Corporations Don't Have Morals

Evil building

I often hear the argument that a corporation's actions are moot because the actions are performed only in the pursuit of profit.

Over the last few years, Apple has taken a very strong stance on privacy. The reasons for this stance seem fairly clear to me: privacy can be a competitive advantage for Apple over the competition simply because, for the competition, privacy conflicts with their business model. If they can create value for their users by protecting their privacy, Apple can carve out value here where its competitors can't.

Yet, I frequently hear the argument that since Apple is only prioritizing privacy to increase revenue, the feature is somehow not valid or that you can't trust it.

This is true, Apple isn't morally driven to protect users' privacy. But, corporations aren't morally driven to do anything; they can't be. A corporation is an abstract concept driven by the wealth engine of capitalism and profit – and this wealth engine doesn't take into account morals and social good (but it should – a topic for another day), it only rewards growth in revenue and profit.

The same argument can be applied to people: does altruism exist, or are all human motivations driven by the need to satisfy Maslow's hierarchy of needs? I'm not arguing that morals don't exist – morality is part of Maslow's framework.

The same complaint can be heard regarding corporations that are donating resources to projects for social good. Yes, the driving force behind the decision is to improve the brand's image. And, yes, in most cases the act would not have been performed if there was no financial insentive. But these facts don't invalidate the good that was done by the company, if any.

Be vigilant, but it is possible for a corporation to offer benefits to its customers and to society while also benefiting itself.