The ethics of corruption cannot be analyzed without simultaneously addressing the legitimacy of public office or entrusted power. This paper introduces a concept of core unethical corruption, defined as violations of distributed ethical obligations for private gain. In other words, it is suggested 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 approach helps make ethical sense of the concepts of public office or entrusted power, 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.

Ivar Kolstad

Associated Senior Researcher