n Journal of Public Administration - Epistemic relativism of

Volume 49, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



continues to be a thematic focus of scholarly and policy discourses, largely with little analysis of its originative historical foundation. This eschews the profundity of the concept in theorising the state. In this article is considered with these questions in mind: What is and how did it evolve to arrive at its current form and usage? What is the character of its conceptual in the broader contemporary development discourse? In considering these questions the article starts with a reflection on the philosophical and theoretical antecedents of . Plato's concept of the good and Aristotle's are analysed to determine the conceptual lineage of . Based on this analysis the article argues that the concept of does have a long ideational lineage that dates back to the ancient Greek history on the normative imperatives of politics. This contention is followed by the analytical consideration of in the contemporary development discourse as a term that was used for the first time in the eighties by the World Bank to describe an idea that has a long history. Throughout the discourse its conceptual is delineated. The article ends with a contention that is a trans-contextual, value-laden and multidimensional concept with multi-vocal meanings and, because of its epistemic relativism, can mean different things to different people depending on the context in which it is used.

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