ABSTRACT

Recent work carried out by the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues provides some cause for optimism regarding the future prospects of a range of professional practices. Studies focused on law, medicine and teaching (Arthur et al., 2014, 2015a, 2015b) found that experienced practitioners as well as new recruits to these occupations seem both well aware of and guided by the ethical ideals of their chosen vocations. This research confirms the strong motivation on the part of practitioners to ‘make a difference’ and highlights their commitment to such moral virtues as kindness, empathy and fairness as crucial to professional practice. That said, both experienced and novice practitioners identified certain shortcomings of present day professional education, especially with regard to the moral dimensions of practice. While, as already noted, attention is often given in such education to the more general principles or do’s and don’ts of good practice, there seems to be less exploration of the morally problematic aspects of professional engagement – especially where there may be some tension between imposed institutional imperatives, regulations and directives and the need for personal initiative and judgement on the part of individual practitioners in light of need for more context-sensitive courage, honesty, justice, self-control or justice.