Surveying misdeeds from the explosion-prone Ford Pinto to Philip-Morris's alleged obstruction of anti-smoking campaigns, this provocative treatise concludes that corporations, were they people, would be legally insane. Working from a lively, lucid reading of moral philosophers and economists from Hobbes to Adam Smith, Rowland (Galileo's Mistakes) describes the corporation as the embodiment of ""psychological egoism,"" which holds that selfishness is the primary human motive and the marketplace defines acceptable standards of morality. Though corporations are technically and legally the equivalent of a person, they are also required to put profit above human moral precept; it is therefore a ""moral cretin,"" a ""sociopathic entity spawned by a paranoid hallucination"" and even ""an alien life-form."" There are gaps, however, in Rowlands's arguments: by judging corporations in terms of human ethics standards, the author never demonstrates that institutional, procedural morality is systemically inferior to personal morality; and one could argue that the crimes of amoral corporations pale beside those committed by the ""moralistic"" state. Still, by making explicit the ideological foundations of corporations, Rowland shows just how strange, unnerving and dangerous they can be, and mounts a stimulating challenge to conventional political economy.
Reviewed on: 05/01/2006 Release date: 05/01/2006 Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 256 pages - 978-0-88762-176-5
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