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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 3: Multi-dimensional theory of legal ethics

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Chapter 3 Multi-dimensional theory of legal ethics 3.1. Preliminary remarks In accordance with what was said at the outset of this work, when examining the relationship of legal ethics with the philosophy of morality, this chapter will attempt to determine whether the theory of legal ethics, and in particular, multi- dimensional theory – as proposed herein – is possible1, i.e. whether it can be meaningfully considered, without exposing oneself to inconsistencies and antinomies. Of particular interest will be the conditions for the possibility of such a theory. These conditions can be determined only at a meta-theoretical level, which includes not only the possibility of this, but also other ethical theories relating to specific social or professional groups or to specific practices and behaviour. The conclusions of this part of the discussion can therefore be only of formal character and it is thus necessary to complement them in the next section which takes up the issues of the content of legal ethics theory, associated with philosophical-legal assumptions. The starting point for examining the meta- ethical issues of professional ethics consists of several assumptions. Firstly, both the traditions of legal ethics as well as its modern transformations allow for a conclusion that this concept has three basic meanings: obligations, social roles and virtues. It may seem, accordingly, that the simplest way of proceeding would be to check whether legal ethics in each of these meanings can be reconciled with a general theory that applies to this concept, and thus whether deontic theory of legal...

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