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Monday, July 24, 2006

Evil in the New York Times

Edward Rothstein's "Connections" column today focuses on the concept of 'evil' - a topic that has preoccupied me and others in the field of public administration in recent years. For me it all started with my angry reaction to a book on administrative evil -- and I was able to articulate my feelings in an award-winning book review essay that (I am sorry to say) probably led to the publication of a second edition of the work that I was attacking. More recently, Jonathan Justice and I published "Accountability and the evil of administrative ethics" in Administration & Society, a more elaborate and detailed piece on the role that the concept of evil has played in driving governance and public policy.

Rothstein's piece focuses on images of evil on stage and screen, and his comments are triggered by the publication of "Evil Incarnate" by David Frankfurter (who happens to be a colleague at the University of New Hampshire -- but since I am new there we have yet to meet...). I can tell I will find the work in synch with my own views based on the idea that "Evil is not a term of explanation. It is a term of judgment." I think my work with Justice complements that perspective quite well.

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