ISBN: 978-1-62734-300-8 (pbk.)
ISBN: 978-1-62734-301-5 (ebk.)
Finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards (NGIBA) 2021 in the Education/Academic category, and a silver medal winner in the eLit book awards 2022 in the Current Affairs/Social Issues category.
What do Plato and the Bible tell us about bribery? Does it even matter? When it comes to bribery, should we disregard ancient wisdom and instead seek understanding and guidance primarily from modern economists who talk of efficient markets, and from critical theorists who focus on intersectional inequities in power relations? This book explores such questions in depth.
Taking the form of a Platonic-style dialogue, the book contains a discussion of claims made by a zealous advocate of laissez-faire free markets for the 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 obvious expectations of a quid pro quo. Third, and more controversially, the “good” bribe, which has an undeniably virtuous outcome. The unique dialogue 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 can 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 book is how we might accommodate a fringe of virtuous and harmless bribery while maintaining a strict vigilance over the damaging effects of most bribes.
I hope this book will be of interest to public policy makers, anti-corruption professionals, and the general reader interested in counter-corruption practices.