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Professions and the Public Interest in American Life
Syllabus and notes for Phil 141g


Philosophy 141g: Phil141g Phil 141g

The Professions and the Public Interest in American Life

Fall 2007
Mon/Weds 2:00-3:15—-in THH 201
Instructor: Dallas Willard
Office MHP 205D; phone: 213-740-5181



In 1968 the distinguished American sociologist, Talcott Parsons, wrote that the professions have "become the most important single component in the structure of modern societies." This is even more true for the America of the 2000's, as the increasing complexity of life makes it increasingly difficult for the individual or the public to know itself and its needs. The human necessity, or at least justification, for the professions stands in precarious balance with the power, status and mythafications surrounding them. Professional process, power and aura can easily lead to harm of the individuals involved, as clients or practitioners, and to corruption of social and political life away from American democratic and egalitarian ideals. A philosophy of society adequate to contemporary life therefore requires an understanding of how the professional sub-structures in society operate and how they can best serve.

By public interest (or "the public good") we understand those goods which all members of society may reasonably be presumed to benefit from, directly or indirectly, or at least have access to. For example, the public has an interest in commerce, legal institutions and processes, public order, health care, education, housing, transportation, and information flow. That there should be corresponding activities in society, and that they should be well conducted by certain qualified individuals, is, precisely, in the public interest. That is, it is in the interest or for the benefit of all citizens, and of all citizens more or less alike—and, it is reasonable to think, of society as whole.

If the interests of the public are to be well served, the activities involved in each of the areas of "public interest," in the sense indicated, must be well done. This requires extraordinary dedication and training on the part of individuals engaged in those activities, and well as significant regulation of what they do. Because of the special knowledge such regulation requires, however, it must largely be regulation by others trained and immersed in that same activity. Special dedication, training, knowledge and self-regulation, when institutionalized in the appropriate respects, form a profession as a social entity.

The benefit to a society of well-functioning professions should be very obvious, and will be developed at length. But it is increasingly obvious in American life now, perhaps more than at other times and places in history, that professionalism has built into it tendencies that diminish the potential for public good when allowed to run free. Among these are inclinations to maximize the egoistic rewards and financial advantages that derive from the professional status as explained above. Being-a-professional is a status and an identity in society at large, which gives recognition and social power, along with remarkable financial opportunities, to many practitioners. It simultaneously shelters them from judgment by the public which they are supposed to serve.

This may have two unfortunate results, among others:one is individual obsession with personal advancement (status and rewards) within the professional framework. The professional may in fact come to focus upon such advancement to the detriment of the excellence of their performance in their social role. The other is that the qualities most prized within the profession may not be the ones most conducive to the relevant public goods. This is usually a highly contested matter, but, for example, if uncovering "Watergates" becomes the standard of recognition in journalism, will not much good that could come from a broader interpretation of "news" or information flow be lost to the public—e.g. detailed information on situations in financial, educational, cultural and other segments of life, which most likely are of greater importance to the citizen than anything of a sensational, muck-raking, crook-finding nature? And will not significant harm be done by a sensationalized press, as with the "Nannygate" incidents of some years ago? Similarly for medicine, law and education. What comes to be recognized and rewarded as "good work" and "success" within the professional circles may well be in conflict with the public good that the professions exist to serve. (E.g. "specialization" and research in medicine or elsewhere.) Then you will frequently hear things defended as 'professional' that seem obviously harmful to society, if not clearly immoral. "Being professional" actually becomes used as a point of evaluation that is independent of public service.

The distortion of professional function and its effects on the public interest are many-sided phenomena of grave consequence for the quality of life in any society. They far surpass specifically moral questions and are a major issue for understanding what a modern society is and how it functions well or badly. It is by no means a new topic, but it is one of currently renewed interest and significance. Two major works published on it in the last two decades: Derek Bok, The Cost of Talent: How Executives and Professionals Are Paid and How It Affects America (1993), and William Sullivan, Work and Integrity: The Crisis and Promise of Professionalism in America, (1995). A sharper critique is in Ivan Illich, Disabling Professions.


The chief aim of this course is to provide understanding of how professionalization, the organization of important segments of life into professions, positively and negatively influences contemporary American Life. After a brief general introduction to the issues and problems of social philosophy, it considers how the professions interact with the larger social and political processes of American life, as well as the effects of professionalization on individuals. Extensive study is made of certain topics, such as: (1). How well the profession serves or does not serve as a structure contributing to personal identity and meaningful life for the professional, (2). The extent to which society can permit a profession to dictate the terms of its own existence, (3). The relationship between professions and the middle class, and (4). How a balance can be maintained between the profession's legitimate requirement for self-regulation and the interests of the public and of the individual lives which it exists to serve.

Two significant issues are kept in the open throughout the course: (I). The effects of professional 'status' on other relationships vital to a social system: e.g. family, friendship, community and economic relations. (II). The problems of government regulation of the professions: problems caused by the general dependence of governmental processes (in legislatures, courts and regulatory agencies) upon "expert testimony" from the professions, and by the fact that the professions claim to alone possess the knowledge and expertise required in order for the government to regulate them and, in general, to perform its (the government’s) own functions well.

It will be maintained that the specifically moral dimension of professional life is fundamental to its nature and function. The professions can serve public goods well, only if the individual members of the particular professions routinely act in ways that supremely promote the specific public good for the sake of which their particular profession exists; and only if they do not, and are not prepared to sacrifice that good for their own personal gain, monetary or otherwise; and only if they are appropriately vigilant to ensure that members of their profession by and large conform to this morally ideal pattern—and when called-for, to the extent of self-sacrifice. This is a thesis which the Instructor will maintain in this course, open to critical discussion and possible refutation. If it is true, excellence as a professional is never a mere matter of technical expertise and facility, nor is the attainment of professional status primarily a matter of personal success. One could be as proficient as possible, and also highly regarded and well-rewarded, but yet be a failure in their profession. Thus, the professions must also be considered as avenues of moral fulfillment and meaningful human existence. This is how they have been viewed for most of their history.


The treatment of the professions in this course is heavily historical, because the professions just are historical realities. Though they have an essence, they are not creations of pure rationality, and therefore they cannot be understood without consideration of their histories.

Our usual procedure in class time will be to emphasize and outline main points, lines of reasoning, and historical processes. Much of the time will be given to working through assigned readings. Often, at the end of a class period, the Instructor will comment on main points to watch for in the readings for the next class. Please bring those readings with you to the next class meeting, so that you can mark them as we work through them. Thus, for the next meeting you should bring the readings from Plato and John Dewey.



Callahan, Joan C., Ethical Issues in Professional Life, New York, Oxford University Press.

Dewey, John, The Public and Its Problems, Denver, Alan Swallow, 1927

Frankl, Viktor, Man’s Search for Meaning, paperback.

Haber, Samuel, The Quest for Authority and Honor in the American Professions, 1750-1900, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1991.

Hatch, Nathan O., ed., The Professions in American History, Notre Dame, IN.,

University of Notre Dame Press, 1988. (Out of Print: Available as a Course Reader)

Illich, Ivan, et. al., Disabling Professions, London, Marion Boyars, 1977.

Macpherson, C. B., The Life and Times of Liberal Democracy, New York, Oxford University Press, 1977. ( Out of Print. In first "Course Reader")

Maxwell, John C., There’s No Such Thing as "Business" Ethics, Warner Books, 2003

In addition to the Hatch book, there will be two other "Course Readers" with various selections, including the Macpherson book as a whole.


Other shorter selections may be made available as handouts from time to time. Especially, current articles and news stories directly bearing on matters being discussed as we go through the course.

References will also be made to:

Bledstein, Burton J., The Culture of Professionalism: The Middle Class and the Development of Higher Education in America, New York: Norton, 1976

Bok, Derek, The Cost of Talent, New York, Free Press.

Friedman, Lawrence M., A History of American Law, New York, Simon and Schuster, 1973.

Geison, Gerald L., ed., Professions and Professional Ideologies in America, Chapel Hill, Un. of North Carolina Press, 1983

Kimball, Bruce A., The "True Professional Ideal" in America: A History, Cambridge, MA., Blackwell, 1992

Kraybill Donald B., and Phyllis Good, edd., Perils of Professionalism, Scottsdale, PA., Herald Press, 1982.(Selections from this in the last "Course Reader.)

Plato, The Republic, Raymond Larson, translator, Arlington Heights, IL., AHM Publishing Corporation, 1979. (Selection in 1st Course Reader)

Sullivan, W. M., Work and Integrity: The Crisis and the Promise of Professionalism, New York: HarperCollins, 1995. This may be available as a text.







One mid-term (7th week) and a two-hour final exam. The Professor grades the exams.

Three five-to-eight-pages-or-so papers, due in weeks 4, 11 and 15, on assigned topics. These will be handled by the Teaching Assistants.

Attendance and prepared participation in the weekly discussion sections. (Attendance and participation in these sessions will be thoroughly noted by the TA’s.)

Attendance at lectures. (Please note: Attendance at lectures is not optional for this course, and attendance sign-up sheets may be passed out from time to time.) There is a great deal of reading, for your benefit. But you will be held responsible on tests only for the reading material explicitly covered in class.

Please note: The subject matter and readings may look a little scary, but the Instructor will see to it that the material is presented in a way that is suited to a 1st year University level student.


Papers will be marked as one day late if turned in after 3:15PM on the day they are due, two days late after 3:15 of the next day and so on. For each day late, one grade level (e.g. from A- to B+) will be lost. Valid excuses permitted.

Your use of a lap-top computer in class is permitted on the condition that nothing other than notes on the current lecture will be present on the screen during the lecture.

All cell-phones and other electronic devices must be turned off at the beginning of class.





Week 1: August 27-31

The 'Good Life' and Public Goods. What is "the public good"? Public goods. How society is essentially ORGAN-ized, and how any Desirable Human Existence Depends upon the organization of Society into `specializations' or 'divisions of labor'. From Plato to Henry Ford.
The special position of the state, as coercive power in society, is discussed, along with the crucial role of specialized knowledge and skill in governance. The professional is seen as a trustee of the public good.

Readings: Selections from Plato, Republic, BK II (in Course Reader).

Dewey, The Public and Its Problems, Chaps. 1 & 2.

"Evident Truths," (last selection in 1st "Course Reader").

<Recommended readings during weeks 1-3:>

Hatch, The Professions in American History, 1-12

Kraybill & Good, Perils of Professionalism, 7-24

Kimball, The `True Professional Ideal' in America, "Introduction."

Plato, Republic, Books VIII & IX.>


Discussion Sections: They do NOT meet the first week of classes!



Week 2: Sept 3-7—Democracy—Democratic ideals and institutions are added to the mix of social and political order. Brief historical discussion is provided, emphasizing special social benefits, problems and dangers of democracy. Democracy as an ideal of human character and well-being.

Readings: Dewey, Chapters III-VI

Macpherson, Life and Times of Liberal Democracy (in Course Reader)

Callahan, Ethical Issues in Prof. Life, pp. 26-46.


Discussion Sections focus on Dewey, Chap. 4, especially on his view of how the "public" gets "eclipsed."


Week 3: September 10-14—The Emergence of Professions as distinctive social realities in Western Civilization.

The Soldier (Knight)
The Courtier

Two case studies: Accounting and Business and the Formation of Capitalist Society.

Readings: Continue Macpherson, see study notes attached.

Selections from International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, and Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, at beginning of the Course Reader.

Brandeis, "Business—A Profession," (Course Reader)

Ruskin, "Unto This Last"/"The Roots of Honor," (Right after Brandeis in Course Reader.)

Maxwell, There Is No Such Thing as "Business" Ethics.

Haber, The Quest for Authority and Honor in the American Professions, pp. ix-14.


Discussion sections focus on Callahan 26-45. Work through the study questions on pp. 44-45.



Assignment: Five page paper, due the second class meeting of next week (Sept 19th), on topic to be specified.


Week 4: Sept. 17-21—Professions in the American Historical Context:

RELIGION/CLERGY. General social role of religion. Special knowledge and function of experts in an overwhelmingly Protestant culture. The vast importance of the clergy for the American historical context. Saints, pastors, evangelists and crazies today. Problems of regulation. "Separation of Church and State."




Readings: Haber, The Quest for Authority and Honor in the American Professions, 1750-1900, pp. 15-44

Hatch, Chapter 4

<RECOMMENDED: Kimball, pp. 18-106.>


Discussion Sections focus on Chapter 4 of Hatch, and whether or not Clergy should still be regarded as a profession.


Week 5: Sept. 24-28—Professions in the American Historical Context:

THE LAW/LAWYERS & JUDGES. General social role of legal institutions and practices. Peculiarities of the American context and experience that shape specifically American (democratic, egalitarian) legal practices. The lawyer as entrepreneur and as the Knight of Justice. Problems of regulation

Readings: Haber, pp. 67-87

Hatch, Chapter 2

<RECOMMENDED: Kimball, pp. 106-197

Friedman, A History of American Law, pp. 13-126.>


Discussion Sections focus on Haber, pp. 67-87, and especially the controversy between Blackstone and Wilson over the foundation of law. (82ff)


Week 6: Oct. 1-5—Professions in the American Historical Context:

MEDICINE/MEDICAL DOCTORS. General social role of the medical doctor. The colonial and frontier experience. Doctor as a scholar and a gentleman. Emergence of licensing and medical schools. The impact of advancing science and technology on medical practice. The American obsession with health and death. The issue of cost and availability in the American context. Problems of regulation.

Readings: Haber, pp. 45-65

Hatch, Chapter 3

<RECOMMENDED: Kimball, pp. 303-309.>


Discussion Sections focus on Hatch, Chapter 3, and especially on the role of the AMA in elevating the profession of Medicine. (You might want to glance ahead at Illich, pp. 41-67.)


Week 7: Oct. 8-12—Professions in the American Historical Context:

Egalitarianism, Religion and the Professions in Mid-19th Century middle America: Cincinnati and Memphis.

Readings: Haber, pp. 91-190.

Bok, pp. v-41 (handout)


Discussion Sections focus on Callahan, pp. 130-141.


Assignment: WRITTEN EXAM, Oct. 15, on questions selected by the Instructor from review questions earlier distributed. In class.


Week 8: Oct. 15-19—Professions in the American Historical Context:

A new start: Professions re-established in a new social order, 1880-1900. Especially medicine, which becomes a new model for professionalism. The physician a man to be honored for knowledge and self-sacrificing devotion —though not very well paid.



Readings: Haber, pp. 193-273 & 319-358.

Hatch, Chapter 3 (review)


Discussion Sections focus on Haber, pp. 276-293, issues around academic freedom and authority of university professors.


Week 9: Oct. 22-26—Professions in the American Historical Context:

The Educator, The Professor, The Engineer, emerging into Professions with the growth and constant reorganization of American society and the vast expansion of "applied science."


Readings: Haber, pp. 274-318

Hatch, Chapters 1, 6 & 7

Hough, "The University and the Common Good" (in Course Reader)


Discussion Sections focus on Hough, "The University and the Common Good."


Week 10:Oct.29-Nov. 2—The 20th Century Rush to Professionalization:

Really, now, who isn't a professional? Can't we all be? Who doesn't want to be a "real pro"? Who can afford not to be? Jobs, guilds, unions, bureaucracies and professions. In what sense are Journalists, Counselors, Military personnel, business people, ‘professional’ sports figures, entertainers, etc. etc. professionals? Are they? Are there professional criminals? How do professions differ from gangs or secret societies such as the Masons?

The "Professional" has status, "standing." The advantages of being (recognized as) a professional: Identity, power, freedom, pride. The comparative personal social and economic disadvantages of the non- professional. To what extent can we justify the differential.


Assignment: PAPER DUE NOVEMBER 7 AT CLASS TIME, Topic to be specified.


Readings: Kraybill and Good, pp. 13-58. In Reader.

Callahan, pp. 3-21, 35-46, 388—464

<RECOMMENDED: Bledstein, The Culture of Professionalism, chapters 4-6.

A. Etzioni, The Semi-Professions and Their Organization, Free Press, 1969.>


Discussion Sections focus on Callahan, pp. 87-103, especially the idea of contract, and its alternatives.


Week 11:Nov. 5-9—How Professions and Professionals Can Hurt People and the Public:

The brain drain away from service callings (Bok). The displacement of society's financial resources. The crippling of clients and citizens. The manufacturing and manipulation of `need'. Impact on family, communal life and collegiality of the professional. The guarded and lonely professional.


Readings: Callahan, 49-121; review Kraybill and Good.


Discussion Sections focus on Illich pp. 4-39 and the concept of disabling professions.




Week 12:Nov. 12-16——- And: Can religious faith stand against the harmful tendencies of professionalism? Can professional ethics? Can legislation?


Readings: Callahan, pp. 127-129, 172-175, 263-281, 300-340

Illich, Ivan, et. al., Disabling Professions


Discussion Sections focus on Callahan pp. 263-274, and what sense can be made of corporate responsibility.



PLEASE NOTE: For the following week, the class will meet for the lecture on the 19th, but not on the 21st, due to the massive absences on the day prior to Thanksgiving. This will be made up by the meeting on Dec. 13 (see below). Discussions sections will not meet in the week of Nov. 22-26.


Week 13: Nov. 19-23—What, exactly, happens when professional structures do not 'perform'? How the Public Interest or Public Good Is Injured. Moral Character and Professional Performance.

The Savings and Loan scandal and Enron, etc: Where were the accountants and lawyers. The "Keating Five." The interaction between government and the professions in these cases. Dependence of the government upon professionals for the articulation and enforcement of regulations of the professions. Collusion between professions through mutual recognition, social bonding, of professionals as professionals.

Why we cannot simply trust justice to lawyers. From justice to "process." And similarly we cannot trust education to teachers. Or delivery of health care to doctors. Nothing personal, of course! But how can we effectively do otherwise than trust them?


Readings: Sullivan, pp. 127-237 Illich, Disabling Professions.


Discussion Sections focus on Illich, pp. 93-109


Assignment: PAPER DUE DECEMBER 5 AT CLASS TIME. Topic to be assigned.



Week 14: Nov. 26-30—How Professions can "Disable" the Public—
Some proposals for re-directing professional structures in contemporary society.

Finally, words in praise of the true professional. The hope of society lies in professionals in a humanly adequate community. What kind of people must they be?
Back to Dewey and "The Search for the Great Community."
The primacy of the ethical to civilization.

What can the individual do? The Reinhold Niebuhr thesis concerning "Moral Man and Immoral Society."


Readings: Dewey, Chapter V (re-read)

Willard, "On Being a Good Human Being," (Handout)

Reinhold Niebuhr selections. (Reader)

Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Richard Taylor, "Does Life Have a Meaning?" (Reader)


Discussion Sections focus on Taylor, "Does Life Have a Meaning?"


Week 15: Dec. 3-7—-Morality, Meaning and Professional Status. Catch-up and Review in Lectures. A Synoptic, final lecture on the Professions and the Public Good in American Life.

Readings: Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning.


Discussion Sections focus on "Part Two" of Frankl. Relate to Taylor.




Dec. 13—Meeting (2-4PM) to answer questions about the review questions for Final Exam.


Final Exam: Friday, Dec. 14, 2-4PM





  • What is the difference between a job or occupation and a profession?

  • How is the public interest or "public good" to be understood?

  • Division of labor as essential to social well-being

  • Professions in the America of 1750-1776:Main issues.

  • "Protective democracy" compared to "Participatory Democracy" (Macpherson)

  • Professional services and status in the Memphis of 1830-1880

  • How did doctors gain control over the supply of doctors in the period 1890 and later?

  • Evaluation of the salaries of CEO's in the late 1900’s.

  • Some proposals on how to break the power of Physicians (or Lawyers, etc.) to control government regulation of their professions

  • Is moral character essential to excellent professional performance? Why or why not?

  • Explain Illich's concept of disabling professions

  • Can a bad person be a good Doctor, Lawyer, Clergy, etc."? Can a good Doctor, etc. be a bad person?

  • Meaning in life in the Professional context.

  • Etc., etc.,


*Students will be guided as to how to develop their papers on these topics without writing at great lengths.




Phil. 141g, The Professions and the Public Interest in American Life Sept. 5, 2007

For your discussion sections next week (Sept. 10-14) your reading is pp. 26-45 pf Callahan, ETHICAL ISSUES IN PROFESSIONAL LIFE. In preparation for your session, do the reading and work through the study questions spanning pp. 44-45.


