Dec 1, 2006

the actions of corporations ought to be held to the same moral standards as the actions of individuals. (January-February LD topic)

Resolved: The actions of corporations ought to be held to the same moral standards as the actions of individuals

The January-February Lincoln Douglas debate topic isn't too shabby--it is grounded in practical experience and case law, yet gives good ground to both the negative and affirmative, and allows for a wide range of moral stances.

One key search term you'll want to use is "corporate personhood," a so-called "legal fiction" that has some of the same rights as a "normal" person, and thus, one would suppose, the same obligations. (Note that the resolution says "moral," though, and not "legal.")

I'll have more in a bit. Feel free to post your ideas or questions in the comments.

Whatever you do, be careful: many of the internet resources are from advocacy groups who may have slanted the evidence or argument in favor of their position. Try to find less biased, more academic sources for your claims.

Update 12/1: 1. Who / what is the agent of action in the resolution? In other words, who / what "holds" corporations (or individuals) to a moral standard? Society? Government? Other individuals or corporations? Themselves? (I've been reading Emerson.) God?

I like "the common good" as a value, and "deliberative democracy" as a criterion. I'll explain why when I've had some sleep.

Update 12/4: I still haven't had much sleep, but here goes. "The common good" is a useful value because it pertains to the resolution, which asks us to consider public morality (in fact, I'd have an RA that said exactly that). Deliberative democracy--which takes time, energy, and participation to consider all points of view--is a useful criterion, because it has the common good in mind.

Now, as far as which side this applies to, the arguments can go either way. On the Aff, the rights of participation in the DD process are balanced with obligations to the common good. Corporations, as players in a moral contest of wills, must be held accountable to the same standards as individuals, respecting their right to free expression, in particular. If we have different standards, the game can be rigged in either side's favor.

On the Neg, the size and scope of corporations means they are able to unduly influence deliberative democracy, in essence using the rules to their advantage. When this happens, the common good is not achieved, but instead "special interests" make the refs turn a blind eye. We must hold corporations to a higher standard. To paraphrase Spider Man, with greater power comes greater responsibility.

Update 12/10: Some useful links...

This article by Richard T. De George (Google the name for his credentials) grants presumption to the affirmative:
If Union Carbide is at all morally responsible -- as Anderson and most others agree is the case -- then the proponents of the first (or Milton Friedman) view have to explain away the overwhelming sentiment espousing the idea that companies have moral responsibility. The fact that people do not expect Union Carbide to act from moral motives, even in fulfilling its moral obligation to give compensation to those it has harmed, indicates that general opinion views corporations as having moral responsibilities without being moral persons. Such sentiment does not solve the debate over the moral status of corporations, but it does lend the support of public opinion to the third view, and thus requires stronger arguments from those who support the second view.
The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy discusses "Collective Moral Responsibility" (another useful search term, along with "corporate personhood"). Check out the arguments for and against the concept.

This article is probably accessible at a university library, and definitely available on ProQuest. (Ask your school librarian if you can get access.) Update: I provide analysis here.

Meanwhile, comment away--let's unstall the discussion. What are your good / bad / ugly ideas for V/C structures, cases, rebuttals, and the like?

Update 12/23: I discuss "the same," a crucial phrase in the resolution.

Update 1/8: I discuss the goal--or goals--of corporations.

Update 1/9: Jason Kuznicki (a fellow blogger, with a doctorate in history from Johns Hopkins) addresses the same issue, arguing that because corporations are "merely social organizations," we must judge their actions only through the actions of the individuals within them.

Update 1/10: A reader and I discuss the Categorical Imperative and the complexity of corporations.

Update 1/11: Another reader helps me hash out ideas for the Aff.

Update 1/15: Thanks to another reader's prompting, I've started a list of Aff and Neg Value / Criterion structures.

Update 1/21: On the Aff side, I show how Quinn and Jones' "agent morality" grounds a moral view of the corporation.

Update 2/1: There's a new resolution in town. "Resolved: The United Nations' obligation to protect global human rights ought to be valued above its obligation to respect national sovereignty."

63 comments:

TheTachyix said...

Whoever runs "nihilism" will win.

Anonymous said...

One movie that should be interesting to watch is the movie, "The Corporation." It discusses the moral implications/standards that corporations are held to.

Anonymous said...

I am in debate right now and am struggling with this current resolution. Would really appreciate help in the value/criterion department! Anyone?

generally genius said...

