Editor's note: This paper was read at the eighth annual University of Dayton Philosophy Colloquium, held in 1979.

The notion of collective moral responsibility has received relatively little treatment in the Anglo-American philosophical literature. This is surprising, given the increasingly widespread practice of ascribing moral responsibility to groups, peoples, and other collections of individuals. After World War II it was common for people to speak of the moral responsibility of the German people for Nazi atrocities; during the Viet Nam War many people accused America of immorality in carrying on an immoral war and using immoral tactics such as defoliation and napalm bombings; the whites in the United States have been said to be morally responsible for the plight of the blacks and responsible for making due reparation; and so on. There are many issues involved in the ascription of collective moral responsibility. In this paper I shall focus on collective responsibility as it pertains to corporations.



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