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Episode 56: Philip Pettit discusses corporate rights and responsibilities

This month, we sit down with Philip Pettit to discuss some of his work on whether corporations have rights. Click here to listen to our conversation.

Philip PettitMuch of what goes on in today’s world is the work of corporations, which command far more money and power than any individual person can. And that already puts us in challenging philosophical territory. Can corporations *do* things? Can a corporation be held responsible for what it does? Not too long ago, there were strong legal barriers to holding corporations responsible for their actions. But these days, most of us seem to think that a company should be held to account when it commits acts of negligence. (Recall the BP spill from 2010, where it was generally agreed that the company should indeed be held responsible for the disaster.)

In this interview Pettit argues that since we more or less have to assume that corporations can be held responsible for what they do, we are compelled to grant that they must have at least some rights. Rights and responsibilities just go together; you can’t have one without the other. But he also thinks that there are more limitations on what rights that a corporation can have than there are on what rights an individual person can have, and that this has to do with certain deep differences between what it means to be a single person and what it means to be a corporation.

Tune in to hear our guest’s fascinating account of what corporations have in common with individual people, and where they differ!

Matt Teichman

Posted in Podcast.

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