Commentary on Mabaquiao

- Masahiro Morioka
CIAS, Osaka Prefecture University,
Gakuencho, Sakai, Osaka, 599-8531 Japan
International Network for Life Studies

Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 12 (2002), 15.
I agree with Mabaquiao that we must take corporations into account when considering environmental ethics and environmental conservation. In this sense, environmental ethics and bioethics could merge into business ethics as Mabaquiao suggests. I have a couple of questions concerning the nature of corporations.

Mabaquiao states, “What makes corporations moral actors is their non-metaphorical or irreducible possession of certain functional capacities. These functional capacities mainly refer to their capacity to make rational intentions.” I wonder if actual corporations really have such rational intentions, because many corporations seem to follow “economic rationality,” that is, calculations that maximize their economic profit on the market. In our industrialized society, acquiring money is the biggest rationality for most corporations. Hence, we should analyze the mutual relationship, or dynamism between “economic rationality” and “moral rationality” of the corporation. In addition, I think this “economic rationality” might be a kind of the corporation’s “sub-conscious mind,” sometimes overriding its moral rationality on the surface. Therefore, what is needed might be psychoanalysis of the corporations and their behaviors. Contemporary economic chaos on the market suggests that there may be some unseen power or dynamism behind the scene. Business ethics should clarify it.

And I also wonder who is the real responsible agent in corporation ethics? For example, when a corporation exploited some areas, who in the corporation hears the voices of the exploited residents of the areas? When some angry residents visit the corporation to say something, they converse with the company’s persons, not the company itself. In such a context, they “condemn the individual members and conceive of the corporation as nothing more than a legal fiction.” Of course there are internal mechanism such as “Corporate Internal Decision” structure, but angry residents cannot chat with this structure itself. What they encounter is “persons,” not the structure. I would like to know how the author thinks about this “either/or dilemma” in the case like this.

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