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Governance in Dark Times

Practical Philosophy for Public Service

Publication Year: 2008

With the rush of calamitous events in recent yearsùthe September 11 terror attacks, the Iraq imbroglio, and hurricanes Katrina and RitaùAmericans feel themselves to be living in dark times. Trust in one another and in the government is at low ebb. People

Published by: Georgetown University Press

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pp. ix-x

Like others who teach public administration classes filled with practicing administrators, since September 11,2001, I have wrestled with the question of its lesson for professional public service education. This book is a product of that struggle. I owe a great debt to the public administration students at the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs of Cleveland ...

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pp. 1-16

The catastrophic events of September 11,2001, brought Americans face to face with profound questions that in ordinary times people seldom consider. Few who watched the unfolding effects of the terrorist attacks, or read accounts of them, could have helped but feel the pity and terror that tragedy calls forth. The ...

PART I. Thinking, Reason, and Truth: Philosophy for Public Service

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1. Rethinking Reason after September 11

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pp. 19-35

For a time it seemed that the attacks on September 11, 2001, marked a watershed in American public consciousness. For many decades Americans had comforted themselves with the idea that terrible things happen, but they generally happen elsewhere. We told ourselves that we fight wars, but we don’t fight them within ...

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2. Public Administration and the Question of Torture

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pp. 36-52

Over the last few years the American public conversation has raised an unusual question, Does America torture? Not that this topic occupied the attention of the majority for more than a brief period around the time of the revelations about Abu Ghraib. Once the photographs had become familiar, the question of whether United States policy ...

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3. Thinking, Judging, and Public Life

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pp. 53-70

In the preface to Men in Dark Times, Hannah Arendt distinguished between the kind of horrible event the twentieth century was all too familiar with and another kind of darkness. The catastrophes were obvious, if not their meaning. Everyone who lived through them felt their darkness of spirit. As a German Jew who barely escaped from the impending ...

PART II. Two Models of Governance

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4. There’s No Place Like Homeland: Security in Dark Times

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pp. 73-89

By the summer of 2005, the events of September 11, 2001, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and revelations concerning Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo had all combined to produce a palpable sense of living in dark times. Questions of homeland security had become central to governance. Then Hurricane Katrina slammed into ...

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5. The Social Reality of Public Space

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pp. 90-103

Up to this point we have considered big questions for administrators to think about, such as what is reason, what is truth—indeed, what thinking is itself. Now it is time to knock the pins out from under the implicit individualism of this focus and suggest that finding meaning in public life involves thinking (and acting) with others. Especially in dark times, it entails seeing ...

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6. Governance from the Ground Up

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pp. 104-122

The meaning of the term governance has shifted. Two decades ago, when people in public life talked about governance, it was to refer broadly to what they themselves were doing: exercising public authority to fulfill a public purpose. The term took in not just administrative techniques and management approaches but also a sense of the political. ...

PART III. Philosophy for Practice

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7. Pragmatism in Public Service

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pp. 125-140

People in public service tend to reject philosophy because it doesn’t seem to match their experience. Philosophy usually presents truth as static—a timeless link between concept and reality: “When you’ve got your true idea of anything, there’s an end of the matter. You’re in possession; you know; you have fulfilled your thinking destiny.” 1

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8. Public Service Ethics in Dark Times

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pp. 141-156

Public service faces doubly dark times. Through a philosophical lens we have shed some light on what it means, in these times, to reason, think, and judge; the nature of truth; alternative models of governance and their implications for democracy. For now the question that remains concerns the relevance of ethics for leading a meaningful life in public service. ...


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pp. 157-166

E-ISBN-13: 9781589013346
E-ISBN-10: 1589013344
Print-ISBN-13: 9781589011977
Print-ISBN-10: 158901197X

Page Count: 176
Publication Year: 2008