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Title: The moral agency of corporations and its implications for criminal law theory
Author: Rich, Sylvia
ISNI:       0000 0004 6494 0026
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis analyses the corporation, a business entity, as a form of group agent and considers its treatment under criminal law. I use group agency theory, drawn from the philosophy of action, to explain how a corporation can be a rational, moral agent with an existence separate from its individual human members' existence. Sceptics about corporate entity often tie moral agency to emotional capacity, something that many theorists, including many who defend the existence of corporate agency, find that the corporation lacks. As against this, I argue that corporations are indeed emotional entities, drawing group-level emotional states from the emotions of various members. Critics of corporations also argue that there are structural reasons why corporations are essentially immoral, or bad moral agents. As against this, I argue that while there are strong reasons why corporations tend to do bad things, they are structurally neutral. In the second half of the thesis, I use the conceptual framework of the corporate moral agent to attempt to bring clarity to various problems within the criminal law as it applies to corporations. While corporations can be brought up on charges of committing acts that require a mens rea element, the law and legal theorists have long struggled with how to locate mens rea within the corporation. I build on collectivist theories of mens rea to explain a form of corporate recklessness, as an instance of corporate mens rea. The applicability of excuses to corporations is also an undertheorized area. I show how, in very limited circumstances, a corporation may be able to make out the excuse of duress, though that excuse relies on the accused acting from the emotion of fear. Finally, I consider the applicability of various theories of punishment to the corporation.
Supervisor: Gardner, John ; Roberts, Julian Sponsor: Fonds de recherche du Québec: Société et culture
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available