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The Theoretical Turn in Professional Legal Ethics

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Abstract:

This article provides a critical evaluation of Julian Webb's recent Legal Ethics article calling for a return to the ontology of being as a means of escaping the‘largely unresolvable'debate between deontic and virtue ethics. It argues that the alleged advantages of ontological theory do not justify turning one's back on the deontic and aretaic traditions. Instead, they can usefully be combined to provide a theoretical grounding for professional legal ethics which pays attention both to the important task of character development and to the content of ethical norms. At the same time, the article argues that Webb's contribution is important in highlighting the need for those interested in lawyers'ethics to take ethical seriously.

Keywords: Ethical theory; deontic ethics; moral character; ontological theory; postmodern ethics; virtue ethics

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2004

More about this publication?
  • Legal Ethics is an international and interdisciplinary journal devoted to the field of legal ethics.
    The journal provides an intellectual meeting ground for academic lawyers, practitioners and policy-makers to debate developments shaping the ethics of law and its practice at the micro and macro levels.
    Its focus is broad enough to encompass empirical research on the ethics and conduct of the legal professions and judiciary, studies of legal ethics education and moral development, ethics development in contemporary professional practice, the ethical responsibilities of law schools, professional bodies and government, and jurisprudential or wider philosophical reflections on law as an ethical system and on the moral obligations of individual lawyers.
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