After the standard dirty hands thesis: towards a dynamic account of dirty hands in politics

Journal article


Tillyris, D. 2016. After the standard dirty hands thesis: towards a dynamic account of dirty hands in politics. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice. 19 (1), pp. 161-175. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10677-015-9604-6
AuthorsTillyris, D.
Abstract

This essay locates the problem of dirty hands (DH) within virtue ethics – specifically Alasdair MacIntyre’s neo-Aristotelian account in After Virtue. It demonstrates that, contra contemporary expositions of this problem, MacIntyre’s account provides us with a more nuanced account of tragedy and DH in ordinary life, in its conventional understanding as a stark, rare and momentary conflict in which moral wrongdoing is inescapable. The essay then utilizes elements from MacIntyre’s account as a theoretical premise for Machiavelli’s thought so as to set the foundations for a nascent but richer account of DH in politics and move beyond the standard, ‘static’ conceptualization of the problem within this context. In developing a dynamic account of DH, I conceive of politics as a distinct practice and way of life, with its own demands and standards of excellence, and draw on Machiavelli’s thought to sketch some of these. The dynamic account uncovers an inexhaustible tension between two ways of life, each with its own demands and standards of excellence: a virtuous politician should become partially vicious and no longer innocent. Understood in dynamic terms, DH in politics involves a paradox of character, not just a paradox of action as the standard ‘static’ thesis prescribes.

KeywordsDirty Hands; Machiavelli; MacIntyre; political ethics; moral conflict.
Year2016
JournalEthical Theory and Moral Practice
Journal citation19 (1), pp. 161-175
PublisherKluwer
ISSN1386-2820
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1007/s10677-015-9604-6
FunderESRC
University of Leeds - School of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)
Publication dates
Online09 May 2015
PrintFeb 2016
Publication process dates
Deposited17 Oct 2016
Accepted author manuscript
Output statusPublished
References

Bavister- Gould, A. (2008): The Uniqueness of After Virtue (or ‘Against Hindsight’), Analyse & Kritik, 30, 55 - 74.

Bellamy, R., 2010. Dirty Hands and Clean Gloves: Liberal Ideals and Real Politics. European Journal of Political Theory, 9(4), 412 - 430.

Berlin, I., 1981. The Originality of Machiavelli, in Against The Current: Essays in the History of Ideas, Ed H. Hardy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 20 - 73.

Berlin, I., 1988. The Pursuit of the Ideal. The New York Review of Books, 35 (4), 1- 6.

Berlin, I., 1990. The Crooked Timber of Humanity: Chapters in the History of Ideas. Ed H. Hardy. London: John Murray.

Donagan, A. (1977): The Theory of Morality. USA: The University of Chicago Press.

Finley, M. I. 2002: The World of Odysseus. New York: New York Review of Books.

Galston, W. (1998): Liberal Purposes: Goods, Virtues, and Diversity in the Liberal State, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gowans, C. W. 2001: Innocence Lost: An examination of Inescapable Moral Wrongdoing. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Grant, R. W. 1997: Hypocrisy and Integrity: Machiavelli, Rousseau and the Ethics of Politics. USA: University of Chicago Press.

Hampshire, S., 1989. Innocence and Experience. USA: Harvard University Press.

Hampshire, S., 1993. Liberalism: The New Twist, The New York Review of Books, 43 - 47.

Hollis, M. 1982. Dirty Hands. British Journal of Political Science, 12(4), 385 - 398.

Hollis, M. 1996: Reason in Action: Essays in the Philosophy of Social Science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Johnson, P. 1994: Reclaiming the Aristotelian ruler in J. Horton, & S. Mendus, (eds.) After MacIntyre: Critical Perspectives on the Work of Alasdair MacIntyre. Cambridge: Polity Press and Blackwell Publishers Ltd.

Kant, I. (1903): Perpetual peace: a philosophical essay, translated with introduction and notes by M. C. Smith with a preface by R. Latta. London: Allen & Unwin.

Kis, J. 2008: Politics as a moral problem. New York: Central European University Press.

Machiavelli, N., 1996. Discourses on Livy, translated by H.C. Mansfield & N. Tarcov. Chicago & London: The University of Chicago Press.

Machiavelli, N., 1998. The Prince, translated by H.C. Mansfield. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

McCormick, J.P. 2001: Machiavellian Democracy: Controlling Elites with Ferocious Populism. The American Political Science Review, 95 (2), pp. 297 - 313.

MacIntyre, A., 1990. Moral Dilemmas, Philosophical and Phenomenological Research, 50, 367 – 382.

MacIntyre, A., 2007. After Virtue: A study in moral theory. USA: University of Notre Dame Press.

