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By Toni Erskine

Can associations, within the experience of formal companies, be thought of at risk of ethical burdens? The members to this publication significantly research the assumption of the 'collective' or 'institutional' ethical agent in, inter alia , the guise of states, transnational firms, the UN and overseas society. The viability of treating those entities as bearers of ethical tasks is explored within the context of a few of the main severe and debated concerns and occasions in diplomacy, together with the genocide in Rwanda, improvement relief, the Kosovo crusade and international justice.

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In proposing a model of institutional moral agency, I will suggest that this disanalogy is often over-stated. Some institutions share with individual human beings certain relevant capacities that mean that assigning them responsibilities is a coherent endeavour. The fundamental defining criteria of the individual moral agent can be said in very general terms to be the capacity for both moral deliberation and moral action. In other words, one must first be able to understand and reflect upon moral requirements.

To the contrary, many of the institutions that I tentatively placed in this category, such as NGOs and transnational corporations, also lack fixed territorial bases. Rather, the problem is that there is such a disjunction between precolonial societies and the state boundaries invented by colonial powers that one might question whether these quasi-states have self-asserted identities at all, let alone ones that have continuity over time. These points suggest that states might vary enough in kind to prevent some from having as strong a claim to the status of moral agent as others.

Rather, the problem is that there is such a disjunction between precolonial societies and the state boundaries invented by colonial powers that one might question whether these quasi-states have self-asserted identities at all, let alone ones that have continuity over time. These points suggest that states might vary enough in kind to prevent some from having as strong a claim to the status of moral agent as others. Yet, my inclination is to exercise a great deal of caution before prematurely dismissing quasi-states as unable to meet the criteria set out above.

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