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What is corruption corrupting? A philosophical viewpoint

Michel Dion (Faculté d'administration, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Canada)

Journal of Money Laundering Control

ISSN: 1368-5201

Article publication date: 5 January 2010




The purpose of this paper is to see to what extent philosophers (from Plato to Rousseau) have described the phenomenon of corruption in a way that is relevant for corrupt practices in globalized markets.


The paper analyzes five levels of corruption from a philosophical viewpoint: corruption of principles (“ontic/spiritual/axiological corruption”), corruption of moral behavior (“moral corruption”), corruption of people (“social corruption”), corruption of organizations (“institutional corruption”), and corruption of states (“national/societal/cultural corruption”).


The paper finds that actual forms of corruption are basically grounded in prior phenomena of corruption, whether it is the corruption of principles, the corruption of moral behavior, the corruption of people, the corruption of organizations, or the corruption of states. In each case, philosophers have described the deep and broad effects of corruption. Their criticism is quite close to the way the social impact of corruption is presently circumscribed.


The paper addresses the issue of corruption in a philosophical way, and then tends to enhance the social relevance of philosophical discourse when dealing with corrupt practices.



Dion, M. (2010), "What is corruption corrupting? A philosophical viewpoint", Journal of Money Laundering Control, Vol. 13 No. 1, pp. 45-54.



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