Moral Philosophy as Basis for Teaching Legal Ethics

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Long title: 
Moral Philosophy and Moral Reasoning - A Suitable Basis for Legal Ethics Teaching at the Academic Stage
Curran, Eleanor
Author(s)' contact information: 
University of Kent, UK
Conference title: 
International Legal Ethics Conference VI
Conference location: 
City University London

In this paper I will argue that an introduction to moral philosophy and moral reasoning provides an appropriate starting point for teaching legal ethics on the LLB. Introducing students to the classical ways in which morality has been understood and debated enables them to acquire a language and a way of reasoning that can then inform discussions of the issues and debates within legal ethics.
There has been and continues to be a strong resistance amongst (UK) legal academics to teaching legal ethics at the academic stage which often comes from a fear that they will be asked to teach the ethics ‘codes’ of the profession and/or inculcate particular values. Both of these are perceived as being inappropriate within the context of a university education. Putting the emphasis on moral reasoning enables legal ethics to be taught in a way that allows for academic debate about the necessity (or not) for legal ethics (i.e. discussion of foundations) and about how legal ethics should be taught/regulated/conceived etc. This approach, I argue, has the advantage of allaying fears amongst legal academics about the merits of teaching legal ethics and at the same time provides an excellent way of introducing students to the subject of legal ethics.

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