Ethics in Relationship to Power Structures
Ethical obligations allegedly breached by Smith or Halloran while in office
Senator Malcolm Smith and New York City Councilman Dan Halloran were accused of attempting to fix the mayoral ballot. They were allegedly reported having exchanged thousands of dollars in cash. This money was intended to pay off the officials of the Republican Party to agree to one of the Democrats, Smith on the GOP line. Halloran demonstrated clear ignorance as he walked into the evil bargain as the confidential witness dangled campaign funds for a personal interest bid. In the context of public ethics, the actions of Smith and Halloran raise questions their principles of justice, democratic society, and common good (Stensota, 2010).
Smith and Halloran must adhere to the principle of ethical policymaking. This principle requires that they hold one another accountable for what they know and value. As such, it draws into play both moral and reason imagination. Smith and Halloran must encourage a culture that takes responsibility for what they understand as moral deeds. Such personal moral knowledge will provide a crucial viewpoint of official knowledge manipulated and controlled by the government, mass media, and business industry (Politico, 2013).
For this case, public ethics is viewed as a normative approach to the mayoral race plot. It insists that tradition of democratic leaders regarding Smith's substantive obligation and role to promote and serve the public interests. While this could be obviously vague, administrators must grasp the substantive independence of political and corruption or bribery on the public. This implies that Smith and Halloran have an ethical responsibility, for example, to evaluate the impacts of their bribery decisions that have indirect or hidden costs. They are also required to assess how the externalities of such decisions could exhibit various effects on different public officers (Politico, 2013).
This is a pertinent point that researchers reiterate because Smith and Halloran appear to be blind to the destructive consequences and limitations of their actions. Some scholars further contend that moral vacuity exists in the very core of administrative ethics. It provides fewer options to public servants like Smith and Halloran to leave public offices when faced with serious ethical violations. This is the main reason why Smith and Halloran, as public servants, have become helpless and non-resistant to evil: willing accomplices (Politico, 2013). The ethical obligations the Smith and Halloran breached provoked experts to demand civic humanism. This approach emphasizes the imperatives of individual autonomy as a requirement for proper public servants.
Smith and Halloran demonstrated a form of coercion through bribery and this diminished virtue. The two must promote a virtuous life through pervasive autonomy. The power of political community is reliant upon the synergistic growth of the ethical character of each public servant. Unfortunately, Smith and Halloran have acted against their obligation; they dismissed character as being irrelevant to attaining actual goals (Stensota, 2010). The civic humanistic view claims that the practical work of public offices is achieved by individuals of exemplary character. In the context of civic humanism, Smith and Halloran, as public administrators, are required to insist consciously on the imperatives of moral autonomy by doing that because they decide to do so (Stensota, 2010).
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