Moral Judgement and Practical Reasoning in Professional Practice

Robert Macklin

    Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter


    In this paper I argue that moral decision making in professional practice should not be portrayed as a scientific or technically rational procedure. Rather, applying the arguments of a variety of writers, I suggest that moral judgements require practitioners in any field to use practical reasoning when applying ethical norms to the inevitably unique circumstances of any moral problem. Moreover, I argue that such judgments are complex and ultimately beyond cognition. To begin I define 'ethics', 'morality' and 'professional practice'. I draw a distinction between ethics and morality and define 'professional practice' as about practicing professionally, not just about the practices of 'professionals'. I then refer to examples of moral dilemmas in professional practice and the difficulties posed by attempts to apply ethical norms to such dilemmas. I refer readers to decision making models that can be used as aids to decency but warn decent practitioners to avoid the tyranny of guidelines. I then discuss the vital role of practical reasoning in moral judgement but suggest that as with all forms of reasoning it cannot guarantee 'good' moral decisions. Aporia haunt all judgements and demand leaps not decisions. I conclude with a short discussion of the implications of this view of moral judgement.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationUnderstanding and Researching Professional Practice
    EditorsBill Green
    Place of PublicationRotterdam
    PublisherSense Publishers
    Number of pages18
    ISBN (Print)9789087907303
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


    Dive into the research topics of 'Moral Judgement and Practical Reasoning in Professional Practice'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this