From the last lecture you should understand:

The four objections to "the common good" discussed in the handout, and 
How these do not cancel the fact that numerous common goods (plural) 
Are rightly assumed to be available to all citizens in a civilized society.

How the fact that individuals are not self-sufficient leads to people living
Together and forming cities, according to Plato (Reader Phil. 141/1, p. 41)

How the specialization involved in division of labor leads to professions.
The special degree of knowledge and technique required by professions.


Because knowledge is central to the professions as well as the public good (common goods) we need to keep several points about knowledge in mind. Use pp. 14a-14c to go into details on this.

The basic human problem is to find knowledge that can serve as the basis for life.

This problem is imposed by the necessity of choice and the danger of wrong choices.

Philosophy attempts to find a rational basis for very general questions about life, the answers to which frame all other choices. (See frames top 14c)

It seeks to find "sound arguments" for important conclusions. (frames mid 14c)


One has knowledge of a certain fact or subject matter when one is able to represent it as it is on an appropriate basis of thought and experience—including information gained from others as in study or teaching.


Knowledge thus involves truth and sufficient evidence. (mid 14c)

There is no perfectly general account of "sufficient evidence." Different subject matters require different ways of knowing.

Knowledge does not require that you know that you know. That would entail an infinite regress, and that there is no knowledge of anything.

Children and unsophisticates know many things without even knowing that there is such a thing as knowledge.


Possession of knowledge confers the right—and possibly the responsibility—to act, to direct action, to formulate and implement policy, and to teach, other things being equal.

Belief, feeling, traditions, and power do not give that right.

Thus knowledge always has political bearings, though it is not political in its nature.


In a democratic society, decisions are in some sense made by the public. This poses huge problems in a complex society. How can "the public" have any idea of what it is doing and the consequences of its acts? (Pick up at page 14d of the first handout.)



Phil. 141g, The Professions and the Public interest in American Life, Sept. 10, 2007

Your assignment for discussion sections this week is Callahan pp. 26-45. If you cannot get hold of this book, be sure to do the two Encyclopedia articles at the opening of the first reader, Phil 141/1, which are part of the assigned reading for this week anyway. Just do them before you go to your discussion section. Compare these readings to "The Marks of a Profession," spanning pp. 21-22 of the first handout (the one with the schedule).

For Wednesday’s lecture, be sure to bring the first reader with you, and try to have read the 1st 3 reading assignments (they are in it) listed in the schedule for the week of Sept. 10-14. They are short.

Try to get the Maxwell book, There Is No Such Thing as Business Ethics and read it over the weekend. It is an easy read. I will plan to discuss it on Monday the 17th.

Because of the problems getting the books, I AM MOVING THE 1ST PAPER DUE DATE TO SEPT. 24TH AT CLASS. THAT’S 2007. I will specify the topic on the 17th.


Now from last time you should know what Willard says knowledge is and why it confers the right and (sometimes) the responsibility to act, direct action, formulate and implement policy and to teach, while mere feeling, belief, tradition and power do not.

You should see clearly the connection between the professions and knowledge.

You should understand Dewey’s view of the special problem created by the development of American society into a "great society" that is no longer a community, and the resulting "eclipse of the public." (See references on p. 14d of first handout.)

You should know what a "public" is and how publics relate to the state.


Today we look at Dewey’s solution: Shared knowledge communicated to the community at large by "experts" (professionals?)—Work through the Dewey references bottom p. 14d of handout. Especially the "Criticisms," next to last frame on 14d.

CAN ‘DEMOCRACY’ SOLVE THE PROBLEMS OF OUR SOCIETY? This is the problem for Macpherson’s The Life and Times of Liberal Democracy. This book is contained in the first reader, and pp. 14e-20 is entirely devoted to analysis of it. Please use the analysis provided to study the book. We will only cover its main points in class.

A liberal democracy is, briefly stated, a democracy that guarantees the freedom of individuals. This is understood to mean that it uses governmental force to secure stated rights. See Macpherson’s statement quoted top. P. 16 of handout.

The ambiguity in the idea of freedom. P. 15 of first handout.


Now we walk through the four main "models" of Democracy according to Macpherson. See pp. 16 -19.

See the "Critique" on p. 19. USC: Phil. 141g

The Professions and Pub. Int. in Am. Life Sept. 8, 97


The assumption of the American experience is:

  1. That the better society is one which provides the greatest amount of freedom or liberty to its citizens, and

  2. That the society which provides the greatest amount of liberty to its citizens is one that politically is democratic.

"Politically democratic" refers to the fact that the officials of the state—and possibly of other social groupings as well—are periodically elected by the citizens. It is presumed that the individuals standing for office are voted for or against on the basis of the public policies they will implement in office.


It is at this point that Dewey's concern with the "eclipse" of the public becomes relevant. For how is the public to perceive what is happening and what is best done in a social

system of such dimensions as we now have ("The Great Society," which is not yet a "Great Community")? In a democracy—assumed to be necessary, not optional—how is the public to be enabled to act wisely in its own behalf? This is the perennial and currently unresolved problem of any democracy.


The issues are further complicated by two concepts of liberty or freedom which turn out to underlie two quite different ideas of democracy.

  1. I am free if no one is "telling me what to do," preventing me from doing what I want.

  2. I am free if I am able actually to do what I want to do. 

    And closely associated, but not identical with #2 is a third conception of freedom:

  3. I am free if I am able actually to do what is good for me, i.e. most conducive to the fulness of my life, the realization of my potentials for the highest and best. T. H. Green has famously described this as "a positive power or capacity of doing or enjoying something worth doing or enjoying, and that, too, something that we do or enjoy in common with others. We mean by it a power which each man exercises through the help or security given him by his fellow-men, and which he in turn helps to secure for them." (C. Cohen, ed., Communism, Fascism, and Democracy, 2nd ed. p. 485


As C. B. Macpherson points out, when we speak of "Liberal Democracy," "...`liberal' can mean freedom of the stronger to do down the weaker by following market rules; or it can mean equal effective freedom for all to use and develop their capacities. The latter freedom is inconsistent with the former." (The Life and Times of Liberal Democracy, p. 1) The inconsistency runs very deep, into our basic views of human nature.


The traditional "market" view of human relations is that each person seeks to maximize his own wealth without any limit, and that the main way of doing this is to get power over others. (p. 26)

The picture of society and government which emerges from this view of humanity is spelled out nicely by Macpherson on the  spanning pp. 6-27.

The imperative to equality. p. 29
The problem for Government. p. 34
And the case for democracy. p. 36. Mainly protective.
The promise of voting (bot. 37), and the threat. (top 38)

The "seesaw" p. 41

The best solution under Model 1. p. 42. "Government is properly the business of the rich...and the good means of" getting it is "the free sufferage of the people."


The new picture of man and the good society (pp. 47-48) in terms of the development of "capacities" or human potential of every individual. No more "included interests" (p. 38), so far as right and need to vote was concerned. "Society....need not be and should not be a collection of competing, conflicting, self-interested consumers and appropriators. It could and should be a community of exerters and developers of their human capacities." (p. 51) "The greatest aggregate happiness was to be got by permitting and encouraging individuals to develop themselves ." (p. 52)

Property rights are still essential to a just and good society, but within a correct proportion between renumeration and exertion. (pp. 52-53) The current unjust distribution of wealth, Mill thought, was due to its historical origins in conquest and violence. (p. 55)

Mill's main problem with outright democracy lay in the fact that, while "people were capable of becoming something other than self-interested acquirers of benefit for themselves,...most of them had not yet got much beyond that." (p. 56) Hence, "It would be expect the average man, if given the power to vote, to use it with `disinterested regard for others, and especially for what comes after them, for the idea of posterity, of their country, or of mankind'." (p. 56) His solution to this problem (for a while at least) was plural voting. (pp. 57-58) I.e., not "One man one vote."

Unequal weighting of individual voting power in favor of knowledge and skill means, according to Macpherson, that Mill cannot be ranked as a "full egalitarian." (p. 59) See the summary on the difference between Model 1 and Model 2 in full  mid p. 60, and the two basic contradictions which Mill was unable to overcome, mid p. 62. These would suggest that Developmental Democracy is impossible.

Historically, however, as sufferage was expanded in Great Britain the working class did not, as Mill had feared, impose its will, but basically followed Middle class leadership in government and social policy. (p. 63) And this involved the development of the "party system." As Macpherson says, "the party system was able to tame democracy." (p. 64) This is because the party system effectively replaces the citizen vote for policies with a vote for certain people who, allegedly, know how to run the government. That is, elected officials stand as experts in making the good society. Their decisions, not those of the citizens, determine what is or is not to happen in government, and indirectly in society. The parties continue to be under the contol of social powers, including the wealthy. (Hence the fuss over "campaign financing" in current American politics.)

The combination of Mill's view of human well-being as development of potentialities with the party system of politics constitutes an essential part what Macpherson calls "Model 2B" of democracy. (mid p. 64) Note Macpherson's account of the "chief function of the party system" on pp. 65-69. Model 2B is essentially J. St. Mill's view "minus the plural voting proposal." (p. 69) "In the end, his hope for democracy came down to a more lively flourishing of pluralistic non-political democratic associations `like churches and universities'." (bot. p. 70)

Later 19th and early 20th Century social theorists—Macpherson calls it "pluralist idealism" (p. 75)—placed their hopes, generally speaking, in a generously minded social process of "men as citizens rather than as holders of particular interests." (p. 72; see the quotation from MacIver spanning pp. 72-73.) They were, it now appears, rather foolishly optimistic. Dewey's The Public and Its Problems is located here. But he had a deeper understanding of the problem than most others under Model 2B. See the summary of Dewey's position in the last full  on p. 73, and his explicit hope in the "improvement in the social sciences by applying the experimental method and `the method of co-operative intelligence'. `The essential the improvement of the methods and conditions of debate, discussion and persuasion. That is the problem of the public....this improvement depends essentially upon freeing and perfecting the process of inquiry and of dissemination of their conclusions." (top p. 74)

Dewey had no hope in democratic political machinery alone to deal with individual and social problems, and often speaks with scorn of the way voting is actually done. He appealed instead to "democratic humanism....`a way of life... cannot...depend upon or be expressed in political institutions alone'." (p.75) Still, both Dewey and the "pluralist idealists" "impute a citizen rationality capable of overcoming the imperfections of the actual democratic system." (p. 76) What they all failed to see was the extent to which the system had survived into the mid 20th century "precisely by reducing the responsiveness of governments to electorates." (p. 76) Their optimism about citizen rationality blinded them to the failure of Model 2B which led to the mid-20th century ascendency of "Equilibrium Democracy," Macpherson's Model 3, pages 77 and following.



Model 3 is frankly a "pluralist, and elitist equilibrium model." Study the full  mid p. 77, and the full  mid p. 78.

Democracy is simply a market type mechanism with the voters as consumers and the politicians are the entrepreneurs. (top 79 and all of p. 80) The main difference from Model 2B is that "The pluralism of Model 3 leaves out the ethical component that was so prominent in Model 2B. It treats citizens as simply political consumers, and political society as simply a market-like relation between them and the suppliers of political commodities." (bot. p. 80) But it seems to work amazingly well. See quotation mid page 82)

Macpherson's criticism is that Model 3 is "not nearly as democratic as it is made out to be." (bot. p. 86-87) And it naturally leads to massive voter apathy. (pp. 87-88) SUMMARY OF CRITICISM, LAST LINE 88-91. Reversion to Protection Model 1, p. 91. Why Model 3 continues to prevail?—"Western societies continue to prefer affluence to community," and reliance on "experts" to make social decisions. (pp. 91-92)



This is actually a non-actual model that arises out of Student idealism of the 60's. It is an attractive idea, that citizens should participate in their govenment and have a direct voice in what is to be done. But no one has ever been able to formulate how it can be done under contemporary conditions. (See top p. 95)

"We cannot do without elected politicians. We must rely, though we need not rely exclusively, on indirect democracy. The problem is to make the elected politicians responsible." (bot p.97) Macpherson's minimal hope is expressed in the first full  on p., 98. His "two prerequisites for the emergence of Model 4" are stated in terms of a "change in people's consciousness" (bot p. 99) and "reduction...of social and economic inequality." (top p. 100) The problem of the vicious circle. (mid 100) And Macpherson's "visible loopholes" in the circle. (pp. 102-107) These are, he says "only...possible, even barely possible, ways ahead." (top. 107) His idea of how it would work: a pyramidal system. (bot p. 109) "The best we can do." (top 109)

Three circumstances that will defeat the pyramidal system. (pp. 109-111)

Getting parties to operate by a pyramidal structure. (bot 113)

The guarantee that participatory democracy is liberal democracy lies in "a strong and widespread sense of the value of that liberal-democratic ethical principle which was the heart of Model 2—the equal right of every man and woman to full development and use of his or her capabilities. And of course...a downgrading or abandonment of market assumptions about the nature of man and society, a departure from the image of man as maximizing consumer, and a great reduction of the present economic and social inequality." (pp. 114-115)


Critique: This only reinstates the vicious circle which Macpherson himself notes.

Macpherson has no real plan for solving the problems of achieving the Good society or the "Great Community. He replaces blind confidence in the market or citizen or specialist rationality with an equally blind confidence in heightened "consciousness" and a pyramidal organization which he has no reason to suppose would actually work, given the lack of details in how the pyramid is actually to be organized.


Suggestion: Model 2B could be made to work by ethically developed and responsible professions, which could give some realistic substance to Macpherson's pyramids.


USC: Phil.141g The Professions and the Pub. Int. in Am. Life Sept 12, 2007

Conclusion: Democracy cannot achieve its announced aims as a form of government by political arrangements alone. The problems of democratic action, which in a vast society focus on the nexus of voting and representation, cannot be solved by political arrangements (as the outcome in Macpherson shows). They can only be solved by a pervasive public spiritedness based in a highly developed moral practice and consciousness, especially for those who function in leadership roles. Formost among these social leaders is the professional.

The profession is a natural and necessary structure of human society: one which emerges as a matter of course when certain social conditions prevail, though its precise form will vary from culture to culture, depending on the primary values that govern the culture and the history of they institutionalized developed. A natural development is one that is conducive to the well being of the whole of which it is a part—in this case of society, and thereby of the individuals that make it up.

Therefore the division between a grouping that is professional and one that is not is not conventional, or a matter of choice. Similarly with occupations or "functions" generally, or, for example, with a family. Not just anything could be a profession or a family. This is idea is not thought well of today, when all divisions and classifications are thought to be a matter of choice and/or power deployment.

When, under pressure of special interests, or merely from historical drift and inattention, a natural unit in society loses its integrity as a natural kind, that which replaces it will not have the same real effects as it did, and society as a whole will suffer. That is why questions such as What is democracy? or What is a profession? or What is a family? or What is a school? etc. are of such fundamental human importance. And that is why the idea that What an X is merely a terminological question or a matter of choice, power or convention. We can call anything we want an "X", perhaps, but the effects, good and bad, will in general pay no attention to what we call them. 'Professionals' who are mere experts at something, and whose only interest is money and self-advancement, do not have the same effects in society as others who are also significantly devoted to the administration of crucial public goods through their expertise.


So what is a professional?


First some general remarks about how "What is?" questions are to be answered. We must distinguish between the extension (denotation) and the intension (connotation) of a concept or term, such as "professional." The extension of a concept or term consists of those things to which it more or less clearly applies. The intension of a concept or term consists of those characteristics (properties, relations) which any object must have in order to be in its extension. (Illustrations)

The extension of "profession" contains, all allow, law, medicine and clergy; quite certainly also engineering and architecture. Note that these did not emerge because certain occupational groupings wanted to be thought of as 'professions'. Rather, when, later, other groupings wanted to be thought of as professions, what they were wanting was to be thought of and treated like them. These are classical in that they define the class of professions as exemplars. 'Professional' sports, for example, or Journalism (see p. 40d of Merrill in Callahan) are clearly not professions. (Of course, why should they be? When we say something is not a profession, we are not saying that it is bad, just that it lack certain characteristics. Merrill allows that Journalism could be a profession, but thinks, for reasons given, that it should not be. pp. 41-43)

Now once we have established the extension of the concept profession, we can proceed to single out the characteristics which constitute their being professions. This is done very nicely by Barber, (1st full  p. 36 of Callahan) who is effectively followed by Merrill in his discussion of Journalism (pp. 39-44). But the adequacy of Barber's statement depends upon a proper elaboration of its parts. (Read Barber's statement.) In elaboration of it we offer the following.



  1. A profession is a practice (action or advice) on the behalf of others of some activity of great importance to the well-being of society generally.

  2. The practice is dependent upon a large body of "esoteric knowledge and high skill" (Callahan p. 31d), possession of which confers upon the respective professionals an exclusive right to practice. A profession is always to some degree a monopoly.

  3. The professional knowledge and skill required to be professional is acquired only through association and training with superiors within the pre-existing professional group; AND the degree to which one possesses it (is 'good at it') can be determined only by professional peers and superiors. This is why the profession as such must be socially organized and recognized, and cannot exist without public support. A 'profession' unrecognized (and hence without public support) is no profession. Whether a professional has acted 'professionally' and therefore responsibly can only be determined by "expert witnesses" from the same profession. Thus a profession is essentially non-egalitarian.

  4. Therefore the members of a profession are essentially obligated to their society and the professional body which it makes possible through its trust, respect and provision. Their service to the profession and society is owed because they owe their very existence as a professional to the profession and society. The professional in professing asks to be trusted by the public, and invokes the profession as certification that she is trustworthy: both in terms of expertise and good intentions. If strictly self-interested he or she is not to be trusted, no matter how good their expertise. (See the pages from Ruskin.) For when the chips are down they will do what is in their interest, not that of the profession, society and the client.

  5. Because of the foregoing, the profession and professional status confers a dignified identity upon the practitioner in good standing. "They are! Somebody!" The professional is essentially a person with authority and honor in society.
    (Be sure to begin your reading of Samuel Haber, The Quest for Authority and Honor etc. Especially note the historical connection in America of the professional role with that of the "gentleman and scholar" in England, and the traditional primacy of university education to professional standing. (pp. x-xi) Note also how "From the beginning...professionalization in America was linked with the 'art or rising in life', with upward mobility." (p. 6) Note also the historical association with the warrior class, and how that was modified under the impact of Christian ideas. (pp. 9-14)

  6. The professional is "never for hire" and retrains a certain freedom based upon her special knowledge and social role. She cannot be `bought' or controlled, because of her special knowledge, which means she knows best, and her special dignity deriving from devotion to objectives transcending her self-interest.

  7. Finally, being a profession or a professional permits of degrees (Callahan 36c-d) or is a matter of "family resemblance" (Haber p. x) The degree of resemblance is always measured against the class defining members of the extension of the concept profession and professional. They set the type.


USC Phil. 141g, The Professions and the Pub. Interest in Am. Life Sept 15 2007

For your discussion sections this week please focus on the clergy (minister, priest, pastor etc.) as professional, utilizing Hatch, ed., The Professions in American History, pp. 7 and 73-90 (Handout) and Haber, Authority and Honor in the Amnerican Professions: 1750-1900, pp. 15-44. (You may also want to glance ahead at pp. 240-273.) Some questions you may wish to think about and discuss in the meeting are: What is the function of clergy? (Recall Plato on "function" ) To what extent is it essential to social well-being? In what significant ways has it changed in American history from the beginning to now? Is there a large body of knowledge and skill associated with the practice of ministry in the various religions and denominations. Is the clergy of no significance to the life of the citizen who does not "go to" church, synagogue, temple, etc.?


Some review questions for the first exam:

  1. Explain how well-being in society depends upon the division of labor (see Plato handout) and how the profession goes beyond the division of labor in making a desirable life possible for individuals in society. Illustrate by discussing two of the occupational groups now commonly recognized as professions.

  2. Explain Dewey's concept of the "eclipse" of the public and how he thinks the "eclipse" might be removed through social inquiry, moving us from the 'Great' Society to a "Great Community."

  3. What, exactly, is the difference between "Developmental Democracy" and "Participatory Democracy" as Macpherson describes them. In your opinion, is it reasonable to hope that Participatory Democracy can ever come about? (See the "two prerequisites" the "vicious circle" and the possible "loopholes" discussed bottom p. 99- top 108.) Why or why not?

  4. What do you take to be the three most essential marks of a profession? By your standard, which of the following are not professions: military, medicine, architecture, journalism, chemist, business management, engineering, law, education, social work. Of the ones that are, rank them in terms of which are professions to the higher degree, explaining why you put the first one first and the last one last.

