What is the role of corporations in market economies? What if we wouldn’t consider them as mere market actors, but approach them as political institutions?
Corporations are key actors in market economies. But what is their role in this system? The view of corporations as 'profit machines' is in tension with the view of corporations as institutions that have a wider social embedding and that need to behave 'socially responsible'. The latter is usually taken as a moral assignment, predominantly discussed in the field of business ethics. But is this sufficient at times of increasing corporate influence and power, rivalling that of governments? What if we would approach corporations as political institutions? What would this mean for their legitimacy? Wouldn’t this be at odds with the private orientation that comes with market thinking? Explore with political philosopher Rutger Claassen what implications this would have for their social role, rights and obligations. How sensible is this lens for looking at corporations?
About Rutger Claassen
Rutger Claassen is Associate Professor of Ethics & Political Philosophy at the Department of Philosophy of Utrecht University. He has a background in law and philosophy, and wrote a dissertation about the moral limits of the markets. One of his main research themes form economic and ethical theories about the concept of the market, the justifications for regulating and limiting markets, and applying market mechanisms in the public sector. Other research interests include socioeconomic justice and conceptions of freedom, autonomy, and paternalism.
About lecture series ‘Rethinking Market Economies’
Many contemporary societies feature market economies. Their mechanisms and institutions may appear self-evident, just like gravity. Market economies are riddled with assumptions about how they create the conditions for societal prosperity and individual wellbeing. But how sound are these assumptions? And what might system rethinking entail? Join Studium Generale for some thought-provoking perspectives on the nature of market economies.