What Is Wrong With Bribery? Essay

1966 words - 8 pages

To make a payment in exchange for special consideration where the recipient has a duty to offer equal consideration to all (more commonly referred to as bribery) is morally reprehensible on three distinct grounds. Not only does it violate inherent principles of justice and equality by enabling one to use their wealth in order to attain or reinforce influence, it also provokes the recipient to violate the positional responsibility that they have tacitly agreed to uphold (this duty is therefore contractually binding): namely that he or she will perform their role in a manner that adheres to the rules of the organisation in question. The covert nature of the bribe is also problematic; once a bribe is uncovered, the vitality of the entire organisation is endangered because people will inevitably question the integrity of all prior actions undertaken by the affected institution. I shall argue that bribery is wrong regardless of whether the bribe has any impact upon the actions of the recipient, for the motivation that underlies an action is as important as the action itself. Only when one knows institutional corruption to rife can bribery be deemed common practice; in this case, one has a moral right to violate the duties of their position, for their duties require them to engage in corrupt practise.
Bribery poses difficulties on moral grounds because it is incompatible with the principal of human equality and the fundamental right for individuals to be treated with equal respect and concern. For an institution to adhere to this principle, they must operate with fairness and impartiality: nobody should have access to influence that is not accessible to all. Bribery operates as part of a mechanism by which influence is only available to those that a) possess the resources that are required to tempt the individual that they seek to bribe and b) are willing to disregard moral or legal obligations that prohibit the practice of bribery. Both the former and the latter are unequally distributed (it is also worth nothing that access to both is unequally distributed – those born into wealth, for example, evidently have greater opportunities to accumulate wealth in the future), and thus it seems ridiculous to tolerate a practise which enables influence to be attained through either. To do so is to violate the principle of inherent human equality – bribery encourages the treatment of like cases to be different, and this is clearly unfair on moral grounds. Critics of this view hastily point out that free market capitalism operates by allowing firms, the government and individuals to systematically discriminate on the basis of wealth; indeed, the coffee shop that I went to this morning was only willing to give cups of coffee to those who were willing to hand over £1.80. It is worth devoting time to drawing distinctions between a lawful transaction and a bribe to establish why bribery cannot usually be considered a normal part of doing business. The principle...

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