  5. Does being a member of a profession confer dignity and a desirable identity (other than "money maker") upon an individual. Why or why not?



Thus, not every occupation is a profession. It is not true that "Conscientious ditchdigging is as much a profession as any." (The words of Thomas Marshall, Vice President under Woodrow Wilson) To say such things is to misunderstand the special and irreplaceable function of the professions. Does this mean that the professional is "better" than the non-professional? Hardly.

But the major goods in society upon which your well-being depends are in the hands of these professional people, as it definitely is not in the hands of ditchdiggers. In your life you will be in constant interaction with them as clients (or 'subjects'), possibly as colleagues or fellow professionals, and possibly as a legislator, judge or other leader in government or society.


Phil. 141g, The Professions and the Public Interest in American Life, Sept. 17, 2007


In composing your essay, be responsive to the readings and class discussions, but come right to the points indicated. You can cover the topic adequately in 6 to 8 double space, typed pages.



The four models of democracy in Macpherson.

The Characteristics of a profession, as noted by the Instructor and in the readings referenced.

Ruskin’s view of "the true function of a merchant" or business, with reference to the people served by a business and the people employed in it.

(Be sure to study through the handout for Sept. 12.)



There Is No Such Thing as Business Ethics, by John Maxwell:

What does Maxwell mean by this title? It can be put in a number of ways.

He means that the only ethical principle that really matters for the ethical and successful conduct of business is a principle not peculiar to business (or any other profession or occupation) but common to all areas of life. That principle is the "Golden Rule." (p. 22)

He means that anything short of this, and especially anything peculiar to a given profession, such as accounting, medicine, etc., will not provide the moral character necessary to bring people to "do the right thing" within their professional practice. "Professional Ethics" in the narrow sense has little to do with being a good person, but only tells you how to stay out of trouble with the law, your fellow professionals, and your clients. Staying out of trouble is not adequate, to say the least, as a guide to being a good person and doing the right thing. People with only that in mind find, or think they find, ways of getting around the rules—as witness many of the glaring cases of recent years. (See my statement on "The Good Person," at the end of the Phil. 141/1 reader.)

Starting from "what you want"—6 points, pp. 38-49.

Five factors that break down Golden Rule ethics—pp. 73-87.

Five rules of thumb for living by Golden Rules ethics—pp. 112-120.

The overall idea in Maxwell’s book is: Be a "Golden Rule" kind of person and you will do what is ethical and you will stand the best chance of being successful in your profession.

There might be some issues concerning how to put the Golden Rule into effect in the business or other professional contexts. These could justify special consideration.


Ruskin’s idea that the professional is under obligation in certain circumstances to die to fulfill their function as a professional in their area: Good or just stupid?

Louis Bandeis’ article, "Business—A Profession," in the Phil. 141/1 reader just before Ruskin. Especially his comments on professions and on business. (his pp. 2-5)

His illustrations of McElwain (pp. 5ff) and of the Filenes. (pp. 9-11)

Summary paragraph on p. 12.


Military: the case of Pat Tillman

The poet Wilfrid Owen speaks of that old lie: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori—"It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country." What did Tillman gain?


Haber’s take on the professions in America. See handout from his book, pp. ix-14, distributed last week. (We must give up on this book as a text.)


Phil 141g, The Professions and the Public Good in American Life Sept. 19, 2007

You need not bring the Phil. 141/1 reader to class. You will need it for your discussion sections the 9th week (Oct 22-26), for the article "The University and the Common Good."

Questions about the paper due at end of class on Monday the 24th?
(Review the policy on late papers and grades at mid-page 6 of initial handout.)

Because we cannot obtain the Haber book, we must CHANGE the assigned reading for the discussion sections in week 5 to Callahan, pp. 49-68.



What Maxwell means by "There’s No Such Thing as ‘Business’ Ethics"? (pp. 1-36)

Six points on what you would like to be "done unto you." (pp. 37-50)

Five things which can prevent you from following the Golden Rule. (pp. 71-88)

Some limitations on the Golden Rule as a total guide in professional life.

Ruskin’s idea of being ready to die for the good your profession serves.
       The military case of Pat Tillman: Dulce et decorum est…?

Brandeis on how business might become a profession



A brief comment on the Newsweek (9/24/07, p. 24) article on "Good Doctors."

Haber’s view of HONOR AND AUTHORITY in American professions. See the first pages (up to 14) handed out last week.

Professions and class structure in America.

What is honor? What is authority? How are they similar and different. (pp. 9-13)
       And see references, notes on the Sept. 12 handout.

Why might they be important for the professional?
       The struggle between egalitarianism and high social standing.


Now to the specific profession of the clergy (minister, priest, etc.)—

Take out your handout for Sept. 12th

Follow the frames on back of the Sept. 12th handout.


Phil. 141: The Professions and the Public Good in American Life Sept. 24, 2007

Today please hold your papers until the end of class!!!!!!


Remember that your Discussion Section readings for this week have been changed to Callahan, pp. 49-68. They concern some of the peculiar features of the professional relationship of the lawyer to his or her client. Try to pick up on the idea that the role of the lawyer requires what, outside of that role, would be regarded as immoral behavior, and the question of how that might (or might not) be justified. Have a look at the disagreement of David Hoffman and George Sharswoods over "What is morally wrong cannot be professionally right…" (Hatch, pp. 38-39, in "Phil 141" reader)


Dr. Richard Karl’s concerns about his profession (medicine)—Newsweek handout

The two essential elements of religions.

The disestablishment of religions in American history.

Shift of clergy from "experts" on God and "salvation from sin" to servants of a "clientele." (See especially mid-p. 84 and 83-86 of Hatch, "The Professions in American History" (the "Phil 141" reader.)



Return briefly to "honor" and "authority" in the handout from Haber (pp. 9-13)

And to what "Enlightment" is, and its effects on clergy.

Questions the knowledge/skill basis of clergy as profession

In the contemporary context, religion finds other roles, personal and social, than "adjusting" or "managing" the Divine/Human relationship at the transcendental level. These other roles might serve as an area of special knowledge sufficient as foundation of a profession—Personal health and wholeness of life, managing social order?



Haber's comments on "the extraordinary hold that law and lawyers have upon American society today"—Their relation to the USA Constitution. (pp. 67-bot. 69) The meaning of "constitution" (top 68) and the relation of lawyers to "or national credo." (mid 68) The elevated role of the courts. (69) Cp. last sentence in first  on p. 71): court "a spectacular forum"! How very American.

The humble beginnings of law in the USA. (bot p. 69, and first full  on Hatch, p. 34) And the dependence on English law. (top 70-71) Early failed efforts to elevate lawyering. (Hatch, 34-35)

British colonial policy and the elevation of the Superior Courts. (mid 72, Haber)

Factors (six) by which lawyers pressed for advancement of the profession. (pp. bot. p. 72 of Haber to bot. 74)

Four effects (top p. 75 of Haber to mid p. 77)

Carefully read through the  spanning Haber pp. 75-76, and how it relates to the fourth effect mentioned, namely the authority of the lawyer. (pp. 75-77)

The authority of the lawyer connects up with the enduring antilawyer sentiment: "The belief that a lawyer must be some sort of scoundrel." (Haber, p. 77) Study last full  on p. 77, concluding with: "....The wages of sin were now fame and fortune."

The basis of the "peculiar vitality... the bond between fellow lawyers." Suggested thesis stated in the sentence spanning 77-78.

The profession of law and other 'opportunities'. (mid p. 78-80)

The conflict of economics and the law as, supposedly, "a free good." (mid p. 80) Equality before the law requires equality before the lawyers and the courts. Is that possible?


The Judge as the capstone of success in the profession—and as "the guardian of the law." (bot p. 80) "It was his responsibility to administer the adversary system of the courts so that the outcome of the partiality of opposing counsel, disputing often before a jury, might be close to impartial justice and well-regulated order. Justice and order were the aims of his office." (bot. p. 80)

The peculiar dangers to justice and order, and how, supposedly, offset. (p. 81)

The requirement of "judgement" as the special faculty of the judge. (bot. p. 81)

And the emergence of special "lectures" by judges as central point of reference for the profession of law. ( spanning 81-82)

E.g. Blackstone. (spanning 82-83)

James Wilson's 'republican' modification of Coke and Blackstone in terms of consent. (bot p. 83 of Haber)

All human obligation is self-obligation. CONSENT!!!!!

Prophetic of current situation. (1st sentence of  mid. p. 84)

The vagueness of consent. (top. 84)

And the problem cases:

'Committee on Spies'. (pp. 84-85)

The Authority of Lawyers. (pp. 85-86)

Benevolence and skill, KNOWLEDGE. (bot 85-87)

Science NOT derived from CONSENT. (87)


Questions: What is it that one knows in the law and how does one know it? Is it just how to work the system to get a desired outcome? What is the duty of the lawyer?


Phil. 141g, The Professions and the Public Good in American Life Sept. 26, 2007

For your discussion sections next week (Oct. 1-5) the assigned reading is Hatch (Phil. 141 reader) Chapter 3 (pp. 51-71). Pay special attention to "The Fall" (p. 52) and the causes of it, and to the role of the AMA in elevating the profession of Medicine. (You might want to glance ahead at Illich, Disabling Professions, pp. 41-67)



Be sure to understand the ambiguity of "The Law," between:

The Principles (written or not) to which behavior must or should conform. 
(Sometimes called "The Higher Law.")

The human process ("the legal system") through which governmental facilities handle "cases" in litigation. See opening words of the TV series "Law and Order." Sometimes this is called the Justice system.

Related to this is two ways of thinking about the "public good" which the lawyer and "The Law" serves:

Justice as an abstract ideal: Seeing to it that what is right is done.

"Legal help"—working the "system" (the human process) to get what individuals and groups want. To win. Or to get "due process."

In discussions of Law as a profession, the conflicts and tensions between the two senses of "The Law" and between the two "public goods" related thereto are constantly in play. Carefully observe them. They drive most TV shows on "The Justice System."


In the "Law" Chapter in Hatch (Phil 141 Reader), p. 33ff:

In the first half of the 1800s a "substantial body of indigenous legal literature" (Bloomfield/Hatch ed. p. 36) was developed in America. This literature attempted "to combine republican political values with the economic theories of Adam Smith" , and "By midcentury, courts and legislatures had done much to redistribute wealth from workers and consumers to a powerful business elite." (p. 37)

Also during this same period there was a major shift in education. "American law teachers ... labored to produce not merely courtroom advocates but also enlightened statesmen and well-rounded citizens." (bot 37) The traditional, long drawn out curriculum was shortened under the pressures of financial deficits and low enrollments at Harvard "to dispense with all unnecessary learning and get on to the business of fee collecting." (top 38) From that point on "academic legal training was thereafter insulted from any fruitful contact with those humanistic and scientific subjects that Story's predecessors had considered essential to the formation of any lawyer...." (mid 38)

With this also came a shift in professional ethics for the lawyer. Study carefully the contrast between Hoffman and Sharswood. (38-39) Note the role of epistemology or "theory of knowledge" in this discussion.

The post Civil War growth in corporate power and corporate lawyers. (39-40) Paul Cravath's innovations in 1899. (mid 40)

The triumph of the Bar Associations. (40-41) Compulsory bar.(41)

Introduction of the "case method of legal instruction" and its epistemological assumptions. (41-top 43)

Pressure against the "marginal" law schools (43), and its surprising backfire. (43-44) The triumph of the system through accreditation of law schools and law school as the only route to the Bar. ( mid 44)

The rise of "legal realism" (44-45). Compare to Langdell's "case" method and its assumptions. LAW NOW TO BE BASED ON A READING OF SOCIAL CONDITIONS AND CONSEQUENCES RATHER THAN ON ABSTRACT TRUTHS ABOUT LAW. Study  spanning 44-45. Law in the hands of the "social sciences" (compare Dewey).

The effects of "legal realism" on the present profession of law: the National Lawyers Guild (mid 45)—recruitment of minorities and establishment of neighborhood law offices (in 1930s) and legal services programs of the 1960s. (bot 45)

The "profoundly ambiguous legacy" of the National Lawyer's Guild." ( spanning 45-46: STUDY CAREFULLY!!!)

The new Code of Professional Responsibility adopted by the ABA in 1970. (p. 46) A new emphasis on responsibility to the public. "Unfortunately, the Code provides no effective machinery for enforcing these precepts, and their practical impact remains uncertain." WHAT IS BEST FOR "THE PUBLIC"?


Phil. 141g, The Professions and the Public Good in American Life, Oct. 1, 2007

Because of our inability to get the Haber book, we have to change a number of reading assignments as given in the original schedule for the course:

Week 7: Oct. 8-12, read Sullivan, Work and Integrity, chapters 2 & 3 (pp. 67-131)

Week 8: Oct. 15-19, read Sullivan, Work and Integrity, chapters 4 & 5 (pp. 133-194)

Week 9: Oct. 22-26, read Sullivan, chapter 7 (227-256), in addition to the Hatch and Hough as originally listed.

Week 13: Nov. 19-23, read Sullivan, chapter 8 and "Conclusion" (pp. 257-290) and continue on Illich, Disabling Professions.


Review questions for the Oct. 15th in class exam will be handed out on Oct. 8. You should plan to review those questions immediately, to see if you understand them and can locate the relevant materials in your notes and readings. On Oct. 10th in class you can then ask me any questions about the review questions. The questions on the exam will be selected from the questions on the review sheet. I will select four questions and you will be required to write on any three of them, 25 minutes each. Blue-books will be supplied and you must use them. During the exam all electronic devices must be turned off and stored—except your brain.



Be sure to understand the difference between and interrelations of authority and honor, and how they figure in the American context of the development of professions.

The significance of the US Constitution for the development of the profession of the lawyer. (Especially Haber, pp. 67-71.

Moves enhancing the "authority and honor" of the lawyers, and some effects on their relationship to the client. (74-78)

The differences between Blackstone and Wilson, and Wilson’s problem with "spies." (82-85)

Wilson’s problems with consent and the law as a science. (86-87)

The disagreement between Hoffman and Sharswood. (Hatch pp. 38-39, and especially how issues of what can be known about guilt and innocence, right and wrong, influence their disagreement.



Finish the discussion of Bloomfield on Law (Hatch, pp. 33-46) with notes on last time’s handout.


The Hippocratic Oath— I will look upon him who shall have taught me this Art even as one of my parents. I will share my substance with him, and I will supply his necessities, if he be in need. I will regard his offspring even as my own brethren, and I will teach them this Art, if they would learn it, without fee or covenant. I will impart this Art by precept, by lecture, and by every mode of teaching, not only to my own sons but to the sons of him who has taught me, and to disciples bound by covenant and oath, according to the Law of Medicine.

The regimen I adopt shall be for the benefit of my patients according to my ability and judgment, and not for their hurt or for any wrong. I will give no deadly drug to any, though it be asked of me, nor will I counsel such, and especially I will not aid a woman to procure abortion. Whatsoever house I enter, there will I go for the benefit of the sick, refraining from all wrongdoing or corruption, and especially from any act of seduction, of male or female, of bond or free. Whatsoever things I see or hear concerning the life of men, in my attendance on the sick or even apart therefrom, which ought not to be noised abroad, I will keep silence thereon, counting such things to be as sacred secrets.


AND NOW TO THE PROFESSION OF MEDICINE—in the Haber handout (pp. 45-66)

Its earliest condition in Colonial America. (Haber 45)

Then dominance by the British model. (pp. 45-46)

Early success (bot. 46) and the dominance of Philadelphia. (top 47)

Morgan's effort to institute the three traditional medical orders. (bot 47) His main arguments. (top 48) Why he failed with reference to surgery. (48-49)

The ascendency of theory. (bot 49-50)

The amazing career of Benjamin Rush. (51-top 54)

Thomas Percival's picture of the ideal doctor. (mid 54)
Science and style. (bot 55)
Doctor as agent of reason and of Providence. (bot 56)

The use of authority and fear in medicine. (bot 57-58)
Paternalism and family practice. (mid 58)
       Deference to the doctor. (58-59)

Sectional differences in the development of the profession:
The South (59-60), New York (60-62) and New England (62-64)

The picture that emerges under the leadership of the Philadelphia establishment. (65-66)

We will pick up the discussion in Hatch pp. 51ff next time. Please bring Hatch (Phil. 141 Reader) with you.


Phil. 141g. The Professions and the Public Good in American Life October 3, 2007


Know the social origins of the bar associations and what the kinds of things they were trying to advance for the Law Profession.

Langdell’s "case method" of legal studies and what it presupposed about legal studies and legal truth.

The triumph of academic legal training.

The attempt to eliminate the "marginal" Law schools

"Legal Realism"

The public good that medicine serves as a profession.

The Hippocratic oath.

The important role of theory for the "honor and authority" of the physician.



Briefly back to pp. 50ff of Haber—Boerhaave, "vitalism," and Benjamin Rush and the "heroic" treatment. (Haber pp. 50-52)


The rise to prominence of the Ohio and Mississippi Valleys, over against the East coast—The Jacksonian era. Leveling of social standing and loss of status for the professional. The egalitarian Interregnum of the Professions. (1830-1880)


THE FALL AFTER 1830—Medicine becomes a trade not a profession. See pp. 52-53 of the article by Ronald L. Numbers (from Hatch, ed.)

The failure of educational and licensing standards. (Numbers, 52-53)

Florishing alternatives to "heroic" treatment. (53-55)
      And descent into the hell of bickering sectarians. (54-55)

Loss of legal status. (55)
      Overall picture of the result. Read spanning 55-56!!!


FINDING THE WAY BACK. Organization of the profession, self- regulation, the AMA. (56)

First main steps.
Code of Ethics (56-57)
Educational reform (57-58)

The ruin of the "proprietary" schools. (top 58)

And the effects of American Industrialization. (mid 58)
State licensing boards (58) and their effects (58-59)
The power of law as contrasted with morals. (top 59)
       MEDICAL PRACTICE ACTS!! (mid 59)

Even with these acts, competition to 'regular' medicine could not be eliminated. (59-60)

The effort to suppress competitors was not exactly benevolent or humanitarian. (top 60)

Worries about Nurses (bot 60), Pharmacists (60-61) and Dentists. (61-62)

The new effort at reform,
Directed primarily at decreasing the number of practitioners. (mid 62)

First move: a tight national organization of the AMA (62-63)

Second: a strangle-hold on accreditation of Medical Schools. (mid 63)
       See any similarity to law?

Third: control of licensing. (bot 63)

Still not successful in monopolizing the practice of medicine: Christian Science, Osteopathy and Chiropractic. (64-65)
— Optometrists, psychologists and midwives. (bot 65-bot 66)

Summary on the present outcome of the efforts of medicine to develop its profession. (p. 67)

Why do you suppose that in the American context Doctors are the highest paid professionals even though, unlike the Lawyers, they have not succeeded in monopolizing health care?

Is there a significant difference in how people think about their lives in relationship to Law and to Medicine? To the goods at issue in the two cases?

Outside of the efforts to organize and gain governmental control, what happened in the field of medicine gave it greater power?

Some say that the most advanced and effective medicine being practiced today is in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why? Is the medical profession in charge there? How does that situation differ from a typical hospital in the US?


Phil. 141g. The Professions and the Public Good in American Life Oct. 8 & 10, 2007

Be sure to pick up the review questions in class today. Look them over and we will take time for you to ask questions about them on Wednesday at the opening of class.

Your discussion sections this week are on Callahan, pp. 130-141. The specific issues is paternalism in the professional/client relationship, especially with reference to veracity or truth-telling.



The significance of "Vitalism" for medical theory. (Haber, pp. 50ff) And the importance of "theory" for the "authority" of the practitioner.

The deplorable condition of medicine in mid 1800’s (Hatch, pp. 52-56)
And why it was so vulnerable.

Main steps in medicine’s way back as a profession. (56-63) Three or four stages.

Other groups or "professions" that have continued to disturb or threaten the doctors’ monopoly on health care.

Social conditions that block successful delivery of health care: closing of emergency rooms, etc. (to be continued).



Assigned readings for this week were changed from the ones listed in Haber and Bok to chapters 2 & 3 of Sullivan, Work and Integrity. You will need to have that book with you in class today and Wednesday, as well as next Wednesday.

A few final remarks, today, about medicine and about how the condition of society influences the ability of a profession to supply the "public good" for which it is primarily responsible.


