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Effectiveness of Public-Service Ethics and Good Governance in the Central Administration of the EU-27

Evaluating Reform Outcomes in the Context of the Financial Crisis

Christoph Demmke and Timo Moilanen

Comparative studies of public-service ethics at the central governmental level in the EU Member States have a rather short history. Particularly, only a few studies have discussed the institutionalisation of ethics and the effectiveness of ethics instruments. Filling this gap and taking one step further, this particular comparative study analyses to what extent the transition towards a new and more complex concept of ethics and governance has proved effective and fruitful. The authors argue that discussions about ethics should be better integrated into other policy areas that affect the behaviour of public officials. These include public management reforms, human resource policies and leadership styles, perceptions of organisational fairness, impact of the ongoing financial crisis as well as cost-and-benefit considerations. The book provides a comprehensive view and analysis of the developments in the field of public-service ethics.


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3.1 Virtues and principles Can there be too much or too little public ethics and public moral? According to Plato, there was no doubt that one of the most important tasks of the State was to educate its citizens to be moral and good citizens. For example, Plato supported the adoption of laws that obliged people to get married between 30 and 35 years. This is moral politics. Later on, Immanuel Kant argued that morality and law should be distinguished and separated from each other. Kant was very critical as to the role of the state in moral issues. According to Kant, the role of the state is not to educate its citizens in moral questions. The development of virtues is not a public task. Until today, this Kantian separation between moral and law is widely accepted. On the other hand, a certain tendency to revive moral politics can also be recognized. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to adopt a clear criteria between the obligation of the state to interfere in moral issues and the need to abstain from moral poli- tics. Do we live a revival of moral politics, for example as regards the introduc- tion of public policies in the field of environmental awareness, health policies, anti-discrimination, anti-smoking and work ethos (performance and merit as guiding rules etc)? Or, is the state withdrawing from the discourse about moral and ethics? Or, both? Is the State becoming more influential in discussions around moral and ethics but, at the same...

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