A Philosopher's Blog

Liberate the Corporations?

Posted in Business, Ethics, Law, Philosophy by Michael LaBossiere on December 16, 2011
English: The Bill of Rights, the first ten ame...

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In the United States, corporations are considered persons and hence it was ruled that

they are entitled to 1st Amendment rights, specifically freedom of speech. While I have argued in other posts that corporations are not persons, I have also played with the idea of accepting corporations as people and seeing where this leads.

Now, if it is assumed that corporations are persons and are thus entitled to 1st Amendment rights (at least in the United States) it would certainly seem to follow that they are entitled to all the rights of persons. Or, at the very least, the other constitutional rights.

Corporations can, of course, be owned. In fact, common stock is bought and sold as a matter of routine business and provides an ownership share in a corporation. Since corporations are people, this means that people are being allowed to legally own other people. Owning another person is, of course, slavery. While slavery was legal at one time in the United States, the 13th amendment is rather clear on this matter:

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Now, if corporations are entitled to 1st amendment rights because they are people, it follows that they must also be entitled to 13th amendment rights. That is, corporations have a right not to be owned by other people. Thus, corporations must be set free from their owners and all such ownership must be declared null and void.

It could, of course, be argued that this is absurd. I agree-but this conclusion follows directly from the same logic used to argue that corporations are entitled to 1st amendment rights. So, if it is absurd for corporations to have 13th amendment rights it follows that it is equally absurd for them to have 1st amendment rights.

It could, of course, be argued that corporations are special sorts of people and are such that they do get 1st amendment rights (that is, they can engage in unlimited spending in politics) but they do not get certain other rights, such as not being slaves. After all, the constitution also includes the following:

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.

The “other persons” were, of course, slaves. Perhaps corporations can be considered a certain fraction of a person in regards not to representation but to rights. So, they get the all important right to spend money in politics on the basis of being persons while being denied the right not to be owned as slaves. I am not sure what the percentage would be or how this would work out, but I am sure that a clever lawyer could make it happen.

In fact, it  could be argued that enslaving persons is just a return to an old American tradition-only now we are enslaving corporation-Americans rather than African-Americans. This is not to trivialize the brutal treatment of those toiling under the lash of slavers, but to make the point that it is absurd to think of corporations as people.  If it is not absurd and corporations are people, I demand that the corporations be set free!

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66 Responses

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  1. T. J. Babson said, on December 16, 2011 at 10:38 am

    So by arguing that corporations should not have first amendment protections, you are basically saying that if the New York Times wants to publish something critical of the government, the government should have the right to censor it because it is a corporation.

    Why is it that left-wing ideas always tend toward totalitarianism? Why the fear of free speech? You don’t like Christians criticizing Islam, and now you don’t like corporations having the right to advocate their interests by engaging in political speech. What exactly are you afraid of when people are free to express their ideas?

    • anon said, on December 16, 2011 at 11:14 am

      Corporations have no ideas of their own, corporations cannot think for themselves, they are a fictional entities.

      If you would bother ACTUALLY READING THE FIRST ADMENDMENT instead of being an idiot you’d see that it provides protection for the press which completely invalidates your argument. Why, T. J. Babson, are you afraid of reality?

      • T. J. Babson said, on December 16, 2011 at 11:34 am

        You think corporations are fictional and then accuse me of being afraid of reality?

        Thanks, anon–I’ll be chuckling over this all day… :-)

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 16, 2011 at 2:01 pm

          Corporations as people are legal fictions, much like states. Sure, the buildings and such are real-but corporations as such exist just on paper and in the mind.

          • WTP said, on December 16, 2011 at 2:39 pm

            Much like the productive value added by philsophers.

          • Anonymous said, on December 16, 2011 at 2:51 pm

            So your considered opinion is that if something exits “just on paper and in the mind” it is fictional?

            • T. J. Babson said, on December 16, 2011 at 3:07 pm

              Sorry, the last post was by T.J. (who recently cleared his cookie cache).

            • Asur said, on December 16, 2011 at 3:25 pm

              Yep, that’s pretty much exactly what the term means.

              How do you know that Alice in Wonderland is fictional? It exists just on paper and in the mind :P

              Granting, of course, paper analogues such as film…you weren’t about to argue that Star Wars was real, were you?

