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Fr. 747

December 13, 2016

3.) New government agency:

How would one go about justifying the creation of a new government agency in the different forums alluded to above, i.e. a.) – c.)?

a.) Between government officials, justification could likely take shape in practical or functional reasons. Perhaps an old agency is no longer needed to perform a function given the change in circumstances. Perhaps an old agency is no longer able to carry out its function due to high demand, lack of resources or changes in the tools required. So, it seems that between officials themselves, political justification could proceed without reference to moral reasons. Again, moral reasons could be drawn into the discussion (e.g. the reasons for an agency’s importance, the change in the moral landscape, etc.), but these might intervene in a secondary fashion. Indeed, the reasons which officials might have would likely carry weight with fellow officials.

b.) Between government officials and citizens, justification would seem to follow the lines laid out in previous examples. When officials justify to citizens, it seems not unlikely that justification would not stop at demonstrating a need to citizens but would entail showing why that need was important to citizens in some way. In other words, why would this particular use of the collective authority vested in officials by citizens prove an appropriate or permissible use of that authority? For this practical reasons or mere functionalism may carry the weight necessary for citizens to deem that use permissible.

Conversely, for citizens seeking to justify to officials the creation of a new government agency, it does not seem that they would appeal to practical reasons or functionalism to justify the permissibility of a creating a new government agency to respond to a given need. This owes in great part to their perspective as citizens who have a first-order relation to the need rather than second-order functional concerns. So long as that relation to the need receives formulation through moral reasons, there is reason to think that their political justification to government officials will include moral reasons to the effect that such a use of collective authority is in that case morally permissible.

c.) As seen with previous examples between citizens, the symmetry of the justifying party and audience positions is such that the reasons likely to carry weight with the party and the reasons likely to carry weight with a given audience prove to be the same. Such that, unless practical reasons or functionalist concerns already carry weight with one part of the citizenry as its predominant reasons, it seems unlikely that the other part of the citizenry would reciprocate those reasons. This symmetry would suggest that, at the level of the need and the agency’s demonstrated permissibility, citizens would appeal to moral reasons.

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