Introducing the Sullivan book:

Our previous meetings have dealt mainly with the earlier periods of professionalization and the professions in American history. Hopefully this will have given us a good grasp of the essence or basic nature of a profession, and of some main factors in the historical development of clergy, law and medicine in the professions in the American context. Now, with Sullivan, we turn our focus toward more recent developments in the professions, and especially to problems in the social and intellectual context that have forced their modification and threaten their integrity. The role of the corporation and of "market" ideology will prove to be of overriding significance, and the movement of the contemporary University to the cultural center, as educator of professionals, will have both advantages and serious disadvantages.

Up to page 65 of Integrity and Work (2nd edition), Sullivan is discussing matters of the nature and history of professionalism in America with which you are, by now, familiar. However, in these early pages he notices changes that are placing the traditional model of professional life and duty at a disadvantage.

Note the tendency toward redefinition of the professional as an expert out to "make the most" of his talents and training. (mid p. 9)

And the threat of the "new economy" where everyone is looking for "the best deal" without regard to other considerations. (bot. p. 10-11) The "market."

What professions, as opposed to strictly entrepreneurial and bureaucratic organizations of work, stand for. (last 3 lines of p. 13)
The idea of "good work. (mid-page 14 & mid 40)
And of profession as "vocation." (15-18)
       Reject "consumer demand" as the best guidance in social functions.

Freedom not just lack of restraint, but fulfillment in vocation. (all of p. 21) Compare Haworth’s statement bottom p. 22.

Professional education must meet the new stresses imposed upon professional integrity by the "market" attitude now dominant. (bot. p. 24ff)

The academy has assumed every larger control over the shaping of future professionals. (mid p. 27)
Harmful effects. Top. 28, and the 3 sets of values. (28-29)
Professional integrity as harmony of these 3 values. (top p. 30)
The aim of this book. Paragraph spanning pp. 30-31.

The tensions that lead to lack of integrity. (39, 41)

"…today’s most salient challenge to professionalism comes from the increasing dominance of "market thinking" within professional life and organization." (p. 42)

The market argument. (44ff)
And the case of Arthur Andersen accounting firm. (47-50)
And the failure of medicine. Government and "for profit." (57-58)
"Civic professionalism" and a new "social contract." (60-mid 63)
What Civic Professionalism is. (sentence spanning 64-65, 289-290)



In his encyclopedia article "Professions" (in handout for 1st day of class) Talcott Parsons states: "It is my view that the professional complex, though obviously still incomplete in its development, has already become the most important single component in the structure of modern societies. It has displaced first the 'state', in the relatively early modern sense of that term, and, more recently, the 'capitalistic' organization of the economy. The massive emergence of the professional complex, not the special status of capitalistic or socialistic modes of organization, is the crucial structural development in twentieth-century society." (p. 545c)

Parsons unfortunately did not anticipate the resurgence of 'capitalistic organization' in the form of management. Taylor's "notion of administration or management as an ethically neutral, technical body of knowledge" essential to all complicated human endeavors has brought it about that "Success in a professional field is very often now a story quite similar to success in a business organization. It means a climb toward higher degrees of competence in narrower areas of responsibility combined with expanded supervision of more similarly specialized subordinates. The structure is predicated, in ways Frederick Taylor would have applauded, on the supposition that the skilled specialist, properly organized and deployed, is the key to solving the problems of living as well as those of producing. Along with the establishment of the research university as the model for the educational enterprise, the development of the notion of expert problem solving through organization set the context within which the organizational professions of the twentieth century would come of age." (Sullivan, p. 90)

"The new basis of professional authority in specialized expertise, like the research university itself, represented a departure from the earlier pattern of the free professions. For the free professions, the question of authority and of standards was tied to social acceptance of the professional's claim to public value. In the earlier pattern, technical competence was visibly linked to civic involvement, since the professional's livelihood depended upon his reputation with the public for good practice, judgment and benevolence.... When all this changed around the turn of the century, it is not surprising that not only the new, aspiring fields such a management or engineering would turn eagerly to appropriate the prestige of expertise for legitimacy, but that the old free professions would attempt the same." (Sullivan, p. 92-93)

Thus the professional practice and conscience become subordinate to that of the "managers," governmental or private. As a result, "the dominant professions in the new society are, surprisingly perhaps, not the high priests of the new technology but those who employ and set them to work, the corporate managers and state bureaucrats. They are the elites who will make or break modern post-industrial society, who will lead it to its full potential of service to the community or pitch it down into the abyss of corruption, violent conflict, and self-destruction. Which road professional society will take depends not merely on the intelligence, enlightenment and integrity of the elite professions but on the unique cultural inheritance, social structure, and political ingenuity of each advanced country." (Harold Perkin, The Third Revolution: Professional Elites in the Modern World, (Routledge, 1996), p. 7)

The three major shifts of social reality that have great significance for the meaning and conduct of the professions in the 20th Century and now can be summarized:

  1. The rise of the corporation and management theory, and the diminishing role of the "independent" professional practitioner. Taylor's book, The Principles of Scientific Management, becomes one of the most influential books of the 20th Century.

  2. The University itself becomes a corporation and exercises hegemony over the culture generally through its lock on what counts as knowledge and on "research." The function of the University is no longer to pass on knowledge and tradition, but to find "new knowledge," to innovate. The University becomes the cultural authority, pulling free, for the most part, from any significant community, including religious, control. Thus it embodies, now, the whole point of "Modernism" as "Nowism," being "with it." Not the true but the new is what counts.

  3. The incredible amounts of money to be made by professions if they "play it right." See Derek Bok's book, The Cost of Talent. (We will examine this later.) Bok, a past president of Harvard, is mainly concerned about how the money to be made—which people hope to make, at least—in certain professional areas skews the service of the professional to society and the public and starves areas such as government service, teaching, social work, etc. "Authority and Honor" can hardly survive low pay, it seems.


Chapter Two in Sullivan—Evolution of the Professions in the American Context—

The "profession of office" in early America. (mid p. 70)
And the shift with the Revolution. 71
      And the effects of "unfettered commercial exchange. (spanning 71-72

The "free professions." Paragraph spanning 72-73

Jacksonian culture. 75-76
The significance of Lincoln: "the free professional in heroic proportions." (p. 76, 82-83)
De Tocqueville’s reading of professions in the Democratic setting. (mid 79)
The problem for the 19th Century free professional. (top. 81)
       Professionalism’s "heroic age." (top 85, and spanning 86-87)

Frederick Taylor and "scientific management." Major change of "work." (bot. 88-90)

The University moves to the center of professions and society. (mid 90)
A new understanding of the University and professional authority. (92-93)
The great corporations take over national and local life. (mid 96)

Call for reforms and the emergence of the "Progressive" movement. (98)
Resulting in "civic professionalism": professions as the solution to the manifold problems of massive industrialization and urbanization. (97-98)


Now a thorough look at "The Progressive Era" in Sullivan, Work and Integrity, chapter three: "A Metropolitan Maturity."

There have been three political parties called Progressive in the first half of the 20th Century: 1912 (Theodore Roosevelt), 1924 (Robert La Follette) and 1948 (Henry Wallace). They have all represented a certain moral idealism in the formation and reformation of urban industrialized American society, and in the first two cases assigned a crucial moral and social role to the professions.

1. The basic ideas of Progressivism. Sullivan pp. 99-101

2. Outstanding representatives:

A. Louis Brandeis, Supreme Court Justice. 101-105

B. British Idealists and Dewey. 105-106

C. Herbert Croly, Dewey and Jane Addams: Idealist values and Pragmatic Philosophy. 107-111.


3. The central role of architecture/urban planning in the Urban Metropolis. pp. 116ff and following.

A. Croly's hope. Top 116

B. The aim of architecture in Europe. bot 116-118.
     And the shock of revolution. Bot. 117
     The two responses. bot 117-118

C. The American situation
     And the effects of industrialization. 118-119 

D. The new Architects. mid 119-120
     Their mission. Spanning 120-121
     Burnham and the "City Beautiful" ideal. 121-top 124
     Why it failed. 123-124

E. Regionalism—Lewis Mumford. 124-127
    Why it failed. Top 127

  1. What killed the "First Effort at Civic Professionalism."

    A. WW I and the triumph of the organizational professions. Mid 128-129

    B. Specialism. Top 129

    C. Cultural/political conflicts. 130-131

    D. An institutionalization of a split between "public" and "private" lives. mid 130-131

    E. Finally, WW II endowed the mere expert with a God- like image. 133-137

Points from last time (Oct. 8, Monday):

The general condition of society, the "public character"—How it effects the capacity of the Professions to serve effectively the public goods for the sake of which they exist.

Especially in a public governed by sensuality/feeling, where the source of action is impulse, not rational choice with a wide view of relevant goods.

In Sullivan,

The "market" approach to life, finding the "great deal," the "new economy."

Positive freedom, as ability to serve communal as well as personal goods in "good work."

The idea of "calling" or "vocation" as the framework of professional life. (pp. 15-18)


Phil. 141g—Review questions for the first exam:

  1. Explain how well-being in society depends upon the division of labor (see Plato selection in Reader #1, and Haber pp. 47-48) and how the profession goes beyond mere division of labor in making a desirable life possible for individuals in society. Illustrate by discussing two of the occupational groups now commonly recognized as professions.

  2. How do you understand "the common good," and how might speaking of "common goods" (plural), as we have done in this course, set aside two of the criticisms that have been leveled against the idea of the common good?

  3. Explain Dewey's concept of the "eclipse" of the public and evaluate his view of how the "eclipse" might be removed through social inquiry (involving experts of professions), moving us from the 'Great' Society to a "Great Community."

  4. What, exactly, is the difference between "Developmental Democracy" and "Participatory Democracy" as Macpherson describes them. In your opinion, is it reasonable to hope that Participatory Democracy can ever come about? (See the "two prerequisites" the "vicious circle" and the possible "loopholes" discussed bottom p. 99- top 108.) Why or why not?

  5. What do you take to be the three most essential marks of a profession? By your standard, which of the following are not professions: military, medicine, architecture, journalism, chemist, business management, engineering, law, education, social work. Of the ones that are, rank them in terms of which are professions to the higher degree, explaining why you put the first one first and the last one last.

  6. Does being a member of a profession actually confer dignity and a desirable identity (other than "money maker") upon an individual. Why or why not? From your studies thus far, what do you see in American history that would confirm or refute Haber's thesis that "the American professions transmit,...a distinctive sense of authority and honor that has its origins in the class position and occupational prescriptions of eighteenth-century English gentlemen"? (p. ix)

  7. In the light of the discussions by Ellin and Collins (Callahan pp. 130-141), is it ever morally permissible for a doctor to lie to a patient? State your position on this issue and give your reasons.

  8. With reference to the Law, what three events or developments in American history do you see as most significant in determining its current position in American society? Briefly explain each one. What is the basis of knowledge in the Law?

  9. With reference to doctors/physicians, what three events or developments in American history do you see as most significant in determining their current position (as a profession) in American society? Briefly explain each one. Succinctly state and justify your evaluation of how medicine measures up as a profession today, and especially with reference to its presumed body of "esoteric knowledge and skill."

  10. There are two possibilities with respect to what the Law aims at as a public good. What are they, and how do they effect what the lawyer does? (Remember Hoffman and Sharswood, in Hatch 38-39)

At the exam, I will select 4 of these questions and you will write on any 2 of those 4. You can use your books and readers, but nothing more, and no elaborate notes in the margins. No electronic devices of any kind may be on during the exam. Bluebooks are provided and you must use them.




Philosophy 141g
Fall 2007


Write on two of the following four questions, clearly indicating which ones you are responding to:

  1. Explain how well-being in society depends upon the division of labor (see Plato selection in Reader #1, and Haber pp. 47-48) and how the profession goes beyond mere division of labor in making a desirable life possible for individuals in society. Illustrate (the "going beyond") by discussing two of the occupational groups now commonly recognized as professions.

  2. What, exactly, is the difference between "Developmental Democracy" and "Participatory Democracy," as Macpherson describes them. In your opinion, is it reasonable to hope that Participatory Democracy can ever come about? (See the "two prerequisites" the "vicious circle" and the possible "loopholes" discussed bottom p. 99- top 108.) Why or why not?

  3. What do you take to be the three most essential marks of a profession? By your standard, which of the following are not professions: military, medicine, architecture, journalism, chemist, business management, engineering, law, education, social work. Of the ones that are, rank them in terms of which are professions to the higher degree, explaining why you put the first one first and the last one last.

  4. With reference to doctors/physicians, what three events or developments in American history do you see as most significant in determining their current position (as a profession) in American society? Briefly explain each one. Succinctly state and justify your evaluation of how medicine measures up as a profession today, and especially with reference to its presumed body of "esoteric knowledge and skill."

You may refer to any of the printed materials (books or readers) which have been assigned, but to no lecture-notes handouts or copies of typed materials.

I encourage you to read what you write to see if you have answered the question in all its parts. Explain the few major terms in your answer and state reasons for the views expressed.



Phil 141g. The Professions and the Public Good in American Life Oct. 17, 2007

Not every occupation is a profession. It is not true that "Conscientious ditchdigging is as much a profession as any." (The words of Thomas Marshall, Vice President under Woodrow Wilson) To say such things is to misunderstand the special and irreplaceable function of the professions. Does this mean that the professional is in general "better" than the non-professional? Hardly. But they do have a special importance in the conduct of life in complex societies. The major "public" goods in society upon which your well-being and that of the public depends are in the hands of these professional people, as it definitely is not in the hands of ditchdiggers. In your life you will be in constant interaction with professionals as clients (or 'subjects'), possibly as colleagues or fellow professionals, and possibly as, yourself, a legislator, judge or other leader in government or society.

The remainder of this course is going to deal, in a more direct way, with ethical (or "moral") problems as they come up in the professions and for the professional person.

The relationship to ethics: We ceaselessly hear of "professional ethics" today. We will, for the most part, be looking at specifically ethical issues during the remainder of this course. In the next lecture we will tie them closely to Sullivan’s ideas about renewing "Civic Professionalism" in our times. For now a few observations are in order.

(1) "Ethics," as now publicly invoked, is an attempt on the part of the larger public and, in some cases the government, to control the behavior of members of the professions. Although their expertise may lie beyond the competence or understanding of the average citizen, certain ethical standards that apply to them as members of a profession do not. Nearly always these standards apply to the getting and use of money and to engagements with influence and power, especially in matters of sex and appointments of various kinds. Often the profession itself promulgates a Code of Ethics to which the public may then, supposedly, hold it. (See "Appendix I" in Callahan, pp. 439ff)

(2) The Codes of Ethics promulgated by the profession rarely say anything about the practice of the profession as a route to moral self-realization, i.e. to being a good or admirable person. Thus the idealism of sacrifice and service for a high good that frequently brings young persons to devote their lives to a profession normally finds little expression in the Code of their profession, and may even be smothered by it. The Code is primarily devoted to keeping one out of trouble with clients, the law and fellow professionals. But one could stay out of such trouble and still be a pretty rotten person. There is a wide difference between "not infringing on anyone's rights" and being a morally admirable person, as professionals have been expected to be.

(3) Behavior commonly judged unethical has its effects regardless of whether it is thought or said to be good or bad or not. For example, just think what a vast difference in the course of life it would make if people did not lie and steal or intentionally do thing simply to harm others (malice). Consider what a vast transformation this would result in for your life. Or imagine a society in which professionals were all strongly and intelligently committed to their specific function, beyond any consideration of mere self-advancement. The difference in such cases amounts to a huge difference in what actually happens in our lives, irrespective of whether we apply such terms as "wrong" and "right."

Question: Would you think a good person more likely to perform their professional function well than a bad person? Would you think that someone who was a good professional was more likely to be a good person? E.g. a good lawyer, doctor, clergy—even "ditchdigger?" Is there any connection between moral character and professional or other functions?



Moral theory attempts to develop a comprehensive, rational understanding of moral distinctions.

Similar to any theory for any field of phenomena.

But it is heavily non-empirical because its primary subject matters are human persons and human acts, will and character, which are not sense-perceptible entities.

This non-empirical character is, in general, not a valid objection against moral theory as a field of theory and of knowledge.

RECALL: We have knowledge of a given subject matter if we are able to represent it as it is, on an appropriate basis of thought and experience. The subject matter itself determines what kind of thought and experience is appropriate as a basis for represent of it. Some subject matters, including the moral, can be brought before the mind with clarity and understood, even though you cannot see or smell them.

We cannot, in this course, do moral theory in general, but some of its components are necessary to enable us to understand PROFESSIONS and their ROLE IN SOCIETY. Only so can we understand the Bok/Sullivan/Willard thesis about the role of morality in professional performance. — Namely, that only an appropriate moral realization in the lives of professionals can make possible a good society under modern conditions.

Crucial components of moral theory are covered in your assigned readings in Callahan, pp. 3-23, and we shall look over in class a number of passages from those pages. But for sake of clarity on "what it's all about" we now list the most basic moral distinctions and make a few more comments about the idea of professional ethics:

The basic distinctions that fall within any adequate discussion of the moral life are those:


  1. Right and wrong action.

  2. Obligatory (morally praiseworthy) actions and those not.


  1. Good and Bad Persons.

  2. Not just good but great (saints and heroes) and just good but not great.



A right action is one that is not wrong. (Alternatively, an action is right if it the kind of action a good person would characteristically do in the specific circumstances.)

A wrong action is one such that you have a moral obligation to do otherwise.

You have a moral obligation not to do X if doing X would diminish your goodness as a person. (Or: A moral obligation to do X if failing to do it would diminish your goodness as a person).

A good person is one who is committed to the preservation and enhancement, in an appropriate order of importance, of all the various goods over which he or she has influence, including their own moral goodness and well-being and that of others. Clearly, then, a good person will be one who cultivates their understanding of the various goods of life (‘education’), and cultivates their capacity to reason clearly about those goods and about the conditions of their preservation and enhancement. The good person will be a thoughtful person, who seeks to be informed, and, in a non-cloying sense, is a person animated by love. Thus, being a good person is always a personal achievement. A good person is one who chooses to be a good person, and who seeks out and implements the means for becoming good. It does not just "happen." A good person will be one who effectively cares for himself or herself and those 'close' to them. (The Principle of Proximity)

For elaboration of some of these points, see the last selection in the first course reader, "The Good Person: A Matter of the Heart." It is a mark of Modern ethical theory, especially of the 20th Century, that it has nothing to say about the heart. It wants a heartless morality, and has by and large got one. In the memorable words of John Dewey, "We want to be good, but not ‘goody’." Professionals, and especially professors, are desperately afraid of being thought "goody." ("Miss Goody Two-shoes," and all that.)

A saint or hero is one who to a significant degree chooses to forego or to risk foregoing enjoyment of goods which it would not be wrong from them to enjoy, for the sake of advancing other goods, usually goods to be enjoyed by others, but sometimes abstract goods such as truth or justice or beauty. Such people are the ones who illuminate by their lives the true nature and worth of moral goodness, as is not done by those who manage a mere bovine decency. ("Well, I didn't do any thing wrong!" "I pay my bills!)

People in academic settings today are very reluctant to talk about "good" and "bad" persons. A good person is the sort of person who deserves support (whom it is wrong not to appropriately support) and is worthy of emulation and assistance. Children are admonished to be "like them" and naturally desire to be so. They are natural "role models." We want our leaders to be morally good persons. Naturally. Consider the current election.


Being a good (bad) person is obviously a matter of degree. The general factors that enter into being a good (bad) person are called "virtues" ("vices"). Some basically good persons have weakness, e.g. they may not be very wise. Some basically bad persons have moral strengths, e.g. a brutal person may be courageous.

There are, in fact, thoroughly good persons and thoroughly bad persons. Such people exist, though no one is perfect. (Mary Poppins was "practically perfect.")

An evil person is one who sustains and cultivates destructive and malicious thoughts, feelings/attitudes and intentions.... and "naturally" acts in terms of them. The evil person who is committed to the destruction and diminishment of the goods of human life—especially the most important ones. Less evil, but still bad (not good), is the person who does not take care of and enhance the goods of human life under their influence.



Professional Ethics, as something beyond or in addition to ethics generally, may be taken as:

1. An effort to explain why people of professional standings may or ought to do things which if done by others would be morally wrong.

2. To explain what special moral obligations one has as a professional of a certain type.

3. To explain how the professional field serves as an arena of moral realization, i.e. of being a good person, possibly a saint or hero.



On moral issues and moral dilemmas. (pp. 6-7)

Divisions within "Moral Philosophy." (pp. 7-8)

"Reflective Equilibrium" (p. 9) and "The Structure of Moral Reasoning" (14-15).

