The Instigator
stevster
Pro (for)
Tied
15 Points
The Contender
Wierdkp326
Con (against)
Tied
15 Points

The actions of corporations ought to be held to the same moral standards as the actions of individua

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/12/2008 Category: Society
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 5,471 times Debate No: 1734
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (5)
Votes (10)

 

stevster

Pro

(side note: the value premise is the premise I think the round should be judged on and the value criterion is what I employ to fulfill the premise……. BEFORE VOTING PLEASE READ) I Stand to affirm the resolution. Resolved. The actions of corporations ought to be held to the same moral standards as the actions of individuals.
First I will now provide definitions to clarify this round
Corporation is defined as A body formed and authorized by law to act as a single person although constituted by one or more persons and legally endowed with various rights and duties including the capacity of succession
Ought is used to express duty or moral obligation
Individual is defined as a single human being, as distinguished from a group
My value premise for this round will be morality as it is implied in the resolution. Morality can be defined as conforming to the ideals of right human conduct. Morality, and the moral standards based on morality exist to protect individuals within a society. Therefore when the society achieves protection and fairs well morality is upheld. Because it best achieves morality societal welfare will be my value criterion for this round.
Contention 1: Both corporations and individuals are able to make rational discussion's in which they can consider morality as well as take into account surrounding circumstances.
Because a corporation is defined as a body formed and authorized by law to act as a single person, corporations are just as capable of making smart and well thought out decisions as individuals. Because they both can react and base their actions on knowledge it serves society best for them to do what is right and be moral. Because corporations are essentially a group of individuals working as one it is only logical to expect that they also be forced to follow the same moral standards of individuals not part of a corporation.
At the point at which there are benefits for an individual to be held to higher standards there are benefits for a corporation to be held to the same higher moral standards. Since both corporations and individuals are moral and rational actors when one of them is being held to higher standards those benefits are also achieved when the other is held to those same higher moral standards. For example, at the point in which it benefits a community for individuals to be held to the moral standard of not committing murder it also benefits the community for the corporation to be held to that standard, because when they are the result is less murder within a society. With societal welfare being achieved in this example when both are held to the same standards protection of the individuals within the society is also achieved and there so is morality because moral standards are for the purpose of protection.
Corporations must be held to the same moral standards as individuals because they are both part of society and both receive benefits from society. Since corporations are part of society and making the same gains as the society they should also be regulated to comply with the same moral standards as the society. This works out very well in terms of societal welfare in that corporations can gain consumer trust while being moral and doing what's right and the individuals of the community get the benefit of a corporation that is able to logically plan out situations using the same moral standards as the others in the society.
We must look to the action before the agent of the action before accessing punishment or worry about moral standards. For example, if a corporation and an individual both put pollutants into a river and cause the death of live forms in the river, the moral standard of not putting pollutants into a river must be looked at first before the agents that committed the crime are looked at. Although corporations have the ability to do this on a much larger scale, what must be accessed first, before the agent of a certain action is the action itself. Is putting pollutants in a river the right or moral thing to do? No, and that must be looked at before who put the pollutants in the river.
Contention 2: Corporations must be held to the same moral standards as individuals because they are more powerful and have significant potential for abuse of these standards.
Because corporations are generally more powerful than individuals they can also cause more harm. Negating and allowing corporations to be held to different standards has a bad effect all around on societal welfare and morality as a whole. If corporations are being held to lower standards they can abuse their power which would take its toll on the society. An example of corporations which are being held to lower moral standards and abuse this would be diamond corporations in Africa. By exploiting workers for financial gain and forcing them to mine diamonds these corporations are being held to a very low moral standard, if that can even be considered a moral standard, and are not achieving societal welfare and are certainly not doing what is right therefore not achieving morality Corporations being held to a higher standard is also problematic because when they are being held to higher standards their incentive's to exist decrease because they cannot run as effectively. This is because with stricter limitations on corporations it is harder for them to function and therefore it is harder for them to succeed. When corporations cannot run effectively many lose profits and cease to exist. This causes problems because corporations are essential to business which is necessary for individuals because it is how they get their material goods. The best solution is to find a medium between restricting corporations to a point where they cannot prosper and a laissez-faire policy in which corporations are not bound by any sort of moral standard. This can only be achieved when corporations look out for societal welfare. Not by exploiting the members of the society for profit or by adopting a set or moral standards that makes running a corporation next to impossible. When corporations are being held to higher moral standards societal welfare, and therefore what is right, morality, is not achieved. Only when being held to the same standards as individuals is societal welfare and morality achieved.
Another reason corporations cannot achieve morality with higher moral standards is that corporations are essentially a unit authorized to act as a single person. And how can one single person be expected to maintain moral standards higher than another.
It is for all these reasons I urge you to affirm.
Wierdkp326

Con

Hey Stevster, your opening was a little wordy on how you express your contention against corporations. If my understanding is correct, you would be referring mostly to sweatshop labor, or other actions that corporations are accused of performing.
To begin, it is necessary to note that corporations have for a long time been declared as having the same rights as the individual. This was noted in court around the time of Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle". You noted that corporations are more powerful than individuals, and lead to a point that because they are more powerful than individuals, something must be done to level the playing field.

