Is the corrupt behaviour of public officials a politically relevant kind of wrong only when it causes the malfunctioning of institutions? We challenge recent institutionalist approaches to political corruption by showing a sense in which the individual corrupt behaviour of certain public officials is wrong not only as a breach of personal morality but in inherently politically salient terms. To show this sense, we focus on a specific instance of individual corrupt behaviour on the part of public officials entrusted with (...) the power to implement public rules in a liberal democracy. Although not necessarily unlawful, their behaviour is politically wrong qua corrupt when it contradicts surreptitiously the requirement of public justification that undergirds the public order. Then, we distinguish this form of corruption as surreptitious action from such unlawful but publicly justifiable kinds of political misbehaviour as civil disobedience. (shrink)
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? This article aims to take stock of the current philosophical discussion of the different senses in which political corruption is wrong in a general sense, beyond the specific negative legal, economic, and social costs it may happen to have in specific circumstances. Political corruption is usually presented as a pathology of (...) the public order. Therefore, the senses in which political corruption has been presented as wrong have varied depending on the normative theory of the public order that is presupposed. In this article, we offer a critical presentation of two major interpretations of the wrongfulness of political corruption that draw respectively on a neo-republican and a liberal account of the public order. Finally, we show how the analytical distinction between these approaches has important normative implications for the identification of relevant cases of political corruption. (shrink)
There are certain kinds of risk for which governments, rather than individual actors, are increasingly held responsible. This article discusses how regulatory institutions can ensure an equitable distribution of risk between various groups such as rich and poor, and present and future generations. It focuses on cases of risk associated with technological and biotechnological innovation. After discussing various possibilities and difficulties of distribution, this article proposes a non-welfarist understanding of risk as a burden of cooperation.
Scholars and international organizations engaged in institutional reconstruction converge in recognizing political corruption as a cause or a consequence of conflicts. Anticorruption is thus generally considered a centrepiece of institutional reconstruction programmes. A common approach to anticorruption within this context aims primarily to counter the negative political, social, and economic effects of political corruption, or implement legal anticorruption standards and punitive measures. We offer a normative critical discussion of this approach, particularly when it is initiated and sustained by external entities. (...) We recast the focus from an outward to an inward perspective on institutional action and failure centred on the institutional interactions between officeholders. In so doing, we offer the normative tools to reconceptualize anticorruption in terms of an institutional ethics of ‘office accountability’ that draws on an institution’s internal resources of self-correction as per the officeholders’ interrelated work. (shrink)
Toleration classically denotes a relation between two agents that is characterised by three components: objection, power, and acceptance overriding the objection. Against recent claims that classical toleration is not applicable in liberal democracies and that toleration must therefore either be understood purely attitudinally or purely politically, we argue that the components of classical toleration are crucial elements of contemporary cases of minority accommodation. The concept of toleration is applicable to, and is an important element of descriptions of such cases, provided (...) that one views them as wholes, rather than as sets of isolated relations. We explain this by showing how certain cases of toleration are multi-dimensional and how the descriptive concept of toleration might be understood intersectionally. We exemplify this by drawing on case studies of mosque controversies in Germany and Denmark. Finally, we propose that intersectionality is not only relevant to the descriptive concept of toleration but also captures an important aspect of normative theories of toleration. We illustrate this by discussing ideals of respect-based toleration, which we also apply to the case studies. (shrink)
In recent years there has been renewed interest in the participation of lay people in regulatory procedures. The debate peaked in the 1980s with the anti-nuclear movements and again more recently as a reaction to the food scandals of the mid-1990s. In the wake of the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) crisis there has been a proliferation of European Community rules on the production, processing and retailing of food products, along with the multiplication of scientific committees in order to cope with (...) increased ... (shrink)
Agonist theorists have argued against deliberative democrats that democratic institutions should not seek to establish a rational consensus, but rather allow political disagreements to be expressed in an adversarial form. But democratic agonism is not antagonism: some restriction of the plurality of admissible expressions is not incompatible with a legitimate public sphere. However, is it generally possible to grant this distinction between antagonism and agonism without accepting normative standards in public discourse that saliently resemble those advocated by (some) deliberative democrats? (...) In this paper we provide an analysis of one important aspect of political communication, the use of slippery slope arguments, and show that the fact of pluralism weakens the agonists’ case for contestation as a sufficient ingredient for appropriately democratic public discourse. We illustrate that contention by identifying two specific kinds of what we call pluralism slippery slopes, i.e. mechanisms whereby pluralism reinforces the efficacy of slippery slope arguments. (shrink)
This article argues that citizens are responsible for the way they participate in political communication and debate, including for the quality of the pieces of information they post or disseminate on social media. This view contrasts with approaches that prioritise institutional responsibility in combating misleading information. Instead, in the article’s perspective, public and private institutional interventions are justified only when they aim at sustaining citizens in upholding their epistemic duties and contribute to an environment that facilitates responsible communicative exchanges.
