Seumas, M. 2009

Publisher: Cambridge


In this book, Seumas Miller examines the moral foundations of contemporary social institutions. Offering an original general theory of social institutions, he posits that all social institutions exist to realize various collective ends, indeed, to produce collective goods. He analyses key concepts such as collective responsibility and institutional corruption. Miller also provides distinctive special theories of particular institutions, including governments, welfare agencies, universities, police organizations, business corporations, and communications and information technology entities. These theories are philosophical and, thus, foundational and synoptic in character. They are normative accounts of a sampling of contemporary social institutions, not descriptive accounts of all social institutions, both past and present. Miller also addresses various ethical challenges confronting contemporary institutional designers and policymakers, including the renovation of the international financial system, the “dumbing down” of the media, the challenge of world poverty, and human rights infringements by security agencies combating global terrorism.

Table of Contents

    Introduction to ‘the moral foundations of social institutions’
    Part I. Theory:

  1. A teleological account of institutions
  2. The moral foundations of institutions
  3. Individual autonomy: agency and structure
  4. Collective moral responsibility
  5. Institutional corruption
  6. Part II. Applications:

  7. The professions
  8. Welfare institutions
  9. The university
  10. The police
  11. The business corporation
  12. Institutions and information and communication technology
  13. Government.