I am grateful to Professor Vischer and Professor Wendel for their responses to my essay, Professionalizing Moral Deference; I learned a great deal from each piece. I also appreciate their patience in enduring my finalization of the essay and am indebted to them both for their personal indulgence and intellectual stimulation.
The aim of my earlier essay was to open a new discussion of lawyers and morality through my reflections on the so-called “Torture Memo.” Specifically, my essay focuses on the effect of legal training and practice on lawyers’ moral reasoning. It explores the ways in which we, as lawyers, “come to engage in . . . strategic reasoning,” and express “concern about [the] cost to our moral reasoning skills.” The core argument is that “lawyers are professionalized in a manner that undermines moral reasoning skills,” and that “[t]o suggest that we who are officers of the American judicial system are deficient in moral reasoning is to suggest a deep problem.” To address this deep problem, I suggest lawyers accept personal moral accountability for professional projects undertaken, idealizing those lawyers who choose their professional projects on personal moral grounds. Thus, I believe lawyers—such as the authors of the Torture Memo—are subject to criticism on grounds of morality and not merely professional technique.
The responses of Professor Vischer and Professor Wendel, though thought-provoking, do not address my focus on the effect of legal training and practice on lawyers’ moral reasoning. Instead, the responses of Professor Vischer and Professor Wendel focus on the role of moral reasoning in legal reasoning.