Beyond text in legal education: Art, ethics and the carnegie report

Abstract

This paper argues that the development of ethical education in law schools ought not to be restricted to the use of textual resources. In the first part of the paper, the continuing dominance of text as the object of analysis in legal theory, legal scholarship and legal practice is illustrated. The dangerous implications of this continuing dominance on the capacity to see and recognise the great variety and depth of suffering and vulnerability is also discussed. It is argued that recourse ought to be had to those traditions of moral philosophy that emphasise the importance of cultivating vision as a form of moral discipline - a discipline, in turn, that can benefit a great deal from the use of non-textual resources, and in particular, from both the appreciation of and involvement in the visual and movement-based arts. In the second part of the paper the treatment of ethical education in the recent Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Report on Educating Lawyers is discussed. It is argued that we ought not to subsume the development of ethical education under the canopy of professionalism - a canopy already saturated with text, both in the form of the substantive and procedural law that is expected to be applied, and in the form of the evaluation of professional conduct in accordance with the relevant professional code. Finally, in the third part of the paper, a number of policy recommendations are made. Ultimately, the paper calls for an ethical education that combines both textual and non-textual resources. It is only via such a combination that law schools can provide sufficient opportunities for the range of ethical experiences that are required in order to enhance the effective development of the ethical imagination in law students.

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