Ethics in Times of Transition: Public Ethics and Moral Reasoning in Russia, Poland and the United States.

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Title: Ethics in Times of Transition: Public Ethics and Moral Reasoning in Russia, Poland and the United States.
Author: Kem, Jackie David
Advisors: Dr. G. David Garson, Committee Chair
Dr. Debra W. Stewart, Committee Co-Chair
Abstract: The existence of responsible and democratic public administration rests on the presumption that administrators are capable of exercising moral judgment. Is there a difference in moral reasoning among public administrators in different countries? What is the basis for ethical decision-making? Has the democratization process in former communist countries impacted moral reasoning? Does the 'rule of law' have a universal meaning, is culture a determinant of moral reasoning, does religion and spirituality have a role? Is there a relationship between moral reasoning and the actual moral choices made? Can moral reasoning and ethics really be taught, or are these characteristics independent of external factors? This research study investigated hypotheses concerning the relationship of moral reasoning and moral development with: 1) historical and traditional societal factors; 2) connections to existing social institutions; 3) individual factors; and 4) the relationship between moral decision-making and stages of moral reasoning by presenting and analyzing results from research conducted in the United States, Poland, and Russia. The findings of this study suggested the following: • If historical and traditional factors within society have weakened support for the 'rule of law,' then public officials will 'skip' law and order reasoning for principled reasoning as a primary orientation. • If the connections to social institutions, such as the church, trade unions, and the family as independent 'society-maintaining' factors are weakened within a society, then the regard for 'law and order' reasoning will be weakened. • Regardless of historical/traditional factors and social institutions, individual factors that reinforce the regard for the 'rule of law' will result in a stronger orientation towards law and order reasoning. • When contextual historical and traditional factors, social institutions, and individual factors weaken support for 'law and order' moral reasoning, they also weaken the relationship between moral reasoning and the actual choices made in moral decision-making.
Date: 2003-10-02
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Public Administration

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