How Should We Combat Corruption? Lessons from Theory and Practice

| March 2018
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Abstract: Four recent books, taken together, offer a wealth of important insights on how we might effectively tackle corruption. All of the books’ authors agree that there is something akin to a universal understanding of what corruption is, and all dispute the idea that corruption may simply be in the eye of the beholder. However, there are also sharp disagreements—for example over whether corruption is best eliminated from the top down, or whether bottom-up approaches are more effective. If the books share one weakness, it is that they do not sufficiently emphasize the importance of getting people to believe and feel that they have fair opportunities for good lives, even after institutional and legal reforms are made. The key to tackling corruption involves taking seriously the substantive link between actual fair treatment and the belief that fair treatment prevails.

Keywords: corruption, bribery, nepotism, regulation, good governance, fairness, impartiality, ethical universalism

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Category: Issue 32.1, Review Essays

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