            • T. J. Babson said, on December 16, 2011 at 3:48 pm

              So if you can’t kick it, it is fictional? So money, love, fame, and religion are all just fictions?

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 16, 2011 at 5:03 pm

              Good questions. Some things are fictional (that is, we make them up-like game rules, stories, and so on). Other things are abstract (they are not just made up, but are not concrete, physical entities). Some claim that math is abstract, but not fictional. You can’t kick the number 2, but it is not just made up. Or maybe it is. Love could be seen as a mental state, thus it could be real. Religion…well, that depends. If the religion has its facts right, then it would not be just made up. But, if they are just making stuff up, then it would be fictional.

              Kicking is only a (possible) test for the corporeal, not the real.

            • Asur said, on December 16, 2011 at 4:02 pm

              Hmm.

              The ‘value’ of money is fictionally assigned, but the money itself is physically real.

              Love, fame, and religion are real in the sense that they’re real states of people’s minds towards some object or another. They may be fictional in another sense, but I’m not sure what sense you have in mind, can you clarify?

            • WTP said, on December 16, 2011 at 4:14 pm

              “How do you know that Alice in Wonderland is fictional? It exists just on paper and in the mind ” – Alice never sent me a bill for services rendered. Nor did she ever offer services…of any kind.

              Again, for that matter is not Philosophy fictional? For that matter, are not human rights fictional? Really people, this is sophomore-year-dorm-room-bong-hit talk. You really don’t think that you have presented us with ideas and perceptions we’ve never considered. Try going out and living in the world of objective reality. That will tell you what’s fictional and what isn’t.

            • Asur said, on December 16, 2011 at 4:19 pm

              Psh, get it straight WTP: people offered, rendered, and billed you for services. People, not an organization or corporation.

              Get your own head out of the clouds.

            • WTP said, on December 16, 2011 at 4:31 pm

              OK, not-sure-you’re-Asure, if you lived in the real world, you would know that those people would not be working to an acceptable standard of quality without that business name to protect. Be it their own business or someone else’s whom they work for. You do not know anywhere near what you think you do about how the world works.

            • Asur said, on December 16, 2011 at 5:18 pm

              WTP: “those people would not be working to an acceptable standard of quality without that business name to protect.”

              That seems to seriously misread normal human motivation. What about pride in their own work? What about the realization that if they don’t work to an acceptable standard of quality, then you won’t continue to purchase their services nor will anyone else?

              A company name is just symbol, and while it’s true that people have frequently giving up their lives for symbols, I’m not at all sure that that’s something laudable. Surely it’s what a symbol represents that has actual value?

            • WTP said, on December 19, 2011 at 4:11 pm

              “That seems to seriously misread normal human motivation. What about pride in their own work? What about the realization that if they don’t work to an acceptable standard of quality, then you won’t continue to purchase their services nor will anyone else?

              “Surely it’s what a symbol represents that has actual value?”

              And getting back to the original point of this thread…Corporations are basicallly made up of people. People have rights to freedom of expression. The people who work for the corporation make the statements. It is their first amendment rights that are being protected.

              So we agree. Cool. Dom this time?

          • T. J. Babson said, on December 16, 2011 at 4:10 pm

            Mike’s claim is that something is fictional if it exists “just on paper and in the mind.” Money exists on paper (in a couple of senses), and love, fame, religion exist in the mind.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 16, 2011 at 5:05 pm

              You’d need to distinguish between “existing in the mind” and “being a state of the mind.” For example, my idea of ghosts could be real (it could be brain state XYZ) while ghosts could be just a fiction.

      • WTP said, on December 16, 2011 at 12:22 pm

        You know TJ, I was just going to point out this exact same thing. Of course there are exceptions for certain “kinds” of corporations. There could even be government agencies set up to determine what constitutes a corpoaration, what constitutes the “press”, etc. etc. etc. You’re such a stupid, stupid idiot to not understand this.

      • magus71 said, on December 16, 2011 at 1:15 pm

        anon,

        Are governments fictional entities?

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 16, 2011 at 2:10 pm

          Interesting question. On the one hand, they are not fictional in the sense that the United Federation of Planets is fictional. On the other hand, people just make up the rules, laws, offices and so on. I’d be inclined to say that it is more like a game, but one that can involve people getting shot.

        • T. J. Babson said, on December 16, 2011 at 3:49 pm

          With fictional bullets…

          • Asur said, on December 16, 2011 at 4:07 pm

            No, the bullets are real — real enough that I wouldn’t suggest testing the hypothesis that they weren’t.

