Corruption: Uncovering the Price of Normative Morality and the Value of Ethics

Verena Rauen
2016 German Law Journal  
Corruption should be understood as illustrative of an ethical problem that runs deeper than specific immoral actions. This Article sees corruption as an unethical exchange, a view that can shed light on the economic structure of normative morality (as distinguished from ethics which is the theoretical field that underlies normative morality)—a structure that enables the possibility of exchanging moral values against marketable prices in the first place. To go beyond normative morality, this
more » ... cle will discuss two profound philosophical concepts and their relation to corruption: (1) a non-economic justice as founded by Aristotle's principle of épieikeia (equity), and (2) Levinas' notion of the Third with the ethical responsibility that is connected to it. In addition, the discussion of the Third will be informed by philosophical theories of gift exchange as proposed by, among others, Marcel Hénaff, who examined the connections between gift exchange, monetary exchanges and corruption. Based on this, a way of thinking about the suspension between ethics and corruption is developed that avoids falling back into the logic of economic exchange which is constitutive for corruption. Instead, an ethical perspective is suggested as the fundamental ability to adequately balance universal normative claims with the individual case. This kind of just balancing opens up new spaces of reflection to confront corruption.
doi:10.1017/s2071832200019702 fatcat:dnh6mskx4zaz7fdqaxe5yji2xq