Cover: Conflict of Interest in American Public Life, from Harvard University PressCover: Conflict of Interest in American Public Life in PAPERBACK

Conflict of Interest in American Public Life

Add to Cart

Product Details


$38.50 • £30.95 • €34.50

ISBN 9780674012134

Publication Date: 09/15/2003


352 pages

5-11/16 x 8-7/8 inches

4 tables


[Stark] argues that conflicts of interest, real or imagined, are rife these days because of a combination of ‘legal liberalism’ and ‘political liberalism’ …[He] probes such matters with great care and thoughtfulness. His prose is superbly readable, his analysis relentless… Among other things, he offers the reader the wry pleasure of watching all the tools of Oxford philosophy deployed to decipher a legal regime designed to prevent abuses by Chicago ward heelers and Washington lobbyists.—John O. McGinnis, The Wall Street Journal

Stark brings back to our attention a host of Presidential advisers, Cabinet officers and lawmakers who have been accused of, or forced to resign over, conflict of interest… Stark does not sit in judgment on particular individuals; instead, he exposes the laws and particular cases to remorseless and clever reformulation and reinterpretation. In so doing, he highlights the contradictions and inconsistencies of prosecutors and defendants, and those of critics and champions of regulation. The result is provocative and always stimulating.—Tony Badger, The Times Literary Supplement

[This book is] perfectly poised to benefit from the country’s cresting wave of conflict-of-interest outrage… The scandal of ‘conflict of interest’ as a moral notion, Stark recognizes, is that it’s poorly named. All of us have interests that conflict. It’s not logical or psychological conflict among them that we seek to eliminate in public officials and umpires. It’s decision-making according to inappropriate criteria.—Carlin Romano, The Chronicle of Higher Education

An arrestingly original interpretation of conflict of interest. Stark earns his theory the hard way, the right way: he immerses himself in legal decisions, political conflicts, bureaucratic policy memos, you name it. Working from the ground up, he offers an elegant structure full of novel and mischievous insights. The book belongs on the shelves of lawyers, politicians, and journalists—it represents a powerful new way of working on ethics and policy.—Don Herzog, University of Michigan Law School

Government officials are rightly held to high ethical standards because of their visibility, and hence their potential for teaching good or bad lessons about morality. Andrew Stark’s book makes an important contribution to our thinking through the ethical issues at stake in crafting judgments and policies in this area.—Steven Kelman, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

Jacket: An Inquiry into Modes of Existence: An Anthropology of the Moderns, by Bruno Latour, translated by Catherine Porter, from Harvard University Press

Honoring Latour

In awarding Bruno Latour the 2021 Kyoto Prize for Arts and Philosophy, the Inamori Foundation said he has “revolutionized the conventional view of science” and “his philosophy re-examines ‘modernity’ based on the dualism of nature and society.” Below is an excerpt from An Inquiry into Modes of Existence: An Anthropology of the Moderns. For more than twenty years, scientific and technological controversies have proliferated in number and scope, eventually reaching the climate itself. Since geologists are beginning to use the term “Anthropocene” to designate the era of Earth’s history that follows the Holocene