Political corruption as a relational injustice

Social Philosophy and Policy 35 (2):118-137 (2018)
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The corruption of public officials and institutions is generally regarded as wrong. But in what exactly does this form of corruption consist and what kind of wrong does it imply? Recent proponents of the “institutionalist approach” to political corruption have concentrated on those occasions when incentive structures distract institutions from their essential purpose and weaken public trust. The corruption of individual public officials has been less relevant to their work, except for when it leads to the erosion of the functioning of institutions. From this perspective, a clear emphasis has been put on the consequences of corruption. In contrast, I argue that political corruption, whether individual or institutional, can be more fundamentally understood as a form of political injustice in which someone has violated the logic of mutual accountability that undergirds all relations of justice in rights-based systems. In this sense, political corruption occurs when public officials use their entrusted power of office for the pursuit of an agenda whose rationale may not be vindicated as coherent with the terms of their mandate. By focusing on the inherent qualities of corrupt political relations, I lay out a novel relational and deontological understanding of the inherent wrongness of political corruption as a form of unaccountable action.



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Emanuela Ceva
Université de Genève

References found in this work

The nature and value of rights.Joel Feinberg & Jan Narveson - 1970 - Journal of Value Inquiry 4 (4):243-260.
“Institutional Corruption” Defined.Lawrence Lessig - 2013 - Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 41 (3):553-555.
Political Justification through Democratic Participation.Emanuela Ceva - 2015 - Social Theory and Practice 41 (1):26-50.
Corruption as violation of distributed ethical obligations.Ivar Kolstad - 2012 - Journal of Global Ethics 8 (2-3):239-250.

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