The Moral Responsibility of Business: A Philosophy of Finance Discussion

Tuesday, April 20, 2021 - 7:00pm to 8:30pm

A Collegium Institute Event

Details below from Collegium Institute


Businesses are increasingly urged to be responsible parties in social and environmental affairs and to take into account the priorities of all stakeholders. In what sense, though, can a business be said to be a moral agent? Milton Friedman famously argued that the social responsibility of business is to increase profits. He reasoned that, since only individuals could act, it was meaningless to speak about corporate moral behavior. In the half a century since, a robust scholarship around the topic of collective moral agency has developed. In 2019, the Business Roundtable published a statement affirming the role for businesses to improve society.

In this online conversation with two leading scholars, we will discuss the ways in which a corporation can be seen as a moral agent. The differing views of this question have profound implications for business ethics, stakeholder theory, environmental policy, investing, and social welfare.

Dr. Kendy M. Hess is Director of the Ciocca Center for Business, Ethics, and Society, Advisor of the Minor in Business, Ethics, and Society, and Brake Smith Associate Professor of Social Philosophy and Ethics at College of the Holy Cross. Dr. Eric W. Orts is Guardsmark Professor, Professor of Legal Studies & Business Ethics and Professor of Management, and Director of the Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Their conversation will be moderated by Dr. Mike Kane, Director of Collegium Institute’s Philosophy of Finance Project and Lecturer in the Department of Economics at the University of Pennsylvania.

This event is cosponsored by the Ciocca Center for Business, Ethics, and Society at the College of the Holy Cross, the University of Pennsylvania’s Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Program, the Wharton School’s Legal Studies & Business Ethics Department, and the University of Pennsylvania Center for Social Norms & Behavioral Dynamics.

Date: Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Time: 7:00 PM ET

Registration: Registration is open to the public. To register, please click here. If you have any questions, please feel free to send an email to