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Weber’s political ethics and the problem of dirty hands

Daniel R. Sabia Jr (University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA)

Journal of Management History (Archive)

ISSN: 1355-252X

Article publication date: 1 March 1996

Abstract

Discussions of political ethics, and of the problem of dirty hands, often cite Max Weber’s comments on these subjects, especially as presented in “Politics as a vocation”. Offers an interpretation of Weber’s views by explaining why he focused on the political leader as the proper subject of political morality, why he deemed certain personal qualities essential to responsible leadership, how he conceived the relationship between ethics and politics, and why he believed the problem of dirty hands to be both inescapable and unresolvable. Advances the central claims that Weber conceived political ethics as the attempt to reconcile ethical with political duties, and dirty hands as the inevitable accompaniment of political action because of its unavoidable association with violence and the partiality of its ends.

Keywords

Citation

Sabia, D.R. (1996), "Weber’s political ethics and the problem of dirty hands", Journal of Management History (Archive), Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 6-20. https://doi.org/10.1108/13552529610105636

Publisher

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MCB UP Ltd

Copyright © 1996, MCB UP Limited