James Ron on loyalty in the civil service

2011-06-30

in Canada, Law, Politics

James Ron, a former professor at Carleton University, has written an interesting piece on the situation faced by bureaucrats who personally object to the policies of the government of the day. It is an interesting read.

One major justification he leaves out is the view that while a particular policy might seem objectionable to the person thinking about it, they simultaneously see that policy as the product of a democratic system of decision-making that they endorse overall. I have written before on why this view is problematic, but it is nonetheless another way of squaring the circle Ron describes.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

dp July 15, 2011 at 5:38 pm

“I say that’s also important in giving certain types of government advice. Supposing a senator asked you for advice about whether drilling a hole should be done in his state; and you decide it would be better in some other state. If you don’t publish such a result, it seems to me you’re not giving scientific advice. You’re being used. If your answer happens to come out in the direction the government or the politicians like, they can use it as an argument in their favor; if it comes out the other way, they don’t publish it at all. That’s not giving scientific advice.

So I have just one wish for you — the good luck to be somewhere where you are free to maintain the kind of integrity I have described, and where you do not feel forced by a need to maintain your position in the organization, or financial support, or so on, to lose your integrity. May you have that freedom.”

-Richard Feynman

. March 25, 2013 at 9:14 pm

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