            Careful about making a fallacy of division here, TJ: Let’s say that a corporation as an entity out in the real world is fictional — that doesn’t mean (it would be a fallacy of division to imply) that its employees or agents were similarly without objective reality.

            • T. J. Babson said, on December 16, 2011 at 4:11 pm

              Now you are getting into Matrix territory…

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 16, 2011 at 5:05 pm

              I’ve got my shades on…

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 16, 2011 at 11:40 am

      My view is that corporations are not people, that is a different matter. People in organizations do not lose rights-so if the government censored the New York Times they would be violating the rights of the person who wrote the work.

      I do agree that the legal fictions that are corporations should, as a practical matter, be allowed to serve as a collective which inherits certain legal rights from the people who actually are people. So, for example, a union can issue a collective statement from its members or a corporation could do the same. However, this does not require that the corporation be a person-it just requires that collective rights are recognized, comrade.

      I’m against totalitarianism. A stock feature of many forms of totalitarianism is that the collective (the state or whatever) is a person that is more important than the individual people (see, for example, fascism). As such, my view that corporations, unions and states are not people is actually against more against totalitarianism than for it.

      I have no fear of the expression of ideas. However this is distinct from thinking that a corporation is not a person and that FFA is wrong in its view of American Muslims. Nothing I have said supports the claim that people should be denied the right of free expression. I never claimed that people should not have the right to express views. My criticism of what they say is not a condemnation of their freedom, but of what they say.

      • T. J. Babson said, on December 16, 2011 at 11:58 am

        “So, if it is absurd for corporations to have 13th amendment rights it follows that it is equally absurd for them to have 1st amendment rights.”

        Mike, are you not arguing here that corporations should not have 1st amendment rights? As the NYT is a corporation, are you not arguing against 1st amendment rights for the NYT?

        • Asur said, on December 16, 2011 at 3:19 pm

          Mike was correct to point out that ‘freedom of the press’ is held by the individual members of the press, not their collective organizations.

          Nice try at trolling, though.

          • T. J. Babson said, on December 16, 2011 at 3:38 pm

            Best crawl back under your bridge, Asur.

            The law of the land grants 1st amendment rights to corporations, but Mike doesn’t like it.

            • Asur said, on December 16, 2011 at 3:44 pm

              Boo-hoo, buddy. Make an argument or keep crying.

            • WTP said, on December 16, 2011 at 4:23 pm

              “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

              Boo hoo yourself. “Congress shall make NO law…abridging freedom of speech, or of the press”. It then goes on to speak specifically to the “right of the people…”. No law abridging freedom of speech. Granted, courts have found wiggle room in the use of speech as a pretext to breaking other laws, etc. but those address serious conflicts with other rights.

              TJ posts regularly here as do you. Are you trolling…or just trying? Given the sockpuppetry of a certain regular poster, I’m wouldn’t be surprised if this wasn’t you. Doesn’t sound like the Asur I remember.

            • Asur said, on December 16, 2011 at 4:32 pm

              I don’t follow your point, WTP: The Constitution grants rights to US citizens; corporations are not in and off themselves citizens.

              What are you trying to say?

            • wtp said, on December 17, 2011 at 2:32 pm

              NotAsure, if I may paraphrase from someone above:

              If you would bother ACTUALLY READING THE FIRST ADMENDMENT instead of being an idiot you’d see that it completely invalidates your argument.

      • T. J. Babson said, on December 16, 2011 at 4:24 pm

        Mike, this whole “corporation = person” argument you have created is a strawman, because no one holds this position in the way you are discussing it.

        “My criticism of what they say is not a condemnation of their freedom, but of what they say.” Wasn’t your position not that they were wrong, but that they were wrong to say it?

        • Asur said, on December 16, 2011 at 4:36 pm

          Really, it’s a strawman you say?

          (1) What position are you attributing to Mike, and (2) how do people really hold it out in the world? To show a strawman fallacy, you must show discrepancy between (1) and (2).

          Good luck backing up your hot air.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 16, 2011 at 5:14 pm

          If only that were true. If corporations are not people, then they do not get the 1st amendment rights for being people. The main argument for them having these rights is that they are people. What I am doing is actually trying to appeal to the sentiment that you express-the idea that corporations are people in the sense we are people is something no one should believe.

