Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Corporations Are Mediating Institutions

At the risk of blowing my own horn (a risk I seem unduly inclined to take!), I wanted to note that I tackled the role of the corporation as a mediating structure (the subject of Rob's latest post) in my article Community and Statism: A Conservative Contractarian Critique of Progressive Corporate Law Scholarship, in which I argued that:

Most people belong to a host of communities with the potential to inculcate virtue and other communal values: churches, schools, fraternal organizations, and the like. While it may be unrealistic to think of a large multinational corporation as constituting such a community, it is perfectly plausible to think of the corporation as an intermediary institution standing between the individual and Leviathan. In other words, while virtuous citizens are developed by smaller institutions with roots in the local community, the corporation still can act as a vital counter-vailing force against the state. Resistance to expanding the realm of mandatory corporate law rules thus responds to the “notion that the prevailing moral threat in our era may not be the power of the corporations, but the growing power and irresponsibility of the state.”
Turning to the question Rick posed, I'm still exploring the concept of corporate entities in Catholic thinking. Thus far, however, I have been unpersuaded that there is any reason in theology or economics to treat the corporation as a real person. Reification is a useful fiction and semantic convenience, but one must always remember that reification is a fiction.


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