“Café” invites discussion on moral responsibilities of corporations


CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University will host a Spring Creek Café to consider “The Moral Responsibilities of Corporations,” led by Willamette University law professor Robin Morris Collin. This free public event begins at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 6, at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library main meeting room.

Modeled on the popular Socrates Cafés, Spring Creek Café events invite people to come together in an informal setting to participate in guided discussions.

In 1886, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a private corporation was a “natural person” under the Constitution, endowed with the same rights as people. More than a century later, questions have arisen over what kind of “persons” corporations have become.

Pointing to recent environmental disasters, financial trickery, and potential devastation of climate change, some argue that if corporations are people then they must be psychopaths, since they seem unable to align their behaviors to societal standards of right and wrong, said Charles Goodrich of the Spring Creek Project at OSU. Others point out that despite some missteps, corporations can be instruments of the common good, the source of the material prosperity that creates the good life, he added.

This discussion will pose questions, such as whether corporations are exempt from the morals of justice, compassion, and integrity and whether new ideas about the moral and legal responsibilities of corporations can redefine their rights and responsibilities.

Collin received the David Brower Lifetime Achievement Award at the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference in 2001 and the Judith Ramaley Award from the Oregon Campus Compact for civic engagement in sustainability. In 1993, she became the first law professor to teach sustainability at an American law school. She currently heads the school's Certificate Program in Sustainability Law. 

The event is free and open to all. For more information, call 541-737-6198 or visit the Spring Creek website: http://springcreek.oregonstate.edu