Moral Responsibility – Concept, ethics, philosophy and company

We explain what responsibility is and how it can be judged from ethics and philosophy. Also, its importance in the corporate world.

moral responsibility
The State only intervenes on moral responsibility when there is criminal responsibility.

What is moral responsibility?

Moral responsibility is the degree of guilt or responsibility of a person or an organization towards something which is considered morally reprobate, that is, unethical or contrary to the notion of well-being that is managed collectively.

It differs from other forms of responsibility, such as legal, in that the infringed norm does not come from outside, such as legal or criminal norms, but from inside the subject, that is, comes from your conscience. For that same reason, for someone to be morally responsible for an act committed, they must comply with:

  • Be able in itself to discern good and evil, that is, to take a moral position, and to make decisions accordingly.
  • Have acted freely, consciously and voluntarily, that is, without having been coerced or forced by forces superior to their will.
  • Have committed the action or inaction so that she was in a position to make a choice and contemplate in herself the immorality of the act.

At the same time, this type of responsibility can be judged from two different types of ethics, with different results:

  • From a consequentialist ethic (that is, one that looks at the consequences of the act), the moral value of the act committed will depend on whether it had acceptable consequences or not.
  • From a deontological ethic (that is, which is fixed on the duty to be), the actions will or will not be morally acceptable in themselves, regardless of whether they were discovered or not, and whether or not they hurt someone.

The theme of moral responsibility is common to different branches of philosophy and ethics, and appears more and more in contemporary debates under public opinion, since the latter is the only one capable of exerting rejection or social sanction with which an immoral act is punished. The State and the penal apparatus will only be able to intervene in the punishment if the acts considered immoral are also considered illegal (criminal responsibility).

In the corporate world, there is talk of moral responsibility of companies, sometimes as a synonym for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), or sometimes as a tacit mandate that should govern all economic activity, and which commits organizations to ensure collective welfare rather than for their individual and selfish gain. This, unfortunately, is rarely the case in practice in most large corporations.