University of Hertfordshire

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Legal Personhood and the Firm: Avoiding Anthropomorphism and Equivocation

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)499-513
JournalJournal of Institutional Economics
Early online date7 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2016


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


This article has been published in a revised form in Journal of Institutional Economics, doi: This version is free to view and download for private research and study only. Not for re-distribution, re-sale or use in derivative works. © Millennium Economics Ltd 2015. Published by Cambridge University Press.


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