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Political ethics: Home


Use for:

  • Ethics, Political
  • Ethics in government
  • Government ethics
  • Political science--Moral and ethical aspects
  • Political, Practical--Moral and ethical aspects

Norrower terms:

Broader term:

  • Ethics

Related term:

  • Civics


Political ethics

Scope Note

Political ethics (sometimes called political morality or public ethics) is the practice of making moral judgments about political action, and the study of that practice. As a field of study, it is divided into two branches, each with distinctive problems and with different though overlapping literatures. One branch, the ethics of process (or the ethics of office), focuses on public officials and the methods they use. The other branch, the ethics of policy (or ethics and public policy) concentrates on judgments about policies and laws. Both draw on moral and political philosophy, democratic theory and political science. But political ethics constitutes a free standing subject in its own right. Most writers on the subject do not try to apply foundational moral theories but rather work with mid-level concepts and principles that more closely reflect the considerations that political agents could take into account in making decisions and policies.

[Source: Political ethics (2013). In H. Lafoyette (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Ethics. Malden, MA : Wiley-B;ackwell]

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