Mansfield, H.C., 1996. Machiavelli’s Virtue. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Philp, M., 2001. Political Conduct. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Skinner, Q.B., 2000: The Adviser to Princes, in D. Matravers, J. Pile, & N. Warburton (eds.) Reading Political Philosophy: From Machiavelli to Mill. London: Routledge, 24 -33.

Machiavelli: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Stocker, M., 1990. Plural and conflicting values. Clarendon: Oxford.

Tillyris, D., 2014. Learning how not to be Good: Machiavelli and The Standard Dirty Hands Thesis. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice. DOI: 10.1007/s10677-014-9508-x, 1 -16

Walzer, M., 1973. Political Action: The Problem of Dirty Hands. Philosophy and Public Affairs, 2, 160 – 180.

Walzer, M., 2004. Arguing About War. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Whelan, F. 2004. Hume and Machiavelli: Political Realism and Liberal Thought. Lanham: Lexington Books.

Williams, B., 1973. A Critique of Utilitarianism, in J.C. Smart and B. Williams (eds.), Utilitarianism: For & Against. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 77 - 150.

Williams, B. 1978: Politics and Moral Character. In S. Hampshire (ed.), Public and Private Morality, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 55 – 73.

Williams, B., 2002. In the Beginning Was the Deed: Realism and Moralism in Political Argument. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Wijze, S., de. 1994. Dirty hands – doing wrong to do right. South African Journal of Philosophy, 13 (1), 27 – 33.

Wijze, S, de. 2005. Tragic Remorse: The anguish of Dirty Hands. Ethical and Moral Practice, 7, 453-471.

Wijze, S., de & Goodwin, T. L. 2009: Bellamy on Dirty Hands and Lesser Evils: A response, The British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 11(3), pp. 529- 540.

Permalink -

https://repository.canterbury.ac.uk/item/87y1y/after-the-standard-dirty-hands-thesis-towards-a-dynamic-account-of-dirty-hands-in-politics

Download files


Accepted author manuscript
  • 40
    total views
  • 95
    total downloads
  • 1
    views this month
  • 2
    downloads this month

Export as

Related outputs

‘Painted scenes’ or ‘empty pageants’? Superficiality and depth in (realist) political thought
Tillyris, D. and Edyvane, D. 2022. ‘Painted scenes’ or ‘empty pageants’? Superficiality and depth in (realist) political thought. Philosophy & Social Criticism. https://doi.org/10.1177/01914537211066849
Review of Flattery and the history of political thought: that glib and oily art (Daniel J. Kapust; Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2018, v+230pp., ISBN: 9781107043367)
Tillyris, D. 2018. Review of Flattery and the history of political thought: that glib and oily art (Daniel J. Kapust; Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2018, v+230pp., ISBN: 9781107043367). Contemporary Political Theory. https://doi.org/10.1057/s41296-018-0242-3
Value pluralism and public ethics: introduction
Edyvane, D. and Tillyris, D. 2019. Value pluralism and public ethics: introduction. Theoria. 66 (160), pp. 1-8. https://doi.org/10.3167/th.2019.6616001
Dirty hands and suffering
Tillyris, D. 2019. Dirty hands and suffering. Theoria. 66 (160), pp. 95-121. https://doi.org/10.3167/th.2019.6616006
Political realism and dirty hands: value pluralism, moral conflict and public ethics
Tillyris, D. 2019. Political realism and dirty hands: value pluralism, moral conflict and public ethics. Philosophia. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11406-019-00071-x
Arendt and political realism: towards a realist account of political judgement
Vogler, Gisli and Tillyris, Demetris 2019. Arendt and political realism: towards a realist account of political judgement. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy. 24 (6), pp. 821-844. https://doi.org/10.1080/13698230.2019.1610843
Reflections on a crisis: political disenchantment, moral desolation, and political integrity
Tillyris, D. 2017. Reflections on a crisis: political disenchantment, moral desolation, and political integrity. Res Publica. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11158-017-9387-9
Political integrity and dirty hands: compromise and the ambiguities of betrayal
Tillyris, D. 2017. Political integrity and dirty hands: compromise and the ambiguities of betrayal. Res Publica. 23 (4), pp. 475-494. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11158-016-9323-4
‘Learning how not to be good’: Machiavelli and the standard dirty hands thesis
Tillyris, D. 2015. ‘Learning how not to be good’: Machiavelli and the standard dirty hands thesis. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice. 18 (1), pp. 61-74. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10677-014-9508-x
The virtue of vice: a defence of hypocrisy in democratic politics
Tillyris, D. 2015. The virtue of vice: a defence of hypocrisy in democratic politics. Contemporary Politics. 22 (1), pp. 1-19. https://doi.org/10.1080/13569775.2015.1112958