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  1. Seumas Miller

Published Online: 1 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444367072.wbiee280

The International Encyclopedia of Ethics

How to Cite

Miller, S. 2013. Corruption. The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 FEB 2013


While there is a vast literature on the topic of corruption (Heidenheimer and Johnston 2002; Hopkin 2002), including its causes and consequences, there is a paucity of developed theoretical accounts of the concept of corruption. This is presumably in part because conceptual analysis tends to be the preserve of philosophy and very few philosophers have focused on corruption. Moreover, many of the available accounts of corruption are really only brief definitions rather than theoretical accounts. As such, they do not offer the kind of illumination provided by an adequate full-blown theoretical account. Further, many of these are in terms of the abuse of power or authority on the part of public officials motivated by private gain, for example, “Corruption is the abuse of power by a public official for private gain” (Nye 1967: 417). While definitions in this area are inevitably to some extent stipulative and relative to one's purposes, there are a number of problems with this kind of definition insofar as it purports to be a general definition serviceable in relation to corruption in all its main forms and institutional settings.


  • corruption;
  • government, politics, and law;
  • normative ethics