How could you struggle? This is such an easy resolution! Are you mentally ill?

Jim Anderson said...

generally genius,

A resolution can be both conceptually simple and argumentatively complex. (We also have novices who hang out on this here blog. Be kind to them.)

nicholas said...

Hey, I'm a high school student from Cali and i just read your post, its pretty intereswting. I've thought about it and i've decided to comment. So here it comes:

Hm.. I dont like the way you run your affirmative and negative sides.

For example on the affirmative your impact is that if we dont hold corporations and peopel to the same standarads the game can be rigged. Well, so what? What if the common good is to rig it onthe individiual side for example what if a corporation dominates over the whole population? Do we allow this oppresion to go on and clal this morality?

I feel the negative is much weaker than you think. Like in other words you justify different moral standards because corporations have different goals and are bigger in size and scope compared to individuals. Well, ok, so taken on an everyday basis, we ourselves vary in power, responsiblity, and so on. If we buy your rhetoric, basically then all i have previosly stated is true. Thus, there really is no moral "standard" for individuals, because morals standards vary from each individual to the other. And so since all morals differ, we all need to view corporation on different moral standards but also individuals themselves and their jobs and occupations. This argument takes away the brightline in which we evaluate what is a standard of morality. I'm too lzy to type out a legit impact. so whatever. haaha

Like really though, we need to actually examine this resolution one more time. More closley. Are there other moral standards than individual moral standards? Like are there gorilla standards and dolphin standards? Isn't morality created from society given to individuals. When we say thats immoral aren't we comparing it only to our own acts? Does there really exisst different morals??>?? Nobody will ever know unless we examine this question carefully.

neways, overall i think we need to evaluate the difference between the words ought and should, for example like i can define ought as something morally right to do vs. should which i define as something good to do. IE. I am given a rifle to kill a dicattor who's about to start another mass genocide. The moral choice would be not to kill him, (killing is immoral) but the good choice, or what i should do is to kill him and save millions of lives. There begs a difference of morality and a cost-benifit analysis.

haha well i typed a lot. i hope this gives all of us more insight of this crappy resolution. hehe.

peace.

M. Fitzgerald (The Ppls Champ) said...

A fun question to ask is what exactly "ought" means. Does it imply an absolute obligation or do we as debaters just think it would be a great/dandy thing if corporations did it.

A second thing to think about is the concept of "as". Does holding corporations to the same standards "as" individuals mean that a corporation must be held always/ must be held in the same manner? Or can it be interpreted as- student have a moral standard to do homework as other students have an obligation to. Does that mean students go about the same way following those standards? So the question comes down to whether corporations are absolutely required to follow the standard to the letter or if it is a strict "held to" and whether the corporations have to be held to the moral standard in the same way as the individual. What if individuals have moral standards embodied in laws towards the individual- and in the same way corporations are held to the same moral standards as the individual- just in a different capitulation.

In regards to the common good/ deliberative democracy, I could see how a consistent standard is better than none, but democracy?

Jim Anderson said...

Thanks for stopping by, nicholas.

My aff and neg stances are provisional, subject to change upon further reflection, the product of sleep-deprivation and some late-night reading on ProQuest. There's much more to them than I'm letting on.. but this is a blog, not a "free case" site.

As to your multiplicity of values concern, I think that answers the question after yours: why democracy? The common good isn't an absolute standard, but a negotiation based on deliberation. It's the best we can get, given the circumstances: human nature, time, etc. Democracy, likewise, is the best system for attaining it. (For warrants, do some reading.)

I'll have more thoughts later. Right now, I'm off to band practice.

Silpa said...

i have a question....wat is the value and criterion of this case? i think the criterion is societal welfare, and the value morality but i'm nto sure...

Jim Anderson said...

silpa,

It's rare in LD for a resolution to have one value/criterion structure. For example, in this resolution we might value justice ('held to the same moral standards'), morality (likewise), the common good, life (because corporations sometimes kill), a life of quality, quality of life, human rights...

The list goes on. Whatever makes sense.#

Jim Anderson said...

nicholas writes:

...taken on an everyday basis, we ourselves vary in power, responsibility, and so on.... Thus, there really is no moral "standard" for individuals, because morals standards vary from each individual to the other. And so since all morals differ, we all need to view corporation on different moral standards but also individuals themselves and their jobs and occupations.

