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The Moral Responsibilities

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  1. The Moral Responsibilities of Policy Professionals

  2. Professional Ethics • The ethics of: • Individual responsibility (i.e., the problems of ‘many hands’) • Administrative discretion • Policy advising Mark Carl Rom

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. 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