Morality, Ontology, and Corporate Rights

Micah J. Schwartzman, University of Virginia School of Law

Mon, 12/05/2016 - 4:30pm
301 Marx Hall
Event Category: 

Please join us for a LAPA Seminar with Micah J. Schwartzman, Professor of Law at the University of Virginia School of Law, who wil present, "Morality, Ontology, and Corporate Rights," (co-authored with Steven Walt).

LAPA’s seminar format assumes that seminar participants have familiarized themselves with the paper in advance. The commentator opens the session by summarizing the main themes in the paper and presenting some topics for discussion. The author then has the right of first response before we open to the floor for questions. The seminar will end with a brief reception, giving everyone a chance to mingle and meet.

Abstract:  "Does the ontology of corporations matter for corporate rights? Much of the philosophical literature on corporate rights focuses on whether corporations are real entities, aggregations of individuals, or fictions to which rights or other entitlements can be ascribed. We argue that this focus is misplaced. Whether corporations have rights, and the sort of rights they have, is a question of moral theory. It is not fundamentally a matter of ontology, as F.W. Maitland thought, or a matter of legal or moral semantics, as H.L.A. Hart once argued. The going moral theory, not conceptual requirements or explanatory criteria, determines the conditions a corporation must satisfy to have various rights and duties. We argue that this truth is independent of the deontic, consequentialist, or hybrid character of the moral theory."

Micah J. Schwartzman
University of Virginia School of Law

Micah Schwartzman joined the University of Virginia School of Law  faculty in 2007. He teaches constitutional law and the First Amendment (Religion Clauses). His areas of interest include law and religion, jurisprudence, and political philosophy.   Schwartzman received his B.A. from the University of Virginia and his doctorate in politics from the University of Oxford, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar. During law school, he served as articles development editor of the Virginia Law Review and received numerous awards, including the Margaret G. Hyde Award, the Daniel Rosenbloom Award, and the Hardy Cross Dillard Scholarship. After graduating, Schwartzman clerked for Judge Paul V. Niemeyer of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Prior to joining the faculty, he was a postdoctoral research fellow at Columbia University’s Society of Fellows in the Humanities. In the spring of 2013, he was a visiting professor at the UCLA School of Law.

James E. Fleming
Boston University School of Law

James E. Fleming *88 is The Honorable Paul J. Liacos Professor of Law at Boston University School of Law, where he teaches courses in constitutional law, jurisprudence, torts, and remedies. He is author or co-author of several books, including most recently Fidelity to Our Imperfect Constitution: For Moral Readings and Against Originalisms(2015); Ordered Liberty: Rights, Responsibilities, and Virtues (2015) (with Linda C. McClain) and American Constitutional Interpretation (5th ed., 2014) (with the late Walter F. Murphy and Stephen Macedo of Princeton University and Sotirios Barber). Fleming is the newly-elected president of the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy. He previously served as editor for four volumes of Nomos, the annual book of the Society. He received a Ph.D. in Politics from Princeton University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School after earning his A.B. at University of Missouri. Before becoming a law professor, he spent five years as a litigator. He also spent a year as a Faculty Fellow in Ethics in the Harvard University Center for Ethics and the Professions (now the Safra Center).