I would respond that individual variances in power are insignificant compared to the vast differential created when people band together. (Think about Bill Gates: on his own, a geek with a good idea. With a little help, a gazillionaire.)

"...we need to actually examine this resolution one more time... Are there other moral standards than individual moral standards? Like are there gorilla standards and dolphin standards? Isn't morality created from society given to individuals. When we say thats immoral aren't we comparing it only to our own acts? Does there really exist different morals? Nobody will ever know unless we examine this question carefully.

Amen to that.

Silpa said...

can someone writin an aff case help me to find some warrents?
...thanx

Jane said...

the problem with using deliberative democracy as a value criterion is that democracy doesn't necessarily lead to societal welfare (slavery, blah, you know the list).

with this resolution the moral standards of individuals must be established to some degree before saying corporations ought to or should not be held to the same moral standards. From the negative side Aristotle is pretty useful - corporations and individuals have inherently different functions and therefore different vitures which leads to different moral standards (not higher or lesser just different). But if you use Aristotle you better understand his theory.

aff is a little more difficult since neg will most likely claim different or higher standards should be imposed on corporations. Aff will have to establish that individuals are held to the highest moral standards or something along those lines.

Jim Anderson said...

Jane,

Thanks for your useful comments. I think a good argument could be made from an Aristotelian perspective--telos, people, it's all about telos--but, as you rightly point out, never use a philosophy you don't understand.

Deliberative democracy's proponents would argue on two fronts: first, that a democracy that allows slavery isn't truly deliberative, since it a priori rules out the voices of the slaves, or two, that though democracy doesn't always attain the common good, it's our best chance of getting there.

I don't think anyone has to argue that individuals are held to the highest standards--since the resolution merely implies that they ought to be.

Travis Boren said...

I find that using Utilitarianism on the negative can work. Arguing that Corporations need that moral flax to provide the greatest good for the greatest amount of people.

Encicon said...

Wouldn't Kant's maxim of universailzation in his Categorical Imperative be a great asset for Affirmative?

Jim Anderson said...

encicon, a savvy Neg would point out that Kant's maxims apply only to persons, and you'd have to warrant the claim that a corporation is a moral person.

Although see here for a counterargument.

Anonymous said...

This site is amazing! As a high school LDer who is spending X-mas break on this topic, this was amazing! In regards to what Nicholas said, I really don't think neg is hard at all. If anyone is having trouble with it, look up Kant and autonoumous vs. heteronoumous will, I found it helpful. F.Y.I ought is exaclty like should but with moral implications. All sorts of defs prove it.

Anonymous said...

im a highschool debater and was looking up Telos. I understand what it means; how everything has a purpose and how individuals can only fulfill their telos and be moral with a well constructed political community, but i dont see how it relates to this topic.

Jim Anderson said...

anonymous II, I'm guessing that the telos of a corporation, if fundamentally different from the telos of individuals, would mean that we would hold them to different standards (a neg arg.)

Anonymous said...

why is moral relativism a bad argument for the neg?

Jim Anderson said...

anonymous, I don't know if it's a *bad* argument for the neg--it would work, I suppose--but it's just easily defended against by the Aff.

Jane said...

"Utilitarianism on the negative can work. Arguing that Corporations need that moral flax to provide the greatest good"

I'd be careful saying utilitarianism advocates "moral flax," Kant does not seem to allow for changes according to the first point in his catergorical imperative ("act only on that maxim which...") His idea of universal truths are concrete and unchangeable - and his theory also applied directly to the actions of individuals. Also since the resolution asks for moral standards you'd have to prove that these "universal maxims" are moral his theory just assumes it.

Anonymous said...

i'm so angry. i have no clue what to do for my case.

quick question--can anyone explain how to use kant in the aff? i can't find much reading on kant that makes sense with the aff position on this case.

Anonymous said...

ok the resolution doesn't specify:

WHO is doing the holding? is it the government? is it the people? is it just any old guy? or maybe it's everyone?

it really makes a difference. i mean, if it's anyone and everyone, then that's one thing. but if it's the gov, then we're talking about laws and justice (which, in my opinion, makes the case harder).

what should i go with? i'll probably go with what i think it means, but if there is some obvious answer, please tell me.

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

Jim Anderson said...

anonymous, it will really depend on how you define "moral standards" and set up your value / criterion structure. It could easily be "society" as the agent of action, if your definition of morality includes the standards that society agrees upon. If the standards are objective--as they are in a Kantian system--then it's up to the individual or the corporation itself to uphold those standards out of a sense of duty.

