Philosophical And Religious Habituation Of Corruption (2)

Philosophical And Religious Habituation Of Corruption (2)

The Utilitarian Approach:

In Utilitarian approach, a person involved in the act of corruption will pay little attention to any laws and rules forbidding corruption. An action is considered proper if it results in happiness − not the agent’s happiness, but ‘the greatest amount of happiness altogether[14].’ Actions are right if they tend to promote happiness and wrong if they do the reverse. [15]. It led Owen[16] to conclude: 

If corruption and maladministration neither promote pleasure nor prevent pain for the general good, they are not morally wrong from a utilitarian point of view.’ As a result of the utilitarian style of reasoning, the subsequent action by the authorities needs to be focused on inducing the full measure of total ‘happiness that should include the perpetrator, as well as society at large. LaFollette writes[17]

 In act utilitarianism, no prior reasons are included when considering punishment for acts of corruption. It suffers from the weakness that no normative rules, laws, and so on may be considered. The deficiency of this position is partly alleviated by rule utilitarianism, which considers rules or norms, as well as consequences, in deliberations of morality. The fear exists that courts of law could subjectively devalue rules by ascribing less than ideal Justice to corrupt officers. Establishing the balance between rules and consequences in rule utilitarianism is difficult.

Hodgson[18] partly concedes that no form of utilitarianism can adequately account for the importance of specific moral rules. He maintains that one form of rule utilitarianism, specifically ‘individual-rule-utilitarianism,’ ensures proper consideration by judges. He believes that individual-rule-utilitarianism is more in accord with the convictions of most persons as to the importance of moral rules and the duty to obey them. [19]He explains the rule as follows:[20] “An act is right if and only if it is per the agent’s acceptance of which as a personal rule would have best consequences.” The disadvantage of this notion is the significant element of uncertainty introduced due to the absence of any norm that transcends humankind’s consciousness. The above considerations cast a shadow on the appropriateness of any utilitist approach to combating corruption.

Deontological Approach:

Central to the Deontic argument are specific rules, be they commandments, laws, and codes of practice or ‘standing orders,’ which act as moral compasses. This approach rests on Kant’s rational categorical imperative as an absolute rule for moral behavior. [21]. Deontologists, therefore, ascribe to strict rule-based morals when dealing with others.

Blanchard points out that:

Deontologists have shown fidelity to actual moral judgment that is probably closer than that of any other contemporary school. They have argued with great force that moral judgments are judgments, not expressions of feelings only, and here − for whatever it is worth − common sense is undoubtedly on their side – Blanchard[22]

 A deontological approach to corruption, therefore, requires careful attention to moral norms and their relation to conscience in the mind of humankind.

 Deontology and Conscience: 

In the mind of humankind, there is some sense of Deity; they hold to be beyond humanity as Supreme Being. A person’s morality has a natural basis and is shaped only by cultural influences.[23]. Unsurprisingly, people with different cultural backgrounds have different conceptions of right or wrong. Especially if they are not amenable to adhering to specific moral codes engraved in the ‘synteresis. [24]. You cannot be right when you use negative options. Right is right, and wrong is wrong. Certain acts are directly recognized as universally and unconditionally wrong. Falsehood, for example, is known to be wrong, not from its incompatibility with social well-being but its very nature. Honesty is exemplary in itself, not because of its financial and social results. Evil is wrong by its perceptions and inner composition. Conscience depends partly on accurate information and partly on conditioning by the environment and by habits. [25].

As Blanchard[26] puts it:

It is the deposit of parental example, teachers’ instruction, and the pressure of society, in turn, the product of centuries of experimentation. Conscience is thus the voice of our hitherto accepted ideal, recording its yes or no to a proposed line of conduct. It does not generally argue; it simply affixes its seal or enters its protest – Blanchard[26]

 Christian philosophers view conscience as an innate understanding of God’s truth, influencing the distinguishing and evaluation of personal acts. The conscience’s association with the inner man (soul of man) and its affiliation with the understanding are related to the conscience’s nature. In contrast, the conscience’s task of bearing witness and its responsibility in personal judgment relates to its role. [27]. A Christian’s conscience is God’s Policeman, a faculty of man’s Spirit that monitors his obedience to the will of God. The idea of the social context leads Wallace to believe that reciprocal (or bipolar) normative structures form the key to understanding the idea of deontic structure. He traces the local social context’s discretional (aspirational) normativity and deontic normativity to reciprocal structures between individuals. 

 The application of reason in such a structure gives it the character of an obligation, contrary to the ‘free standing’ forms of aspirational normativity. Deontic normativity seems more resistant to social influence. It is based on reciprocal structures between individuals. [28]. The influence of the local social background is an essential aspect in the study of corruption. The social context will be corrupted if corruption is allowed to continue unchallenged. It will result in the devaluation of ‘discretional normativity.’ And thereby engendering a more significant measure of tolerance towards corruption. Every corrupt transactional relationship established becomes a bulge in the web of corruption. However, Wallace somehow shifts the responsibility for acts of corruption or crimes from those involved to the external circumstances that existed during the acts. This horizontal posture is apparent in his notion of the origin of deontic normativity as formed by a nexus of individual human relationships.

