Classical Rationalism and Contemporary Realism: Oaths of Office as Empty Formality or Empowering Function?

James S. Bowman, Jonathan P. West

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The practice of making oaths comes from ancient times, a tradition common to nearly all peoples and cultures. Calls for ethics reform in recent years have included questions about how or whether oaths are honored. In the fraught politics of today’s secularized, pluralistic society, skepticism about oaths may be warranted, but it is insufficient as the topic deserves critical reflection. The purpose of this exploratory study is to assess the efficacy of oaths of office. This is accomplished by subjecting them to both philosophical normative ethics and contemporary behavioral ethics examination. The analysis concludes by offering recommendations to reinforce the significance of this once-venerable bond between the populace and public servants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPublic Integrity
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Behavioral theory
  • ethics
  • oath of office
  • reform

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Philosophy
  • Public Administration
  • Law

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