Corporate Rights and Moral Theory: The Need for a Coherent Theoretical Justification of Corporate Rights


Corporations are the primary engine of economic activity in the United States and they are provided with legal rights primarily to facilitate their productive activity. As economic actors, corporations must inevitably interact with other corporations and natural persons within the legal system. Corporations must be allowed to invoke legal rights in order to operate within the American legal system. Traditionally, the American legal system has classified corporations as legal “persons” to allow them to seamlessly integrate into the existing legal system. This Note tackles the question of corporate personhood utilizing an approach inspired by social contract theory and seeks to answer the fundamental question of what kind of person a corporation ought to be considered. From this initial conclusion, this Note will address the legal implications of the chosen rights justifying theory and explore alternate options.


law, corporations, economics, corporate personhood, person, social contract theory



Ryne T. Duffy (Articles Editor, Washington University Jurisprudence Review; J.D. Candidate, Washington University School of Law Class of 2020.)



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