A Guide to Ethics and Public Policy : Finding Our Way book cover
1st Edition

A Guide to Ethics and Public Policy
Finding Our Way

ISBN 9781138013797
Published April 14, 2014 by Routledge
168 Pages

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Book Description

Developed by D. Don Welch during his 28 years of teaching ethics and public policy, the rationale behind A Guide to Ethics and Public Policy is to present a comprehensive guide for making policy judgments. Rather than present specific cases that raise moral issues or discuss the role a few concepts play in the moral analysis of policy, this book instead provides a broad framework for the moral evaluation of public policies and policy proposals. This framework is organized around guiding five principles: benefit, effectiveness, fairness, fidelity, and legitimacy. These principles identify the factors that should be taken into account and the issues that should be addressed as citizens address the question of what the United States government should be able to do. Organized by concept, with illustrations and examples frequently interspersed, the book covers both theory and specific issues.

A Guide to Ethics and Public Policy outlines a comprehensive ethical framework, provides content to the meaning of the five principles that comprise that framework through the use of illustrations and examples, and offers guidance about how to navigate one’s way through the conflicts and dilemmas that inevitably result from a serious effort to analyze policies.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction. 2. Ethical Discourse and Public Policy. 3. Defining the Good: Benefit. 4. Stewardship of Resources: Effectiveness. 5. Serving Justice: Fairness. 6. Honoring Commitments: Fidelity. 7. Ownership of Problems: Legitimacy. 8. Benchmarks and Moral Discernment.

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D. Don Welch was Associate Dean and Professor of Law and Religion at Vanderbilt University Law School from 1984 to 2012. His book grows out of a career divided between law and ethics, especially in the experiences of 28 years of teaching law students, followed by service on the staff of St. Augustine’s Chapel at Vanderbilt.


"Welch’s superb book should be required reading for politicians, policy makers, and the public. Smart and sensible, Welch dials down the rhetoric and turns up the intellect in helping us think through the most important moral concerns in public policy."
—Mark Rom, Georgetown University

"The ethical and legal implications of public administration are explained clearly and accessibly by D. Don Welch. His writing style generates a lively interplay between philosophical theories and classic case studies that are relevant to government and policy-making."
—Christine A. James, Valdosta State University

"Deploying a framework of five basic principles, D. Don Welch provides a lucid, insightful, humane, and practical approach to public policy. He recognizes that the formulation, analysis, and implementation of good policies aren’t easy and in fact that some choices may involve competition among elemental values. But using his framework, makers of policy (indeed, all conscientious citizens) may choose more reflectively, deliberately, transparently, and intelligently.  In an era of dysfunctional government, Welch’s approach is a breath of fresh air."
—Mark E. Brandon, Vanderbilt University

"This book may be useful as a supplement, however.  Readers interested in law and ethics may find this book of interest as well.  Recommended for law and/or ethics graduate students and scholars."
-- M. L. Godwin, University of La Verne