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The Status of Legal Ethics

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Pawel Teodor Skuczynski

The basic aim of the study is to describe the ambiguity of the term legal ethics in the context of different traditions and conceptions. The three most important traditions of legal ethics are: the French, with the categories of virtue and independence, the American, with the ideas of loyalty and professional duties, and the German, with professional roles and obedience. On that base, a theory of critical legal ethics is developed. It claims that the subject of legal ethics consists of three planes – deontological, social and moral. Further it is examined, whether chosen legal-philosophical conceptions contain any legal ethics conceptions and what could be the interdisciplinary research program of legal ethics.

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Chapter 2: Conceptions of legal ethics

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Chapter 2 Conceptions of legal ethics 2.1. Preliminary remarks The existence of the phenomenon of legal ethics in the form of its traditions, which nowadays undergo comprehensive transformations, may be documented. That is the purpose of the first part of this study. However, in science and philosophy there are at least two types of essential disputes currently taking place about this issue. Firstly, one may point to a number of views on the character of legal ethics as an object of scientific inquiry, on research perspectives, and on the methodologies applied to such inquiries. These views usually take the form of more or less elaborate conceptions and theories, which, on one hand, apply a proper set of concepts, and, on the other, include some ontological and epistemological theses. Depending on how weak or strong the theses are, the approaches to legal ethics vary from perceiving its issues as marginal elements of the existing theories and sciences, to ascribing it a fully independent status within the framework of research disciplines. For this reason the disputes may be described as, to a large extent, relating to the cognitive value of the concept of legal ethics. Secondly, and from a practical point of view, attitudes to legal ethics differ in assessment because the extent to which they are helpful in solving the real problems and moral dilemmas of lawyers is debatable. Thus, conceptions of legal ethics usually include ethical theses which take as a point of reference moral scepticism towards this concept. Depending...

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