FEB 14 2009

Ethics Waivers

Miscellaneous

A listserv I read was discussing the subject of ethics waivers in government. The term, “ethics waivers,” is often used as a synonym for conflict of interest waiver under the Ethics in Government Act. Interestingly, waivers are mentioned 61 times in the House Ethics Manual (see http://ethics.house.gov/Media/PDF/2008_house_ethics_manual.pdf ). There are many–routine and special–circumstances where such “waivers” are given as a kind of “teleological suspension of the ethical” I don’t understand. Surely, there is no higher duty than ethics, and ethics cannot be incompatible with religious duty. (See, for example, http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kierkegaard/, wherein Kierkegaard would argue that the religious is indeed a higher duty than the ethical, in a manner perhaps unknowable).

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