Aatif Abbas, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Philosophy, was selected as the 2023 winner of the prestigious Mary Hatch Marshall Essay Award for his piece titled “Corporations Choose Differently: A Case for Strict Liability for Business”!
Aatif will receive a $1000 prize, and will stage a public reading of his essay Monday, April 24th, at 1pm over Zoom for the Syracuse University Library Associates. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to register for the event.
This article argues that businesses are morally responsible for compensating the people harmed by their activities even if they were not negligent, i.e., the businesses took reasonable precautions. Critics of this position maintain that responsibility requires choice, and by taking precautions, businesses choose not to harm others. This article accepts their argument’s first premise but rejects the second premise. It contends that businesses often seek risky or innovative activities to increase profits, and the essence of innovative activities is that precautions cannot sufficiently reduce their foreseeable harmful consequences. The correct understanding of businesses’ decision-making enables us to appreciate that businesses choose to undertake risky activities while knowing that they can harm others despite preventive measures. It follows that preventive measures should not serve as an excuse against liability for harm.