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The Moral Responsibilities. of Policy Professionals. Professional Ethics. The ethics of: Individual responsibility (i.e., the problems of ‘many hands’) Administrative discretion Policy advising. Professional Ethics. Two main possibilities for reform: Improve individual ethics

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The moral responsibilities

The Moral Responsibilities

of Policy Professionals


Professional ethics
Professional Ethics

  • The ethics of:

    • Individual responsibility (i.e., the problems of ‘many hands’)

    • Administrative discretion

    • Policy advising

Mark Carl Rom


Professional ethics1
Professional Ethics

  • Two main possibilities for reform:

    • Improve individual ethics

      • Inculcate ethical values through training

    • Improve ethical systems

      • Create standards that support and enforce ethical decisions

Mark Carl Rom


Moral responsibility of public officials thompson
Moral Responsibility of Public Officials (Thompson)

  • What is the problem of many hands?

    • Collective responsibility

    • Hierarchical responsibility

  • When do individuals bear responsibility?

    • Your actions or omissions cause the outcome

    • Your actions/omissions are not done through compulsions or ignorance

  • Question: Did McNamara fulfill his collective and hierarchical responsibilities?

Mark Carl Rom


The ethics of discretion warwick
The Ethics of Discretion (Warwick)

  • Question: How should you make decisions given administrative discretion?

    • Public orientation

    • Reflective choice

    • Veracity

    • Procedural respect

    • Restraint on means

  • Question: What is the ‘public good’

  • Question: Did McNamara use administrative discretion wisely?

Mark Carl Rom


Ethics of administrative discretion thompson
Ethics of Administrative Discretion (Thompson)

  • Ethics of neutrality

    • Administrators should follow principles of organization, not their own principles?

      • No: Exit, loyalty, voice or resistance

  • Ethics of structure

    • Organization, not administrators, should be responsible for policies?

      • No: Moral culpability of individuals

  • Did McNamara follow the ethics of neutrality and structure?

Mark Carl Rom


The moral responsibility of policy advisors mcpherson
The Moral Responsibility of Policy Advisors (McPherson)

  • What obligations do advisors have?

    • To serve superiors honestly

    • To promote better policies

    • To respect and improve democratic processes

  • Question: Did McNamara fulfill his moral responsibilities as an advisor?

Mark Carl Rom


Ethical responsibilities conclusions
Ethical Responsibilities: Conclusions

  • Should we work to improve

    • Individuals?

    • Systems?

    • Both? If so, which one deserves our highest priority?

  • Note…ethical perfection is not possible…but progress towards it is.

Mark Carl Rom


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