"Public Service Ethics And The Cultures Of Blame." Paper prepared for delivery at the Fifth International Conference of Ethics in the Public Service: an International Network, 5-9 August 1996, Brisbane, Queensland, AUSTRALIA.



Abstract:
This paper has both an ultimate purpose and immediate goal. The ultimate purpose is implied in a call for rethinking the focus of the study for public service ethics. Put briefly, we need to shift our attention from developing a normative theory of public administrative ethics to the goal of establishing an ethical theory of public administrative behaviour. That proposal is the focus of the next section.

The immediate objective is to offer a contribution to such an ethical theory. This effort takes the form of a framework intended to highlight a particularly important factor in the context of public service ethics -- blameworthiness. The intent here is to demonstrate a cultural approach to the concept of blame that can help us better understand the role of public service ethics in variable spatial and temporal contexts. The task of elaborating that framework comprises the middle section of this work.
The final section includes some implications of the Blame Culture framework for our understanding of public administration ethics. In addition, we revisit the ultimate goal by showing the value of this type of analysis for an ethical theory.