The following are value and criterion structures I've either heard in rounds or thought about. As always, fire away in the comments. Critique these or suggest others. (Updated 1/18/07).
Affirmative Value / Criterion Structures
V: Societal Welfare
The resolution concerns actions as the focus of moral concern. Thus, a consequentialist framework. Utilitarianism works for any moral agent, since it looks at results rather than focusing on the agent's inherent properties. It's not necessary to show that a corporation is morally on par with an individual, only that the actions of corporations are morally on par. Utility is broad enough to cover both.
Strategy for Success: Be sure to show how Util leads to SW. Watch out for the "50.01% can kill 49.99%" response, an oversimplification of Util. Learn about the nuances and varieties of Utilitarianism.
Simple: morality is good because it holds society together. (There may be social contract implications lurking beneath the surface of this structure.) If we uphold morality, we have to uphold it for all moral agents, including corporations.
Strategy for Success: Some argue that the resolution doesn't require any particular moral theory. Fine. Be ready to defend all sorts of moral systems, then, if you go with a generic criterion. Also, if you're going to claim a benefit--"societal welfare"--you'd better have a darn good argument why morality is either a necessary or sufficient condition. If the Neg can show that SW can be achieved in the absence of morality (especially when applied to corporations), your V/C is hosed.
C: The Categorical Imperative
According to Kant, moral actions are good in and of themselves. Furthermore, Kantian theory applies to all rational agents, which, it can be argued, corporations are. Thus, corporations and individuals both can adopt the Categorical Imperative as their moral guidepost.
Strategy for Success: Many people misunderstand Kant and the Categorical Imperative, so make sure you do the research first.
V: The Common Good.
C: Deliberative Democracy.
The resolution concerns the moral aim of society, and the balanced or opposed interests of individuals and corporations. If Delib D. is the moral means to the common good, and corporations threaten Delib D. when they are granted different moral standards, then we ought to hold them to the same standards as individuals.
Strategy for Success: Requires quality research and a quality debater. Not for beginners.
Negative Value / Criterion Structures
Let corporations exist free of the fetters of morality. Take the stance of Milton Friedman: The profit motive yields good results. Capitalism makes the world a better place, since it respects and allows for individual and economic (and, some argue, thus political) freedom.
Strategy for Success: Watch out for those liberal judges who get a blister whenever libertarianism enters the room.
Update: Reader Nicole writes,
I think my biggest argument against this would be to take a hard-line Objectivist stance on it: that corporations are still held to individual standards because Capitalism is not a wild card to do what you will, there are still codes of conduct that you must abide by that are inherent in conducting in a fully Capitalist manner. Rand contends that in order for a corporation to fill its goals (profits) and to have the beneficial impacts (individual/economic/political freedom) actions must still be conducted in an ethical manner, because otherwise all you have are a bunch of people running around screwingTo that I would add, this block only works when you're running an Aff compatible with Objectivist morality. If you're running "societal welfare" or another more communitarian standard, no dice.
other people in the name of gain. Objectivism also contends (and I know this is a fairly common argument at the moment) that all rights of corporations go back to the rights of the individuals. Peikoff esplains it fairly well when he states:'A corporation is a union of human beings in a voluntary, cooperative endeavor. It exemplifies the principle of free association, which isTo me (being an Objectivist and a libertarian) it's always funny when Objectivism can be used to fight its modern interpretations--that capitalism is a blank slate for action.
an expression of the right to freedom. Any attributes which corporations have are attributes (or rights) which the individuals have - including the right to combine in a certain way, offer products under certain terms, and deal with others according to certain rules, instance, limited liability.
An individual can say to the store keeper, "I would like to have credit, but I put you on notice that if I can't pay, you can't attach my home - take it or leave it." The storekeeper is free to accept these terms, or not. A corporation is a cooperative productive endeavor which gives a similar warning explicitly. It has no mystical attributes, no attributes that don't go back the rights of individuals, including their right of free association.'
C: Coherent Moral Standards
For moral standards to be upheld, they must be coherent, otherwise we have no grounds to uphold them--or, on the other side, to be held to them. By showing that corporations and individuals are ontologically different and that it is incoherent to apply individual moral standards to them, we thus show that the resolution threatens the concept of morality itself.
Strategy for Success: Whenever you defend a difference between corporations and individuals, make sure it is a morally significant difference.
C: Moral Agency
For moral standards to be upheld, they must applied to moral agents; in other words, moral agency grounds any notion of morality. By showing that corporations are not moral agents, we show that the resolution simply does not provide for a moral outcome.
Strategy for Success: This is similar to the previous strategy. It requires patient and careful argumentation that there are fundamental differences between corporations and individuals. Don't adopt an "only humans are moral agents" standpoint. It's too restrictive--for example, it's conceivable that Mr. Spock could be a moral agent, even though Vulcans aren't human. (Conceivable to a philosopher-nerd. But that's you, isn't it?)
V: Societal Welfare
Nihilism, as the first of the loss of ideals, may be a state of hideous anarchy, but it is also the necessary transition to health. If, instead of relapsing into the idealistic source of evil, the eyes of mankind are strengthened to look boldly at the facts of existence, then will take place what [Nietzsche] calls the Transvaluation of all Values, and truth will be founded on the naked, imperishable reality.... When a man has faced this truth calmly and bravely and definitely, then the whole system of morality which has been imposed upon society by those who regarded life as subordinate to an eternal ideal outside of the flux and contrary to the stream of human desires and passions -- then the whole law of good and evil which was evolved by the weak to protect themselves against those who were fitted to live masterfully in the flux, crumbles away; that man has passed Beyond Good and Evil.Strategy for Success: If you don't understand Nietzsche (way to be sure: you can't spell "Nietzsche" without peeking), and if your judge isn't hip, don't run nihilism. And, as a general rule, no Nietzsche before noon.
[Still a work in progress. Your comments are appreciated.]