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Argument Analysis Final

Argument Analysis Final

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Published by Phillip English

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Published by: Phillip English on Jul 21, 2013
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10/12/2014

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Phillip EnglishNPHI 2610Argument AnalysesIn
Corporations, People and Truth,
University of Notre DamePhilosophy professor Gary Gutting argues that corporations are notentities guided by the morals which humans’ value in a democraticsociety. In particular, he shows that corporations serve to obstruct thedemocratic value of Truth. This argument deals with issues effecting contemporary socio-political debate in the United States. In August of 2011, republicanpresidential candidate Mitt Romney sparked controversy by stating,“Corporations are people, my friend.” In September, a populistmovement called Occupy Wall St. began an ongoing series of actionsto express outrage over the general state of US socio-political policyand economic climate. Occupy Wall St. quickly gained popularity andinfluenced actions across the globe becoming known as “The OccupyMovement.” One of the prominent attitudes expressed by Occupy isthe general distrust of corporations, and disparagement of the rolethey play in democratic society. Gutting’s argument provides a criteriaby which a democratic society may appropriately judge the value of acorporation in relation to moral standing, and thereby assess thevalidity of their trust judgments. In this way, he proves the attitude of Occupy toward corporations as appropriate not on grounds of what acorporation is but rather what a corporation valuesFramed within this contemporary climate of general mistrust of 
 
Phillip EnglishNPHI 2610Argument Analysescorporations by the American Populace, and political debate about thelegitimacy of “Corporate Personhood”, Gutting makes a distinctionbetween his argument and this more prevalent debate. By firsttouching on the issue of corporate personhood and briefly spelling outhis argument for (by dint of legal recognition and composition of people) and decidedly against (based on it’s inability to operate in ahuman moral emotional capacity) its legitimacy, he removes theargument from the ontological (that is, having to do with the notion of being) field so that he may forward claims based on value categories.Here follows the fundamental mechanism of Gutting’s argument: Truth is a value essential to a democratic society. No entity thatadheres to any value that leads to the obscuration of truth is an entitythat operates with values essential to democratic society.Corporations are, in fact, entities that possess a value that leads to theobscuration of truth; therefore corporations are not entities thatoperate with values essential to democratic society.Corporations in this sense are clarified as “Large, for-profit,publicly owned corporations.” Their values in opposition to democraticsocio-morality are adduced in the following chain: Corporations existas profit-making instruments for their shareholders. The fact thatcorporations are not inherently evil and may in-fact “make positiveeconomic contributions to society” is arbitrary because of theirdevotion to generating shareholder profit. If shareholder profit is
 
Phillip EnglishNPHI 2610Argument Analysesthreatened in the face of upholding a moral value, then a corporationwill not uphold a moral value.Furthermore, because a democratic society operates under theassumption that the individual citizen can assess their voting decisionsbased on an informed view of reality, truth is an essential value todemocracy. Because corporate advertising is a communicationcommonly believed to alter perception of a product or service basednot on its actual value but rather emotional response to specific media,corporations serve to obfuscate truth.Lobbying practice evidences an inherent conflict betweencorporate values and truth-values. As opposed to advocacy groupsthat lobby for values truly held by their comprising members,Corporations lobby for change in policies based on their relation toprofit.For these reasons it is clear that, though a corporation is notincapable of operating within the system of values essential todemocratic society, they possess a value (that of shareholder profit)that supersedes democratic values. This value has lead to theobscuration of truth, and therefore the argument is deductively valid.One could then make the case that the Occupy movement has anappropriate complaint against the nature of corporations in our society. This argument is only sound in as much as the premises are true.One could object that “Morals” and “Truth” are concepts ill defined and

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