator


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