Anonymous said...

Could somebody explain to me what a Kantian system is?

Jim Anderson said...

anonymous, a Kantian system of ethics places duty at the center, instead of consequences. See here for an introduction. (Note especially that "all and only rational agents" are moral persons.)

Anonymous said...

this topic sucks!! i dont know where to get started. and sections are coming up. i agree with the argument of who is doing the holding? god? everyone? a hobo? who knows? who will or is determining when the same moral standards have been met? are corporations too big to be held to an individual? and which individual? do all individuals have high, good moral values? all these questions are running through my head. and i think im coming down with something and now sections are in less than a week. i dont know if i can make it.

Nathaniel said...

Is it too abusive to say that corporations should not be held to any moral standards because, even though it exists separately form the people that comprise it, if every individual within a company follows the moral standard than the corps actions will be moral and if they don’t than the actions will be immoral. Therefore, all you have to do is hold individuals to the moral standard and you will still achieve a moral action.

In addition, does one even need to argue a specific moral standard? Can't you just argue it on general principle?

Jim Anderson said...

Nathaniel, that first strategy is interesting. I'm trying to figure out why it wouldn't work on the Neg, but no luck. I'll mull it over before I pass judgment.

To your second question, I'd say "Depends." It depends on what your opposition sets up--and on how your V/C structure is built.

Also, one might argue that the word "ought" in the resolution implies some sort of extant moral framework, whatever that might mean... You'd defend, say, consequentialism or Kantianism, but not specific moral standards like "Thou shalt not kill."

Anonymous said...

On the Aff side of things, corporations make profit when using moral standards. Look at the Johnson and Johnson case with Tylenol. Although right after they made the decision to recall the tylenols, they didn't make money. By investing with a tamper proof seal, they insured trust with their customers, herby gaining profit. Food for thought. Heidi

jay said...

there are so many possibilities for the neg but i dont see any good ideas for aff. does anyone know of any?

The only way i see as of right now is to say that a corporation acts as an individual or in society's eyes, is an individual, but i dont see any other way

Also, just a thought, but i think it would be foolish to use any particular moral theory in your case because your opponent will attack that particular standard rather than your case...for either side, its better, probably, to just say that there is one without specifically naming it...

but yeah aff ideas?

Jim Anderson said...

jay, I've responded to your questions here.

Anonymous said...

Jim, I really like your info posted and responses to questions...thanks. Noticed you have not discussed value and criterion at all for this LD debate resolution. Your thoughts on this based on your posts?
Soccerbud

Jim Anderson said...

soccerbud, you're welcome. I enjoy the brain-stretching back-and-forth probably more than anyone else here.

As to value-criteria discussions, I've touched on them only briefly in my various posts. Sounds like it's time for another one.

br2931..=) said...

ok..well..this site helps w/ my LD case but the thing puzzling me the most is who will be held responsible within the corporation? because and individual is ONE person and a corporation is a group of people making one group. so it isnt "moral" to hold many people accountable for one persons desicion that is IN THE corporation....and please....help me w/ a case..cuz..i need one..and i really pretty much dont have one..

Jim Anderson said...

br2931,

That's a difficult question, even for experts in business ethics. If we penalize the corporation as a whole--say, by dissolving it or turning over its assets--inevitably there will be "innocents" who feel the sting.

However, we have this problem with individuals, too. All humans are interrelated. Imprison a criminal, and you imprison a father or mother or sister or brother, and the family suffers. Family members would have even more grounds to feel unjustly targeted, since they can't choose their family, while employees can choose where to work.

In other words, the difficulty of punishment is a problem of application, not of principles. I'd sidestep it if it comes up.

br2931..=) said...

i understand that but how can u hold them of the same moral standrads...im an 8th grader..and i need help...seriously...cuz..morals are based on wat u beleive..and u cant just simply compare one individual to any because they will have different beleifs which lead to different morla standards..so HOW can they be held to the same? and i really need ideas for AFF...all i have that is a VERY BAD reason is that a corporations is made up of individuals and if something is just, it should be acted upon

Jim Anderson said...

I applaud your effort, then, br. LD isn't easy, as you're discovering firsthand.

