Moral experience and legal education

This paper argues that the contemporary practice of moral philosophy (particularly in the examples it relies on) and the contemporary practice of legal education both tend to ignore, dismiss or exclude that which is here called 'moral experience.' Moral experience is here defined (non-exhaustively) to be: 1) that which helps us face up to, instead of hide away from, our mortality and fallibility; 2) that which helps us experience radical uncertainty about who we are, where we have been, and where we will be, and about what has happened, is happening and will happen; 3) that which helps us experience the insight that we are not in control of all that which influences us; 4) that which helps us experience the infinite (for us) complexity of others and the world; 5) that which helps us to notice hitherto-invisible (to us) forms of suffering and vulnerability; and 6) that which helps us to widen the scope of, or sometimes change, that which we find valuable and care about. Moral experience is not designed to replace traditions of moral inquiry (such as virtue ethics or utilitarianism), and it is not designed to help us meet the demands of moral life. Rather, it is designed to help us avoid underestimating the demands of moral life. Following a discussion of moral experience in the first part of the paper, the second part turns to offer some activities and resources thanks to which law schools can enable moral experience for both their students and their staff. In doing so, the second part of the paper draws on research undertaken as part of the AHRC Beyond Text in Legal Education project at the School of Law, University of Edinburgh. It also draws on the author's own research as part of a pedagogical project entitled Unnatural Exercises.
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