Worth a Look: Books on Ethics and Democracy

Ethics, Worth A Look
Amazon Page

Eric Beerbohm is assistant professor of government and social studies and director of graduate fellowships for the Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University.

“Are citizens in a democracy complicit in the injustices perpetrated by a state that acts in their name? Yes they are, argues Eric Beerbohm. In Our Name is a major statement in democratic theory that develops a novel approach to the relationship between citizen and representative. This book will reorient our understanding of the nature of representation in a democracy and appeal to philosophers, political theorists, and social scientists alike.”–Rob Reich, Stanford University

Amazon Page

Gary B. Adams and Danny L. Balfour

Although social scientists generally do not discuss “evil” in an academic setting, there is no denying that it has existed in public administration throughout human history. Hundreds of millions of human beings have died as a direct or indirect consequence of state-sponsored violence. The authors argue that administrative evil, or destructiveness, is part of the identity of all modern public administration (as it is part of psychoanalytic study at the individual level). It goes beyond a superficial critique of public administration and lays the groundwork for a more effective and humane profession

Constructing a positive future for public administration requires a willingness to deal with the disturbing aspects of the field’s history, identity and practices. Rather than viewing events such as genocide as isolated or aberrant historical events, the authors show how the forces that unleashed such events are part of modernity and are thus present in all contemporary public organizations. This book is not an exercise in bureaucrat-bashing. It goes beyond superficial critique of public administration and lays the groundwork for a more effective and humane profession.

Amazon Page

Michael Sandel is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government at the University of Harvard. Sandel’s legendary ‘Justice’ course is one of the most popular and influential at Harvard.

In this book, Michael Sandel takes up some of the hotly contested moral and political issues of our time, including affirmative action, assisted suicide, abortion, gay rights, stem cell research, the meaning of toleration and civility, the gap between rich and poor, the role of markets, and the place of religion in public life. He argues that the most prominent ideals in our political life–individual rights and freedom of choice–do not by themselves provide an adequate ethic for a democratic society.

Amazon Page

Sandel calls for a politics that gives greater emphasis to citizenship, community, and civic virtue, and that grapples more directly with questions of the good life. Liberals often worry that inviting moral and religious argument into the public sphere runs the risk of intolerance and coercion.

These essays respond to that concern by showing that substantive moral discourse is not at odds with progressive public purposes, and that a pluralist society need not shrink from engaging the moral and religious convictions that its citizens bring to public life.

The defect, Sandel maintains, lies in the impoverished vision of citizenship and community shared by Democrats and Republicans alike. American politics has lost its civic voice, leaving both liberals and conservatives unable to inspire the sense of community and civic engagement that self-government requires.

Amazon Page

Harold F. Gortner is Associate Professor of Government and Politics at George Mason University.

Interest in ethics within the field of public administration has grown steadily since the late 1970s. Harold Gortner focuses on public administration ethics theory and how it applies to the lives of managers operating in the middle ranges of public bureaucracy. Using a general review of the literature on public administration ethics and a comparison of that literature to the real-life experiences of civil service managers, he categorizes the literature and measures its relevance to the thought processes, decisions, and actions of individuals within a bureaucracy.

According to Gortner, the literature on public administration can be divided into five meaningful categories: philosophical discussions of ethics; professional aspects of ethics; personal characteristics and their influence on ethics; organizational dynamics and their influence on ethics; and legal aspects of ethics

Amazon Page

Rosemary O’Leary is Distinguished Professor of Public Administration with additional appointments in political science and law, and Co-Director of the Program for the Analysis and Resolution of Conflict, at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. Her areas of expertise include Public Management, Environmental Policy, Dispute Resolution, and Law.

Guerrillas in government are all around us. They can be as high profile as “Deep Throat,” or as low profile as the bureaucrat who belligerently slows the processing of an application for a driver’s license. Their dissent stems from dissatisfaction with the actions of public organizations they work for, but they strategically choose not to go public with their concerns. Instead, they work against the wishes–either implicitly or explicitly communicated–of their superiors and run the spectrum from anti-establishment liberals to fundamentalist conservatives, from constructive contributors to deviant destroyers. Typically guerrilla government is undetected as it is woven into the fabric of the everyday, often mundane, world of bureaucracy. Rosemary O’Leary shows that the majority of guerrilla government cases are the manifestation of inevitable tensions between bureaucracy and democracy, which yield immense ethical and organizational challenges that all public managers must learn to navigate.

Amazon Page

James H. Svara is a professor of public affairs at Arizona State University and the director of the Center for Urban Innovation.

A Primer That Introduces The Reader To The Fundamentals Of Administrative Responsibility And Ethics, This Text Seeks To Explain Why Ethics Are Important To Administrators In Governmental And Non-Profit Organizations, And How These Administrators Can Relate Their Own Personal Values To The Norms Of The Public Sector. Additionally, The Text Helps Identify Ways To Link Ethics And Management In Order To Strengthen The Ethical Climate In A Public Organization.

Amazon Page

Fred Dallmayr is Professor of Philosophy and Political Science at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author of several books, including Beyond Orientalism: Essays on Cross-Cultural Encounter and Margins of Political Discourse, both also published by SUNY Press, and In Search of the Good Life: A Pedagogy for Troubled Times.

