33 There is not always complete overlap between “bad” behavior and behavior that is condemned. Not every person is a saint or hero, but the failure to meet such exalted standards is generally not grounds to condemn them for such failure. 34 Vikramaditya Khanna points out in “A New View of the Economic History of Organizations: Evidence from Ancient India, that entities similar to the modern corporation may have existed in India as long ago as 800 B.C.E. The existence of these entities, however, appear not to have had much impact on the development of ethical analysis in the Western tradition not only because of the limited awareness of such entities in the West, but also because they
mining community in Sweden, which was given a charter from King Magnus Eriksson in 1347. 35 Thus, the first iteration of the innovation of organizations as conceptually separate from their constituent individuals were privately run, but were often extensions of governmental activity. For example, the British East India Company had its own army and navy and was the de facto government of what is now modern India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, among others. 36 To the extent their ethics were considered at all, it was as governmental agents rather than autonomous entities. The first formal studies of corporations (in English) began in the late 1700’s with Adam Smith ’s “Wealth of Nations” and Stewart Kyd’s “A Treatise on the Law of Corporations.” By the 1800’s, the explosion in organizations was notable to Alexis de Tocqueville. “Americans of all ages, all stations of life and all types of disposition are forever forming associations,” 37 he noted. “There are not only commercial and industrial associations in which all take part, but others of a thousand types-religious, moral, serious, futile, very general and very limited, immensely large and very minute.” The increasing importance of organizations in society did not lead to examination of the field of ethics as it relates either to corporations specifically or to organizations in general. Even in the specialized field of criminal law, the notion that corporations, as such, are proper subjects of prosecution is a comparatively recent development even in the United States 38 and not without some continuing controversy. 39 Indeed, that concept is still unaccepted in international law today. 40 Further, much of the scholarly analysis relating to organizations and criminal law focuses either on the practical aspects of prosecuting organizations or on the policy issues of such prosecution. 41 Very little of the literature addresses any underlying ethical theory. 42 43 seem to have died out in about 1000 C.E. Indeed, Europe’s then-immediately neighboring culture, the various Islamic entities, also did not recognize private commercial organizational entities.
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- Ethics, criminal law, Corporate Criminal Liability