Beyond serving a purpose: additional ethical focuses for public policy agents

In Jonathan Boston, Andrew Bradstock & David Eng (eds.), Ethics and public policy: contemporary issues. Victoria University Press (2011)
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From the point of view of a theorist in ethics, the interest in public policy usually centres on the policy outcomes. But this point of view does not take much account of the roles and practices through which public policies are enacted. What additional ethical focuses for the policy agent might these entail? I outline four features of policy making, centred on the agent's performance of their role in the process, that raise ethical issues. These features are: the nature of the policy process; the definition of the public; the treatment of policy agents; and accounting for public policy decisions. Brief examples are used to illustrate the nature of the issues and support the conclusion that these present additional ethical focuses for agents in public policy roles.
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