An ethicist is one whose judgment on
ethicsand ethical codes has come to be trusted by a specific community, and (importantly) is expressed in some way that makes it possible for others to mimic or approximate that judgement. Following the advice of ethicists is one means of acquiring knowledge (see argument from authority). [Tjeltveit, Alan C. (1999) "Ethics and Values in Psychotherapy" Routledge, London, pages 37-39, ISBN 0-415-15663-7] [Michels, Robert (1991) "Psychiatry: Where medicine, psychology, and ethics meet" "in" Browning, Don S. and Evison, Ian S. (eds.) (1991) "Does Psychiatry Need a Public Philosophy?" Nelson-Hall, Chicago, pp. 61-73, page 70, ISBN 0-8304-1244-1]
juristdescribes an ethicist whose judgment on lawbecomes part of a legal code, or otherwise has force of law. This may be due to formal ( de jure) statesanction.
Some jurists have less formal (
de facto) backing by an ethical community, e.g. a religious community. In Islamic Law, for instance, such a community following ( taqlid) a specific jurisprudence ( fiqh) of shariahmimics judgment of a prior jurist. [Ismael, J. S. and Ismael, T. Y. (1980) "Social Change in Islamic Society: The Political Thought of Ayatollah Khomeini" "Social Problems" 27(5): pp. 601-619, page 614] Catholic Canon Lawhas a similar structure. Such a jurist may be a theologian or simply a prominent teacher. To those outside this tradition, the jurist is simply an ethicist who they may more freely disagree with, and whose input on any issue is advisory. However, they may find it hard to avoid a fatwaor excommunicationor other such shunningby the religious community, so it may be hard advice to ignore.
legal professions and spiritual traditions, ethicists are usually considered to be either philosophers or more practical mediators of disputes. Indeed, views of ethics that are not deemed to be useful in resolving actual disputes are usually frowned upon as ideology. Modern ethicists often take the view that ethics is only about such resolution.
list of ethicistsdemonstrates the extreme range of people who have made, or contributed to, ethical debates. It also demonstrates that not all individuals who do so can be considered to be good moral examples by all.
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