Conscience and Power: An Examination of Dirty Hands and Political Leadership
Powerful political leaders are often forced to make difficult decisions concerning the lives of large groups of people. It has often been claimed that in order to make such decisions these leaders, especially when dealing with foreign policy, have to "dirty their hands", using tactics and methods (such as indifference to the concerns of others, deception, and brutality) that would be considered morally repugnant in private life. Stephen Garrett's Conscience and Power considers whether this claim is true and, if so, how we can arrive at moral judgments regarding political actions. Garrett looks closely at two cases from World War II that illustrate the complexity of the problem: the Nazi destruction of the Czech village of Lidice in 1942 and the American government's relationship with Admiral Darlan, a Nazi sympathizer in the wartime French Vichy Government. Conscience and Power is the first full-length study to systematically consider the problem of "dirty hands" among political leaders. It will be of interest to students, teachers, and researchers in the fields of history, philosophy, and international relations.
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