"Everybody Does It": An Analysis of a Common Excuse
Public Integrity, Volume 12, Number 3/Summer 2010
By Alex Tuckness
Abstract: Making and evaluating excuses is a central part of administrative ethics. This article examines one of the most common excuses, "Everybody does it," by first providing examples of cases where the excuse might be used to justify action in public administration settings and then distinguishing several different senses of the excuse. "Everybody does it" may be an appeal to consensus, to tacit consent, or to fairness. The article provides tools for identifying which version of the excuse is relevant to the case at hand and for assessing whether a particular use of it is strong or weak.
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