The Moral Responsibility of Firms

business_ethics_highlights_2 In the podcast (with transcript) linked below, Wharton professors Eric Orts and Amy Sepinwall discuss their new book The Moral Responsibility of Firms.

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LINK: Can Corporations Be Held Morally Responsible? (by Eric Orts and Amy Sepinwall, interviewed for Knowledge@Wharton)

…Just take the Volkswagen example [and its emissions cheating scandal]. If I bought a Volkswagen, it was not correct that it was represented as an environmentally friendly vehicle. There was environmental fraud conducted. But then is it true that Volkswagen as a whole is responsible for that, or is it only the individuals within Volkswagen who may have known about it who were involved in the deception?

It probably doesn’t make sense for me to say, “Well, whoever sold me that car did a moral wrong” because they’re going to say, “I didn’t know that the other people were doing this. I was completely innocent.” The local dealer who sold me the car is probably not morally responsible. Yet many people would assume VW is responsible, so then anyone associated with VW must be responsible. That’s kind of the question that we’re trying to get to the bottom of….

What do you think?


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