Published online by Cambridge University Press: 04 November 2021
On one understanding of the concept, publicity deems it impermissible for public officials to hide the reasons and moral theories that inform their policy choices. As just one example of this, publicity forbids the utilitarian from cloaking her policy recommendations in terms of a moral theory other than utilitarianism. While this might seem like a compelling requirement at first, its proponents have offered little argument for it, as defenders of utilitarianism have been quick to point out. To remedy this, I try to rehabilitate the blanket ban on false rationales demanded by this understanding of publicity, relying on the work of Bernard Williams (himself a fierce critic of esoteric utilitarianism). None of the arguments recovered from Williams successfully rule out secret rationales on the part of public officials. This understanding of publicity, I conclude, lacks compelling justification.