Bioethics Blogs

All you need is law? The ethics of legal scholarship

Working as a lawyer in a multidisciplinary centre for research ethics and bioethics, as I do, often brings up to date questions regarding the relationship between law and ethics. What kind of ethical competence does academic lawyers need, and what kind of ethical challenges do we face? I will try to address some aspects of these challenges.

First, I must confess. I am a believer, a believer of law.

That does not mean that I automatically like all regulations, it is just that I cannot see a better way to run the world, but through a common system of legal norms. Believing in law means that I accept living in a different universe. I know the non-lawyers cannot always see my universe, but I see it clearly, and I believe in it. You’ll have to trust me – and all other lawyers – through training and education, we see this parallel universe and believe in it.

I do not always like what I see, but I do accept that it exists.

I think that understanding a lawyer’s understanding of what law is, is a necessary precondition for going deeper into the understanding of what I here refer to as the ethics of legal scholarship. So, what is law? This question has a thousand answers, stemming from different philosophical theories, but I choose to put it like this:

Law is an idea as well as a practical reality and a practice.

As a reality, law is the sum of all regulation, locally (e.g. Sweden), regionally (e.g. Europe) and internationally.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.