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The Ethics Of Bribery Essay

1957 words - 8 pages

Bribery is wrong, and it would be almost instinctive to point at the benefits of impartially functioning public servants and incorrupt corporations to our democratic society as justification. However, in this imperfect world where bribery is rife in varying degrees, is it possible to express this notion convincingly? Certainly 'because the UK Bribery Act says so' is far less persuasive to a council planning office in Shanghai than in London, and indeed in compliance with section 7 of the Bribery Act 2010 which relates to commercial offences, it is essential that this question is engaged with on a corporate scale and without assertion through dogma. Accordingly, this essay will argue that ...view middle of the document...

Conversely, we could consider: 'can bribery ever be justified as a normal part of business?'. What this really asks is: 'can countries with established and sanctioned exchanges of government privileges/contracts for bribes ever benefit?' While regression to repealing current legislation in favour of legalising bribery is certainly unthinkable in the UK, consequentialism could equally contend under the premise of bribery being beneficial that its practice is potentially morally permissible. Similarly, the validity of this assertion is dependent on the premise of 'bribery is beneficial to the economy.'

In contrast, deontological ethics considers an action as morally good by virtue of an intrinsic characteristic of the action itself, prioritising this over the outcome of the action. With respect to Kant's categorical imperative, the maxim of bribery cannot be universalised in being incorporated into business. If we understand bribery as being distinct from facilitation payments and to be the gain of an unfair advantage covertly via financial or other means, then the concept of bribery becomes redundant once it has been rendered a normal part of business i.e. universal. Bribery only functions as intended in an environment lacking of its practice; if the advantage is no longer gained unfairly, bribery as a term becomes self contradictory.[1]

(ii) Economic repercussions of bribery
To justify the premise of bribery being economically harmful, consider a theoretical situation in which officials accept bribes; decisions previously made in public interest grow to become dependent on whichever transaction yields the greatest personal profit. This results in slowed economic development as public investments are not necessarily spent with public interest in mind. This in turn could have severe repercussions in terms of infrastructure and public service. Empirical studies on corruption (of which bribery is a subset) agree with this hypothesis, finding negative correlations between corruption and economic development and function,[2] and establishing that it reduces economic growth, foreign investment, income equality and expenditures for education/health while increasing market distortion and undermining the legitimacy of the government and the market economy'. [3]

On the other hand, it can be postulated that as an exception, bribery can increase economic efficiency in allowing for the circumvention of inefficient bureaucracy in developing countries. Bribery in this context is necessary when poorly implemented market regulation creates economic distortions. Thus, with minor, contained corruption, economic responses are corrected for and once more, the market is subject to demand as opposed to obsolete legislation.[4] Yet the solution of bribery is double-edged in its alleviation of pressure for development. Even the invitation to evade poorly constructed regulations poses a problem; by the same token, what measures can prevent a company from evading...

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