Politics and Morality
November 2009, Polity
Beginning with an account of integrity as involving a willingness to stand by ones most fundamental moral commitments, the author discusses three reasons for thinking that politics undermines integrity and is incompatible with morality. These are: the relationship between politics and utilitarian calculation; the possibility that the realm of politics is a separate realm of value; and the difficulty of reconciling the demands of different social roles. She concludes that, in the modern world, we all risk losing our integrity. To that extent, we are all politicians. Moreover, we have reason to be glad that politicians are not always morally good.
Written with verve and clarity, this book provides students and general readers an accessible guide to the philosophical debates about the complex relationship between politics and morality in the contemporary world.
"An elegant, insightful and incisive essay."
Journal of Applied Philosophy
"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