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Length: 2 – 2.5 pages (at least 600 words, excluding references), double-spaced.
Topic: First, select a notable public official whose behavior very clearly demonstrated a lack of public integrity. In the paper, please do the following tasks (which are equally important components of this assignment):
Explain which “focal commitments of public integrity” (Dobel, pp. 20-22) the official violated and how (i.e., by what actions) he or she violated them.
Offer a plausible psychological explanation of the official’s corrupt behavior in terms of the “temptations of power” Dobel expounds in his Chapter 2. Dobel gives you a rich store of concepts to draw on in your analysis, including: stress, stress of commitment, dissonance, frustration, resentment, deference, superiority, deindividuation, group effects, self-importance, moral privilege, sense of indispensability, attachment to symbols and perks, personal gain, arrogance, framing opponents as enemies, insularity, a penchant for secrecy, insensitivity to human costs. Certainly, you do not have to apply all these concepts, but you should make use of some of them in proposing and defending credible psychological hypotheses as to how the public official was corrupted by the power he or she wielded. I recognize that this requires speculation—obviously, we can never be certain about psychological influences on behavior. But, it is still possible to look at official misconduct and meaningfully ask, “Given the types of behavior here, what psychological factors could plausibly—if partially—explain them?” Keep in mind, too, that to offer such an explanation is not to excuse the conduct, which is still misconduct and therefore morally blamable. The purpose of this task is to help you think—in concrete, real-life terms—about the psychological “traps” that can lead public officials to abuse the power entrusted to them by the public. Understanding these traps can make you better prepared to avoid them and to help others avoid them.
Again, please proofread and use grammar- and spell-checks. And, in a short paper, use quoted text sparingly (if at all)–placing quoted text in quotation marks and citing the source. What matters most are your own words, your ideas, and (most especially) your reasoning. Finally, be sure to reference the sources you used in the paper.
Source – Public Integrity – J. Patrick Dobel
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