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Should law enforcement be allowed to lie to suspects during interrogation?

Law
Should law enforcement be allowed to lie to suspects during interrogation?

This is an important and difficult question. If we answer in the affirmative, then suspects are likely to know that they may be lied to by law enforcement agents. Still, they may nonetheless often be fooled or tripped up (they don't know when an officer is lying and when she is being truthful), and this in turn could lead to more convictions of guilty people which in turn would reduce recidivism and increase deterrence, thereby reducing the victimization of citizens by criminals.

I would think that a practice of telling lies that may be helpful for finding the truth (e.g., by eliciting a full confession) is justifiable if the reduction in crime it engenders is sufficiently large -- and this is quite large. Such a practice should be carefully circumscribed and supervised to minimize harm and to suppress abuse. And the lies should be revealed to those who end up not being charged -- and revealed also to those who will be charged, and before their trial.

Circumscription is important. Lies should not be very painful (e.g., telling a suspect falsely that his beloved mother has died) nor risk provoking a false confession (e.g., telling a suspect falsely that his buddy has implicated him and that he can save himself from the death penalty only by admitting to the crime in question). An example of a permissible lie would be telling a suspect falsely that a certain witness to what happened has survived and will be able to testify.

This is an important and difficult question. If we answer in the affirmative, then suspects are likely to know that they may be lied to by law enforcement agents. Still, they may nonetheless often be fooled or tripped up (they don't know when an officer is lying and when she is being truthful), and this in turn could lead to more convictions of guilty people which in turn would reduce recidivism and increase deterrence, thereby reducing the victimization of citizens by criminals. I would think that a practice of telling lies that may be helpful for finding the truth (e.g., by eliciting a full confession) is justifiable if the reduction in crime it engenders is sufficiently large -- and this is quite large. Such a practice should be carefully circumscribed and supervised to minimize harm and to suppress abuse. And the lies should be revealed to those who end up not being charged -- and revealed also to those who will be charged, and before their trial. Circumscription is important. Lies should...

On March 19 2011, Thomas Pogge responded to a question posed on March 17

Law
On March 19 2011, Thomas Pogge responded to a question posed on March 17 concerning (inter alia) the morality of an attorney's decision to represent a person accused of a serious crime in circumstances in which the attorney has "very strong reason to believe" that the client is guilty. The response suggests that "in view of the enormous damage done by repeat offenders who have been wrongly acquitted earlier ...... such a defense attorney should decline the case or resign from it". With all due respect to the learned philosopher, this suggestion overlooks a fundamental precept of procedural justice in all criminal trials - "an accused person is presumed innocent until proven beyond any reasonable doubt to be guilty". Only a serious misunderstanding of the role of a defense attorney can give rise to a suggestion that my attorney should resign from my case simply on the basis of her own (subjective?) belief that my acquittal in a previous trial was "wrong" and that she believes that the prosecutor's...

I am in full agreement with the precept that an accused person is to be presumed innocent until proven beyond a reasonable doubt to be guilty. But this precept is not violated when your defense attorney declines your case or resigns from it. This is so because the presumption applies to the state and its agents and agencies. The precept does not forbid citizens to form the opinion that some accused person is guilty. Nor does it forbid citizens to act on such opinions. You are perfectly free, for example, to change your mind about buying Joe's used car or to warn your daughter against dating Joe, on the sole ground that you have just learned of a criminal case of fraud against Joe and of the evidence presented against him.

I agree that an accused person is entitled to be represented by a qualified attorney. But again, this right is not violated when one attorney declines or resigns. Compare: your right to get married is not violated when the person you have chosen as your spouse declines -- or even if many potential spouses turn you down. You'll have to keep trying until you find someone willing to get married to you. And, similarly, as a person accused you need to keep trying until you find a lawyer willing to take your case along with the plea you want her to enter on your behalf.

I also agree that jurors must examine the totality of the evidence placed before the Court and may bring a verdict of "guilty" only if they are fully satisfied of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. Perhaps you can go from there to the proposition that a defense attorney should not be influenced in the way she conducts the defense by her own beliefs about her client's guilt or innocence. But even if this is right, it's irrelevant to my point which was not about how your defense attorney should conduct your defense once she has taken it on, but about whether she should be defending you at all. Do you wish to say that defense attorneys are morally free to turn down only those clients who have been shown beyond reasonable doubt to be guilty? This is surely false. A defense attorney may resign when she becomes convinced that you don't have the money to pay her. So why should it be impermissible for her to resign when she becomes convinced that your "not guilty" plea is false to the facts?