First, you don't have to specify how corporations will be held to moral standards. It could be through praise, blame, shaming, or legal means. LD, though, isn't a policy debate. You don't have to have a "plan."

Second, why assume that ethics come from beliefs? Certainly people have beliefs about morality, but they also have beliefs about gravity. It's just more obvious when they're wrong about it, and they find out how much it hurts to fall off a cliff.

In other words, some ethicists promote the idea that objective ethics--standards of right and wrong independent of human feelings or beliefs--are really real. Immanuel Kant is one of those.

It sounds to me like you need to sit down with your coach, or a teacher or another competent adult, and get some one-on-one help. I wish I could do more, but I'm just a blogging debate coach with my own obligations.

Anonymous said...

first ld practice round tomorrow... ahhhhhh freak out!

just thought i'd say thanks for the throught-probing ideas and making me smile along the way. :)

br2931 said...

well..i c where ur going with this...and i think im doing good for a 1st time debater..=) i seriously need ideas because the stuff that i have is really unorganized and can be refuted easily and i need ideas for a good case and that was pretty much wat i had for my train of thought..and ppl think i had a good START..and now..i need help...and can u start a forum for the PFD topic also...b/c i may do that...=) thnnxx

Anonymous said...

what do you think about using a sort of 2 criterion case?

An idea I had was to parallel Maslow with Keynes Commodities on the neg. with a value of social progress. Using Keynes and Maslow show that althogh corporations and individual share basic "needs" to survive or become successful that are similar, but not the same.
(for corporations-1.Capitol 2.land 3.labor 4.management for individuals-1.food/water 2.shelter 3.clothing 4.ability to breathe)

Because a corporation would have to take different actions to acheive their "needs" than an individual would the morality for which they acheive these needs cannot be held to the same standard.

ex.- My economic status is not the same as an orphan in Africa. Therefore, if I stole food to fulfill my need for hunger when I had food at my home, it would be considered immoral. But, if the African orphan stole food to fulfill his need it wouldn't be considered immoral because that is the only way for him to survive.

Opinions? Am I taking the comparison too far?

br2931 said...

to anonymous...although imnew at LD i think u ARE taking the comparision to far becasue it still would be IMMORAL...no matter who does it...in order to acheive morality..it needs to be moral and immoral for all..because that is fair AND moral..where as giving one an advantage...which is IMMORAL

br2391 said...

any ideas for PFD??? i need some...please..the topic is....the cost of legalized gambling in the United States outweighs the benefits

Jim Anderson said...

anonymous, your dual criterion Neg could probably be simplified. By using your example of the starving person, you show that individuals simply can't be held to the same moral standard, implying that the Aff position is implicitly incoherent. Maslow is enough to deflate the Aff.

br2391, this isn't a Public Forum blog (I don't have the time to invest in a month-to-month topic), but the direction I'd take on that resolution would depend on how we define "costs." Are the costs social, economic, religious, cultural, moral, criminal, or any combination of the above? What about the libertarian position that all gambling should be legal? What about the inevitable criminal element to gambling--the fact that the Mafia runs casinos and fixes races and fights? What about the costs of gambling addiction? You've got lots of places you can run with the resolution.

Jim Anderson said...

Also, note that the PF resolution is specific to "legalized casino gambling." Don't be too generic in your definitions.

br2931 said...

ok!!! and any ideas for neg?? that would help

Jim Anderson said...

br2391, off the top of my head, the benefits of legalized gambling: economic boosts (look at how Native American tribes have benefited), keeping money onshore (instead of distributing it to the Caymans), keeping organized crime under wraps, and avoiding the costs of prohibition.

br2931 said...

xxkoolxx...ok..i can run taht as a benefit..but wouldnt it be safer to add more benefits...cuz i mean...$$..is just ONE of the benefits..on top of that...how does the COST outweight the BENEFIT??..and then..im good..=]

Jim Anderson said...

br2391, well, you'll have to look up the figures yourself, but you could also run arguments related to libertarianism--that people should be free to gamble away their money if they so choose. The value of freedom is inherently greater than any economic cost.

(On the CON side, you don't have to show that the cost outweighs--you could show that it balances, and that freedom is the "trump card.")

br2931 said...

i knoe..i was asking that for the PRO side of the debate..=) well..i understnad..wat are some ideas for PRo..after that..i think i should be able to handle it

Jim Anderson said...

