ISBN: 978-1-62734-300-8 (pbk.)
ISBN: 978-1-62734-301-5 (ebk.)
What do Plato and the Bible tell us about bribery? Does it even matter? When it comes to bribery should we look less to ancient wisdom and instead be seeking understanding and guidance primarily from modern economists who talk of efficient markets, and from critical theorists who focus on inequities in power relations? This book explores such questions in depth.
Taking the form of a Platonic dialogue, the book contains a discussion of claims made by a zealous advocate of laissez-faire free markets for recognition of three types of bribe. First, the “harmless” bribe, a facilitating or baksheesh payment which simply encourages an official to speed up the performance of his or her existing duties, without additional favors. Second, the “ambiguous” bribe, which is effectively indistinguishable from a gift given with no expectations of a quid pro quo. Third, and more controversially, the “good” bribe, which has an undeniably virtuous outcome. The unique discussion format provides space for the comparison and differentiation of a plurality of ethical perspectives, and it reveals some surprising common ground between ostensibly irreconcilable ethical viewpoints.
Bribery is unsettling. It is difficult to detect and often difficult to interpret. Even more unsettling are claims that bribery should sometimes be considered harmless, or even virtuous. If a convincing case could be made for the acceptability of certain categories of bribery, the implications for public and institutional anti-bribery policies would be significant: in particular, the rationale for “zero tolerance” approaches might be threatened. Perhaps the ultimate public policy question raised in the text is how we might accommodate a fringe of virtuous and harmless bribery while maintaining a strict vigilance over the damaging effects of most bribes. By exploring this topic, this book will be of interest to public policy makers, anti-corruption professionals, and the general reader interested in counter-corruption practices.