This article contributes to the debate concerning the identification of politically relevant cases of corruption in a democracy by sketching the basic traits of an original liberal theory of institutional corruption. We define this form of corruption as a deviation with respect to the role entrusted to people occupying certain institutional positions, which are crucial for the implementation of public rules, for private gain. In order to illustrate the damages that corrupt behaviour makes to liberal democratic institutions, we discuss the (...) case of health care professionals’ abuse of their right to conscientious objection to abortion services. We show that the conscience clause can be instrumentally abused to sabotage democratically established public rules and thus exert undue private influence on their implementation. In this sense, from a liberal democratic perspective, institutional corruption is problematic because it is disruptive of such fundamental liberal ideals as the impartiality of public institutions and citizens’ political equality. (shrink)
Civil society participation in international and European governance is often promoted as a remedy to its much-lamented democratic deficit. We argue in this paper that this claim needs refinement because civil society participation may serve two quite different purposes: it may either enhance the democratic accountability of intergovernmental organisations and regimes, or the epistemic quality of rules and decisions made within them. (...).
In this response essay, Ceva and Ferretti reply to their critics and clarify some key aspects of their book. Specifically, the discussion starts by elaborating on the notion of an ethics of office accountability, explaining that the specification of institutional norms of officeholders behaviour is the result of practices of officeholders' interaction (including democratic practices) and reflection. The second theme is the responsibility for political corruption. The authors emphasise the importance of focussing not only on retrospective responsibility, for the sake (...) of punishing corrupt behaviour, but especially on accountability as a form of self-reflection by the officeholders on the weaknesses of their institutional work together. This exercise is preliminary to their assuming forward-looking responsibilities for anti-corruption. The third and final part discusses political corruption as a specifically interactive wrong. For the authors, the magnitude and moral salience of the wrong of corruption, as well as the different wrongs implicated both from an interactive perspective and in consideration of the harm caused to third parties, must be assessed in light of the context and the moral standing of the public institution in question. In this sense, political corruption is a pro tanto wrong. (shrink)
The corruption of public officials and institutions is one of the most obvious problems that affects developed and developing countries alike. Because this view is largely shared, most current studies of this phenomenon—‘political corruption’—have been dedicated either to measuring or counteracting the negative political, social, and economic effects that this form of corruption may have in society. Albeit significant and urgent, these studies have distracted the attention of commentators from a somewhat more basic analysis of the nature and wrongness of (...) this phenomenon. This lacuna has resulted in the formulation of a multiplicity of actions that address a very heterogeneous set of issues, including such diverse phenomena as bribery, embezzlement, institutional malfunctioning, the inadequacy of political leaders, and clientelism. This situation is unsatisfactory because it muddles important distinctions between different pathologies that may affect the public order. But it matters also for the design of anti-corruption strategies that risk to either misfire or be too vague by lacking a clear target and an account of the exact kind of wrong these strategies are meant to prevent and/or correct. In our research on this topic, we have addressed this issue by offering a normative analysis of political corruption as surreptitious public action. Our account explains the distinguishing traits of political corruption and makes sense of its inherent wrongness as a contradiction of the logic of publicity that undergirds political interactions in a rights-based system. In this chapter, we draw on this research and expand it with a view to enhancing the identification of relevant instances of political corruption and the design of policies to counteract them. (shrink)
One topic of growing interest in the debate on intergenerational justice is the duty to respect the freedom of future generations. One consideration in favor of such a duty is that the decisions of present generations will affect the range of decisions that will be available to future people. As a consequence, future generations’ freedom to direct their lives may be importantly restricted such that present generations can be seen as taking future people’s lives into their hands and disempowering them. (...) This article defends the idea that present generations have an obligation to sustain a certain threshold of freedom for members of present and future generations alike. It argues that we should regard sustainability policies as a way to redistribute freedom across members of different generations. It starts by explaining the centrality of social freedom to the way we conceive of moral persons, then explains how freedom can be understood as an object of redistribution. It then argues that by imposing some risks—such as that of resource depletion or destruction of the ecosystem—on future generations, present generations push future generations’ freedom below an acceptable threshold. The paper concludes with examples of how this focus on freedom can offer guidance in selecting and justifying sustainability policies—for example, measures for conserving biodiverse environments—even when it is not clear how they will directly contribute to the well-being of future persons. (shrink)
There are many situations and policies that strike us as unjust and make us look for alternatives. Yet in the absence of a clear definition, we may end up by equating injustice with everything that is evil in the world.
