Corruption as violation of distributed ethical obligations
Venue: CMI, Meeting room 2nd floor, Fantoftvegen 38
The ethics of corruption cannot be analyzed without simultaneously addressing the legitimacy of public office or entrusted power. Existing approaches fail to do so, and therefore address corruption in an overly simplistic way. Nor do contributions that characterize ideas of public office as having a Western bias, or that restrict corruption to denote violations of impartiality, add much to the ethical analysis of corruption. This paper introduces a concept of core unethical corruption, defined as violations of distributed ethical obligations for private gain. In other words, the concept suggests that what is ethically wrong with corruption is that it entails the violation of certain obligations attributed to agents. By explicitly relating corruption to obligations, this concept helps make ethical sense of the public office or entrusted power terms, attending to the question of their legitimacy. Since distributed obligations are implied by a wide range of ethical theories, the concept of core unethical corruption also reflects a (partial) overlapping consensus on the ethics of corruption.