Moral Education in Studying International Law

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Long title: 
Moral Education in the Study of International Law: A Virtue Approach
Tiittala, Tuomas
Author(s)' contact information: 
University of Helsinki, Finland
Conference title: 
International Legal Ethics Conference VI
Conference location: 
City University London

This paper explores moral education, legal ethics and the study of international law. After considering alternative ways of carrying out moral education in the study of international law, the author advocates for a virtue approach. Previous scholarship supporting virtue ethics in legal practice and education inspires the discussion on becoming an international lawyer, or more specifically a global governor. Students of international law become powerful actors in global governance: As attorneys, judges, leaders and experts working in and for international organisations and transnational corporations lawyers make decisions or participate in decision-making which affect the lives of billions of people. Bureaucracy of international institutions may make individual moral responsibility hard to define, but this may be achieved by reviewing occupants’ moral performance in professional roles. The author examines the prospects of character education in university-based legal education today from a Finnish perspective. Adding to moral challenges posed by bureaucracy, a critic may ask ‘Whose definition of lawyerly virtues should we teach?’ and ‘Should we accept the existing institutions of global governance as an environment for which we prepare law students?’ The author argues that, while the justification for the existence of international institutions remains debated, we fare better having ethical professionals working in and for them. The paper also looks into clinical training as a way to develop practical wisdom in international legal studies. In many jurisdictions, clinical training has played only a small part in international legal education.

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