This thesis is an attempt to construct a plausible defence of the notion of corporate responsibility — I explore the philosophical roots of the theory of individual responsibility, looking back into the Kantian source as well as to its roots in Millean liberalism. I also examine the philosophy of individualism, in particular methodological individualism and its associated metaphysics of fictive individualism. The Humean understanding of cause forms part of the general philosophical background, which indirectly sustains the theory of individual responsibility. These powerful sources combine to provide what appears to be an impregnable base from which the theory of individual responsibility could mount its attack on the notion of corporate responsibility.
I argue that some of the major criticisms of corporate moral/legal responsibility can be overcome; in other words, that it makes sense to hold certain people within the structure of a corporate hierarchy to be responsible for manslaughter, and that even the notion of mens rea, a fundamental requirement for attributing responsibility in the law of homicide within the framework of individual responsibility applies. I use the tragedy of the sinking of the Herald of Free Enterprise, to illustrate the points under discussion.
An alternative perspective on responsibility is presented grounded on some of the key insights of the philosophy of Levinas, especially his fundamental notion of infinite responsibility for the Other, to construct a plausible account in outline of corporate responsibility.
Licenciatura em Filosofia pela Universidade Católica, Lisboa. Mestrado pela Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa. Doutoramento pela Universidade de Lancaster, Institute for Environment, Philosophy and Public Policy. Professora Auxiliar Universidade Católica, Faculdade de Economia e Gestão do Porto, professora de Ética e Humanismo. Interesses de Investigação: Ética, Ética Empresarial e Económica, Ética do Ambiente, Filosofia Contemporânea, Levinas, Filosofia do Direito.