Sunday, February 12, 2017
Two of my favorite legal ethics scholars -- Brad Wendel and David Luban -- have joined forces to write an accessible history of philosophical legal ethics. Breaking down the relatively short (40-year) span of serious theoretical work in the field into two waves, the first grounded in moral philosophy and the second grounded in political philosophy, Wendel and Luban provide a helpful introduction to how scholars have criticized and defended the lawyer's role against broader normative frameworks. MoJ readers might be especially interested in the treatment of the religious-lawyering perspective, championed most famously by Tom Shaffer. The authors conclude:
A Christian lawyer may wonder, for example, whether it is possible to be a lawyer without being involved in the fallenness of all human institutions, including the law. Since the answer to questions formulated in these terms would themselves be dependent upon other theological commitments, the influence of the religious-lawyering literature was somewhat limited. Its wider impact depended upon its translation into what Rawls would call public reasons, in which case it risked losing its distinctive prophetic voice.
They're undoubtedly correct to characterize the influence of the religious-lawyering literature as "limited" (at least for now), but I'm not entirely certain that those limits are strictly a function of a failure to undertake a Rawlsian translation. That's a longer conversation. In the meantime, you should check out the paper - it is worth your time.