Corporate Responsibility and Political Philosophy : Exploring the Social Liberal Corporation book cover
1st Edition

Corporate Responsibility and Political Philosophy
Exploring the Social Liberal Corporation

ISBN 9781032400457
Published August 29, 2022 by Routledge
182 Pages

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Book Description

This book argues for the inclusion of the corporation as an integral element of political philosophy. It begins with a historical evaluation of the corporation as a constituent of political society. It shows how Adam Smith, Hegel, and Marx conceived the role of the corporation in relation to the state, the market and civil society, before moving on to the rejection of the corporation as a genuine moral and political agent by Rawls and Habermas. The next chapter of the book presents the corporation as a collective that possesses political and moral agency. The author outlines four distinct political philosophies of corporate responsibility: the Aristotelian conservative-virtue ethical conception; the market liberal theory; the social liberal theory of corporate citizenship and political CSR; and Marxist-inspired critical theories. It is argued that the social liberal theory provides a better justification compared to its rivals. The third and final group of chapters applies the social liberal conception – called the social liberal corporation – to important contemporary issues, including human rights in global supply chains, financial and digital firms, sustainability and climate change. Corporate Responsibility and Political Philosophy will appeal to political philosophers, political theorists, and applied ethicists, as well as scholars in other disciplines working on issues related to business ethics, organizational ethics, sustainability and corporate social responsibility. As it provides a comprehensive introduction to corporate responsibility it is also relevant to sustainability professionals who seek an overview of the theoretical debate on corporate responsibility.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Corporations as the Missing Link in Political Philosophy

Part I. The Corporation in Liberalism and Corporate Moral Agency

Chapter 1. The Corporation and Free Markets in Classical Liberalism and its Critics

Chapter 2. Excluding the Corporation from the Political: Rawls and Habermas

Chapter 3. Corporate Moral Agency and Political Theory of the Firm

Part II. Corporate Responsibility and Political Philosophy

Chapter 4. Aristotelian Organisations and Corporate Responsibility: Conservatism

Chapter 5. Market Liberalism, the Firm and the Market Failures Approach

Chapter 6. Republicanism and Corporate Citizenship Theory: First Aspect of the Social Liberal Corporation

Chapter 7. Political CSR and the Second Aspect of the Social Liberal Corporation

Chapter 8. Debunking Corporate Responsibility – Critical Theory and Market Ideology

Part III. Applications of Corporate Responsibility – Contemporary Issues

Chapter 9. Who’s Responsible for the Supply Chain? Iris Marion Young’s Social Connection Model

Chapter 10. Digital and Financial Firms: The Limits of Corporate Responsibility

Chapter 11. Sustainability and Climate Change: The Case for Corporate Environmentalism


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Kristian Høyer Toft did his PhD in political philosophy at Aarhus University (2003) and was a visiting scholar in philosophy at Columbia University, the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Reading. He has published articles about climate justice, human rights and corporate responsibility in international journals, e.g. The Business and Human Rights Journal and Energy Research & Social Science. He held positions as a postdoctoral researcher in bioethics at the University of Copenhagen 2006-07), Assistant and Associate Professor at Aalborg University in applied philosophy (2011-2019), and is currently a guest researcher at the Sustainability Centre at the Copenhagen Business School (2020).