Naked Fitzies and Iron Cages: Individual Values, Professional Virtues and the Struggle for Public Space
31 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2009 Last revised: 16 Jul 2018
Commentators recently have called upon the professions to recognize the need for developing greater understanding and openness to religious values and practices, not only with respect to the people served by the professions, but also with respect to the professions' own members. This project is a particularly important one for the professions of a pluralist society, where deeply held religious values may affect both the availability and the acceptance of professional services. It is also an important project for civil society itself. This Essay recognizes the vital importance of this project, but also suggests the need for a broader view.
The standard view assumes that the professions hold the superior position, and that the world would be made right if the professions simply accommodated religious values and practices. But those values and practices are not uniform, and not all of them could be accommodated at the same time. More important, the professions also have values, and the well-being of civil society requires that those values also be respected. In addition, the professions find themselves embattled on a number of fronts, and their space is being contested by other powerful institutions and values, including religion and the market.
It is not enough that the professions develop greater understanding and openness with respect to religious values and practices. The professions need to demonstrate greater self-awareness and understanding of their own values and the social space they occupy. At bottom, the constructive project that needs to be undertaken cannot simply be concerned with accommodating religious values, but must be aimed at strengthening and revitalizing the professions.
Keywords: Professional values, religious accommodation, civil society
JEL Classification: K10, K4, K40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation