Professional Identity and the Contours of Prudence
30 Pages Posted: 19 Mar 2007
This article was presented as part of a symposium on Catholic social thought, prudential judgment, and public policy. I use the virtue of prudence as a lens through which to analyze the relationship between conscience and professional identity, asserting that prudence requires a consideration of the context in which an actor's conscience is to be exercised. In many of our current disputes over conscience, our understanding of an actor's context will require an understanding of an actor's professional role. This article will endeavor to elucidate the relevance of prudence to professional role by comparing and contrasting the roles of judges and lawyers. In this context, at least, the contours of prudential judgment are informed by market dynamics: lawyers are market actors; judges are not. The professional's stance toward those whom they serve, and our evaluation of the way in which they serve, will turn on this distinction. The application of principles such as solidarity, subsidiarity, reciprocity, and the common good lead to sharply different conclusions regarding the prudent role of personal moral convictions in the work of a judge versus that of a lawyer.
Keywords: Catholic social thought, prudential judgment, professional identity, lawyering, judges, conscience, freedom of conscience, morality and law
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