By Barry O'toole
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Extra info for The Ideal of Public Service: The Concept and Practice of Public Duty
Thus, the ultimate end of morality is the mutual harmony of all in society, or to use Green’s phrase 36 Philosophy, politics and administration ‘the common good’. An act is moral insofar as it contributes to this common good, though it must have as its motive the common good to be counted as a moral act. That is, motive is important in determining the morality or otherwise of an act. Government exists to promote the common good by maintaining the conditions in which morality shall be possible: it does this by removing the hindrances to the achievement of self-realisation, which is the realisation of self in a society that includes others.
Indeed, the idea of public service and the sister notion of the common good or the public interest have been central to the thoughts of political philosophers throughout the ages. The purpose of this chapter has been to trace the development of such ideas and to present as far as possible a clear exposition of what the ideas mean. It is upon this basis that the rest of this book is built. The focus of the book is the higher civil service in Britain. The reason is simple. These are the people who, at least in the past, had a view of themselves as guardians of the public interest.
Compare such sentiments with those of Plato, who believed that his Guardians should not apply the word ‘mine’ to different things, and should set aside personal gain and familial interests, for to do otherwise would be to ‘rend the community asunder’ (Plato, 1941 edn, p. 162). Comparison may also be made with Plato in relation to the rewards of ‘virtue’. Aquinas believes that the just tasks of kingship ‘would appear to be too heavy unless . . accompanied by some commensurate reward’, and 24 Philosophy, politics and administration therefore asks the question, ‘what is the particular reward for a good monarch’?
The Ideal of Public Service: The Concept and Practice of Public Duty by Barry O'toole