Legal Personhood and the Firm: Avoiding Anthropomorphism and Equivocation

Journal of Institutional Economics 12 (3):499-513. (2016)
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From the legal point of view, "person" is not co-extensive with "human being." Nor is it synonymous with "rational being" or "responsible subject." Much of the confusion surrounding the issue of the firm’s legal personality is due to the tendency to address the matter with only these, all too often conflated, definitions of personhood in mind. On the contrary, when the term "person" is defined in line with its original meaning as "mask" worn in the legal drama, it is easy to see that it is only the capacity to attract legal relations that defines the legal person. This definition, that avoids the undesirable emotional associations and equivocations that often plague the debate, is important for a legally-grounded view of the firm.

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David Gindis
University of Warwick


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