          In any case, Romney thinks they are people. Or says he does. :)

    • magus71 said, on December 16, 2011 at 1:10 pm

      “So by arguing that corporations should not have first amendment protections, you are basically saying that if the New York Times wants to publish something critical of the government, the government should have the right to censor it because it is a corporation.”

      Good point. In this case and by this definition, the media is fictional.

      • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 16, 2011 at 2:03 pm

        The media is not fictional (although they sometimes crank out fiction). Media corporations as people are legal fictions (or reifications if you prefer).

  2. dhammett said, on December 16, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Mommy, does the life of the corporation begin when the egg meets the sperm?

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 16, 2011 at 2:06 pm

      It begins when a person loves money very much and then gets it on with a lawyer or two. :)

    • dhammett said, on December 16, 2011 at 2:38 pm

      Mike, this is a matter of personhood, so you should not treat it lightly. :(

      Are you sure the corporation’s life doesn’t begin later, after “it” has been done, after the beast with two backs has been made , after the muffin has been buttered? When the charter is filed , perhaps? Or even later when bylaws are filed?

  3. Asur said, on December 16, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    Mike, this is brilliant. Maybe my favorite post that you’ve made so far.

    End Corporate Slavery! Emancipate Businesses From Their Shareholders!

  4. Asur said, on December 16, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    Here’s another argument for why corporations shouldn’t have 1st amendment rights:

    Out in the real world, a the existence of a “corporation” is just a bunch of buildings, property, and people.

    Now, only an insane person would want to give 1st amendment rights to a building or some property; we can only intend to be giving 1st amendment rights to people.

    However, all those people who participate in the “corporation” already have 1st amendment rights.

    It follows that giving 1st amendment rights to a corporation is at best pointless and at worst absurd.

    • T. J. Babson said, on December 16, 2011 at 4:33 pm

      A corporation pays taxes, can be held liable, and plays a role in the community. Various government policies can have a life-or-death impact on a corporation. Giving it 1st amendment rights is neither pointless nor absurd.

      • Asur said, on December 16, 2011 at 4:43 pm

        Wrong, wrong, wrong. Give me an instance of a corporation playing “a role in the community” that is not an instance of PEOPLE playing a role in the community.

        You can’t, because it doesn’t exist.

        All these things you attribute to corporations are done by people, not “corporations” whatever they actually are. People already have 1st amendment rights.

        What is a 1st amendment right, anyway? It’s a right to freedom of speech, yeah? When was the last time you heard a “corporation” say anything?

        It’s people, plain and simple.

        • T. J. Babson said, on December 16, 2011 at 4:57 pm

          Asur, surely you understand that an organization can have an existence apart from the people that make it up? The Catholic church, for example? Or the Yankees? Why do you want to deny the existence of these organizations?

          • Asur said, on December 16, 2011 at 5:08 pm

            Hmm…well, these organizations do exist, but they exist subjectively rather objectively, which is the problem.

            If we ascribe a right to something–such as a right to free speech–it seems that it must be to something that exists objectively out in the world.

            However, regarding these organizations you list, the only thing that exists objectively out in the world are (a) people and (b) property.

            If we give the Yankees 1st amendment protection, who are we really giving it to? The people or the property? Giving it to the property is just silly, whereas giving it to the people is not…except that they already have it, and they have it regardless of their membership in the Yankees.

          • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 16, 2011 at 5:23 pm

            These organizations can persist, but think of a game. I ran a D&D game that began in the 1980s and finally ended the meta-campaign in 2010. The players changed, the rule systems changed, but the campaign went on. However, I would not say that the game existed in the sense that it existed as an entity in its own right. Rather, it “existed” as a series of activities, materials, and so on. Likewise for the Church. There is no distinct entity-just a shorthand for the people, traditions and so on.

            Now, it could be argued that organizations exist through change of people (etc) as we exist through changes in our cells and so on. However, we have personal identity because we are persons. What sort of distinct existence do organizations have? They do not seem to be people.

          • magus71 said, on December 16, 2011 at 5:37 pm

            TJ,

            I’m sure you can see why the semantics are argued by the left-leaning people who post here. A fairly consistent meme around here….

            Mike said:

            “Now, if corporations are entitled to 1st amendment rights because they are people, it follows that they must also be entitled to 13th amendment rights.”

