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."