To put this in perspective, let's think about a concrete case with you in the role of top-of-the-line defense attorney. A potential client comes to you and offers you a large fee for defending him against a rape charge. Talking through the details of the case with him, you become convinced that he has committed the crime. He does not deny this, but he wants to plead "not guilty". He believes that, as a star attorney, you can surely create reasonable doubt in the mind of at least one juror. You agree that you can achieve his acquittal by creating some doubt about whether the victim had not signaled consent after all. You could do this by delving into the victim's previous sexual encounters and by getting her confused or angry in a way that undermines her credibility for at least one of the jurors. You conclude that, if you take the case, then he will be acquitted.

Most would say (though you seem to disagree) that you do nothing wrong when you turn down the case. In particular, you do nothing wrong by turning it down for the reason that you do not want to help someone you deem guilty of rape to escape punishment. It might be said against this that, if every attorney turned down this case, then the accused would have no attorney. In response, I don't think this hypothetical is relevant in a context where there are plenty of other attorneys willing to take the case. If the hypothetical were morally relevant, then analogues of it would lead to rather absurd conclusions. For example: is it morally permissible for you to turn down a case because you want to preserve enough leisure time? Presumably not, because if all attorneys were as busy and as protective of their leisure time as you are, then the defendant in question would find no defense attorney. This implication is absurd in a world where in fact plenty of defense attorneys are looking for clients. And just as you may turn down a case because you want to preserve your leisure time, you may also turn it down because you don't want to contribute to what you regard as a miscarriage of justice nor inflict emotional injury and humiliation upon a person you regard as a rape victim.

Once it is accepted that turning down the case is morally permissible, I don't see a good rationale for denying that this is what you ought to do. If you accept the case and mount a successful defense, you will contribute to what, according to your own best judgment, are substantial harms: you will contribute to a miscarriage of justice, you will contribute to enabling and encouraging your client to re-offend, you will contribute to reducing the deterrent effect of criminal statutes (esp. those against rape), and you will also inflict further injury and humiliation upon someone you regard as a rape victim. Turning down the case, on the other hand, comes without significant moral costs. The accused has to look for another attorney, that's all.

A final remark. While, for the reasons given, I don't think much of the line of argument you press, I recognize that it is prominent in legal circles. I would explain this mainly by one factor: money. Defense lawyers want to earn money by achieving acquittals for persons they strongly believe to be guilty and they don't want to be thought unethical for doing this. So they work up a special professional ethic that justifies their conduct and even celebrates it as their moral duty. The mere fact that the members of a profession deem some conduct they engage in to be ethical does not make it so.

I am in full agreement with the precept that an accused person is to be presumed innocent until proven beyond a reasonable doubt to be guilty. But this precept is not violated when your defense attorney declines your case or resigns from it. This is so because the presumption applies to the state and its agents and agencies. The precept does not forbid citizens to form the opinion that some accused person is guilty. Nor does it forbid citizens to act on such opinions. You are perfectly free, for example, to change your mind about buying Joe's used car or to warn your daughter against dating Joe, on the sole ground that you have just learned of a criminal case of fraud against Joe and of the evidence presented against him. I agree that an accused person is entitled to be represented by a qualified attorney. But again, this right is not violated when one attorney declines or resigns. Compare: your right to get married is not violated when the person you have chosen as your spouse declines -- or even...

Do attorneys who successfully enable guilty clients to evade conviction (or who

Do attorneys who successfully enable guilty clients to evade conviction (or who manage to convict innocent defendants) have any reason to feel that they are acting immorally? Or are they beyond reproach so long as they themselves do nothing illegal or procedurally inappropriate in the course of their work?

I read your queston as envisaging that the attorneys in question not merely contribute to a miscarriage of justice but do so knowingly -- or at least have strong reason to believe that the outcome they are achieving is the wrong outcome.

I also read you as stipulating that the cases you have in mind happen within a largely just legal system. Within a seriously unjust legal system, an attorney who gets a guilty client (who really did make a joke about the dictator) acquitted has done a morally good deed, and similarly the attorney who gets one of the regime's torturers convicted for a crime he didn't commit.

To be reasonably just, a criminal justice system must not merely punish the kinds of conduct that ought to be punished and permit the kinds of conduct that ought to be permitted. It must also have rules and procedures that are reasonably reliable in ensuring that guilty people get punished and especially that innocent people are acquitted. It is not consistent with such a system that prosecutors pursue and achieve convictions of people whom they know to be innocent. Such behavior either violates the rules of the system (which proscribes such prosecutorial misconduct) or else constitutes participation in an unjust legal system (which permits or encourages prosecutors to go after innocent people).