            No, it doesn’t have to follow like that at all. The law can be written any way the law-makers want to write them.

            The slavery argument is just awful. The argument for corporations as a person is made because some people want to limit the rights of other people when they act collectively (as a corporation). As such, it is still the individuals’ rights that most are concerned with. So since it is still illegal for a corporation to own an individual as a slave, your slave argument is not valid.

            If a corporation cannot be considered a person, think of the horrendous results. The Boy Scouts of America could not have any motto that the government does not approve of because any revocation of the motto by the government would not violate any constitutional rights. Anything, such as Nike’s “Just Do it” would be subject to change at the whim of the government. The Catholic Church could have no Apostle’s Creed if the government didn’t want it to, since the church could not be protected by the First Amendment.

            This is quite absurd. Laws have recognized “artificial persons” as well as persons for centuries.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 17, 2011 at 12:33 pm

              The logic is solid.

              Consider the argument for 1st amendment rights:
              1. If X is a person, then X gets constitutional rights.
              2. A corporation is a person.
              3. A corporation gets constitutional rights.
              4. If a corporation gets constitutional rights, it gets the 1st amendment rights.
              5. Corporations get 1st amendment rights.
              6. If a corporation gets constitutional rights, it gets 13th amendment rights.
              7. A corporation gets 13th amendment rights.

              You would need to show why 4 is acceptable and 6 is not.

              Now, you do claim that the law can be written anyway the lawmakers want to write them. This is true, but a law that violates the constitution should be struck down. If we accept 1-5 above, then it would seem that we must accept 6-7 or we would be violating the constitution.

              The appeal to wicked consequences does not prove that something is true or false. Suppose that Sam would kill himself if he knew that unicorns are not real-it does not follow that they are.

              Now, you could appeal to consequences and argue that corporations should be considered people (of a sort) because of the practical consequences. So, we should probably tell Sam that unicorns are real, so he does not off himself (assuming we care about Sam).

              Also, we could allow collectives rights without them being people. In fact, by saying that corporations do not get all the rights people do, you would already accept a few steps on that path.

      • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 16, 2011 at 5:17 pm

        But corporations actually do none of that-people do. When I say “the university offers a class on that” I am just using shorthand for “someone teaches a class on that.” To think that corporations do things is to fall into reification. People do things and can do things collectively, but there are no upper level entities (corporations) striding the earth like mortal gods, doing things.

        • wtp said, on December 17, 2011 at 11:26 am

          People do that stuff at the direction of the people who run the company. The company has a reputation of its own that is distinct from that of the individual participants. Employees may come and go, but the quality of the product produced stays pretty much the same. Of course there are numerous exceptions, but not much different than personality changes that occur in actual people. This is a whole other discussion, but to say that corporations have no influence on people is absurd. And if they do have influence on the people who directly affect the quality of the product, they are far from fictional.

          This is a constant problem with the political left. They ignore the difference in quality of products produced by different companies. All they see in a corporation is a management-labor profit battle because to lefties, the corporation exists for the benefit of the employees. They fail to acknowledge that the employees are only employed to benefit the company. And the company only exists to benefit the customer. It’s quite the shallow perspective.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 16, 2011 at 5:11 pm

      There are some good grounds for accepting the notional of collective rights, but (like you) I would agree that they ultimately cash out in individual rights.

  5. magus71 said, on December 16, 2011 at 8:44 pm

  6. wtp said, on December 16, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    OK, there’s a distraction here. It’s that smell again and but now it smells like Philosophical identity theft. Mike, please read the “Asur” who posted on the topic back at this link:

    http://aphilosopher.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/walker-collective-bargaining/#comments

    And compare the level of intellectual engagement with the “Asur” who is posting on this thread here. I’m not buying that they are the same person. Now if someone wants to sockpuppet on the interwebs, that may be weasely but no real harm is done. However to blatantly seize another person’s handle and use it to spout your own ideas is disturbing to both the person whose handle is being abused but also to those of us who know that handle to be attached to someone respectable.

    Mike, can you compare the email addresses and assure us that the Asur posting here is the same as the Asur in the link above?

    • magus71 said, on December 16, 2011 at 10:58 pm

      An example of how a person can be an individual or a corporation with with only a few clicks of the key board.

