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Bribery - Conclusion

position society fourth law

There exists, however, a fourth position, the social-personalist one. It holds bribery to be a moral issue, that is, it affects both the good of society and the good of persons—the good of society by its impact on the ideals of the society, the good of persons by involving them in acts unworthy of their nature. A breach of trust and a sale of what should not be sold, bribery violates a divine paradigm set out in Jewish tradition and Christian tradition. Because of its deep moral content, the antibribery ethic requires embodiment in the law.

The social-personalist position denies the cynic's charges of hypocrisy, insisting that selective, symbolic, and dramatic enforcement is educative. It challenges the relativist's belief that all is conventional, pointing to fundamental needs for trust, gratuitous action, and disinterested judgment that are protected, although imperfectly and variously. It has affinities with the rigorist position, rejoicing in the expansion of the ethic, especially its belated inclusion of legislators; yet it differs from the rigorist position by rejecting its reliance on criminal sanctions, in particular imprisonment. Rooted in history, the fourth position favors attacking bribery in multiple ways.

In particular, three measures should be considered. (1) Increasing the legal profession's efforts against bribery. Lawyers have been very frequently involved in modern bribery as advisers, bagmen, couriers, directors, lobbyists, or recipients. Meanwhile law schools, like legal scholars of every era, ignore the profession's involvement. A key class of participants could be educated, disciplined, and motivated to take a more active stand against bribery. (2) Extending the requirements of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to all corporations as to domestic bribes and political contributions. There is no reason to be more concerned with corruption overseas than at home. The record-keeping provisions and heavy financial penalty of the act are appropriate deterrents to use against all corporations. (3) Relying more on disgrace, censure, and electoral reprisals than on imprisonment. At a time when there are general doubts about incarceration, it is odd to rely on it as a remedy here. Historically, bribery has been punished by shame attached to acts unworthy of human persons.

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