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Corporate Personhood

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The category one needs to make explicit here is reduction. Ms. Rand's reduction of "society" is the key here. Society is "nothing but" the interrelations of the individuals that comprise it. That means that we can not blame "society" for our own actions, success-virtues and vices....

Integrate carefully...

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Hence the crux here jacassidy2 which I am debating with others in this thread, is the conceptual and legal treatment of a corporation as an independent person.

Yeah, that's it, I'm done. If after all this you still think a legal person is the same as a person, or is meant to somehow equate people to legal persons, you're just not making an effort to understand this. Edited by Nicky

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This thread is a wonderful example of why understanding the process of abstraction, and its use in concept formation, is so important - the basis of any concrete argument or investigation that requires a reduction to ideas in epistemology.  Didn't some of what was said by people like Descartes and even Hume and Kant seem true when you were young and first thinking about philosophy?  Why did these guys get it so wrong in the end?  Part of it is the legacy of mysticism; another part is the failure to successfully investigate and define the process of human reason at the clear level of observable facts - that process is concept formation.

 

Existence is primary to consciousness, but studying these subjects requires a look at concepts in epistemology before you can think clearly about, the even more basic, metaphysics.  Ms. Rand understood this - notice she wrote ITOE first in the fundamental investigation she began to formalize in the years after publication of her landmark fiction.

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Yeah, that's it, I'm done. If after all this you still think a legal person is the same as a person, or is meant to somehow equate people to legal persons, you're just not making an effort to understand this.

 

Ok.  Let me stand back a little and summarize.

 

I see no reason whatever for a proper Objectivist government to treat any kind of group, collective, or organization of people AS anything other than what it is: a group of individual people which have various contractual agreements between them.

 

Specifically, I see no principle, metaphysical, epistemological, ethical, or political (heretofore presented by anyone here) which would lead me to believe that a proper Objectivist government should (i.e. in the sense that it would be morally correct to) "view", "see", "consider", any group of inter-contracting individuals AS a separate "legal" entity, either in being or in action.

 

In a proper system, society, economy, without oppressive regulations, without interference, with no laws other than those which are the proper subject of proper government i.e. the protection of individual rights, I see no reason why such a need would arise.

 

 

Laws apply to human action, they are meant to prevent force, or to retaliate, act as restitution, or otherwise remedy the initiation of force, and to solve disputes between individual people.   

 

 

I ask: how is it any law would ever require reference to anything other than one or more individuals involved, i.e. require reference to some collective entity over and above the individuals?

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This thread is a wonderful example of why understanding the process of abstraction,...

I'm not sure I understand what you're referring to here. Do you think it is valid or invalid to have laws that recognize a notion of a "legal person" ?

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I think a person is a person and a legal entity given derived status as a person standing in for a legally recognized corporate entity is what it is.  My point is that much of the argument fails to recognize that all the things are what they are independent of the word or term you use to describe them.  Much of concept formation in human cognition takes place without thinking about it, but when you are debating the meaning of verbal-auditory icons (words) it's easy to lose sight of the fact that they represent the end of a process that starts with the truth of what is being describe or discussed.

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I think a person is a person and a legal entity given derived status as a person standing in for a legally recognized corporate entity is what it is.  My point is that much of the argument fails to recognize that all the things are what they are independent of the word or term you use to describe them.  Much of concept formation in human cognition takes place without thinking about it, but when you are debating the meaning of verbal-auditory icons (words) it's easy to lose sight of the fact that they represent the end of a process that starts with the truth of what is being describe or discussed.

 

While I like what you are saying I am unsure whether you believe a proper Objectivist government should (or would ever need to)  "recognize" a corporate "entity" (rather than simply the individuals and the contracts between individuals) and "give derived status as a person standing in for" that "legally recognized" corporate entity. 

 

Keeping of course in mind that the concept "legally" according to Objectivism, and in the context of the proper role government, is probably more than "whatever a government decides to do".

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Read up:

 

"Despite not being human beings, corporations, as far as the law is concerned, are legal persons, and have many of the same rights and responsibilities as natural persons do. Corporations can exercise human rights against real individuals and the state,[4][5] and they can themselves be responsible for human rights violations.[6] Corporations can be "dissolved" either by statutory operation, order of court, or voluntary action on the part of shareholders. Insolvency may result in a form of corporate failure, when creditors force the liquidation and dissolution of the corporation under court order,[7] but it most often results in a restructuring of corporate holdings. Corporations can even be convicted of criminal offenses, such as fraud and manslaughter. However corporations are not considered living entities in the way that humans are.[8]"

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporation

 

Anyone care to provide arguments why this purported independent "legal personhood" of a corporation is not in contradiction to the principles of Objectivism?

