Fighting corruption : a philosophical approach
Vorster, Schalk W.
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Corruption has reached astounding proportions in South Africa. The purpose of this article is to contribute to philosophical approaches aimed at combating corruption. In considering punishment for acts of corruption the most common approach is based on the philosophical theory of consequentialism, which allows only consideration of the consequences of corrupt acts. Ideally, cognisance should be taken of the norms in question, especially those norms demanding the judicious execution of obligations. It was, however, found that the Kantian categorical imperative presupposes an ideal rational society. The imperative has to be ‘softened’ by also allowing for enquiry about the corruptor’s personal circumstances, in the light of Christ’s love commandment. This article highlights the most prominent attributes of two important philosophical theories applicable to the study of corruption, namely utilitarianism (a variant of consequentialism) and deontology. It is argued that qualified deontological and utilitistic approaches hold the best promise to curb corruption in the long run. The conclusion is that the state will urgently have to attend to the social context by revitalising programmes of ‘social renewal’, based on effective application of the law, the provision of adequate education and the eradication of poverty. There is also an urgent need for the ‘moral renewal’ of the entire population, focused on Christian values, operationalised within the context of the South Africa of today. Herein lies a massive task for the church.
- Faculty of Theology