Public Servants

In: Journal of Moral Philosophy
Mario I. Juarez-Garcia Philosophy Department, University of San Diego, San Diego, ca, United States

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Alexander Schaefer School of Law, New York University, New York City, ny, United States

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Several political philosophers have recently pointed out that current electoral democracies fail to facilitate accurate and reliable feedback on the performance of public officials. Rather than rejecting democracy as a hopeless ideal, we defend an institutional reform called Service Responsibility, which introduces a superior incentive structure that better aligns the interests of citizens and public officials. Service Responsibility requires increasing or decreasing the income of public officials insofar as they succeed or fail to achieve democratically chosen goals. Later, we consider an alternative institutional scheme, recently proposed by Claudio López-Guerra: Piloting Responsibility. According to this alternative proposal, public officials must utilize a public provider whenever they seek out a basic service. We show that Piloting Responsibility fails to realize the democratic ideal because it generates a perverse incentive structure for public officials. We conclude that Service Responsibility outperforms both the status quo and Piloting Responsibility as an institutional scheme for ensuring competent governance and public justification.

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