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DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-S014-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 24, 2024, from

Article Summary

Corruption denotes decay or perversion. The term implies that there is a natural or normal standard of functioning or conduct from which the corrupt state of affairs or action deviates. When we talk of a person becoming corrupt, we mean not just that they have broken a rule, but that the basic norms of ethical conduct no longer have any force for them. Corruption strikes at the root of a thing.

Political corruption involves the decay or perversion of political rule. Broadly, this occurs when a group or individual subverts a society’s publicly endorsed practices for conciliating conflicts and pursuing the common good so as to gain illegitimate advantage for their interests in the political process. The precise specification of the nature and dynamics of corruption is inherently controversial. Classical accounts associate it with a collapse of civic virtue and the eventual destruction of the state. Modern theories focus more narrowly on the misuse of public office for private gain.

Citing this article:
Philp, Mark. Corruption, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-S014-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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