A new ethical concept of democracy as the cultivation and practice of civic virtues in a pluralistic setting is presented in this thoughtful and wide-ranging study. Drawing upon such figures as Aristotle, Montesquieu, Hegel, Dewey, Heidegger, Arendt, and Lefort, Fred Dallmayr emphasizes the need for civic education and practical-ethical engagement in all societies aspiring to be democratic. With reference to Middle Eastern societies and especially Iran, Dallmayr explores the possible compatibility between democracy and Islamic faith. In a similar vein, he discusses the strengths of Gandhian and Confucian democracy as possible correctives to current versions of “minimalist” democracy and the cult of laissez-faire liberalism and neoliberalism. Addressing how to instill a democratic ethos in societies where corporations and elites exercise a great deal of power, The Promise of Democracy presents an inspired vision of democracy as popular “self-rule” in which ethical cultivation and self-transformation make possible a nondomineering kind of political agency. Against this background, Dallmayr casts democracy as a “promise,” making room for the unlimited horizons opened up by a new understanding of liberty and equality.

Amazon Page

Gregory R. Beabout is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Saint Louis University. Daryl J. Wennenmann is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Fontbonne College in Saint Louis.

This innovative book is written in an accessible, compact style that sets forth and explains a sound framework for professional ethics that readers can quickly put into practice in analyzing and writing about cases. Through a series of moral conflicts, it aims at improving the skills of moral reasoning and achieving moral development. Contents: List of Diagrams; Preface; Acknowledgements; Introduction; What is Ethics?; The Structure of Moral Development: Interest, Roles, and Principles; Rules and Relationships; Moral Principles; Applying Moral Principles: Intention, Motive, Circumstance; Conflicts in Rules and Relationships; Context and Character; Codes of Professional Ethics; How to Write a Case Study Report; Examples of Student Case Study Reports; Some Works on Moral Theory; Some Works that Contain Case Studies.

Amazon Page

Dr. Norman Geisler is president of Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. Dr. Geisler holds a B.A. and an M.A. from Wheaton College, a Th.D. from William Tyndale College, and a Ph.D. from Loyola University in Chicago.Frank Turek is a former assistant professor at George Washington University and is a specialist in Legislative and Regulatory management. He holds a Master of Public Administration from George Washington University and is working toward a Th.M. in Apologetics from Veritas Graduate School.

Through a very concise and logical presentation, it answers objections from those who are opposed to legislating morality and those that question whether political activism is a proper focus of Christians. A brief history lesson helps put things in perspective. Legislating religion vs. legislating morality is also covered, as are short sections on specific moral issues like abortion and homosexuality. Appendixes include the Declaration of Independence and Amendments to the Constitution.

Amazon Page

Cheating, argues author David Callahan, is no longer the exclusive purview of lowlife criminals, slick hucksters, and shady characters with ace cards shoved in secretive places. Now everyone’s doing it and because everyone sees everyone else doing it, they keep on doing it. Callahan says the trouble begins in America’s brutally competitive economic climate, which rewards results and looks the other way when it comes to the ethical and even criminal transgressions of those who come out on the winning end. Certainly there is no shortage of examples of cheating from the business community, and Callahan nimbly dissects the dishonest actions of the usual suspects (Enron, WorldCom, Global Crossing) to demonstrate how that same mentality extends out to our educational system, amateur and professional sports, the news media, and even the lives of common citizens who, while they would never think of themselves as being cheaters, are nevertheless inclined to commit the occasional act of beneficial fudging. And while honesty is a nice ideal, Callahan says that cheaters cheat because, contrary to oft-repeated axioms, cheaters win: the chances of being caught are shrinking as are the punishments meted out should one be nabbed, and the benefits of a successful cheat far outstrip any potential threat. Further, Callahan posits that otherwise upright folks who would not cheat are drawn into the practice out of fear that they simply won’t be able to make it in modern society otherwise. There’s a lot of material for Callahan to work with here, given that every instance of cheating is fair game as source material and is able to be used to construct a theory of epidemic. And the range of material is so broad and the basic argument (“we cheat more”) so simple that The Cheating Culture feels a bit like a Newsweek trend piece writ extremely large. Still, it must be noted that Callahan really had all that material to work with and that fact alone is compelling evidence that his premise is dead on. –John Moe

Amazon Page

In “Philosophy and the Social Problem”, Will Durant‘s first book, Durant argues that philosophy has fallen into disrepute because it has stood high and dry upon academic ground, has occupied itself generally with the problem of knowledge, and has not gone down among the crowd to be of practical service. Durant says that philosophy can justify itself only by fruits which are of direct utility to the common man. And since the great prblem of the modern world is the social problem – the problem of waste and want, rich and poor, luxury and starvation, child labor and education, crime, and so on – it follows that philosophy must be brought to take this problem in hand and that it will stand or fall as a factor in civilization according as it is or is not adequate to its solution. The new edition of this hard-to-find treasure is fully annotated with philosophical details, historical facts, and behind-the-scenes insights into the man and his ideas.

Amazon Page

Dr Allyn Fives currently teaches on Political Theory and Research Ethics at the National University of Ireland in Galway. He holds PHD in Political Theory from the University of Edinburgh.

In modern democratic societies, the plurality of differing and conflicting moral doctrines stands alongside a commitment to resolve political disputes through the use of moral reasoning. Given the fact of moral pluralism, how can there be moral resolutions to political disputes? What type of moral reasoning is appropriate in the public sphere? These questions are explored through a close and critical analysis of the work of Alasdair MacIntyre and Rawls. In this book it is argued that the anti-Enlightenment work of Alasdair MacIntyre, along with post-modernists, fails on epistemological, ethical, and political grounds, while in contrast, Rawls’s ‘core conception of reasonableness,’ which is a type of political reasoning carried out ‘in the manner of’ the Enlightenment, is better placed to successfully respond to the moral disputes of contemporary politics. The practical application of these ideas is also explored in discussions of civic education and global distributive justice.