The significance of philosophical tools for good governance with reference to South Africa

19 November 2014

The breadth and complexity of issues that Public Administration deals with requires the pursuit of multidisciplinary approaches, rather than a singular orientation or perspective. The public administration’s strength and promise lies in the tapestry of ideas that continues to evolve from the synthesis of a broad body of research in related disciplines. Perhaps its distinct niche as a field of inquiry is best identified by the attributes of intellectual chaos and conceptual untidiness (Ferraioli 2001:1). This article attempts to unravel the trans-disciplinary relationship of philosophy and public administration in order to determine the significance of ethical reasoning in decision-making structures. Due to the advent of New Pubic Management (NPM), Public Administration faces a paradigmatic shift towards decentralisation and relativism that demands more accountability and responsibility. The authors aim to explore the merits of philosophical tools to ensure ethical governance in a South African context. The article philosophises that a normative approach is necessary to induce ethical structures in Public Administration/Management. It concludes that it is vital for Public Administration to work in conjunction with the normative tools of ethics, integrity and honesty to create an environment of good governance, as well as an ethical society.