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While I like what you are saying I am unsure whether you believe a proper Objectivist government should (or would ever need to)  "recognize" a corporate "entity" (rather than simply the individuals and the contracts between individuals) and "give derived status as a person standing in for" that "legally recognized" corporate entity. 

 

Keeping of course in mind that the concept "legally" according to Objectivism, and in the context of the proper role government, is probably more than "whatever a government decides to do".

Thanks for getting me back on track.  The answer is an Objectivist government would honor, and perhaps uphold in a government-organized civil court procedure (or recognize in a private civil arbitration procedure) whatever legitimate agreement was made between the parties.  The definition of "personhood" is a derived issue, secondary because it is based on more fundamental issues.  Example, if a legitimate business-entity organizing document says certain people can commit the business by making agreements, an Objectivist government would honor that agreement.  The only other possible issue that may have a bearing is the language of the founding document of this republican form of government.  Objectivist governments would not impose an artificial structure not based in the metaphysical identity of the entities involved.

 

My point is that several of you are sincere in your questions in this thread, but are finding small disagreements.  When this happens between reasonable people in a political debate, the answer is to reduce the meaning of each of your premises to ideas in ethics generally, and then to epistemology and metaphysics.  You will then find agreement on the basic ideas and proceed to what people call a compromise (but is not) but is actually fundamental agreement.

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Thanks for getting me back on track.  The answer is an Objectivist government would honor, and perhaps uphold in a government-organized civil court procedure (or recognize in a private civil arbitration procedure) whatever legitimate agreement was made between the parties.  The definition of "personhood" is a derived issue, secondary because it is based on more fundamental issues.  Example, if a legitimate business-entity organizing document says certain people can commit the business by making agreements, an Objectivist government would honor that agreement.  The only other possible issue that may have a bearing is the language of the founding document of this republican form of government.  Objectivist governments would not impose an artificial structure not based in the metaphysical identity of the entities involved.

 

My point is that several of you are sincere in your questions in this thread, but are finding small disagreements.  When this happens between reasonable people in a political debate, the answer is to reduce the meaning of each of your premises to ideas in ethics generally, and then to epistemology and metaphysics.  You will then find agreement on the basic ideas and proceed to what people call a compromise (but is not) but is actually fundamental agreement.

 

Your position seems sensible although I did raise an eyebrow at "commit the business"... however I may be overly sensitive to language at this point in the discussion.

 

 

"You and I" can be said to constitute a group but that group cannot be, have, or do anything independently of each of you and me.  As such it has no independent existence, rights, responsibilities, and simply cannot perform any independent action.... you and me are two things not three things (you, me, and some mystical "us" which is somehow independent of each of us).  

 

 

"You" and "me" make "we" not "three".  

There is no "us" beyond "you" and "me".

You and "me" makes "two", it's true, 

there is nothing else for a government to do.

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I agree with the point you are making about decisions being made by individual minds and that there is no "us" as a unique metaphysical existent.  There can be agreement among the components of "us," but the presence or absence of agreement presupposes individual parts of "us" individually making decisions.

 

We, us, and so forth are abstract concepts of human cognition that stand for a number of specified individuals in some context.  My dog and I walking down the street is "us," and you can see that "us" has nothing to do with our ability to sign a document.   

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I think that equating corporations with human beings is absurd, and writing that into the law as justification for the contractual rights of private individuals discredits capitalism.

 

I also think it's immoral for the government to force non-consenting third parties to submit to liability limitation agreements. And if a corporation does something that violates another person's rights, then everyone within the corporation who is responsible for this action needs to be held accountable. While regulations should be abolished, it is appropriate to have laws against fraud and infringements on property rights, and these laws need to be enforced against businesses.

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I think that equating corporations with human beings is absurd, and writing that into the law as justification for the contractual rights of private individuals discredits capitalism.

The law does not "equate" corporations and human beings -- in no country. In fact, this is so vague an assertion that it's impossible to respond to it coherently.

 

I also think it's immoral for the government to force non-consenting third parties to submit to liability limitation agreements.

Well, it is immoral for the government to force non-consenting people to do most things. If I have a car-repair shop and I tell you that my liability for any faulty repair will be limited to $1000, regardless of the eventual cost that you may compute, and if you agree, then should the law uphold this... assuming no fraud or malfeasance takes place. Shouldn't it? If yes, then, I could raise my stake and say to you that my liability is limited by the total value of my garage, but does not extend to my home and personal property. That is what limited liability amounts to, when properly enacted.

 

While regulations should be abolished, it is appropriate to have laws against fraud and infringements on property rights, and these laws need to be enforced against businesses.

"Against businesses"? What do you mean here? Do you mean against the individual people who are acting as part of this fictional business? Or do you mean the business is some type of entity apart for each individual?

Edited by softwareNerd

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