Humankind may choose to obey or disobey both ‘general’ and ‘contingent’ deontic norms. His freedom resides in obedience to deontic norms; conversely, disobedience (as manifested in acts of corruption) leads to loss of freedom and enslavement in a secret link of dishonesty. The ‘normative power’ of contingent deontic is subject to personal conceptions of right or wrong. Stoker[29] states, “on account of man’s freedom of choice for his actions … man is, and must be, accountable for his actions.” The influence of the social context derived from the philosophical thoughts of humankind to the corruption of the conscience is considered primarily necessary. Philosophical habituation provides the enabling environment for corruption to grow.  

Democracy expects the Presidency to provide accurate information to the people. During Obama’s presidency, Sasha Obama had an examination and needed to remain in Washington to study. Some teachers in a secondary school in Washington fixed an examination, which conflicted with the schedule of the Presidential family, and the President’s schedule had to take a back seat. The chief lesson from Sasha Obama’s absence from her father’s speech is the quality of parenting she has and the values of her parents. The American President and his wife, Michelle were at the mercy of a secondary school teacher.

In America, there was no interference or cutting corners for the President’s daughter. There was no wielding of influence and no pressurizing the teacher to change the exam date. By symbolically submitting himself to the supremacy of his country’s education sector, President Obama did something for education that no funding, budgeting, or infrastructural development could achieve. The absence of symbolism wields a harmful and destructive influence on all aspects of public institutions.

The United States of America has almost 330 million populations, almost twice the population of Nigeria. It has 3,150 counties (local governments). Nigeria (currently a non-working & corrupt country) parades 774 local governments, which is not a true representative of what the grassroots government should be. So to reduce corruption at the center, more local governments should be created to allow more power to be shifted closer to the people. Corruption in the National Assembly is as bad as in the Presidency and judiciary, if not worse.

Nigeria must work to streamline the representatives at both houses to save costs and eliminate corruption. The United States of America, with an almost 330 million population, has two Senators from each of the 50 states in the country to represent the 100 members of the U.S. Senate; Nigeria has three Senators each from the 36 states. Yet, America (U.S.A.) is twice Nigeria in population headcount, with only 170 million estimated figures. The U.S.A. Constitution does not have a functional job for a Senate President. Because the U.S. Senate is not in competition with the Presidency, the Vice President of America is the Senate President. His/her job is to vote when there is a tie, swear in new members and take pictures with their families. He serves as a link between the President and the Senate.

The Party manages the Senate with the majority. And the Majority leader does the job in partnership with all the committees.

U.S. Senate minority leader is more like the opposition party, and from the 100 members in the Senate, it must work to stay afloat. Eliminating the position of Senate President and reducing the three senators per state to two will also affect the number in the House of Representatives and reduce the government cost to the nation. Even as good as the U.S. Senate seems present, it is still undergoing reform.


Corruption breeds injustice. The thrust of Justice is legitimate, and it is imperative to have a group of men and women who will stand up for honesty and Integrity in whatever they do. While anti-corruption measures are essential and should continually be improved, the only effective way to combat corruption is through a long-term program aimed at the ‘moral renewal’ of the entire population. In these anti-corruption programs, attention should be given to biblical deontic norms and those aspects of utilitarian theory applicable to a civilized society. The world today has become a global village. With all the changes happening around us, relational changes are the most critical.

Globalization is forcing us to think more about relationships (at least in economics) beyond our provincial boundaries and comfort zones. These relationships, however, focus only on an exchange process (e.g., of labor, goods, and services), not a relational process. This exchange process shows how many personal relationships are conducted, even with God. The Religious leaders have denigrated their responsibility. Religion has a moral obligation to the masses. Religion has Social, Economical, Political, and Spiritual Responsibilities to the people. All need to go back to the core values. That is the only way out of endemic corruption.


  • [14] J. S. Mill, Utilitarianism, Longmans, Green & Co, London, 1907, 16
  • [15] Mill, 1907, 9
  • [16] N. Owen, ‘Chapter IX: The nature and role of applied ethics in the public sector, Council for Research in Values and Philosophy (CRVP), 2011, 6
  •, accessed March 1, 2017
  • [17] H. LaFollette, The practice of ethics, Blackwell, Oxford, 2007, 26
  • [18] D. H. Hodgson, Consequences of utilitarianism – A study in normative ethics and legal theory, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1967, 71-72
  • [19] Hodgson, 60
  • [20] Hodgson, 63
  • [21] I. Kant, Groundwork for the metaphysics of morals, transl. A. Zweig, Oxford University Press, Oxford. (Original work published in 1785), 2002, 229
  • [22] B. Blanchard, Reason and goodness, George Allen & Unwin, London, 1961, 159
  • [23] S. J. Pope, Human evolution and Christian ethics, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2007, 257
  • [24] Synderesis or synteresis, in scholastic moral philosophy, is the natural capacity or disposition (habitus) of the practical reason to apprehend the universal first principles of human action intuitively according to “CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Synderesis .”Catholic Encyclopedia. Retrieved 05
  • [25] C. A. Pierce, Conscience in the New Testament, S.C.M. Press, London, 1955, 127
  • [26] B. Blanchard, Reason and goodness, George Allen & Unwin, London, 1961, 33
  • [27] G. W. Perry, ‘The conflict between the liberty of conscience and church authority in today’s evangelical church,’ M.A. Thesis, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, F.L., 2005, 17
  • [28] R. Wallace, The deontic structure of morality, 2012, 29
  • accessed on March 01, 2017
  • [29] H. G. Stoker, Oorsprong en rigting, vol. 2, Tafelberg Publishers, Cape Town, 1970, 182

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