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Q. Norms of social morality should not be applied to acts of civil servants while they are carrying out their professional roles and responsibilities to spread the common good. Critically analyze. (10 Marks) Viewpoints: Briefly discuss the promin...


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Q. Norms of social morality should not be applied to acts of civil servants while they are carrying out their professional roles and responsibilities to spread the common good. Critically analyze.

(10 Marks)

Viewpoints:

  • Briefly discuss the prominent thinkers promoting this view.

  • Is the final result or achievement more important than its way/method/procedure of getting?

  • Explain the meaning of the statement with relevant examples.

  • Discuss the debate surrounding the issue and conclude accordingly.

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 Anonymous
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Model  Answer

Machiavelli believed that we should not apply the ordinary standards of right and wrong to the extraordinary situation of a person who is acting as a bureaucratic functionary.

The rationale behind this is that when the act accuses, the result excuses, i.e., one should consider the results that have been achieved, rather than the means by which they have been executed. The dilemma arises out of a tension between perceived professional obligations and long-standing moral obligations that are the standards of everyday life.

This can be witnessed in several instances like:

  • Lying for your country: Ambassadors sent to different countries often tend to not convey the complete facts or conceal information considered important for the domestic country. For instance, it is widely held that India did not share any information on the nuclear tests it conducted in 1998.

  • Administrative secrecy: Public servants take the oath of maintaining secrets for the state. This is important for safeguarding national integrity and security, even though it compromises the virtues of transparency and honesty.

  • Encounters: Certain sections of public servants are allowed to shoot or kill in special circumstances, say to avert a major terror attack. Therefore, while killing is unethical and unlawful, it may become inevitable in line of duty for certain public servants. 

  • Administrative discretion: There are various cases where the eligibility of schemes and other government benefits may be relaxed for certain particular cases. This may be permitted as it aims to achieve the greater public good.

However, these should be treated as an exception and not the rule. Civil servants are expected to uphold the highest values in society.

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