Moral dilemma's, theoretical confusion: Value pluralism's supposed implications for public administration

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Abstract

In philosophical ethics, value pluralism is the idea, often associated with Isaiah Berlin, that there are many objective, conflicting, even incommensurable values and that this necessitates often tragic moral choices. Several administrative theorists (notably Wagenaar and Spicer) have argued that value pluralism has far-reaching implications for public administration. The cogency of their arguments is, however, questionable. This article critically examines the uses of value pluralism in administrative theory and concludes that its claimed implications are neither valid, nor exhaustive, nor congruent. Hence, the implications of value pluralism for public administration (if any) remain open to debate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)986-1009
JournalAdministration and Society
Volume46
Issue number8
Early online date18 Feb 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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