Thursday, March 16, 2023
Rich on Moral Entanglement in Groups Decision-Making and Corporate Criminal Liability
Sylvia Rich (University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law) has posted Moral Entanglement in Group Decision-Making: Explaining an Odd Rule in Corporate Criminal Liability (Criminal Law and Philosophy, Forthcoming) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Acting as part of a corporation may allow an individual more easily to rationalize participating in a harmful act, but there are countervailing forces in corporate action that increase moral oversight and accountability. Making use of group agency to explain membership as a special feature of some corporate agents, I argue that when someone becomes a member of an organized group like a company, their own moral responsibility becomes entangled with the decisions of other members of the company, whether or not they intend this effect. I call this moral entanglement in corporate decision-making. It explains why individuals have a moral obligation to act in their role as a corporate officer when they would not have an obligation to act otherwise even if they had identical knowledge. The entanglement affects the individual’s own moral status, but it also affects the moral status of the company itself. Moral entanglement of corporate decision-makers provides a principled explanation for a rule that is present in corporate criminal law that corporate officers with knowledge that another employee is about to commit a crime must actively intervene, and cannot rely on their status as bystanders.