If one is to talk about corporate power in the sense of financial, where you can higher workers, buy machinery, and start political action commissions, then you are correct in saying that they have "power". This power, however, does not buy votes, and is not particularly powerful in swaying the decisions of an honest politician. This Corporate "Power" is not nearly as dangerous as some people might argue simply because a corporation is only as strong as the consumers who purchase from it. If a corporation, at any point in time, performs actions that are outside of the acceptable societal norms, then the people will respond by not buying their product or service. Corporations are actually rather weak when you look at it from the scope of the people that they have to reach out to. Name any product and a company who sells it, and you'll notice that are sufficient substitutes or competitors to bring that same company to its knees if it acts out of line. That part of corporate power is dependent on individuals in society to stand up for their beliefs and "fight" (metaphorically).

In law, corporations are held under exactly the same scrutiny that a person is. If a corporation's equipment harms a person, that corporation is legally bound to pay for the damages. The same concept applies to whether or not the corporation is held to any environmental standards.

If my understanding of the debate is correct, then it will be your job to prove that corporations are not acting ethical, and that no one is doing anything about it. What moral standards does a corporation NOT act on that individuals do?
Debate Round No. 1
stevster

Pro

In this debate all i have to do is prove that corporations and individuals should be held to the same moral standards.... i made two important points which you didnt respond to sufficently. First i said that corps are rational and human beings and second i said they could be more powerful. The first point dropped and your response to the 2nd point is that its not true. First off, it is true... its hard to say corporations dont have more power than individuals because they do and certainly large ones hold more polictical clout than politicans.
Wierdkp326

Con

Thank you for clarifying your two points. Your first contention stresses that corporations are rational, and that corporations act as individuals, only larger. It also stresses how the roles of the individual should be parallel to that of the organization. Hence, you discussed how both people and corporations should not pollute. You did NOT, however, make a direct allegation that corporations are acting out of line with the moral standards that are placed on the individual. Because your first point does not elaborate on any specific action to take, I can agree with you on the general statement that corporations should act as ethically as the individual is expected to.
Problem: Unless you have a direct example that shows that corporations are NOT expected to act in line with the individual, the argument you presented was a moot point.

Your second point was that corporations are more powerful than the individual. Even if you consider a corporation as a collection of individuals, you do not prove any existence of "power" over the individual. Further, your argument to tell me that corporations have more power than the individuals, "because they do" is completely unsubstantiated by any examples that YOU are responsible for providing. If a corporation is more powerful than the individual, than you need to show how that is true. Also, define what you mean by power, because that can be many variables. It could be financial, physical, academic, political, etc.

I most certainly shall assert that a corporation is no more powerful than the individual on the basis that individuals created and supported them, and can likewise destroy it.

A corporation, or collection of individuals, is not granted any power that other collections of individuals did not grant it. As an individual, I have the power to not support any corporation I do not agree with ethically. If I want to make a strong impact on that corporation, I will gather a "collection" of individuals of my own to harm that corporation (legally, of course). If I was a leader within a corporation, I am still an individual acting on behalf of my corporation, and perhaps I will have resources that the common man does not have, but the organization earned them from individuals, so I must act the way my customers would expect me to. In the end, a corporation is really a puppet of society because its actions have to represent the mentality of its consumers.

You mentioned political clout as a reason why corporations are more powerful than the individual. If that were the case, politicians would be looking for corporations rather than voters. Today, there are a number of stringent laws making political donations by corporations restrictive. In fact, there are caps on donations by individuals to ensure that no one individual exerts too much monetary influence on a political candidate. Regardless, the only reason a corporation may have any influence on a politicians' decisions would be if the industry were a necessity to the country's economy. This would include energy, food, and health care. Those also happen to be some of the most highly regulated industries in the country. If you were to consider the amount of laws and requirements placed on corporations today, it's be pretty clear that corporations are weak in the big picture. They are weak against the government, weak against the individual, just plain weak.

I look forward to your response! :-)
Debate Round No. 2
stevster

Pro

stevster forfeited this round.
Wierdkp326

Con

I have nothing to add. I guess that means the debate is over. Take care, Stevster! Nice debating with you!
Debate Round No. 3
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by Wierdkp326 9 years ago
Wierdkp326
It appears like this debate ended with a popularity contest. Damn shame.
Posted by stevster 9 years ago
stevster
wow.. sometimes i just get too busy and forget to rebut these things.....wow thanks for those of you who voted for me tho haha..
Posted by Logical-Master 9 years ago
Logical-Master
I believe the fact that corporations AREN'T individuals will be the pro's downfall. That's just my opinion of course.
Posted by Logical-Master 9 years ago
Logical-Master
LOL! I argued this for LD last year.
Posted by C-Mach 9 years ago
C-Mach
They already are. Is this 25 characters yet?
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Vote Placed by bthr004 8 years ago
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