Intelligent evaluation of the moral dimensions of the Clinton-Lewinsky mess requires distinguishing between private morality and public morality. The former term refers to the duties that the moral code of a society imposes on people regardless of their office or job, the latter to the duties that the code imposes on people who occupy particular offices (not necessarily public). A lawyer has special moral duties--the domain of "legal ethics"--by virtue of his or her profession, as well as the moral duties that are common to all persons in his society. And so with every other profession and vocation, including that of a political leader.
The distinction between private and public morality was stressed, and precisely in the context of political leadership, by the nineteenth-century economist and philosopher Henry Sidgwick,1 and more recently by (among others) F. G. Bailey.2 But their emphasis is on the tensions, conflicts, or trade-offs between the two types of morality, as when a leader's____________________