Punishment in the Executive Suite: Moral Responsibility, Causal Responsibility, and Financial Crime

In Lisa Herzog (ed.), Just Financial Markets? Finance in a Just Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 125-153 (2017)
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Despite the enormity of the financial losses flowing from the 2008 financial crisis and the outrageousness of the conduct that led up to it, almost no individual involved has been prosecuted for criminal conduct, much less actually gone to prison. What this chapter argues is that the failure to punish those in management for their role in this misconduct stems from a misunderstanding of the need to prove that they personally knew of this wrongdoing and harbored an intent to defraud. But not only would negligence be a sufficient legal and moral basis for imposing terms of imprisonment in these cases, mere causal responsibility would also be enough, for causal responsibility has embed in it all we need to find those causally responsible morally responsible too, and once some basis for moral responsibility is established, the imposition of terms of imprisonment is both legally permitted and morally just.
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