Four ways a moral argument can run into problems. (15-19)

Teleological and Deontological theories. (p. 19)
How they work in Professional ethics. (20-21)



*Remarks made to a student meeting at USC after the Student Senate had adopted a code of ethics in 2004.

Who Is The Morally Good Person;

Morally good persons are those who, in their overall existence, are devoted to advancing the various goods of human life with which they are effectively in contact, in a manner that respects their relative degrees of importance and the extent to which the actions of the person in question can actually promote the existence and maintenance of those goods. Thus, moral goodness is a matter of that organization of the human will called "character," around the advancement of human goods.

"Character" refers to settled dispositions to act in certain ways, given relevant circumstances. There is good moral character as well as bad. Character is mainly expressed in what one does without thinking, as well as to what one does after acting without thinking. The actions which come from character will usually persist when the individual is unobserved, as well as when the consequences of the action are not what he or she would prefer. A person of good moral character is one who, from the deeper and more pervasive dimensions of the self, is intent upon advancing the various goods of human life with which they are effectively in contact (etc.), even a great personal cost or self-sacrifice.

The person who is morally bad or evil is one who is intent upon the destruction of the various goods of human life with which they are effectively in contact, or who is indifferent to the existence and maintenance of those goods.

Being morally good or evil clearly will be a matter of degree and there surely will be few if any actual human beings who exist at the extreme ends of the scale. (An interesting but largely pointless question might be how humanity distributes on the scale: a nice bell curve or...what?)

This orientation of the will toward promotion of human goods is the fundamental moral distinction: the one which is of primary human interest, and from which all the others, moving toward the periphery of the moral life and ethical theory, can be clarified. It is, as ethical theorists from Socrates to the present have understood, a matter of the inward organization of personality around the promotion of what is good. For example: the moral value of acts (positive and negative); the nature of moral obligation and responsibility; virtues and vices; the nature and limitations of rights, punishment, rewards, justice and related issues; the morality of laws and institutions; the role of moral principles, rules and codes; and what is to be made of moral progress and moral education. A coherent theory of these matters can, I suggest, be developed only if we start from the distinction between the good and bad will or person—which, admittedly, almost no one is currently prepared to discuss. That is one of the outcomes of ethical theorizing during the 20th Century. That outcome is directly opposite to the consensus of the late decades of the 19th Century, which was that the fundamental subject of ethical theorizing is the will and its character. (See T. H. Green, F. H. Bradley, Henry Sidgwick) What has happened since then is a long and involved topic which we cannot take up here.


Why It Matters If You Are Moral:

The reason it matters should be fairly clear, once you understand who the moral person is. Everyone around you, including yourself of course, will benefit in general from your devotion to the human goods that make for human flourishing, especially if you are surrounded by similar people. Your devotion to these goods will provide a structure to your life that will keep it directed toward what is productive, honorable, and deeply satisfying to yourself and others. You will have a solid basis for self-esteem, while at the same time you will be held back from arrogance and self-importance by your regard for goods beyond yourself, in the lives of others and in the world around you. Matthew Arnold, in the opening paragraph of his essay "Marcus Aurelius," in Essays in Criticism, Vol. I, expresses the view that has predominated among ethical theorists for most of Western history: "The object of systems of morality is to take possession of human life, to save it from being abandoned to passion or allowed to drift at hazard, to give it happiness by establishing it in the practice of virtue; and this object they seek to attain by presenting to human life fixed principles of action, fixed rules of conduct. In its uninspired as well as in its inspired moments, in its days of languor or gloom as well as in its days of sunshine and energy, human life has thus always a clue to follow, and may always be making way toward its goal."

People desperately want to be good and to be recognized as good. It is, finally, a matter of mental health and well-being. They deeply need to be worthy of approval. The quest for self-esteem is based upon this need. But you can’t just pump yourself up with self-esteem, you have to achieve genuine human worthiness; and this is done by attaining moral character and life as described above. Otherwise self-esteem rings hollow and creates inauthentic and unsatisfying self-absorption—the "little Jack Horner" syndrome: "What a good fellow am I."


How Rules and Codes Enter Into the Moral Life:

Those rules state standard ways in standard situations for caring for the human goods which our actions influence. In this way they give us knowledge of what we ought, morally, to do when we (as in the usual case) cannot fully see how our actions influence human goods. Rules are an essential part of moral education, but they serve that purpose well only when we understand how they are grounded in human goods and human character. Codes standing alone are merely ways of holding others responsible and of being held responsible by them. Codes standing alone, and not reaching into character and the good, are the way of the Pharisee and the legalist or formalist. They have nothing to do with the kind of person one is—and that is one reason why some people today like to stay at this level and to avoid any issues of character. (It is now widely regarded as morally "bad" to go into questions of peoples’ character or make judgments to the effect that certain persons are bad or evil. It is "okay" or even automatically good, however, to say that they are good—though that is now largely meaningless.)

If a code proves to be generally effective in governing life it will only be because of character in the people governed—character that expresses itself in virtues such as benevolence, honor and integrity; and it will be from these virtues, and not from the code, that people act. Indeed, one never acts merely from a code. A code by its very nature never addresses the question of motivation. If you only knew that someone had kept the code, you would have no idea of whether or not they were ethical or morally good people, or of what they would choose to do if they were sure they would never be found out, and hence would not be known to have broken or kept the code.

Most so-called "professional ethics" today is restricted to codes and have nothing to do with character, and that is one reason why they have such little power over behavior. They are basically telling us how to stay out of trouble with clients, the law, and our fellow professionals. They have nothing to say about our moral identity, about who we are as a doctor, lawyer, engineer, professor, etc. etc., or about how such a professional status fulfills our moral identity.


The Two Levels Of Moral Reality Present in the USC Student Code:

The code states: "We will not tolerate plagiarism, lying, deliberate misrepresentation, theft, scientific fraud, cheating, invidious discrimination or ill use of our fellow human beings." But it also says: "Honor and integrity are the foundations of our character." This latter statement shifts to the level of virtue and character. Honor and integrity are not acts but states of being characteristic of the good person. These states are demands that one routinely places on oneself. As Ortega y Gasset remarked, the person of moral quality is one who makes great demands on themselves as to the kind of person they are. Being an honorable person is a matter of holding oneself to a high standard with respect to who they really are, and not just with respect to how others will judge their actions. Academic integrity is not a matter of keeping someone else’s rules, but of inward focus on excellence of intellectual and artistic attainments. One who has such a focus sees immediately why plagiarism, etc. are simply out of the question for them.


Why We Have A Problem Now With Addressing Matters of Character:

It is mainly because the current paradigm of knowledge leans toward the natural sciences, and those sciences, in virtue of their stated subject matters, have nothing to say about moral distinctions. If you look back at what was said above about being a good person, you will see that it falls in an area of which nothing that looks like scientific knowledge can be had. Physics, Chemistry, etc. say nothing about it. It might then seem that there is nothing to be known or taught in the domain of moral goodness. We can still have codes, some will say, but no rational basis for them. They are just rules to be agreed to or enforced. This is all part of the generalized crisis about knowledge in which our culture and its universities exist today. That crisis can be stated briefly: "The only knowledge is what the sciences put out as such, and the only knowable ‘reality’ is what the sciences deal with. All the rest is feeling and political negotiation." At one stroke that removes the living of human life from the domain of knowledge, and leaves only authority and political agreement or "correctness" to live by—if that! Human action, where even those do not function, is left to drift or to caprice. Codes, laws and politics are invoked to provide some sort of control over behavior, because, after all, not everything is tolerable in the concrete situations of life.

Of course moral knowledge still exists as a genuine possibility for those who would like to know. For various reasons it is no longer available on a routine basis from the dominant institutions of society: family, church, schools and professional bodies of the various sorts. In this sense moral knowledge has "disappeared." But that does not mean it does not exist or is impossible. To have knowledge of a subject matter means to be able to represent it as it is on an appropriate basis of thought and experience. This applies to any subject matter. And in this precise sense it is possible to have knowledge of moral distinctions, as they actually exist among persons, actions, character traits—and even with reference to laws and institutions. That is the verdict of the ages.

If one wishes to have such knowledge, they should begin with careful and thoughtful observations of human life among unsophisticated people: preferably, with respect to how they think about who is a good and who a bad, or a less-than-good, person, in the intimate connections of life where people cannot hide who they really are. Then you might read some things from people who have made a great impact upon "lived" morality on earth. Jesus stands at the head of any list of them in the "Western" world, and then Socrates (Plato, Aristotle). You often can make good use of the great moralists, recognized as such, in Western literature—Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Locke, Hume, Kant, Mill, for example—but do learn from their observations about life, and don’t spend a lot of time worrying about their theories. You should also inform yourself about Islam, Confucianism and Buddhism, for example; but it is difficult to get them right unless you are at home in their cultural contexts. Again, learn from their observations about life, not their dogmas.

The metaphysical and theological backgrounds of these famous people and traditions pose many difficulties to thought and practice. But remember that you are seeking knowledge of how to live best, and that is not an obscure, recondite, and, above all, not a scholarly, matter. In fact, scholars seem, on the whole, to do less well at it than many ordinary citizens. You might also read obituary pages in local papers to keep you on balance. Note what kinds of persons are praised for moral goodness when their life is over.


Phil. 141g. The Professions and the Public Good in American Life. October 22, 2007


The discussion concerning whether one ought to make moral judgments, including the discussion of judgment as discernment and judgment as condemnation.

The various distinctions in moral phenomena as presented by Willard, with any revisions you wish to make for good reasons. Especially, who is the morally good and morally evil person.

Why it matters if you are moral. (See page in last time’s handout.)

How rules and codes relate to the moral life. (See handout and recall discussion.)



Brief discussion of Coles, "The Disparity between Intellect and Character." (One page handout from last time.) What do you think of Coles’ interpretation of the problem the student confronted him with?


Return to the discussions of work, professionalism and integrity in Sullivan:

The basic ideas of Progressivism. Reviewed. Pp. 99-101

  1. The three marks of the post WW II vision of American Society. 138-139.
  2. Runs into turmoil of the 60's. ¶ spanning 140

  3. The New Confidence in Professionalism as expertise—144-146.
           Difference from Progressive/Brandeis hope.
                  ¶ spanning 144-145
           The amazing Talcott Parsons—Universities: 145-147
           THE FLAW. Bottom p. 147 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! "Technical Rationality"

  4. The case of McNamara—his management techniques 148f
           Failure, why—148-150
                  George C. Marshall's analysis. Bot. p. 150

  5. Moral critique of the University, center of professionalism. 151-154
    A. "The tragedy of the times...." mid. 154
    B. "...the bureaucratic structures of organizational settings.... The substitution of rule and procedure failed to provide the desired sense of orientation and participation." Top 155

  6. Failure of social bond under economic pressure. 156

  7. Yuppie alienation. Expression of the deeper alientation between professional expertise and moral fulfillment. Bot. p. 157-158

  8. The call <turning point in Sullivan's book> for a new form of professionalism. Bot. p. 159-160.



Just to sum up chapters 3 and 4 of Sullivan, the Progressivist hope for the leadership by the professionals into a good and great society failed. The moral optimism that drove Progressivism (p. 147) could not stand up to reality. The technical rationality centered in the university turned out to undermine the value orientation of the professional complex along with its implicit moral basis of commitment to the Public Good as a whole. (146) The 2nd World War turned professional attention away from the social order; and, later, the Vietnamese disaster (McNamara, p. 149-150) showed the severe limits of professional expertise in real life conditions. And social unrest of the sixties made it very clear that the good and great society was not on the horizon. (151-153) The necessity of "Reinventing Professionalism" became clear (159-160), for certainly it was impossible to deal with our social and individual life without professional skill and knowledge, but of a different quality than had been achieved thus far.

Chapter 5: "Reinventing Professionalism"

The period we are in today is one of massive change in the organization of our social reality, parallel to 1880-1st World War. Last full paragraph on 162.

Croly’s view and how it failed by being "imposed from above". Mid p. 164

The two choices on how to take the professions. Top 165

The Yuppies ( 165) and the "Bloomsburies". (167)—indulgences, sentimentality and "terminal irony." "In the absence of an ethic of calling, the quest to ‘become one’s own person’ through instrumental achievement cannot, for most, support satisfaction in practicing a profession over time." (mid 169)—"By contrast, a professionalism which unfolds as part of a cooperative civic culture provides an escape from this unhappy consciousness by focusing the person’s energies outward, engaging the challenges presented by social reality." (170) That is Sullivan’s "Civic Professionalism."

Negative interdependence generates hostile attitudes toward society. (mid 170) "Symbolic analysts" (top 173) isolated from their social world, but with status and lots of money. The exaltation of mere expertise "renders obsolete profession life as it is now structured." (mid 173) See description in first full paragraph on p. 174.

By contrast, positive interdependence: "The outcome of interdependence becomes positive where the interacting parties develop the breadth of understanding, skills of cooperation, and willingness to share responsibility which enable them to turn the situation to their advantage." (178, cp. 289-290 etc.) Places where this happens (Silicon Valley, etc.) show the direction which the reform of professionalism must take.

So the question is "how professionalism can be reconstructed to respond better to the imperative of positive interdependence." (mid. 179) Answer: by bringing the "beyond" of the professions back into play. Study carefully pp. 180-182. This emphasizes the civic dimension essential to professional life. (last full paragraph on 183) The basic idea for reinventing professionalism to meet current conditions: "Professionalism’s implicit aim has begun to emerge into some clarity. That aim is to organize the conditions of work so that workers can develop and express their individual powers, by engaging them responsibly in ways that assure individual dignity through being recognized as contributing to enterprises of public value." (mid 184. See how this is developed on the rest of this page, and especially with reference to MEANING. For the remainder of this course, the connection of meaning, and the meaning of life, to the carrying out of all three dimensions of the professional life (182-183) will be strongly emphasized and tied into Frankl’s book on Meaning. See the comment about "the vital mission of professional work" and "the professionalization of work" at mid page 185

The necessity of a "public philosophy." 187.

The illustration of youth violence, Dr. Deborah Prothrow-Stith, pp. 187-194.—No "purely technical" approach succeeds. Violence treated as a medical problem.

The choice facing the professions today. (mid 193) And the opportunity. (bot. 157)


Chapter 6: Renewing Professional Education.

The "challenge for professional education is how to teach the complex ensemble of analytic thinking, skillful practice, and wise judgment upon which each profession rests." (bot. p. 195)

The failure of the academic model. P. 196

Two modes of thinking: narrative and analytic. Spanning 198-199.

Must be blended. Bot. p. 199

The absolute centrality of the university. 201, mid p. 203

Tacit knowledge and "Cognitive apprenticeship." 105

The three apprenticeships of professional education. 206-207

Ethics and the "third apprenticeship. Mid p. 215

Critical discourse and the slide toward nihilism. 217

Clergy (mid 218) and "formation." 219-220

Two conceptions of knowledge: Athens and Berlin. 220-221.

Educating engineers. 222-224

The two issues that emerge from re-examining professional education:

The distinctive nature of professional knowledge.

How that knowledge can best be integrated with the moral core of the professional enterprise.


Phil. 141g. The Professions and the Public Good in American Life. October 24, 2007


How work, as creation of value, may lose its integrity through intrusion of other values upon the value that the work in question is oriented toward.—In the case of a profession upon the public good which the profession exists to serve.

The "three apprenticeships" involved in education for a profession.



Review the issue of integrity and what it means for professional practice.

The end of last times handout, on Chapter 6:

  • The impact of university values on the professions. Paragraph spanning 196-7

  • Narrative and analytic thinking, pp. 198-199, must be blended. Bot. p. 199.

  • The "third apprenticeship" is ethical. Paragraph mid p. 215

  • Two conceptions of knowledge: "Athens" and "Berlin"—paideia and Wissenschaft. Bot. p. 220-223

  • The university’s role is "to cultivate the life of the mind for the public good." P. 225. Wow! THE LIFE OF THE MIND!!!!!! And the "three apprenticeships." 225-6


Chapter 7: "What is Professional Knowledge?"

The Positivist understanding of knowledge.—-"Strongly resistant to the stance of social engagement and moral inquiry demanded by todays challenges…The needs of our time demand a reshaping of professional knowledge." (top. 236; see mid 237.) One must not recognize "as knowledge only abstract models of causal relationships among precisely defined entities." That does not deal with what is best, nor with what makes life good. Just with effectiveness—whatever the aim.

This underlies Weberian "rationality." (240)

Where Positivist thinking fails. (mid 241) "Civic democracy demands the ability to think in terms of complex balances rather than the maximization of effectiveness as measured by a single objective. Unfortunately, this more complex task and vision is obscured by positivism’s naïve, nineteenth-century faith in an automatically unfolding progress. This unexamined faith is the source of both the narrowness of much of the academy and its nearly invincible self-righteousness. (bot. 241-top 242)

Another form of "rationality" is needed, one that is part of "engaged social practice." (243) Another form of "inquiry" from the midst of real life. (bot. 243) Not supposing a prior agreement about ends.

"Reflective practice" takes in the moral and the social, which is not causal, and opens its self "beyond technical competence to moral and social issues of trust, equity and civic cooperation."

The Dreyfus 5-step picture of learning expertise, "learning embodied skills." 247-249.

Summary of the new picture of practical understanding or phronesis. Carefully study the paragraph spanning pp. 253-254!!!

Chapter 8: "Confronting Moral Ambiguity: The Struggle for Professional Ethics."

The older model of professions and the good life. (mid 258)

Vocation or calling (top 260) wiped out by Max Weber. (mid 260)

The two forms of professional ethics (the "ambiguity"): (1) The Liberal ethics of actions and rules, and (2) the ethics of character in social context. (262) What the character/virtue approach emphasizes. (top 265 and paragraph bottom 265) Character and the social world. (full paragraph mid 270 Moral identity—what kind of person am I?

The principle issue of professional ethics in light of this. First full paragraph 271 and rest of page. George C. Marshall as an illustration. (272) The idea of "Public judgment that is informed by professional expertise." (bot. 273)

"Several moral sources in contemporary American culture which can contribute to an ethos of vocational responsibility." (See pp. 280-281)


Conclusion:Experts and Citizens (pp. 283-290)

The tension over moral integrity in professions today. (p. 283, to mid p 284)

What integrity does: "mediates" tensions. (top 284)

The three dimensions of professional life, again. (bot 284) And especially the 3rd or "civic" dimension. (remember 147)

The issue of civic professionalism: How to reconstruct the either-or of economic growth versus social and cultural solidarity into a both-and of technical progress in the service of a sustainable common good; how to develop leadership groups which will serve rather than undermine solidarity and collective development. And the solution: a "viable public space." R. H. Tawney’s vision of a better world. (bot. 287)

The final statement on civic professionalism. (top 289-290)


Critical question: Does Sullivan really suggest any practical steps toward the institutionalization of civic professionalism? How can we get professionals such as he is talking about? The new form of professional knowledge is about as close as he comes. Education, yes, but he has little to say about how we could actually educate for civic professionalism, and he fails to recognize the barriers resulting from the lack of any moral basis for contemporary life.

Still, he does give a fairly clear and concrete impression of what society would look life if the professions were pervasively animated by moral purpose: that is, by widespread intent, on the part of individual professional people, to find in their work a primary locus of being a good person.


Phil. 141g. The Professions and the Public Good in American Life October 29, 2007

Next time please bring Callahan and the last reader, the one that says "Phil. 141g" on the front. This reader has the assignment in "Kraybill and Good" for this week in your schedule.



Understanding that good moral character or "doing the right thing" is never a substitute for technical expertise, what is the relationship between professional excellence as Sullivan would understand it ("Civic Professionalism" <5, 23, 60-65, 105f, 127f, 178-179, 258, 285, 289-290>, with its threefold apprenticeship and special kind of knowledge) and being a morally good person?

(Review the handout and your notes for Oct. 17, especially the section on "Why It Matters If You Are Moral." Remember, you do not have to agree with lectures or readings, but do show awareness of them as you clearly state your position and give your reasons.)

Carefully look this over, and I will take questions about it at the opening of class on the 30th (Weds).


Looking ahead a bit:

Concerning the book, Disabling Professions
Discussion sections for the 11th week, Nov. 5-9, pp. 4-39

This book is about the POWER of the professions as currently functioning in our society. Power is the ability to direct. Authority is the right to direct. The central thesis of the book is that the professions have causal power over the exercise of their relevant functions in human life, and thereby DISABLE the citizens they should serve by excluding them from activity with regard to those functions.

