CEVI-WP 09-01

Corporate Cosmopolitan Responsibilities
Wim Vandekerckhove


Despite a wide consensus among cosmopolitan thinkers that multinational corporations (MNCs) have a tremendous impact on people’s live all over the world, corporations receive little attention from these thinkers when it comes to developing ‘cures’ for many of the global worries they regard those corporations to be constitutive of. This chapter starts to fill that void . Following Kuper's three tasks in distributing responsibilities, I first establish the grounds for allocating responsibilities through Gould's social ontological approach in which duties exist prior to rights and result from the claims each makes on others. I argue that claims people make on corporations are cosmopolitan in the sense that they are human aspirations of self-transformation beyond determinations of nationality, ethnicity, gender, place of birth, etc. I then attribute cosmopolitan responsibilities to corporations using a four dimensional model of the spectrum of economic activity in which the dimensions are differentiated by type of actors with whom corporations as business organizations rather than Ersatz-governments, have relationships. Finally, I contend that convincing corporate agents to fulfil their responsibilities can be pursued through the Habermasian notion of 'performative contradiction' or Risse's 'argumentative self-entrapment'.

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