Document Type



Punishing Collective Entities (with A. Mentovich), 19 Brooklyn Law School Journal of Law and Policy 203 (2010)


This Article argues that, while the legal world treats corporate entities as "people" for legal purposes, this legal framing does not fit well with na've models of assessing responsibility and blame. These difficulties raise questions about the value of treating entities as "people" for legal purposes just at a time when the United States Supreme Court seems to be moving actively to increase this "entity as a person" legal metaphor.

The Article first reviews the literature on the psychology of responsibility and then presents both survey and experimental data that compares reactions to individual and organizational level wrongdoing. We argue that the data suggests that people have greater trouble holding entities responsible for wrongdoing and punishing them than they do making judgments of responsibility and endorsing punitive actions for individuals. In an era of corporate scandal and wrongdoing, this difficulty points to a problem within the law–the process of punishing corporate misconduct is more problematic than the process of punishing individual misconduct.

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criminal law

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