A Rebuttal to the Equal Personhood of Corporations

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People are people and corporations are groups of people. Therefore, if a corporation is just a group of people, shouldn’t it have the same legal rights as a single person? After all a corporation, just as a person, needs to be able to own property, defend itself in court, sell property, etc. Shouldn’t it therefore since it’s just a group of people, have the same rights as an individual person? Why should a person, even if they are acting collectively, be denied the rights they would have if they had acted alone? In conclusion, what’s the difference between acting collectively and acting alone that deserves different treatment under the law?

Psychologically,  when a person rationally acts they are acting in their own self interest. This is a controversial statement but holds up fairly well to introspection, the reasons which are too lengthy to go into here. Taken this to be true the great majority of the time, it is generally safe to build our methods of social organization around this assumption.

So this would mean that the interest of a group of individuals is the sum of the interests of the individuals. This seems logical enough. However we also have to take into account the survival of the corporation. It is within the members’ interest that the corporation survive. This is true especially for corporations whose members depend on the coporation’s survival for their own survival. For the traditional corporation most people are familiar with this means the interest of the individual is with the corporation making money.

This is where the interest of the coporation on its own and the interest of the individual on its own differ. Taken out of context of the corporation, if you asked someone their interest it’s going to be ensuring they can live a safe, happy, and prosperous life among other things. This requires the individual to belong to a strong community. This sounds a lot different than a corporation making money.

As the old saying goes, don’t get between someone and their livelihood. Any piece of governance intended for the betterment of the whole will inevitably negatively affect a corporation and therefore get in the way of someone’s livelihood. If it gets in the way of enough people’s livelihoods then the possibility of it becoming law greatly diminishes.

As outlined in the above paragraph, it is this danger, that when we couple survival of the individual to the flow of capital instead of the survival of the group as it has historically been, if not recognized or we allow it that will eventually prove ruinous to our collective survival.

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