Next Royal Institute of Philosophy talk : Prof Sue Mendus, ' Democratic Dirty Hands' Tuesday 12 March 2019

                  Prof Sue Mendus Speaker
Emerita Professor Sue Mendus talk on 'Democratic Dirty Hands' was timely.  She has certainly put a fresh light on an old topic.  She moved seamlessly from personal wrongdoing to a discussion revolving around the need to lie in politics;  she gave many interesting examples such as Churchill and the bombing of Coventry and John Major's talks with the IRA;  but this sells short a fascinating and stimulating talk.

As ever the questions and discussion from the floor were spot on, and Sue said afterwards that she really enjoyed responding to them.  So thanks again for your part in an excellent meeting.

(Meanwhile outside the wind howled and the Second Meaningful Vote happened.  So was this Philosophy as an Escape from the Real World, or was it Philosophy addressing it ?!) 

How, in a democracy, should we understand politicians who do what is morally wrong? Machiavelli famously (or notoriously) insisted that politics demands dirty hands and that those who refuse to get their hands dirty will inevitably fail in political life: ‘the prince’ he said, ‘must learn how not to be good’. But Machiavelli was not writing in or for a democracy, and it is sometimes argued that in a democratic society there can be no defence of political dirty hands. In 16th century Italy the prince could justify his wrongdoing, but in 21st century Britain, the Member of Parliament cannot. Is this true?