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The theoretical turn in professional legal ethics

Nicolson, Donald (2004) The theoretical turn in professional legal ethics. Legal Ethics, 7 (1). pp. 17-23. ISSN 1460-728X

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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.