Are we all going to the same place: pluralism and value driven legal education


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Slides for the presentation by Rebecca Huxley-Binns (Nottingham Law School) at LILAC10.

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Are we all going to the same place: pluralism and value driven legal education

  1. 1. Are we all going to the same place: pluralism and value driven legal education Graham Ferris and Rebecca Huxley-Binns Nottingham Law School
  2. 2. Three children and a flute <ul><li>Anne claims the flute on the ground that she is the only one of the three who knows how to play it (the others do not deny this), and that it would be quite unjust to deny the flute to the only person who can actually play it. </li></ul>February 4, 2010
  3. 3. <ul><li>Bob speaks up. </li></ul><ul><li>His is the only one of the three who is so poor he has no toys of his own. The flute would give him something to play with (the other two concede they are richer and well supplied with engaging amenities). </li></ul>February 4, 2010
  4. 4. <ul><li>Clara speaks up. </li></ul><ul><li>She has been working diligently for many months to make the flute with her own labour (the others confirm this) and just when she was finished, “these expropriators come along and try to grab the flute away from me” </li></ul><ul><li>WHO GETS THE FLUTE? </li></ul>February 4, 2010
  5. 5. Easy? <ul><li>Is there a straightforward solution? </li></ul><ul><li>Is there one ‘right’ answer? </li></ul><ul><li>Anne gets it says the utilitarian hedonist </li></ul><ul><li>Bob gets it says the economic egalitarian but the utilitarian hedonist might be persuaded ... </li></ul><ul><li>Clara gets it says the libertarian and the left wing Marxist (they agree on little else) and the utilitarian is having a very difficult time of it all </li></ul>February 4, 2010
  6. 6. <ul><li>“ Theorists of different persuasions ... May each take the view that there is one straightforward just resolution that is easily detected , but they would each argue for totally different resolutions as being obviously right” </li></ul><ul><li>[B]y and large, all of us are capable of being reasonable through being open-minded about welcoming information and through reflecting on arguments coming from different quarters, along with undertaking interactive deliberations and debates on how the underlying issues should be seen.” </li></ul><ul><li>Sen, A. The Idea of Justice (2009) Allen Lane London </li></ul>February 4, 2010
  7. 7. Toleration <ul><li>… is a consensus value of higher education that demands both acceptance of value discordance and the rectitude of persuasion </li></ul><ul><li>... supports autonomy in learners as a teaching aim </li></ul><ul><li>... is active </li></ul><ul><li> not indifference, but a burning need to argue, reason, contend: whilst accepting that ultimately one may have to resign oneself to difference </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>“ In the lower-level rotunda of the central library, these words of Chicago’s late mayor Harold Washington are worked into a circular design in the marble floor: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ Chicago … has brought together black and white, Asian and Hispanic, male and female, the young, the old, the disabled, gays and lesbians, Moslems, Christians and Jews, business leaders and neighbourhood activists, bankers and trade unionists – all have come together to mix and contend, to argue and to reason, to confront our problems and not merely to contain them.’ </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Robert D Putnam, Lewis M Feldstein, with Don Cohen, Better Together: Restoring the American Community (2003) Simon & Schuster, New Your, NY, pp.53-54. <ul><li>Yes, these are the words of a politician, but one not afraid to raise potentially controversial issues – for instance, to include gays and lesbians in his list of diverse citizens and to invite argument and contention, not merely the kind of tolerance that ignores differences and avoids contact with people of other races, classes, religions, or sexual orientation .” </li></ul>February 4, 2010
  10. 10. Conclusion <ul><li>Law can be a powerful ally to, or foe of, social advancement. The embedding of values and the encouragement of open discourse around values in the core curriculum of legal education is vital if legal education is to meet modern social and economic needs. If legal education abjures this possibility then it seems unlikely that any other forum will be able to compensate for such a failure. </li></ul>February 4, 2010