The "disabling" in question is, in general, an arranging of things in such a way that ordinary citizens cannot perform the professional activity, and cannot intelligently direct it as done by others. E. g., the removal of pain and disfunction, or handling legal matters.

How is it done? By the profession gaining a monopoly on the activity. Having exclusive ownership of the power to define people’s problems, define the person as a client (pp. 17-18) and impose or withhold "treatment." This done officially, by law, by popular assumption, and by actually producing the genuine inability of the ‘client’ to do what needs to be done—for example by not assisting them to learn how and to have the requisite resources to care for themselves so far as possible. See pp. Bot. 76, top 78, 82, 83-84, bot 86, 91, 99, 112. See the four "disabling characteristics" from top 83-88, and the two paragraphs at bottom p. 90.

Note the abuse of "care" on pp. 72ff, and the sentence "The result is that the politico-economic issues of service are hidden behind the mask of love." (mid. 73)

Note the picture of the client and the needs of the professional. (82)




The three apprenticeships (208), and the special problems for knowledge, training and professional life posed by the 3rd one. (Sullivan 208-221)

"Professional education cannot take place in Berlin alone." (221) What does that mean?

The ideological triumph of "Positivism" in the university and its impact upon the education and "formation" of professionals. (236-242)

  • The limits of "effectiveness" as a guide to practice.

  • The need to "rehabilitate nonformal modes of rationality." (242)

The "Dreyfus model" of developing expertise. (247-250) A new understanding of technical competence, which the universities and professional schools should follow.

The "Two Gestalts" or the "moral ambiguity" of Professional Ethics: Emphasis on Rules or on Character. (262-267) The significance of this for professional "formation."


The following three questions will be on the review sheet for the final exam:

What is the problem of integrity in work, as Sullivan describes it, and what are two of the primary connections in which the problem arises in contemporary professions?

What are the "three apprenticeships" of civic professionalism, and which one is in deepest trouble today?

Explain the nature of "Positivist" knowledge ("technical rationality") and why it fails as an understanding of "professional knowledge" and professional education (formation).



There is one final element of Sullivan’s view that I did not get to last time, and that has to do with meaning in life and its connection with "good work" and the profession. Recall what Sullivan says about "good work" on pp. 14, 29 and 40 and the nature of freedom. Pp. 20-21. Then see his discussions of meaning on 184-185, 198,

270-271, 290. It is helpful to start thinking about "meaning" now, as meaning and meaninglessness will be the final conceptual unit of the course.

Today we want to think about the proliferation of "professions" and "professionalism" in contemporary life, and to have a special look at "professors" as "professionals." We consider the rise of some new "professions" in American Society, ones which arose in the course of the post-Civil War "re-establishment" of the professions. You have assigned readings from both Haber (pp. 274-318) and Hatch (chs. 1, 6 & 7) We will start with Haber, who takes us up to 1900, and consider the later developments in Hatch as much as we can in the available time. These notes will serve as a study guide to much in the assigned readings that we will not be able to cover in class.

When we come to consider the possibility of additional professions, we want to keep in mind the idea that professions are a natural development from the drive of society toward its own well-being and the well-being of its members. Not every occupational group that can bully or negotiate treatment as a profession is necessarily a profession. They may only be groups that wish to have the 'perks' of the professional: honor, independence, elevation to special pay status, presumed devotion to some high-minded value, etc. etc. But by this time I hope you are convinced that a profession is a quite specific type of social unit, and that if an occupational group does not meet the conditions we have studied, it is not a profession no matter what it calls itself.

The existence of a profession depends upon there being some fairly specific and important societal need which defines the profession's function. In the case of clergy, law and medicine, what that is should now be obvious, though we can quibble about its precise boundaries. The military, whatever the weaknesses of its other claims to be a profession, certainly fits in well here, as does the "merchant" in Ruskin's terms (see handout). But there is a very significant difference, in this respect, between these five groups and the other occupational groups that wish to be 'professions'.

In the case of the engineer, the function of the professional seems to be the adaptation of the materials and forces of nature to meet human needs. The word "engineer" is associated etymologically with the word "ingenuity." (See handout from Mantell of a few sessions ago) It is interesting to think about the underlying need of human beings, in comparison with the doctor, on the one hand, and the farmer on the other.

In the case of the professor, what is the need? And of course what is the function? One might have said in other days that the need is to know, and hence to learn, and that the professor's function accordingly is to teach. But that is no longer true. "Honor and authority" no longer attaches to these roles. That is why we do not have "teaching universities" or "knowledge universities," but "research universities."

(There is now a common usage of "professional" where it means one who does not deviate from their responsibilities to perform a function. This is derived from the older usage in which that was part of the self-sacrificial attitude of clergy, doctor, lawyer. You see these connotations even as far back as the Hippocratic Oath. (Oct. 1 handout) In particular, desires, feelings, and inclinations do not interfere with the function, and one has made every effort to cultivate the relevant knowledge and skills.)


Well, with these questions before us, let us turn to Haber's historical account of the rise of Professor and Engineer as (at least self-styled "professions"):

Haber first points out a very important difference of Professor and Engineer from the classical professions: They are "largely professions of subordinates in organizations." (p. 274) The "never for hire" theme seems to be out the window.

  • Compared to Protestant ministers. (274-5)

For Professors (see the Haber handout from 2 weeks back):

  • The emergence of the university. (276)
    Industrialization & Bureaucratization (276)
    Re-interpretation of religion (276-7)
    From clergymen presidents and professors to specialists in a certain field of expertise.

  • The upsurge in numbers of professors. (277)
    And the now familiar responses. (top 278) Higher educational standards.
           The Ph.D. and the research ideal. (mid 278)
                   Most Professors not "research" people.
           Teaching and learning, main activity. (279)

  • The two aspects of college/university life: social and intellectual. (279-280) And the three prevalent professorial styles (280-285)
    OLD-SCHOOL-TIE (283-4)

Note interpretation of the self-sacrificial element in the Iconoclast-Priest. (Nietzsche)
The 'religious' quality of the researcher's life (G. S. Hall) (¶ mid-285)—compare engineer, bot. 312.
Hence: Increased authority of Professor. (bot. 285)

  • The Presidents and the Professors:
           New authority to Presidents. (285-6)
                  The "celebrated academic 'revolution'." (286)
                  Research as preeminent university function.
                  Practical (and other) subjects granted a respected place in curriculum.
           Professor's extent "authority and honor" through professional expertise and professional organizations.
                  The significance of the "Department of.."
                  External job opportunities. Salaries. (bot. 287)

  • The gigantic issue of ACADEMIC FREEDOM (bot 287-293)
           See the opinions of Royce, Dewey, Kellog, Parker, Hadley Hadley. 
                  The professor as expert, bot. p. 292
           Especially, academic freedom viewed as an issue in professionalization.
                  Independence and authority again.
           The professor does not gain undisputed preeminence in higher education. (293)
           The primary threat to academic freedom today is the influence and power of colleagues 
                  and of the guild (professional organization). Conformity is coerced as the price of 
                  professional security and advancement.


Veysey (in Hatch, chapter 1) gives up on "the effort abstractly to define the term professional." Spanning p. 17-18.

The use of "profession" within university settings. 18-20.

Three different "versions of what the university ought to be." mid p. 21

  1. Training for careers. Professional expertise.
    ¶ spanning 21-22 (Social Sciences and Prof Schools)

  2. Research. Advancing knowledge. Scholarship as end in itself. 25-26.
    (Hard Sciences: Natural Sc. & Math)

  3.  Training and formation of mind and character. 27-28
    (Liberal Arts/Humanities emphasis)

Is "the academic profession worth saving?" bot p. 30.

What an answer Veysey gives!!!! spanning 31-32


Sinclair (in Hatch, chapter 7) deals with the image of the engineer in the context of American idealism. Last ¶ p. 128.

The emergence of the prof. bot 129-130

Advance in knowledge and specialized educ. mid 131

Machines, machines; and standardization. mid 133

Thurston: self-interest and social benefit. spanning 133-134

The two spheres of interest involved in engineering. bot 134

Thurston's vision. mid 135

Engineers as "hard workers and hard players" and as "good mechanics by instinct, good men by original construction, good fellows by nature and habit and training." mid 137 "The rambling wreck from Georgia Tech and a heck of an engineer"!

Societies and technical schools. top 138

The Progressive Era and a new role for Engineers. bot 138

"The revolt of the engineers" 139-141

The basic questions for the profession. 141-142.

Basically: what is its nature as occupational group?


Conclusion: Professors and engineers do not have sufficiently unified functions to clearly constitute a profession in the strongest sense. This shows up in the lack of logical co-ordination in their various divisions. Consider: Civil, mechanical, mining, military, electrical. It is a bit like the man who had three daughters—two went to Chicago and the other went wrong. Or the question: Do more people live in the city or in the winter?

See the comments on the high goal of education and the professor on pp. 108-111 and 144-147 of Sullivan's Work and Integrity.)


For Engineers—in Haber:

The crucial role of physical and mathematical theory and development of Schools of Engineering. (295-6)

The tension between material and commercial efficiencies. (bot 296-99)

¶ spanning 298-9 on extra-monetary values.

From trade to profession. mid 299-300. Very impt.

Main articulations of the 'profession'. (301-308)

And further subdivisions. (308)

Ranks in engineering societies. (mid 308)

And in work world—

Four paths to authority. (308-312)

Crucial role of Consultant. (to bot 312)


Difficulties of those engineers employed in subordinate positions in large organizations. (bot 312-318)

1. The famous "suggestive seals." (313 and following)

2. Yet a certain hopeful compliance. (¶ span 316-7)

3. Engineer as prototypical "white collar worker."
    Superior to blue collar. pp. 317-8)




Phil. 141g.The Professions and the Public Good in American Life .Oct. 31 & Nov. 5, 2007

Be sure that you have obtained a copy of last time’s handout. It has the topic for you next short paper, due one week from today, Nov. 7, at class time.

Do you have any questions relating to the topic and paper?



The relationship between "good work" and meaning and freedom in Sullivan.

The specification of the "public good" that "professors" (in higher education) serve: "research," and

Why, thus understood, being a professor is not a profession. (There is no certifiable body of knowledge and skill that relates to their function of research.) The advancement of knowledge is, in general, certainly a public good. But the knowledge and skill necessary as a basis of doing that is not something that can be certified or, to any appreciable extent, taught. You can put people in a context of research, and some—a very few, in fact—will become successful in terms of their results.



We go back to finish up a few points from last time’s handout:
Especially on academic freedom in the Haber selection, pp. 287-293

And a few issues with engineering at the end of the Sinclair article in Hatch (Reader) pp. 141-140

Now we go to the discussions of professionalism from the viewpoint of a specific religious group, in Kraybill and Good:


A selection from the Kraybill and Good (edd) book, Perils of Professionalism, is in your "141g" Reader, the first selection. It is written from a long-standing but unusual part of the traditions that make up American life: that of the Mennonite/Anabaptist/Christian rural farmer tradition. This tradition, which comes out of still older European religious traditions, values above all humility, service, creative individual productivity, community, and biblical authority. You have to keep this in mind as you read these selections. If your religious or non-religious outlook is different from these readings, be assured that you will not be required to agree with them. But do try to understand them. And many other religious traditions emphasize the same values.

These selections deal primarily with the effects of professions and professionalization on the individual who becomes a professional. This is a new element in our discussions of the professions thus far. Does being a professional corrupt your own humanity? Or make it hard or impossible to be a decent person? (There is some discussion of this in the Callahan readings.)


In the Introduction note especially 

  • the question about social power. 8

  • the Anabaptist ambivalence toward the professions. 9

  • the four relationships of professionalism. 9-10

  • the "chief peril"—the "uncanny tendency to subvert their


Chapter One—by Kraybill—identifies social power as the main thing that identifies the profession. — His "forth approach," bot. 15-17

Individuality disappears into "the team." Group-think.

Conformity. 17-20

The MYTHOLOGY of the profession.

Which "grants authority to the professional and convinces nonprofessionals to allow professionals the right to exercise that power." bot 20-23

The two main points of the mythology. 22-23

Its dangers. 23.

The major thesis. bot 23


Chapter Two. A case study of an Anabaptist woman who goes into the profession with her husband.

Summary of result on power and professionalism. 31


Chapter Three: Ph. D and power.

And the dropout. bot 34

The "graduate student mask." Excellent! 39


Chapter Four: Interaction of Amish/Mennonite values and professionalism in the the field of social work.

Especially consider her conclusion professionalism and Amish roots, spanning 48-49.


Chapter Five: A study of power relations between professions and emerging "professions"—in this case "Psychiatric Technicians."

See the power summary and plea on mid 56-58.


Chapter Six: How Professionalism Impacts Persons.

The couple in Therapy, p. 62

Professional growth stunts personal maturation? p. 63

Professionalism and authentic personhood. (64-65)

Six marks of professional, full personhood. (66)


Chapter Twenty-Three: Creative subversion in the profession.

The four dangers of professionalism. (217-218)

Subversive action required. (219-221)

Some ways to subvert: (222-225)

A unifying aim: Achieving "the kingdom of God" (225-226)


Summary of the Perils of Professionalism:

See the 12 'perils' on pp. 227-230

Clearly the assumptions of this book includes putting religion at the supreme position in one's life. In a secular setting, this would face heavy opposition, and one likely would not "succeed" in terms which are usually recognized in the profession. But they might succeed in terms of more important values, possibly including the "public good" dimension of the profession. Could they attain the highest degree of expertise? Why not?

We shall return to this issue at the very end of the course.





Given role differentation to some degree for the professional, how are we to think of the overall professional/client relationship? See Callahan, 87 and following. What is the ethical issue? Always, what kind of person am I to be because of the exercise of my profession? Or because of my role as client? Not just: "Did I break any rules?"


Work through the following:

See the list of four models of professional/client relationship, bot. p. 87.

Some of the main ethical principles or values to be preserved. Veatch (Callahan) p. 90. How four models fare with these principles. p. 91.

May's objections to the contract model. 93-94.
May's advantages to the covenant model. 94-95

The 'military' model in nursing. Primacy of loyalty. 97-98
The nurse as 'courageous advocate'. 100b-101
       Further needs of the advocate position. 102-103

Paternalism in University/student relations. Callahan, 105ff
Academic policies are not necessarily paternalistic.
      108b, 109d-110b. Restatement 111b-c.

Bayles: "The central issues in professional-client relationship." Who decides? (Callahan 113d)
Critique of the Agency/Advocate model. 114c-115a.
Critique of Contract model. 115b-115c.
Critique of 'Friendship' model. 116a-b
Critique of Paternalism model.
Arguments for Paternalism: 117a-b
       —When it is reasonable to allow others to make decisions for them. 117c
       Arguments against Paternalism:

  1. Professionals have no authority over values in general. 117d-118a

  2. Client competence is greater in general than the Paternalistic Model suggests, and the client should not be denied freedom to direct their own lives. 118 a-b

  3. Client outcomes are in fact not as good on the Paternalistic model  "as when the client has a more active role." 118b-c

The Fiduciary model:
Advantages: 118b-119a

FINALLY, now, what exactly is wrong with Paternalism. Why, given your view of the good person would a good person not be Paternalistic? Or would they on appropriate occasions.


Phil. 141g. The Professions and the Public Good in American Life. Nov. 7, 2007

Please hold your papers (due today) until 3 O’clock and your TA will then receive them.

Note that your reading assigned for discussion sections next week (Nov. 12-16) is Callahan, pp. 263-274. A major issue has to do with whether one can ascribe moral responsibility to a corporation, and what it might mean to do so. A sub-theme is how individual persons who act for the corporation can avoid personal responsibility (moral, legal) for the "acts" of the corporation. In what sense can a corporation, which is not really a person at all, act? A major role of corporations under law is to shield individuals from responsibility for their actions. They do act.



The difficulties that may arise in professional life from specific religious and cultural backgrounds, and specifically from the Mennonite/Amish version of Christianity. The professions as understood in America incorporates values and practices that may be strongly opposed to the ethical and religious convictions and practices.

Five ethical norms that are relevant to professional practice. (Callahan, p. 90) What is the ethical basis of these requirements? The golden rule? How? What else?

Various "models" of the professional/client relationship 89-103, and the distinction between contract and covenant. (pp. 92-95) The "donative" factor May speaks of. His objections to the "contract" model.

"Fiduciary relationship"—-"The relation existing when one person justifiably reposes confidence, faith and reliance on another whose aid, advice or protection is sought in some matter: the relation existing when good conscience requires one to act at all times for the sole benefit and interests of another with loyalty to those interests…." (Webster’s 3rd New International Dictionary, unabridged, p. 845)



A walk through the chapters of the Callahan book, chapters 5-11, just to note the various specific topics of ethical concern dealt with.

Go back to last time’s handout and pick up with the ‘military’ model of nursing as a profession—
And the discussion of paternalism.

When you look back at the various models of the client/professional relationship proposed in the readings, be sure to try to locate the problems raised by those models. Do those problems concern the adequacy of the specific service of the professional, or other values effected by the actions involved, or both? For example, May’s three objections to the contract model of medical care, stated spanning pp. 93 and 94? What about the differences in the military and the "courageous advocate" model of nursing in Winslow’s article? (pp 95ff) Winslow is certainly concerned about the way the military model of nursing may harm the care of the patient. Is that all? The contrast between May’s "covenant" model and the "fiduciary" model discussed by various authors (e.g. Bayles on pp. 118) is difficult to make clear. "In a fiduciary relationship," Bayles says, "both parties are responsible and their judgments given consideration." I think the covenant relationship simply postulates a greater degree of care for one another in the professional/client relationship, and a corresponding readiness on the part of the professional to go beyond carefully defined responsibilities in securing the good of the client. It might have a greater tendency toward paternalism than the "fiduciary" idea.

PATERNALISM: Work through Bayles’ discussion of paternalism, its justification and critique on pp. 116-118, and scope out Bayles’ statement on "The appropriate ethical conception of the professional—client relationship? mid-p. 119.

The discussion of "Academic paternalism" on pp. 105ff is quite of illuminating on the limits of paternalism in general. Work through 108-110b, and the "conclusion" on 111-112.

In general, what exactly is wrong with treating an adult as a child and not allowing them to assume responsibilities as far as is possible for them?

LYING/DECEPTION: You did some work on this earlier, and especially you thought about the contrast between the "priority" and "parallel" interpretations of professional morality.(pp. 130-131) But we might think again about what is wrong with lying and what kinds of people do it. Why does Ellin think deception (not the same as lying? 132a) is not necessarily prohibited in the professional relation? (pp. 136b-137) His five arguments against lying. (136d-137a) Collins’ argument for lying. (139a-b, 140c-d) Bok’s reasoning to the contrary. (142-145) Work through pages 142-145 and especially (in the medical field) the suggestions about why telling people the "bad news" that they are soon to die may not be as bad as people now make it out to be—although doctors may regarded it as their failure to "solve the problem."

Look back at the discussion between Carr and Gillespie (pp. 69-76), concerning "bluffing" in business.

INFORMED CONSENT: Does this primarily concern the excellence of the service rendered by the professional in a given case? What is the primary value at issue. The "right to self determination." (pp. 176ff) Why is self-determination so important. Just so you can do what you want?

The problems surrounding the realities of "informed" and "consent" are really quite severe. See 180 to bottom p. 184. Is it possible that Ingelfinger is right that informed consent "is no more than elaborate ritual"? (top. 182) Do law-suit concerns really drive it as a practice: trying to make the client responsible for the outcome? Note how Gorovitz tries to salvage something for informed consent. (185f) And note the problems with the "consent" side. (187-188)


Phil. 141g. The Professions and the Public Good in American Life. Nov. 12, 2007

Remember that there will be no discussion sections next week (Nov. 19-23), and no class meeting on the 21—which will be made up on Dec. 13. Your discussion sections this week are on Callahan pp. 263-274.


Please keep in mind that in this course, which has to do with "Social Thought," we are interested in ethical questions from two perspectives: FIRST of all, how does the practice of the profession tend toward or even require kinds of relationships and actions that, without such "role differentiation," are obviously immoral? (How might this be justified? Can it be?) SECOND, how do really or apparently immoral behaviors or personal characteristics hinder the proper functioning of the profession for the benefit of society? Of course there is the THIRD issue of harm done to individuals.