Oh, I got it now. (Easy to get mixed up.) Costs of legalized casinos: gambling addiction. Economic stagnation. Increased criminal activity. Immorality. I'm sure there are others.

br2931 said...

well, addiction how does that show that the COST outwighs benefits?? the people CHOOSE to gamble knowing they will loose their money...so if they get addicted..its their fault..it doesnt show that cost outweighs the benefits....as fare as crime rates going up..HOW does this show that cost outweighs benefits?? if u can work with these things...it doesnt hit the resolution..it has to be implied...which really isnt good for a dbate round..implications can only get u soo far...so i need new ideas please...=)

Jim Anderson said...

br, you're defining "costs" too narrowly, in terms of economic impacts. And yes, addiction and crime have economic costs, but they also have emotional costs (addiction can tear families apart; so can crime), societal costs (legalized gambling only encourages others to make bad choices--it's not so simple as blaming the victim), spiritual costs... If you confine your analysis to economic issues, then of course there isn't much to debate.

That said, I'm going to have to leave off discussing Public Forum. Thanks for your comments and questions. LD needs me more.

br2931 said...

sure, go on ahead....but if LD needed u more...u would have found some comments on LD not just PFD...so think abt that...but thnnxx

Priya said...

i'm supposed to be doing hw right now so i don't want to read all 56 comments, so forgive me if somebody already mentioned this...

but you mentioned that "We must hold corporations to a higher standard." on the neg...this is a sketchy argument to make b/c of the way the resolution is worded.

"the actions of corporations ought to be held to the same moral standards as the actions of individuals"...it could be argued by the aff, in response to your "higher standards" argument, that the resolution means >held to the same moral standards...but could still be held to more moral standards...

she could argue that you are in essence supporting the aff case

Jim Anderson said...

Priya,

First, you'd have to give a clear definition of "same" on the Neg (or Aff, for that matter).

Second, that reasoning is counterintuitive. If someone says to you, "You're going to follow the same rules as Jones here," and you nod and agree, and then they add, "Oh, and you'll also have to write a self-evaluation of your performance," while Jones doesn't, who would argue that you're being held to "the same" standards?

Another way of thinking about it: if someone has eight pieces of pie, and I have nine, it's true that we both have eight pieces of pie--I have eight plus one--but no one in their right mind would say eight = nine. I think.

Anonymous said...

Hi any comments from anyone i dont know if it makes any sense. Your comments would be greatly appreciated
Affirmative Case
I affirm the resolution, “Resolved: The actions of corporations ought to be held to the same moral standards as the actions of individuals.” Affirming achieves the value of justice. Justice is proper value since justice is the goal of holding people accountable to moral standards. It is also the correct value since the government is the agent of action in the resolution. This is because the government is the only entity capable of holding the powerful modern corporation accountable. The goal of a proper government is to achieve justice. One fundamental way to achieve justice is to deter injustice. Deterrence is vital because it not only punishes the action; it discourages others from performing the action that creates the injustice. This means deterrence is a necessary component of punishment as it creates a net increase in the sum total of justice. Hence, the criterion to determine if we ought to punish corporations collectively as an individual
is the deterrence of further immoral action. This means that if punishing corporations collectively deters immoral action, we affirm.
Before I begin, please allow me to define the key words in the resolution.
Corporation: A body that is granted a charter recognizing it as a separate legal entity having its own rights, privileges, and liabilities distinct from those of its members.
Ought: used to indicate obligation or duty
Held: To keep from departing or getting away
Same: Being the very one; identical
Moral: Conforming to standards of what is right or just in behavior
Standards: An acknowledged measure of comparison for quantitative or qualitative value; a criterion
Individual: A single human considered apart from a society or community
My only contention is that punishing corporations as an individual more effectively deters immoral action.

