1st Edition

Towards Professional Wisdom
Practical Deliberation in the People Professions

ISBN 9781409407430
Published October 28, 2011 by Routledge
272 Pages

USD $52.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

People professions - such as social work, teaching, nursing, ministry and counselling - are at heart ethical or moral enterprises. Much recent theorizing has been concerned to show that effective professional deliberation and judgement cannot be reduced either to technical rationality or to simple obedience to general occupational procedures or prescriptions. Professional judgement would seem to require the development of a distinctive mode of practical (ethical) reflection or 'wisdom' - perhaps along the lines of Aristotle's 'phronesis' or practical wisdom. Reflection is required to address such key professional concerns as: What is the impact of official prescription and regulation on professional judgement? How should conflicts of professional judgement and public/political accountability be resolved? How might one reconcile tensions between universal justice and equality and particular client need? What is the role of emotion and/or affect in 'people professional' practice? This ground-breaking work addresses, in a thoroughly multidisciplinary way, the central question of the nature of professional judgement and deliberation that has recently come to the fore in the academic literature of profession and professionalism. It proposes a marked shift - in theory, practice and policy-making - away from technical-rational approaches to professional decision-making in favour of reflection and deliberation informed by responsible moral judgement. This reflects a significant progressive trend in this literature by taking practical wisdom, rather than technical rationality, to lie at the heart of professional judgement. It is unique in bringing together key authors from different professional fields to address the issue of professional wisdom in a cross-professional and multidisciplinary way.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction: towards professional wisdom, David Carr, Liz Bondi, Chris Clark and Cecelia Clegg; Part I Practical Wisdom and Professional Deliberation: 'Professional wisdom' in 'practice', Joseph Dunne; Expertise - initiation into learning, not knowing, Michael Luntley; Evidence-based practice and professional wisdom, Chris Clark; Intuition and professional wisdom: can we teach moral discernment?, Daniel Vokey and Jeannie Kerr; Teacher education as a missed opportunity in the professional preparation of ethical practitioners, Elizabeth Campbell. Part II The Personal and Affective Dimension of Professional Engagement: Virtue, character and emotion on people's professions: towards a virtue ethics of interpersonal professional conduct, David Carr; Some Aristotelian reflections on teachers' professional identities and the emotional practice of teaching, Kristján Kristjánsson; On the gender of professional wisdom, Liz Bondi; Work is where we live: emotional literacy and the psychological dimensions of the various relationships there, Susie Orbach; The wisdom of L'Arche and the practices of care: disability, professional wisdom and encounter-in-community, John Swinton. Part III Legislation, Regulation and Professional Judgement: Fabled uncertainty in social work, Sue White; Crowding out wisdom: the mechanisation of adult-child relationships, Kathleen Marshall and Maggie Mellon; Ministry, homelessness and professional deliberation, Alison Elliot; Pastoral supervision: ministry, spirit and regulation, Cecelia Clegg; Not a tame lion: psychotherapy in a safety-obsessed culture, Nick Totton; Index.

View More



Liz Bondi is Professor in the School of Health in Social Science at the University of Edinburgh, UK. David Carr is Professor in Educational Studies at the University of Edinburgh, UK. Chris Clark is Professor in Social Work at the University of Edinburgh, UK. Dr Cecelia Clegg, School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh, UK.


'This is a masterly and perceptive diagnosis of what has happened to the language and practice of professionalism over the past generation and an inspiring manifesto for the recovery of lost wisdom. These essays help to restore qualities such as imagination, empathy, discernment and vulnerability to the lexicon of the helping professions, and it deserves to be widely read.' Elaine Graham, University of Chester, UK 'Wisdom is a neglected topic in discussions of professionalism and ethics. This book offers an original approach by focusing on this concept, providing depth and breadth through a detailed and thoughtful consideration of different facets of what it means to practice wisdom in the "people" professions. It is a helpful resource for both the experienced practitioner and the novice.' Richard Hugman, University of New South Wales, Australia 'In an era of rampant methodolatry and measurement-mania, here is a compelling defense of critical and compassionate, principled and perceptive, human judgment. Towards Professional Wisdom explores professional life with an exceptional combination of rigor and range, offering theoretically sophisticated general treatments of practical wisdom and qualitatively rich case studies across the people professions. This is a measured volume with bursts of brio.' Chris Higgins, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA 'This book is certainly successful in bringing together different perspectives from a range of academic disciplines and professional contexts. It provides an interesting contribution to the growing literature on professional knowledge and will be useful to practitioners undertaking study or further study in the area or who are interested in comparing the current debates across professional contexts.' Probation Journal ’Well-researched and thought-provoking, this is not a book for the faint-hearted. ... I would recommend it to those interested in an in-depth understanding of the nature of professional judgm