Cruelty and Deception: The Controversy Over Dirty Hands in Politics

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David P. Shugarman, Paul Rynard
Broadview Press, 2000 - Political Science - 280 pages
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The essays in this book deal with the appropriateness of "dirty hands" in politics, the widely held view that politics is a dirty business and those who engage in it can't help but get their hands dirty--Oliver North's self-defense in the aftermath of the Iran-Contra affair is a good example.

The book explores the meaning of the term and its implications; whether dirty hands is useful as a description of the way public figures actually behave in crisis and whether it is acceptable as a model for guiding ethical and efficacious conduct. Contributing authors present differing appreciations both of the extent to which there are dirty hands in political decision-making and actions, and of the justifiability of such conduct if and when it presents itself.

Defenders of dirty hands make the argument (in various ways) that sometimes cruelty and/or deception are necessary means to achieve a desirable end.†The desirable goal may be advancing the greater good or it may mean preventing a considerable evil.†On the other hand, there are a variety of strong arguments for rejecting the practice as well as the theoretical justifications of dirty-handed activity.†The book presents arguments and analyses pro and con for using normally repugnant methods to advance worthy ends.

The dirty hands problem sets ethicists, political theorists, and social philosophers against one another on empirical, logical, and normative grounds, leaving it to readers to form their own views. However, the debate about dirty hands is also directly relevant to the consideration of ethical problems in a more general sense because its ultimate concern--how to act rightly when moral rules point in contradictory directions--can come to the fore in many circumstances in social life.† Accordingly, several of the essays address broad moral questions beyond the dilemmas faced by political leaders.

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References from web pages

The W. Maurice Young Centre for Applied Ethics | People at the Centre
"Hands: Clean and Tied, Dirty and Bloody", Cruelty and Deception: The Controversy Over Dirty Hands In Politics, David Shugarman and Paul Rynard, ... index.php?p=personweb2

Blackwell Synergy - Political Studies, Volume 50 Issue 4 Page 725 ...
Bradshaw,L. ( 2000) Ď Principles and Politicsí in P. Rynard and dp Shugarman (eds), Cruelty and Deception: the Controversy over Dirty Hands in Politics. ... doi/ abs/ 10.1111/ 1467-9248.00004

Recensions / Reviews
Recensions / Reviews. Burke, Mike, Colin Mooers and John Shields, eds. Restructuring and. Resistance: Canadian Public Policy in an Age of Global Capitalism. ... production/ action/ cjoGetFulltext?fulltextid=275381

About the author (2000)

Paul Rynard is working on his PhD in the Department of Political Science at York University.

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