We have now dealt at length with the topic of paternalism, and more briefly with manipulation and lying. (We will finish that today.) Because of the role of special expertise in the professional areas, we have concluded that there may be cases where paternalism, as defined by Bayles, is not only justified but morally required. But there are, in general, good reasons against paternalistic practices of professional on client (117d-118c), and any use of them must be carefully supported by reasons. In general, paternalism and manipulation should be avoided because they are destructive of basic human values, as discussed in this class. Lying seems possibly justified in some cases of legal practice by the adversary system of criminal law, but by no means justified in the degree to which it is actually practiced in law. It is questionable whether it could ever be morally justified in other cases—but it probably should not be totally ruled out. It is conceivable that something of sufficiently great value could be at issue that a lie would be morally justified. Once again, by no means as often as it is actually done. The general characters of the paternalist, the manipulator and the liar remain morally objectionable.


LYING/DECEPTION: You did some work on this earlier, and especially you thought about the contrast between the "priority" and "parallel" interpretations of professional morality.(pp. 130-131) But we might think again about what is wrong with lying and what kinds of people do it. Why does Ellin think deception (not the same as lying? 132a) is not necessarily prohibited in the professional relation? (pp. 136b-137) Why lying is worse. (133b-134b) His five arguments against lying. (136d-137a)

Collins’ argument for lying. (139a-b, 140c-d) Bok’s reasoning to the contrary. (142-145) Work through pages 142-145 and especially (in the medical field) the suggestions about why telling people the "bad news" that they are soon to die may not be as bad as people now make it out to be—although doctors may regarded it as their failure to "solve the problem."


A look back at the discussion between Carr and Gillespie (pp. 69-76), concerning "bluffing" in business.

With respect to "Nonpaternalistic Deception: Deceptive Advertising" (pp. 156-166), we might grant that little can be done by legislation to stop it, and perhaps such legislation would be unwise except in particular, life and death cases, such as medications. However, it still needs to be said that the values presumed by some (helping the consumer, helping business) to be attained by deceptive advertising by no means justifies the harm done by an atmosphere of deception that hovers over business an infects the lives of those responsible to make things appear as they are not. We need to rethink the whole idea of selling stuff to people—getting people to want to buy, including the creation and stimulation of desire—as distinct from helping them find what they need.


What about lying and deception in advertising? (158b and 165c-166a)

On accepting the idea of manipulation in "selling." The very idea of a group whose function is to sell (not help people find and buy what they need), of a culture that accepts "commercials" in the midst of art, news, sports and entertainment!!!!

Why are there "laugh tracks" on Television "shows"? To help you laugh?

The interesting case of the potent placebo. (167-169)


SOME QUESTIONS: If you knew that a doctor/lawyer/clergy would lie, or was a liar, would you submit yourself to them? If someone practices the "useful lie," they would have to hide the fact that they would do so, wouldn’t they? What is it you are doing to a person when you lie to them? How does lying differ from self-deception? What kind of person lies?

For further research on this topic you might like to see George Serban’s Lying: Man’s Second Nature, Praeger, 2001; also Sissela Bok, Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life, Pantheon, 1978.


INFORMED CONSENT (Callahan, pp 172-175): Obviously related to issues of Paternalism and Manipulation—and possibly deceit—a major part of the profession role would be to provide the technical information needed by the client to make the decisions that they must make in their life circumstance. (See the two arguments for informed consent on p. 173) It may be impossible, or even harmful, in some cases to achieve fully informed consent, but every reasonable effort should be made to achieve as high degree as possible. In no case should information be withheld merely for the purposes of facilitating professional research or practice.

Does informed consent primarily concern the excellence of the service rendered by the professional in a given case? What is the primary value at issue. The "right to self determination." (pp. 176ff) Why is self-determination so important. Just so you can do what you want? Is doing what you want always a good thing? Always the best thing?

The problems surrounding the realities of "informed" and "consent" are really quite severe. See 180 to bottom p. 184. Is it possible that Ingelfinger is right that informed consent "is no more than elaborate ritual"? (top. 182) Do ‘law-suit’ concerns really drive it as a practice: trying to make the client responsible for the outcome? Note how Gorovitz tries to salvage something for informed consent. (185f) And note the problems with the "consent" side. (187c-188)

The issue of experimentation on "consenting" human subjects of research. See final paragraph on p.193c.


Phil. 141g. The Professions and the Public Good in American Life. Nov. 14, 2007

Please bring the Illich book, Disabling Professions, to class on Mon. the 19th.


PRIVACY AND CONFIDENTIALITY (pp. 207-210): Professionals often have access to information about people which those people do not wish to be generally known. Much professional life therefore threatens the fundamental human need and right for privacy. Knowledge of our life gives others power over us, sometimes just to make judgments about us which we would rather avoid, but also to take action in relation to us. Sometimes this is warranted or needed, other times—most times—not. Rights to privacy and confidentiality can be overridden, but, as with Paternalism etc., there must be a convincing line of argument that a greater value is at stake.—e.g. public safety, etc.

What privacy is. (Callahan, p. 216a)
And the three "mistaken views" (217)

The reasons for desiring privacy. (218c-219a)
The moral right to privacy? Not absolute. (219b)
       Some legitimate reasons for "intrusive measures." (220d)

Legal right to privacy? Not well-defined. There is no general legal or moral right to not be subject to public knowledge. Interesting cases: Sex offenders, criminal record, adoption, AIDS and other health issues…? When is genuine public interest sufficient to warrant or require public knowledge? Blood tests as a requirement for issuance of a marriage license.

Legal privacy protects against use of personal information for professional gain, government pressure, blackmail of varying degrees, etc. But also is used to protect against legitimate public and governmental scrutiny.


Here a major issue is whether a person is responsible only for what they directly intend. Another is whether corporations are to be held morally responsible just as individuals are. Here what is mainly at issue is how CEOs and associated high level personnel in corporations are to be judged for what is done by their corporations. While there is obviously some limit to be drawn, the CEO has the responsibility of knowing what his or her corporation does, and the corporation is not to be held blameless for its "deeds" because it is not a person.

Now this section in Callahan actually deals with issues of quite a different kind than the narrowly focused ones above, and we must pay greater attention to them. They concern larger issues of the professional's relation to his or her profession, on the one hand, and to society on the other. They make a special point of the professional's obligation to society at large in the area of expertise, not just the the particular clients they serve. These types of considerations will be especially important when thinking about the issues raised by Sullivan’s social conception of the professional.

There are a lot of fine points about the when and how of "Whistle Blowing" (See pages 315 and following.) But, in general, just because the professional is the one uniquely in position to alert the public when professionals are abusing their position for their own benefit or that of their "corporation," their special capacity of caring for the public good means that they have a special obligation to speak out about what they know to be happening. The idea that they have no such obligation because of the retaliation which they are almost certain to suffer (p. 317) is simply a counsel of moral cowardice. When the stakes are high, at least, suffering for doing what is right is simply what one accepts as a responsible human being. This should be standardly taught as part of life, and human beings everywhere should be encouraged to support and admire those who point out harm that is being doing. (Cooper, Rowley, and Watkins were three women recognized by Time magazine as "Persons of the Year" (12/30/2002) for standing against Worldcom, the FBI and Enron. They all suffered for standing up as professionals. But what happens to those who bow down to corruption? See p. 329 on how things turned out for a number of outstanding whistle blowers.)


  1. Should Physicians Prepare for War? (302ff)

  2. Should Nurses Strike? (309-314)

  3. In Defense of Whistleblowing. (315-321)

  4. Ten Case Studies—How Hard It Is to Blow the Whistle.
    (322ff) What kind of person would one have to be in order to stand against the corruption of their own profession?

  5. S. Bok on Responsibilities to the Profession. (331ff)
    See especially the "Institutional Questions" of pp. 337-339


Serious doubts —
Centrality of Moral Virtue - 408ff
"Ideological Use of Codes" - 411ff
"Window Dressing

Now this is all we can do on particular issues that come up within professions because of conflicting values. Of special importance are the duties professionals have a citizens, because of their standing as professionals. (Recall statements on p. 309 of Callahan.) We now turn to the book Disabling Professions. And we will, finally, discuss professional life in relationship to the meaning of life, to see what resources can be found there to support the citizenship role of the professional.

Major point: "Professional Ethics" as currently understood simply does not deal with questions of fundamental importance for the functioning of the professions in society and for the well-being of the professional. In particular they do not solve the problems relating to the individual professional's commitment to the well-being of society with respect to the specific function of the profession. This said, you may want to review pp. 1-3 of the first handout, on the "BASIC THEMES AND CONTENT OF THIS COURSE."


Phil. 141g. The Professions and the Public Good in American Life. Nov. 19, 2007

Remember, no discussion sections this week and no class on Weds the 21st. Your discussion sections for the week of Nov. 26-30 will focus on Taylor, "Does Life Have a Meaning," next to last selection in you "PHIL 141g" Reader.

At this point you should be reading the Frankl book, Man’s Search for Meaning.

Be sure to pick up today the reading from Derek Bok, The Cost of Talent. His book is about how the imbalance of financial rewards created by unguided competition have now distorted the distribution of talent in the professional fields, so that public service (government) and education, especially, are unable to attract and hold the talented people they need to perform their function.

We will have a discussion of his views on Monday the 26th of November.




Carefully distinguish between the "contract" and the "covenant" understanding or "model" of the professional/client relationship. Which understanding makes a greater demand on the good moral character of the professional? Why? Take a reasoned position on whether or not the "covenant" understanding is more appropriate to the overall nature of that relationship. It is your view on these matters that is required, but you should show awareness of the views of May (Callahan, pp. 92-95) and Bayles (pp. 113-119) and others you may deem relevant.




Professional groupings are a natural development and extension of the natural social structure of division of labor. They form a "natural kind" in the social domain.

Natural: that is, they originated not by a decision but by action of individuals, and then groups, to meet a need; and their effects depend upon them maintaining a certain character or essense, which we studied a length under the concept section of this course. To the extent they lose this essence they fail to realize the end, meet the need, which brought them into existence.

The needs of the good society cannot be met unless traditions of skill and knowledge that require enduring institutions—e.g. schools, laws, professional organizations, etc—to train and hold practitioners responsible are developed.

Such traditions and their institutions cannot exist and be healthy without the support the society as a whole. They cannot, in particular, exist simply through the involvement of professionals in them.

Thus, to exist and practice as a professional is possible only in a society that makes it possible by supporting the relevant institutions and their personnel.

Thus, devotion to one's profession—being a good professional—requires appropriate responsibility for the well-being of the society that calls for the profession in the first place and makes the continuation and practice of it possible.

Conversely, the 'professional' who is not appropriately devoted to the well-being of society as a whole—obviously including the well-being of the other professions and much more (Sullivan’s "civic professionalism)—fails to care for his or her own profession and practice. They are "free riders." And if this attitude spreads through the profession the result will be that they will not be able to fulfill their own professional function.

A part of the test concerning whether the individual practitioner is good at his or her profession is whether or not he or she is pro-actively involved in promoting the conditions that make society a good society and make possible the excellent functioning of her or his profession and the professions generally.

What Sullivan calls "the civic dimension of professionalism" thus is a natural part of the natural social unit which the profession is. Look again at a few pages from Sullivan, Work and Integrity (pp. 180-187, 270-272)


The issue then becomes how can one get and sustain a society/individuals that will support "civic professionalism"?

Take careful note of Kultgen's statement (Callahan, p. 420 right column) on the "ideal organization of work" and the corresponding individuals and society.

But again: how do you get to this?

Sullivan's answer: Professional Leadership, 187ff. {And consider Bok, The Cost of Talent (handout), on "culture and mission, pp. 291-294.)} And Sullivan on

"Different Moral Principles," pp. 288-290—compare to last pages of Bok (296-297).


In fact, today no one knows how to achieve this.

For it presupposes a background of moral knowledge, and the center of authority in current culture, the Universities, does not recognize moral knowledge but only moral theory. The thugs on the street and in the Board Rooms of previous decades still thought that there was moral knowledge, and that someone somewhere knew that what they were doing was wrong. Now those thugs and many more innocent people hold that no one knows that anything is right or wrong, or that any person is good or bad.


Concerning the book, Disabling Professions —-

This book is about the POWER of the professions as currently functioning in our society. Power is the ability to direct. Authority is the right to direct. The central thesis of the book is that the professions have causal power of the exercise of their relevant functions in human life, and thereby DISABLE the citizens they serve by excluding them from those functions.

The "disabling" in question is, in general, an arranging of things in such a way that ordinary citizens cannot perform the professional activity, and cannot intelligently direct it as done by others. E. g., the removal of pain and disfunction, or the handling of legal matters.

The bleak picture of the present presented in the paragraph bot. p. 14 and top. 15.

How is the ‘disabling’ done? By the profession gaining a monopoly on the activity. Having exclusive ownership of the power to define people’s problems, define the person as a client (pp. 17-18) and impose or withhold "treatment."

This is done officially, by law, by popular assumption, and by securing the genuine inability of the ‘client’ to do what needs to be done—for example by not assisting them to learn how and have the requisite resources.

On the manipulation of "needs." "Imputable needs" (pp. 22-26)

Five disabling illusions. Paragraph spanning 28-29, spelled out to top p. 38..

The crucial concept of "use-value." Mid paragraph 29, and top 31

Illich’s positive picture. Top nine lines of 32

"The Post-Professional Ethos." 38-39

Medical dominance tied to an ideology of progress. P. 51
The dominance spelled out. Top 52.
       And bottom p. 55. And mid 61.

Medicine and social dominance. Last full paragraph of p. 66.


Business and "service." P. 69, bot. p. 71, top. 72

The point: bot. half p. 73, mid page 74
Managers and the 5 elements to be managed. Top p. 77.

Three disabling effects. 78-83

Professional self-defines success. 87-88

Summary, p. 90-91.

Note the abuse of "care" on pp. 72ff, and the sentence "The result is that the politico-economic issues of service are hidden behind the mask of love." (mid. 73)

Note the picture of the client and the needs of the professional. (82)

Creation of the law monopoly. Pp. 93-94. "We are told lawyers are indispensable and, since we have no clear idea of what lawyers do, we accept it." (bot. p. 96)

What we may get from a lawyer. 98.

How the "lawyer cult" is reinforced. Five points. 102-103

What the judge does in fact. Top 105.

Some things that might be done to restrain lawyer monopoly. 108-109.

When higher consumption means a lower quality of life. 112-113

"The central drive, production for profit, is incompatible with humanizing the society…. A relatively high standard of consumption has become far different from a fulfilling life." 125


Review questions for the final exam:

  1. Explain how well-being in society depends upon the division of labor (see Plato selection in Reader #1, and Haber pp. 47-48) and how the profession goes beyond mere division of labor in making a desirable life possible for individuals in society. Illustrate by discussing two of the occupational groups now commonly recognized as professions.

  2. How do you understand "the common good," and how might speaking of "common goods" (plural), as we have done in this course, set aside two of the criticisms that have been leveled against the idea of the common good?

  3. Explain Dewey's concept of the "eclipse" of the public and evaluate his view of how the "eclipse" might be removed through social inquiry (involving experts of professions), moving us from the 'Great' Society to a "Great Community."

  4. Does being a member of a profession actually confer dignity and a desirable identity (other than "money maker") upon an individual. Why or why not? From your studies thus far, what do you see in American history that would confirm or refute Haber's thesis that "the American professions transmit,...a distinctive sense of authority and honor that has its origins in the class position and occupational prescriptions of eighteenth-century English gentlemen"? (p. ix)

  5. Explain "legal realism" (Hatch 44f) and its relationship with changing concepts of what law is (compare Langdell, Hatch 41-43). How might the change to "legal realism" relate to the new Code of Professional Responsibility adopted by the ABA in 1970? (Hatch, p. 46)

  6. Explain the difference between the views of Royce and Dewey on the university Professor's freedom from control on what he taught. (Haber 282-290) What do you take to be the professional function of the Professor or "higher education"? (See Hatch, pp. 21ff) How does your answer affect the problem of "freedom from control" for the Professor?

  7. What is "Progressivism"? And how was professionalism to be involved in it? Especially law and architecture? Discuss Croly's "Civic Professionalism" (Sullivan, 114-115) in this context. What defeated this "first effort at civic professionalism? (Sullivan 127-131) See your "class notes" handout for Oct 10 on this question and the passages in Sullivan indexed on p. 324)

  8. Explain the Mennonite/Anabaptist critique, from a religious point of view, of professionalism as social power and status. Kraybill and Good in Reader, pp. 8-58. Do you agree? Why or why not?

  9. What is moral theory and what is its significance for professionalism.— In particular, how might professional ethics be regarded as essential to being "professional" in main professional groups such as doctors and lawyers? (Class notes handout Oct. 17, and Callahan 10ff & 49ff)

  10. How does "professional ethics" relate to being professional, and to what extent do you regard the professional ethics movement as successful in dealing with problems of professional practice and professional image that befall current professional practice? E.g. in law or medicine?

  11. Explain briefly each of the 5 models of the professional-client relationship discussed by Bayles. (Callahan, 113ff)

  12. What advantages does May see in the covenant over the contract model of the professional-client relationship? (Callahan, 92ff)

  13. State "THE BASIC LINE OF THOUGHT" about the professions, according to Willard, and give some critical appraisal of the conclusion drawn about being a good professional.

  14. Is it necessary to be a saint or hero to fulfill the moral imperative that lies on the professional in relation to her or his profession and/or society? Why or why not?

  15. What is the problem of integrity in work, as Sullivan describes it, and what are two of the primary connections in which the problem arises in contemporary professions?

  16. What are the "three apprenticeships" of civic professionalism, and which one is in deepest trouble today? (Sullivan)

  17. Explain the nature of "Positivist" knowledge ("technical rationality") and why it fails as an understanding of "professional knowledge" and professional education (formation). (Sullivan)

  18. Explain Reinhold Niebuhr’s theory of the irrepressible DUALISM (in Reader, p. 271) in ethics (individual ethics and collectivist ethics) , or "political realism which emphasizes the inevitability and necessity of social struggle" (p. 275 and 272) and explain why, nevertheless, from the "internal perspective…all egoism must be morally disapproved. (Study carefully pp. 272-272, and the handout for Nov. 22)

  19. What is Charles Taylor’s ‘solution’ to the meaninglessness of life (in Sisyphus and human beings)? (in Reader, see Taylor’s pages 437-438) Would this solution help a human being in the position of Sisyphus? Why or why not?

  20. What does Victor Frankl take "meaning" to be? Could his view of meaning and life contribute to "reinventing the professions," as Sullivan understands it?


Phil. 141. The Professions and the Public Good in American Life. Nov. 26, 2007.

The course evaluation by students will be held today at 3PM, The Discussion Leaders will administer it.

Your discussion sections for this week deal with the article by Richard Taylor, "Does Life Have a Meaning?" This is the next-to-last selection in your "Phil 141g" reader.

Remember that Sullivan introduced meaning in terms of "integrity in work." Also recall our brief discussion of meaning as "carry over," with reference to Sullivan’s discussion. In what respect is "carry over" lacking in cases Taylor discusses? Sisyphus. The worms in the cave in New Zealand. What is Taylor’s "solution"?

Be sure that you have the handouts from last time. They include the topic of the final paper (due at class December 5th and the review questions for the final exam. Pick them up "up front" after class if you missed them.

The final exam for the course is Friday, December 14, 2-4PM in this room.

The review session will be 2-4PM on the 13th, room to be determined.



Be sure to understand "The Basic Line of Thought in This Course."

Illich’s idea of "disabling professions," and how the disabling is done.

The five illusions imposed upon people by professional dominance. Pp. 27-38

Transformation of service to "needs" into commodities for sale.



Finish discussion of Illich, Disabling Professions

See notes at end of handout from last time.


Critique of this book:

It raises questions that need to be raised, especially in the light of the lack of adequacy of professional service to the public good the particular profession is designed to serve.

But it is dominated by theoretical commitments that also need to be questioned.

  1. A Marxist reading of social domination as based on individual and class interests.
  2. A simplistic anti-consumerist picture of the good life.
  3. An exaggerated sense of what the individual can do for themselves, largely based on #2.

Still, there is no doubt that professions make too much of their "honor and authority," often using it for personal advantages and/or not attending to the type of devotion to the profession in its social setting that Sullivan includes under "Civic Professionalism" and the "Third Apprenticeship." Professionals generally assume that they have a right to greater income and privilege. Illich’s critique, though exaggerated, needs to be attended to.


