Dr Samuel Mansell

Dr Samuel Mansell


Researcher profile

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Samuel joined the School of Management at the University of St Andrews in September 2010. Prior to this he was based at the University of Essex where he studied accounting, finance and management (2000 to 2004) with the aim of a lucrative career in corporate finance. However, the chance discovery of philosophy led him in a more contemplative direction, so he began a PhD in 2004 researching philosophical questions in business ethics (under the supervision of Steffen Böhm and Harro Höpfl). He completed his thesis in 2009, entitled A Critique of Stakeholder Theory, while working for two years as a Teaching Fellow at Essex Business School. Since joining St Andrews, he has served as Pro Dean (Undergraduate) for Arts & Divinity from January 2015 to December 2016.


  • MN1002 Organisations and Analysis
  • MN2002 Management and Analysis: Analysis of Financial Data
  • MN5499 Dissertation lectures

My teaching at St Andrews has covered business ethics, organisational behaviour, introductory accounting, introductory business strategy, critical perspectives on accounting, auditing and corporate governance, theoretical research methods in management, sustainable development, and Hobbes's theory of the state (for the MLitt in Intellectual History). I also coordinated 'Great Ideas 2' (ID1004) from 2017-20, bringing together perspectives on reality, cosmology, evolution and human rights from across the Arts and Science faculties.  

Research areas

My research draws on the history of moral, political and legal philosophy to rethink contemporary questions in business ethics. I have a particular interest in the presuppositions of arguments concerning the purpose of business corporations – especially the concept of the corporation itself and its intellectual history. I am currently researching the idea of the corporate person and the source of its governing authority in medieval and early modern legal and political thought (particularly in the work of Hobbes), in an attempt to reassess the contemporary debate on corporate purpose and corporate governance. I recently led an interdisciplinary initiative (with Avia Pasternak, David Gindis and John Ferguson) to bring together perspectives on the corporation from business ethics, moral philosophy and corporate law; our special issue 'Rethinking Corporate Agency' was published by Journal of Business Ethics in 2019. I serve on the editorial board of Journal of Business Ethics and was named an 'Oustanding Reviewer' for 2022.

My PhD thesis examined the moral principles underpinning theoretical alternatives to shareholder primacy and was later published as the first book-length critique of stakeholder theory, Capitalism, Corporations and the Social Contract: A Critique of Stakeholder Theory (2013) with Cambridge University Press. Further topics at the intersection of business ethics and the history of philosophy, on which I have published (or have recently researched), include: Levinas and the ethics of bureaucracy; stakeholder theory and the social contract tradition from Hobbes to Rawls; Kant and shareholders' imperfect duties of beneficence; JS Mill on ethical objectivity; Aristotle, Aquinas and the 'just price' in financial markets; medieval jurisprudence on corporate authority and membership; the group agency of charities and business corporations; and most recently Hobbes's theory of corporate authorisation and representation. In political philosophy, I recently published a critique Hobbes's theory of inalienable rights, from the perspective of natural law theory. Over the next few years, I will be focusing on the methodological question of how philosophers working in business ethics (and other fields of applied ethics) should approach the history of ideas. 

I welcome enquiries from potential PhD students interested in a philosophical and/or historical approach to business ethics. 

PhD supervision

  • Katrina Rees

Selected publications


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