Politics and Morality
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Politics and Morality

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Public disenchantment with politics has become a key feature of the world in which we live. In this book, Susan Mendus asks if politicians can be morally good or whether politics is destined to involve dirty hands or the loss of integrity, as many modern philosophers claim.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 168 pages
  • 143 x 216 x 8mm | 190g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0745629687
  • 9780745629681
  • 1,220,603

Back cover copy

Public disenchantment with politics has become a key feature of theworld in which we live. Politicians are increasingly viewed withsuspicion and distrust, and electoral turnout in many moderndemocracies continues to fall. But are we right to display suchcontempt towards our elected representatives? Can politicians bemorally good or is politics destined to involve dirty hands or theloss of integrity, as many modern philosophers claim? In this book, Susan Mendus seeks to address these important questions to assesswhether this apparent tension between morality and politics is realand, if so, why.

Beginning with an account of integrity as involving awillingness to stand by ones most fundamental moral commitments, the author discusses three reasons for thinking that politicsundermines integrity and is incompatible with morality. These are: the relationship between politics and utilitarian calculation; thepossibility that the realm of politics is a separate realm ofvalue; and the difficulty of reconciling the demands of differentsocial roles. She concludes that, in the modern world, we all risklosing our integrity. To that extent, we are all politicians.Moreover, we have reason to be glad that politicians are not alwaysmorally good.

Written with verve and clarity, this book provides students andgeneral readers an accessible guide to the philosophical debatesabout the complex relationship between politics and morality in thecontemporary world.
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Table of contents

Acknowledgements vii


Introduction 1


1 Integrity 14


2 Political Integrity 37


3 Integrity and Utilitarianism 57


4 Integrity and Pluralism 78


5 Integrity and Social Roles 96


Notes 123


References 125


Index 128
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Review quote

"Sue Mendus's examination of integrity in public life deftly combines rigourous philosophical arguments and astute empirical examples. This book is characteristically lively and very interesting: a must-read for anyone interested in the relationship between politics and morality in general, and the problem of dirty hands in particular." Cecile Fabre, University of Edinburgh "It is all too easy to view politics as a dirty business that so corrupts the men and women who engage in it that those who are not lacking in moral integrity when they start out soon become so. In her careful study, Mendus explores the very real tensions that exist between personal morality and the public moral duties of politics. In the process, she shows how the conventional cynicism about political life is often misplaced - an attitude corrosive of the morality internal to politics itself." Richard Bellamy, University College, London
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About Susan Mendus

Susan Mendus is Professor of Political Philosophy and a member of the Morrell Centre for Toleration at the University of York.
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Rating details

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