Theoretical Positions, Teaching Experiments and Learning Experiences
Edited by Bart van Klink and Ubaldus de Vries
Chapter 12: Students’ perception and legal education
The relationship between ethical awareness and legal education can be discussed in different contexts. Here, I discuss it in the context of seeing injustice. Seeing injustice is important to lawyers for different reasons. In this chapter, my primary aim is to argue for a close relationship between seeing injustice and virtue. After elucidating the nature of this relationship, I will explain why legal education should include education in the ethical virtues and how this improves students’ ethical awareness. The focus lies in particular on the virtue of attention. I do this with an example of experiential learning, taken from my classroom practice. The question of how virtue can play a role in legal decision-making may be answered in different ways. Generally, the subject of virtue is discussed in the context of legal ethics. As Amalia Amaya argues, the role of virtue in legal ethics is accepted by most legal theorists. Hence, it is plausible to think that there is indeed a relationship between a good legal decision and the possession of virtue. Amaya states that: Good legal-decision making, particularly in hard cases, requires the possession of capacities that go beyond the ability to properly assess relevant consequences and the mere compliance with a number of duties. The possession of some character traits, such as prudence, courage, wisdom, or justice, is arguably conducive to good (justified) decisions as well as constitutive of the conception of a good judge, good lawyer, or a good prosecutor.
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