Corporate Social Responsibility?

Student thesis: Master Thesis and HD Thesis

  • Søren Pallisgaard Konnerup
  • Sune Lundgaard Enevoldsen
4. term, Applied Philosophy, Master (Master Programme)
This master´s thesis explores the responsibility of corporations in regard to climate change. The thesis is structured as a literature study. The main authors used to examine the field between responsibility and corporations are economist Milton Friedman’s Shareholder-Theory and the philosopher Phillip Pettit’s Responsibility Incorporated. Responsibility in regard to the climate change raises a lot of complicated philosophical questions. In this thesis we focus on the way capitalism responds to criticism as described by Éve Chiapello’s Capitalism and Its Criticism. Afterwards we incorporate relevant theory by the philosophers Jacob Dahl Rendtorff, Kristian Høyer Toft and Mark Sagoff to examine how the concept of a citizen is defined and how a corporation is able to participate in society as a citizen. Another way to examine if a corporation is a moral agent is to examine if they are able to a person and if it meets the criteria for being a person. These criterias are identified by Harry G. Frankfurt in Freedom of the will and the concept of a person. We use Frankfurt’s concept of a person and Pettit’s description of a corporation to determine that it is possible to regard a corporation as a person and therefore a moral agent. Pettit argues that corporations are able to hold responsibility as a group and sets up three necessary conditions for fitness to be held responsible. We use the Kristian Høyer Toft’s Etisk blindhed i organisationer - om virksomheders samfundsansvar to find out how we are able to turn our moral awareness on and off. This concludes that it is not a chronic condition to be a moral agent which means that sometimes we are able to be considered as a moral agent and sometimes we are not. This condition can be applied consciously and lost unknowingly by the agent. In the latter part of the thesis we shift focus and identify the relevant actors in regard to climate change. We do this by examining the papers by the Human ecologists Andreas Malm & Alf Hornborg and philosopher Henry Shue. Here we identify the carbon majors and Western society as having a great impact in regard to climate change. We apply this explanation to corporations and hereby discover the term hybrid corporation. Lastly, we examine hybrid corporations who take corporate responsibility and thereby take part in the fight against climate change. In this thesis we come to the conclusion that the criticism to capitalism is being assimilated by the occurrence of new hybrid corporations and that it is important to be able to call corporations a moral agent, as this might be what we need to fight climate change.
Publication date2 Jul 2020
Number of pages78
ID: 333455070