Since the 1950`s in Britain, and perhaps in the rest of the world, the term pluralism is almost invariably associated with the name of Isaiah Berlin and his formulation of ‘value pluralism’. The core idea is that values (but also, on some interpretations, ends, duties and obligations) are irreducibly plural and heterogeneous, and nevertheless objective (...).
The article presents political corruption as a problem of public ethics of institutions. It first explains the theory of institutional action that underlies the conception of political corruption as a deficit of “office accountability”. Having clarified the officeholders’ duties in their institutional capacity, it portrays political corruption as an “internal enemy” of public institutions. A discussion follows of the normative implications for an approach to anti-corruption based on the officeholders’ direct engagement.
"This book discusses political corruption and anticorruption as a matter of a public ethics of office. It shows how political corruption is the Trojan horse that undermines public institutions from within via the interrelated action of the officeholders. Even well-designed and legitimate institutions may go off track if the officeholders fail to uphold by their conduct a public ethics of office accountability. Most current discussions of what political corruption is and why it is wrong have concentrated either on explaining and (...) assessing it as a matter of an individual's corrupt character and motives or as a dysfunction of institutional procedures. The book investigates the common normative root of these two manifestations of political corruption as a relationally wrongful practice that consists in an unaccountable use of the power of office by the officeholders in public institutions. From this perspective, political corruption is an internal enemy of public institutions that can only be opposed by mobilizing the officeholders to engage in answerability practices. In this way, officeholders are responsible for working together to maintain an interactively just institutional system"--. (shrink)
Since the 1950`s in Britain, and perhaps in the rest of the world, the term pluralism is almost invariably associated with the name of Isaiah Berlin and his formulation of ‘value pluralism’. The core idea is that values (but also, on some interpretations, ends, duties and obligations) are irreducibly plural and heterogeneous, and nevertheless objective.
Granting differential treatment is often considered a way of placing some groups in a better position in order to maintain or improve their cultural, economic, health-related or other conditions, and to address persistent inequalities. Critics of multiculturalism have pointed out the tension between protection for groups and protection for group members. The ‘rule-and-exemption’ approach has generally been conceived as more resistant to such criticism insofar as exemptions are not conceded to minorities or ethical and religious groups as such, but to (...) individuals who are part of those groups. However, I show that when a government grants an exemption, it inevitably provides a definition of the relevant group in question, and the tendency is to take cultural membership as ‘given’ or as defined by group spokespersons. I discuss some problems related to these definitions and defend instead a definition based on shared group interests. (shrink)
In attempting to clarify both the concept of toleration and its role in contemporary society several authors have interpreted it as based on the notion of respect for persons. Persons are due respect as moral agents and as such should be allowed to make their own choices, even if the content of those choices meets with our disapproval. According to a classical understanding of toleration, one can be said to tolerate something if one disapproves of it (this is commonly called (...) the ‘objection component’ of toleration); has the power to interfere with it (the ‘power component’); and yet abstains from interfering in the light of certain overriding reasons (the ‘acceptance component’ or ‘non-interference component’). Respecting people as autonomous and as able to formulate and follow a plan of life, individually or collectively, might well be thought to give us a reason for showing tolerance by supplying a basis for its acceptance component. However, the idea that toleration is an outcome of respect, rather than a distinct and sometimes conflicting notion, is far from uncontroversial. Indeed, the ideal of respect has sometimes been seen as incompatible with the objection component of toleration, which presupposes a negative evaluation and therefore seems to imply the other’s inferiority.The relation between respect and toleration therefore stands in need of further philosophical analysis. The articles in this collection aim to advance that analysis by addressing some of the core philosophical problems affecting the relative normative roles of respect and toleration understood as contemporary liberal democratic ideals. (shrink)
In what ways might we best, and justly, allow for cohabitation between individuals and groups with plural conceptions of the good? Confronting this question, students of political philosophy in the past two decades have encountered a routine contrast between liberal universalism, with a focus on equal individual rights and uniform application of the law, and on the other hand various versions of a 'politics of difference'(...).
Toleration classically denotes a relation between two agents that is characterised by three components: objection, power, and acceptance overriding the objection. Against recent claims that classical toleration is not applicable in liberal democracies and that toleration must therefore either be understood purely attitudinally or purely politically, we argue that the components of classical toleration are crucial elements of contemporary cases of minority accommodation. The concept of toleration is applicable to, and is an important element of descriptions of such cases, provided (...) that one views them as wholes, rather than as sets of isolated relations. We explain this by showing how certain cases of toleration are multi‐dimensional and how the descriptive concept of toleration might be understood intersectionally. We exemplify this by drawing on case studies of mosque controversies in Germany and Denmark. Finally, we propose that intersectionality is not only relevant to the descriptive concept of toleration but also captures an important aspect of normative theories of toleration. We illustrate this by discussing ideals of respect‐based toleration, which we also apply to the case studies. (shrink)