It is commonly described as the study of moral conduct. The term 'moral' as here used covers all conduct which is subject to the judgement of right and wrong. The distinction implied is not between moral and immoral, right and wrong, but between moral and unmoral, i.e., between conduct which has a moral aspect and that which has none.
Ethics in public administration suffers from the absence of a theoretical framework to supply focus, definition, background, and a common frame of reference for the research and practice of ethical administration. There seems to be little disagreement that such a framework is lacking. In 1980, Dwight Waldo described the state of moral and ethical behaviour in public administration as "chaotic" (Waldo, 1980: 100). In 1983, James Bowman stated that "in both practice and theory, the ethical implications of administrative and political conduct remain largely unexplored" (Bowman, 1983a:71). Most recently, John Rohr, in presenting a "state of the discipline" report at a major conference, states that "throughout this report I have stressed the diversity in the ethics field; a diversity that comes close to chaos" (Rohr, 1986a:53).
Utilitarianism is the idea that moral worth of an action is determined solely by its contribution to overall utility: that is, its contribution to happiness or pleasure as summed among all people. It is thus a form of consequentialism, meaning that the moral worth of an action is determined by its outcome. Utility, the good to
ETHICAL FRAMEWORKS 4
be maximized, has been defined by various thinkers as happiness or pleasure (versus suffering or pain), although preference utilitarians define it as the satisfaction of preferences. It may be described as a life stance, with happiness or pleasure being of ultimate importance. Utilitarianism is described by the phrase "the greatest good for the greatest number of people". Therefore, it is also known as "the greatest happiness principle."
Preference utilitarianism is one of the most popular forms of utlilitarianism in contemporary philosophy. Like other utilitarian theorists, preference utilitarians define a morally right action as that which produces the most favourable consequences for the people involved. However, preference utilatairans interpret the best consequences in terms of ;preference satisfaction'. This means that 'good' is