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Role morality, role-differentiated morality, recourse role, Fred Zacharias


Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility


One of the many themes in the work of Fred Zacharias was the question of the moral status of role obligations or how roles should be moralized. This paper, written for an issue of the San Diego Law Review dedicated to the memory of Professor Zacharias, explores three alternative ways of conceiving of the relationship between morality and role obligations: strong role differentiation, which posits that roles can change the normative situation of actors; what I call the nexus view, which holds that roles are merely a shorthand for the intersection of existing ordinary moral obligations; and the concept of recourse roles introduced by the Kadish brothers. Each of these conceptions of role morality has influenced the development of theoretical legal ethics. As a proponent of strong role-differentiation, I set out a critique of the use of recourse roles in legal ethics, which is the most plausible basis for an alternative to the standard conception.

Publication Citation

Published in: San Diego Law Review, vol. 48, no. 1 (February/March 2011).