Now a look at Reinhold Niebuhr’s thesis in Moral Man and Immoral Society. (Half-way through your Phil. 141g reader.) His view is that one cannot count on the ethics or moral character of the individual in a group to hold up in the face of the pressures they experience in groups. Moral human beings cannot rectify "immoral societies." Read carefully the first paragraphs of the selection, on pp. xi-xiii. Niebuhr has a view on social process radically different from anything we have read thus far. His thesis on p. xi: Individuals can be unselfish, but groups cannot. His polemic against certain moralists (mid p. xii)—in particular, Dewey’s view (1) that experimental intelligence will resolve social ills and conflicts, the "natural bias of the educator." (xiv) Niebuhr’s "ethical realism," that "power must be challenged by power." (top xv) The failure of another approach, (2) the sociological: that of "accommodation." (xvi-xix) And of a third approach, (3) that of the "religious idealists" (xix-xxiv) See the summary of Niebuhr’s view in paragraph mid xx, and again the sentence spanning xxii-xxiii.

Social groups require a measure of coercion. (p. 4) Economic interests always present between groups. (p. 5) The golden rule: "The one who has the gold makes the rules." See p. 8 on the special rewards those in power arrange for themselves, and mid p. 13 and bot. p. 15 on the same, and all of p. 21. "…the dream of perpetual peace and brotherhood for human society is one which will never be fully ealized. It is a vision prompted by the conscience and insight of individual man, but incapable of fulfillment by collective man." (21-22) (Remember Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents.)

The "double focus" of the moral life: "the inner life of the individual and the…necessities of man’s social life." (p. 257 & 258) The three forms of morality. (259) "The natural preference which all unreflective moral thought gives to altruism." (260-261) The nature and problems of pure religious idealism. (363-364). Problems with love and justice. (266) Collective relations and unselfishness in tension. (267)

"Every effort to transfer a pure morality of disinterestedness to group relations has resulted in failure." (268) Tolstoi and Gandhi. (269-270)

"Better to accept a frank dualism in morals than to attempt a harmony between the two methods which threatens the effectiveness of both." (top. 271) "The selfishness of human communities must be regarded as an inevitability" etc. etc. (272) But also: The "necessity of cultivating the strictest individual moral discipline and…" (273) "a leadership free of self-seeking." (274) The tragic dimension of moral life: irreconcilable tension between Love and Justice. (Recall H. Sidgwick: irresolvable tension between rational egoism and benevolence. Something deep here about the human condition.


Phil. 141g. The Professions and the Public Good in American Life. November 28, 2007

The pre-final review session will be 2-4PM, Thurs. Dec. 13, in Grace Ford Salvatori (GFS) room 106. Final is Dec. 14, 2-4PM in this room.

At this point you should be reading Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. But be sure to bring Thomas Haskell, "The New Aristocracy" with you to class on Monday the 3rd of Dec. (It’s in your reader right after Niebuhr.) This little piece is crucial to the wind-up of this course, because it draws together all the major thought motifs in contemporary thinking about the professions and their future.



The criticisms of Illich’s Disabling Professions.

Reinhold Niebuhr’s thesis that group dynamics and behavior cannot be guided or assessed by standards that would be appropriate to individual character and behavior. See p. xv. The basic idea is that groups are inherently ego driven to group mastery over other groups. P. xxiii And "…in this conflict power must be challenged by power." P. xv. Individuals can be unselfish, but groups cannot.



We finish the discussion of Niebuhr by going back to last time’s handout, p. 56.

Illustrations of how groups do not respond to moral appeals only, and some necessary limitations on this illustrated by Gandhi, South Africa and US segregation.


We now now turn to Derek Bok’s The Cost of Talent (reading handout), for his "Summing Up" and concluding suggestions about the problems posed by widely varying financial rewards in the various professions:

Bok's title is The Cost of Talent, but "cost" is not really his concern. His concern is with the distribution of talent to meet social needs. In particular, he is distressed by what is happening to education and government service as a result of the huge amount of money that goes to CEOs, lawyers and physicians.

He demonstrates quite convincingly that "we cannot justify the earnings of leading professionals merely by invoking the principles of market competition." (p. 226) And he dismisses the arguments that this is not something to be concerned about. (227-231) Read pp. 231-top 232 for his statement of how "unwarranted wealth perpetuates injustice and frays the bonds that hold societies together. That is the ultimate reason why excessive earnings are a genuine problem that deserves a serious search for appropriate remedies." (232)

Bok's case showing the maldistribution of talent in society is given on pp. 232-242, "in conclusion" pp. 240-242

His case that "merit pay" does not demonstrably produce better performance for professionals. (242-246)—summary paragraph on p. 246.

See Bok's statement that it is not competition at all that fixes professional earnings in this country. (247-248) And his list of "other factors" that determine those earnings at bottom of 247.

The "other factors" that determine compensation are discussed in Chapter 12, "The Impact of Values."


  • The older American attitudes. 249ff

  • Effect of the "New Deal." mid 251ff

  • The Reagan doctrine returns to the old attitude. 253
    Its failure. 255



  • Study the first full ¶ on 258, concerning when gross inequalities might be morally defensible, and last full ¶ on p. 260

  • Study pp. 261-262 on the limits of what `market' can do.
    and 263-267 on where the drive for money fails.

  • Why Government cannot shrink. 268-272
    The necessary involvement of the professions with government.
    The concluding paragraphs (272-273) on why the 1980's doctrine of market failed.


Are their any remedies?— Bok Chapter 13

Ones that won't work. p. 274

"A more steeply progressive income tax." 275ff

Outcome of discussion, paragraph spanning 279-280

Expanding opportunities. 280ff

The failure at the lower school level 280-281

Some suggestions for the higher education level 282-286—sentence ending p. 285

Solution summarized for teaching and civil service 287-288.

Motivation other than money. 289ff

3rd way: "culture and mission" bot 291-top 294

The only genuine solution is becoming the right kind of people. "Rethinking our Values" 294-297

What the issue is. The two full ¶ on 294

What leaders can do. 295

Objections. 295-296

The two final appeals:

"what our society needs" mid 297

"preoccupation with material gain does not produce a deeply satisfying existence." Bot. 297 Read last two paragraphs of book.

(Highly similar to the end of Sullivan, Work and Integrity.)


Phil. 141g. The Professions and the Public Good in American Life. December 3, 2007

The pre-final review session will be 2-4PM, Thurs. Dec. 13, in Grace Ford Salvatori (GFS) room 106. Final is Dec. 14, 2-4PM in this room.

Niebuhr’s major thesis that the ideals and standards of personal virtue and moral obligation cannot be applied to group relations—e.g. between states or between labor and management, etc. How about between genders or between races?

Bok’s point about the imbalance of social and governmental investment in the various professional groups, and its effects upon the quality of public service and education.

The limitations of competition or "the market" in dealing with the problem of imbalance.


We finish the discussion of Bok (return to end of last handout), and especially his attempt to survey various possible "remedies"

Emphasize Bok’s claim about "motivation other than money" (289ff) and "the only genuine solution": becoming the right kind of people. (pp. 294-297)

What produces a "deeply satisfying existence." (last ¶ p. 297)

Both Niebuhr and Bok, like Sullivan, are talking about a kind of self-sacrificial leadership by professionals that is reminiscent of Ruskin and Brandeis, and an intelligence such as Dewey called for. Also Maxwell. Also remember the early stages of the professions in America as portrayed in Haber and in Hatch.

Compare the views of these authors on the professions with some of the most recent interpretations of professionalism and the professions as seen in—


"The New Aristocracy" (in Reader right after Niebuhr). This is a review of Kraus’s book, The Death of the Guilds, by Thomas L. Haskell. The books thesis is that capitalism and the state have taken control of the professions. Haskell questions the professionals’ claim to moral superiority (column 1 and 2 of the second page of the article). He gives an alternative interpretation of the contemporary professions (paragraph spanning pp. 50-51) that does not involve the communitarian nature of the guilds. Contemporary professions are not tied to public service except in a very indirect manner. And whatever monopoly they achieve is not directly intended, but a result of intense internal competition for status within the profession. Internal competition for status among peers is the mark of the contemporary profession .(pp. 51-52, and see the last paragraph of the article on p. 53) A different dimension of self-interest than money or social standing is the engine that drives the professions now, and disassociates them entirely from the Guilds of late Medieval times and later—up through late 1800’s.


The goodness and effectiveness/power of professional life is related to the meaningfulness of such life for those who are living it! That’s stood out in Sullivan. (pp. 184-185, 271, etc.) Could meaning, rightly understood, contribute to the solution of the problems of professions and professional life in the contemporary world?


Let’s look at the nature and sources of meaning according to Taylor and Frankl.

Taylor on Meaninglessness and how to escape it. (#2 Reader, right after "The New Aristocracy"): The fable of Sisyphus, and meaninglessness as "a repetitious, cyclic activity that never comes to anything." (mid p. 433) "Nothing comes of it." (bot. 433) Even if Sisyphus LOVED to role the stone. (top. 434) Meaningfulness the opposite, as involving "some significant culmination, some more or less lasting end…the direction and purpose of the activity." (bot. 434)

Is life, and human life, then meaningless? Seems so. (bot 435 & bot 436)

But meaning in terms of desire is still present. (mid 437). Desire ‘moves’ us. And that is meaning. (?) Meaning as achieving some culmination—and THEN what?—is the hell of infinite boredom. (bot. 437)

Now see Taylors ‘solution’ in the paragraph spanning 437-438. What "really counts." (last paragraph of the article): "a new task, a new castle, a new bubble."

Why could not one have culminations of lasting value plus new tasks?

Compare Taylor’s view to Frankl’s, in Man’s Search for Meaning: pp. 57-63, 86-88, but especially 92-98 and 103-105.


Phil. 141g The Professions and the Public Good in American Life—December 5, 2007

1. The pre-final review session will be 2-4PM, Thurs. Dec. 13, in Grace Ford Salvatori (GFS) room 106. Final is Dec. 14, 2-4PM in this room.

2. I will not keep my regular office hours after today. You may contact me by email for an appointment ( and by phone at 818-716-0652 to talk. I am usually by this phone between 7:30-9 in the evening, or I will return your call. You should understand that cell phones not infrequently come though as unintelligible. I will be at my office (205 Mudd Hall of Philosophy) from 4PM to 6PM on the 13th specifically to see students from this class. If you have any concerns related to the course, see me then or arrange for an appointment.

3. An interesting response from a student to my statement that being a good person is a "matter of the heart."

4. Now we must go back to clean up a point from last time, concerning Richard Taylor’s view on "meaning."

Taylor takes the view that meaningless in experience and life, as often complained of, comes from the knowledge or feeling that "nothing comes of it": from the thought that it is not true that there is "some significant culmination, some more or less lasting end…the direction and purpose of the activity." (bot. p. 434)

He argues that if there were a "significant culmination" we could only enjoy this forever and that would be "infinite boredom" because, he seems to think, we would not any longer have something to do. It would be "the hell of its eternal absence. (bot. p. 437) He has a very limited understanding of what enjoyment of the "significant culmination" might be like, probably derived from what he has heard about sitting on clouds and playing harps, or worse. His point here can be set aside, I think, because there are other ways of understanding the "endless enjoyment" of the "significant culmination" than those boring ones Taylor has in mind.

But he proceeds to say that even if there is no meaning of human life, there can be meaning in human life. He says that the stone-rolling activity of Sisyphus and that of the cave worms has a meaning internal to it. "The meaningfulness they possess is that of the inner compulsion to be doing just what we were put here to do (?!), and to go on doing it forever. This is the nearest we may hope to get to heaven, but the redeeming side of that fact is that we do thereby avoid a genuine hell." (top p. 438) He goes on in the following paragraphs to explain how human activities are "meaningful" when one is engaged in them, and that’s all there is to it. (Read last paragraph.) He says "the point of living is simply to be living." But this is mere assertion, trivially true for one who has no problem of meaning, but totally irrelevant to one who does. His final statements are either pure bravado or mere stipulation of how things are to be.

In particular, put his statements in the context of Frankl’s concentration camp and see how they fare.


5. Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning.

Remember what meaning is—"carry over," transition, the power to move on—and note the relationship between Sullivan, Taylor and Frankl.

The two parts of Frankl's book:
Part One (to p. 115): The human experience of concentration camps.
Part Two (119-179): Theory of meaning in life, and a form of psychotherapy (Logotherapy) based upon it.

Frankl's aim in writing this book: "I had simply wanted to convey to the reader by way of a concrete example that life holds a potential meaning under any conditions, even the most miserable ones.

"The odds of surviving the camp were no more than one in twenty-eight." (p. 137) He describes three phases (p. 26) of the experience of the internee: Shock (27ff), Apathy (47ff), and Depersonalization (105ff). The constant condition of those interned was one of starvation, cold, labor, sickness, being degraded, uncertainty about everything (arbitrariness)

What did Frankl learn from his experiences and observations of others in the concentration camps? THAT NO MATTER WHAT THE CIRCUMSTANCES, INCLUDING DEATH ITSELF, IT IS POSSIBLE TO DIRECT ONE'S MIND AND WILL IN SUCH A WAY THAT THERE IS "CARRY OVER" IN ONE'S LIFE. THIS IS A FREE CHOICE, A DECISION, AND THEREFORE HE USES THE TERM "EXISTENTIAL" TO DESCRIBE IT. Carefully study pp. 57-64. Pp. 86-87! and pp.90, 93, 94-95, 98-99. His "talk" to his fellow inmates, pp. 103-105.— "The infinite meaning of life includes suffering and dying, privation and death." (104) And: "There are two races of men in this world, but only these two—the 'race' of the decent man and the 'race' of the indecent. Both are found everywhere.... The rift dividing good from evil, which goes through all human beings, reaches into the lowest depths and becomes apparent even on the bottom of the abyss which is laid open by the concentration camp." (108)

One decides, no matter the situation, who one will be. This is true in disappointment, suffering and death. Degradation, suffering and death are occasions on which we choose who we will be. The future is one of being in these extreme cases. And then what we have been is stored in the complete security of the past and can never be taken away.

After his account of his experiences, Frankl turns to the theory of life which he developed under the name of "Logotherapy." See the brief description on pp. 120-121 & 125.

What can be done for those seeking meaning in their life. (p. 131) The three ways of finding meaning in life. (133ff)—A work, and encounter, suffering. Read 135-138 carefully!

Religious belief and meaning. (141-142)

How "potentialities" are saved (143) and "having been is the surest kind of being." (144) "The full granaries of the past." (p. 175) LIFE AS CREATING A PRECIOUS REALITY.


Pp. 145-152 on some techniques of Logotherapy.

Against "nothingbutness" and determinism. pp. 153-157. A human being is not a thing. " is ultimately self-determining. What he becomes—within the limits of endowment and environment—he has made out of himself. In the concentration camps, for example, in this living laboratory and on this testing ground, we watched and witnessed some of our comrades behave like swine while others behaved like saints. Man has both potentialities within himself; which one is actualized depends on decisions but not on conditions." (p. 157 and see 178-179 on swine and saints, and recall our earlier discussion of saints, handout for Oct. 25.)

Remember all that fuss about "self-determination," anti-paternalism, informed consent and so forth? Why should self-determination be regarded as valuable? Because that is your humanity, your "personhood," and it is of greater value and "meaningfulness" than pleasure, power and survival. Its loss brings loss of meaning, no "carry over," no transitiveness, no life energy.

The concept of tragic optimism—optimism in spite of the "tragic triad" of pain, guilt and death. (pp.161ff) The "opportunity" for meaning in each of these three conditions, stated on p. 162. Tragedy in Niebuhr and in Frankl? IS DEATH A TRAGEDY?

Not meaning of life as a whole, but in the specific. (168)
The cognition of meaning, and how one finds it. (169)
Dignity is not usefulness. 176-177.
Contemporary nihilism and the academic world. (177)
'Saints' again and finally. (178-179)


Meaning in life is possible by willing the good that it is possible to will. People can perhaps be worn down to the point where they are unable to will any good. Frankl’s view, from his terrible experiences in the camps, is that there is a good that can be willed, no matter what circumstances: that circumstances alone can never overwhelm your will. This good is your own character in the face of hopelessness and even annihilation. You get to decide who you will be, no matter what befalls you. (See pages 88 and 89 for concise statements.) This is something you can know about and choose.

There is, I think, nothing comparable in Taylor. For him, if you are not experiencing meaning in your activities or life, you are just stuck And if you are convinced that meaning in life can only come from the meaning of life—its "carry over" into something beyond life—it’s too late for you.

I have never known someone devoted to the service of others, in sensible and realistic ways, to be troubled about the meaning of life. Perhaps there are some, and I have just missed them. An excellent reason for not committing suicide is that if you do you will not be able to help others. Albert Camus (who brought the Myth of Sisyphus back into currency) said that there is only one philosophical question: Why not kill yourself? If you do, you will no longer be able to serve others. And, besides, you can always kill yourself later.


Dewey, Sullivan and Bok all call, in one way or another, for "moral renewal" as a basis for fitting the professions to fulfill their necessary functions in society: there particular contributions to the public good or public goods. In fact, today no one knows how to do this.

For it presupposes a background of moral knowledge, and the center of authority in current culture, the Universities, does not recognize moral knowledge but only moral discussions and possibly moral theory. The thugs on the street and in the board rooms of previous decades still thought that there was moral knowledge, and that someone somewhere knew that what they were doing was wrong. Now those thugs and many more innocent people hold that no one nowhere knows that anything is right or wrong, that any person is good or bad.

This leaves the professions and individuals as well in a position where right and wrong, good and bad are mere political issues—of necessity. Hence, the question is only: How can doctors, lawyers, university professors, etc., get their way? Or: How can I get my way? — Getting my way is often called success: "I did it myyyyyyyyyyyy (ourrrrrrrrrrrr) way." Each one then judges the motivations of others by comparison to their own, and the result is failure of cooperative endeavor in a sea of opposition and bitterness. (Sullivan's "negative interdependence" 170-174; see, by contrast, his "positive interdependence" on pp. 176-187) This is the story at the root of current American society generally.

The restoration and advancement of the professions in the late 19th Century, the Progressive movement (finally collapsing in the Viet Nam war era and after), the "professional ethics" movement, all failed to come to effective terms with the various individual and social tendencies to use the professional status for purposes other than the well-being of society. This is part of the "eclipse" (in Dewey's sense) of "the public" (in Dewey's sense). Now (recall "The New Aristocracy") concern about such matters are said to be irrelevant to professional performance. Competition for status in the profession takes care of everything that needs to be taken care of.


What exactly happened to Dewey's Dream for the professions?

(174-184) What happened to his solution of the problem of the public? (See ¶ spanning 208-209, and on to 219) A few comments:

  1. Knowledge fell victim to the positivist/scientific model of causal/technological functional connection of this event with that event. (Sullivan Chapter 6) This kind of knowledge is incapable of dealing with human affairs and effectively leaves them to political and historical drift. Remember Mr. McNamara. (Sullivan Chapter 4)

  2. Social communication failed. Dewey's understanding of inquiry as involving effective communication (176 etc) did not prove socially realistic in the America of the 20th Century. The professional development of higher education in fact made this impossible if nothing else did. No field of learning regards effective communication to the public (or even to other fields) as a necessary part of "success," and in fact generally holds the contrary. Effective communication to the public is generally regarded as a sign of professional weakness.

  3. A moral understanding of life was lost except for its political dimensions. Thus the individual is left at the mercy of money, status and success. This leads to the picture of human life, as war of all against all, that now automatically dominates the contemporary mind. Competition is the solution to everything. In this context it is inevitable that the professions will be mastered by the market, by business. This is exactly what is happening at present. ("The New Aristocracy." See in #3 Reader, Thomas Haskell, review of Elliott Krause's Death of the Guilds, in New York Review of Books, 12/4/97, 34ff)

What is needed to revitalize the professions? Basically, the widespread renewal of moral vision for the individual, professional or not. That is, resurgence of the idea that the innate drive to be a good person (recall definition) is a realistic one, subject to understanding and knowledge, and that the one who makes this drive the center of his or her life is not a fool. (Review our sketch of moral concepts.)

Imagine what it would be like for this to happen with professionals generally as individuals.

Imagine what life would be like in a society served by such professionals.


In thinking about your own future be sure to distinguish your job from your work, and your job and your work from your life.

Consider what your options and responsibilities may be for exercising and fostering the highest of ethical idealism for the professional. And what the effects will be if no one does this.

A final good word for a "Nuremberg ethics"—an ethic which refuses to approve of what is wrong because "I was just doing my job." Such an ethics as an ethics for mere human beings (not just saints and heroes) is the only basis upon which the professions can adequately serve the public good. This "ethic" is a choice we can make.