      This summer I had two articles published in the Marine Corps Gazette. If I published under the name: Douglas Moore, I could say anything I wanted without fear of repercussion. If I published under the name, Sergeant Douglas Moore, I ran the danger of declaring myself the harbinger of the US Army, unless I made it clear in the article that the words written therein were my opinions and not the Army’s. Without the “Sergeant” I was a person; with it, I was a corporation (or a government): The Department of the Army.

      And thus America has more lawyers than the rest of the world combined.

      The best way to resolve fundamental problem in this question is to drop the “person” aspect and replace it with: “What laws work best?” Of course that contains many nuances in itself, but the person thing merely adds semantics that don’t need to be there. Who cares if a corporation is a person? Does this need to be decided to determine the laws that serve the country best in regards to corporate freedom.

      For the purposes of freedom, it seems a good idea that a corporation (yes–individuals representing the corporation) be able to freely express ideas under the auspices of the constitution.

      • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 17, 2011 at 12:47 pm

        Then we seem to agree on this matter. Corporations as people was, I think, a bit of a lazy way to do things. While it would require some legal effort, corporate rights and responsibilities could be laid out without saying they are people.

        I have no objection against free expression, even when done as a collective. Naturally, I think that there can be good grounds for limiting campaign spending and lobbying. I do have an objection against corporations being classified as people.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 17, 2011 at 12:39 pm

      Same email address. I’m not sure why anyone would pretend to be any of us, though. :)

      • magus71 said, on December 17, 2011 at 2:50 pm

        True. Fascism is out of vogue, so I’m sure there’ll be no Magus impersonations. :)

  7. T. J. Babson said, on December 17, 2011 at 1:11 am

    Mike and Asur want to argue that only people have rights, but when something adverse happens like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill suddenly it’s not just the people involved who screwed up but the entire organization that is on the hook.

    They want organizations like BP to have no rights (since only people have rights), but the organizations do have obligations and should pay if one of their employees screws up.

    Again, no effort is made to understand why 160 years of legal opinion goes against their thinking.

    • magus71 said, on December 17, 2011 at 7:48 am

      And on the other hand they like to argue that many people have rights but no obligations.

      • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 17, 2011 at 12:42 pm

        I do? When do I do that? I would agree that a newly born infant has rights but has no specific obligations at that point. Is that what you mean?

        • magus71 said, on December 17, 2011 at 2:48 pm

          Let’s just say that it usually amounts to an argument of negation. The arguments are mostly about rights and not responsibilities of individuals. Muslims have the right to a Ground Zero Mosque, but little responsibility to consider the feelings of the 9-11 families. Occupy Wall Street has a Laundry list of rights and demands, but no list of duties as citizens that they’d like applied to themselves.

          It seems all revolutions are based on “rights”. Can we name one based on responsibility? Except of course, the responsibility of the government. To give people free stuff.

          Actually, I believe this is a fundamental aspect of secular society as it now stands: A high concern for rights. A nearly absent concern for responsibility unless it is codified in law.

          • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 17, 2011 at 6:26 pm

            I never argued that the people in charge of the mosque should not consider the feelings of those who were against it. In the case of the feelings, there is the question of whether their being upset at terrorists gives them a justification to be against Islam. To use an analogy, while I am concerned about what Catholic priests did to children, I would not insist that no church be built near kids. It is important to distinguish the misdeeds of those who claim a faith from the faith as a whole.

            The Occupy Wall street folks (and anyone else) who insists on rights without responsibilities are in error.

            I agree. The financial folks enjoyed the “right” to bailouts and to do more or less as they pleased, yet they are not being held responsible for tanking the world economy. For profit schools insisted on the “right” to tax dollars, yet spent millions lobbying to water down their responsibilities to actually deliver (by way of comparison, the governor is dragging Florida public universities under a microscope and requiring that we deliver at an exceptional level…but we don’t have the lobbying power that the for profits schools have…they bought a lot of Democrats). As a professor I also see a lot of failures to take responsibility and shocked expressions when, for example, someone is held accountable for plagiarism.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on December 17, 2011 at 12:41 pm

      I never claim anywhere that only people have rights. If animals are not people, they could still have rights. Also, I did note that we could have collective rights and could, on the basis of practical concerns, create legal rights for collectives. I just contend that corporations are not people. The claim that corporations are not people does not entail that there are not collective rights.

  8. T. J. Babson said, on December 20, 2011 at 11:29 am

    Mike’s view of business. Caution: humor alert.


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