A. Individual agents in a corporation do not have the capacity to cover liability.
VIKRAMADITYA S. KHANNA writes in “Should the Behavior of Top Management
Matter?” published by the Georgetown Law Journal, “As a general matter, liability against the individual agent is the first course of action. However, direct individual liability may prove ineffective or fail in some instances and hence provide a reason for considering the imposition of liability on other parties, such as the corporation. The most common reason that direct liability fails is that agents often do not have sufficient assets to pay for the total social costs of wrongdoing and hence have insufficient incentives to undertake precautionary measures. This leads to a reduction in deterrence. In such instances, corporate liability may enhance deterrence compared to relying only on agent liability.”
Further, punishing the agents of a corporation only could be difficult or unfair. Jennifer A. Quaid explains in “The Assessment of Corporate Criminal Liability on the Basis of Corporate Identity: An Analysis,” published by the McGill Law Journal, “These specific justifications for corporate liability are shared in large measure by L.H. Leigh. Like the Law Commission, he sees corporate liability as a means of transferring a police function from the community at large to persons and entities active in industry. He adds that corporate liability avoids difficulties in identifying or locating an individual offender, as well as locating evidence relevant to particular individuals. Moreover, it offers a convenient and fair alternative to the conviction of a mere agent of the corporation, or its top management, whose acts may be the result of corporate pressures or policies.” This means that punishing the individual agents of a corporation fails to deter because these agents cannot pay and they are difficult to prosecute. This means crime and immoral action is not deterred.
B. Punishing only individuals leaves corporations free to act immorally. Eric Engle explains in “EXTRATERRITORIAL CORPORATE CRIMINAL LIABILITY: A REMEDY FOR HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS?” published by the St. John's Journal of Legal Commentary, “The previous discussion explains that there are several theoretical and practical justifications for imposing criminal and civil liability on nonstate actors under transnational law. There are also practical explanations for the rise of corporate criminal liability. The expansion of corporate liability may be primarily due to globalization. The world is growing smaller and international civil and criminal liability is expanding. Criminal liability for corporations is justified on a practical level because, while holding directors and managers liable may punish the individual, the corporate entity remains free to continue with profitable misfeasance.” This shows that corporations who profit from the immoral actions of the criminal agents are likely to continue to act immorally when only agents are punished.

C. Corporate sanctions deter immoral behavior by making corporations bear the full cost of the immoral action. V. S. Khanna concludes in “Corporate Liability Standards: When should Corporations be Held Criminally Liable?” published by the American Criminal Law Review, “First, agents often do not have sufficient assets to pay for the total social costs of wrongdoing and corporate liability may help to reduce problems stemming from this. This requires us to examine why wrongdoers should pay for the total social costs of wrongdoing, what happens when agents are effectively judgment proof, and how corporate liability changes this. Wrongdoers should pay for the total social costs of their activities because that forces them to internalize the costs of their behavior and should lead to optimal deterrence. The effects of this general principle on calculations of sanctions can be seen through the following example.
Assume person X engages in an activity three times, which gives person X benefits of $ 99 each time, but causes harm to society of $ 100 each time. However, person X is caught and held liable only one of those three times. What should person X's sanction be the one time person X is held liable? To obtain optimal deterrence person X should be required to pay $300. This is because a sanction less than $ 300 means that person X will not bear the total social costs of his behavior and engages in too much of the behavior from society's perspective. This example highlights how a sanction would be set under the standard deterrence approach—the sanction equals the harm caused divided by the probability of being held liable for causing that harm (or in this case $ 100 divided by one-third). This method of calculating sanctions should, in most cases, result in the wrongdoer bearing the full social costs of her activities and in optimal deterrence. If person X is judgment proof with respect to a $300 sanction (for example, person X has only $ 50 in assets) then person X is again not optimally deterred because he faces only a fraction of the total social costs of his behavior. In order to improve deterrence liability should perhaps be imposed on another person who has more assets and who might be able to influence the behavior of person X. We might then consider imposing liability on person X's corporate employer.” This means punishing corporations as individuals more effectively deters criminal or immoral action by forcing those in the corporation to act to deter this action to avoid punishment.
Punishing corporations more effectively deters crime and so I affirm.

Priya said...

Ok. One of the biggest problems with this resolution is that as of right now, there is no legal definition of moral standards. How would you define moral standards? Everytime i come across a definition, it contradicts my value and my criteron, which are justice and equality. Which is the other thing. my case talks alot about private vs. public corporations, how public should be held to higher and private should be held to lower, however you cant really have a higher or a lower of anything unless you define that one thing. My other two contentions are that moral standards vary from place to place, so it would be almost imposible to have one set "individual" standard and that they are unnessicary. (obviously this is my neg case). i dont think that my V and VC agree with my contentions, so if you could help me on that and the definition of moral standards then thatd be great!! =]]

Anonymous said...

how is moral relitivism abusive to the aff?

tiff said...

i'm a high school student from Taiwan.your article is really useful.thank you. (I'm going to have a debate on this topic.)thank you for providing such useful imformation:)

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