It could be argued that this sort of reasoning does not apply in the case of defense attorneys: that a criminal justice system can be just even while it encourages defense attorneys to try to get acquittals even for clients they know (or have very strong reason to believe) to be guilty. In view of the enormous damage done by repeat offenders who have been wrongly acquitted earlier, I find this blanket permission hard to accept in the case of serious crimes. Here, I think the analogous argument goes through: a defense attorney who achieves the acquittal of a defendant whom he knows to be guilty of a serious crime is either violating the rules of the system or else participating in a legal system that is unjust insofar as it permits or encourages such conduct. Such a defense attorney should decline the case or resign from it. If such a defense attorney is convinced that her client is a rapist and then continues to defend him vigorously and achieves his acquittal, then she bears some moral responsibility for crimes her client will commit in the future even if she has done nothing illegal or procedurally inappropriate.

I read your queston as envisaging that the attorneys in question not merely contribute to a miscarriage of justice but do so knowingly -- or at least have strong reason to believe that the outcome they are achieving is the wrong outcome. I also read you as stipulating that the cases you have in mind happen within a largely just legal system. Within a seriously unjust legal system, an attorney who gets a guilty client (who really did make a joke about the dictator) acquitted has done a morally good deed, and similarly the attorney who gets one of the regime's torturers convicted for a crime he didn't commit. To be reasonably just, a criminal justice system must not merely punish the kinds of conduct that ought to be punished and permit the kinds of conduct that ought to be permitted. It must also have rules and procedures that are reasonably reliable in ensuring that guilty people get punished and especially that innocent people are acquitted. It is not consistent with such a system that...

I think that in cases of horrific crimes, the death penalty is acceptable, or

I think that in cases of horrific crimes, the death penalty is acceptable, or even required by retributive justice. However, I think this only applies to cases where there is absolutely no room for doubt. I also think that there really are such cases where there is 100% certainty e.g. the perpetrator was seen by many witnesses and confesses, plus as much additional evidence as you need. Unfortunately, if we only make convictions where we have the luxury of this certainty, we set the bar too high, and many guilty people escape conviction. Inevitably, under any reasonable judicial system there will be people charged for crimes they didn’t commit. But when you are charged with a crime, you are thereby unequivocally guilty, and there’s no way of charging someone with being guilty with the qualification, “he might not have done it” and another “he’s guilty of the crime and there’s no doubt”. In the eyes of the law, a guilty verdict is definitive; you did it, end of story. Is there a problem with this either...

You make two good points. On the first, re death penalty, I would agree that there are cases where it's crystal clear that the accused is guilty. But this is really beside the point. The question is whether we can design a mechanism that correctly identifies these cases. In the absence of such a mechanism, we must be especially reluctant to use the death penalty.

Your other point is that perhaps we should incorporate into criminal verdicts an assessment (by the judge or jury) of the degree of certainty. But again, there is the question how accurate this assessment would be. And there is the further point that it would look quite bad to impose a severe punishment on someone with the comment that we've just barely reached the minimally required level of certainty. Better then perhaps to handle this issue unofficially: just as jurors sometimes acquit someone who very clearly did what the law proscribes when they feel the person did nothing wrong (example: the killing of a suffering and terminally ill spouse), a judge may sometimes impose a lesser penalty because she is less than fully convinced that the person really committed the crime.

And a possibly interesting footnote on this second point. In the case of acquittals, as well, one could incorporate an assessment (by the judge or the jury) of the degree of certainty. And this is actually done, I believe, in Scottish jurisprudence, which allows -- aside from "guilty" and "innocent" -- a third verdict of "not proven." The accused goes free, but has not been fully cleared of the charges brought against her or him.

You make two good points. On the first, re death penalty, I would agree that there are cases where it's crystal clear that the accused is guilty. But this is really beside the point. The question is whether we can design a mechanism that correctly identifies these cases. In the absence of such a mechanism, we must be especially reluctant to use the death penalty. Your other point is that perhaps we should incorporate into criminal verdicts an assessment (by the judge or jury) of the degree of certainty. But again, there is the question how accurate this assessment would be. And there is the further point that it would look quite bad to impose a severe punishment on someone with the comment that we've just barely reached the minimally required level of certainty. Better then perhaps to handle this issue unofficially: just as jurors sometimes acquit someone who very clearly did what the law proscribes when they feel the person did nothing wrong (example: the killing of a suffering and terminally ill...

Is racial profiling immoral because it is ineffective? For instance, would the

Is racial profiling immoral because it is ineffective? For instance, would the racial profiling of blacks become increasingly justifiable if blacks increasingly became criminals?

I've argued for an affirmative answer in my response to question 2466. This appears also to be the view of Joseph Levine (response to question 2535). If these earlier responses leave you unsatisfied, then please write in again and say what these reasons are.

I've argued for an affirmative answer in my response to question 2466. This appears also to be the view of Joseph Levine (response to question 2535). If these earlier responses leave you unsatisfied, then please write in again and say what these reasons are.

Are there ever occasions when justice might require the law to be broken?

Are there ever occasions when justice might require the law to be broken?

Yes. Clear cases are ones where the agent has strong reasons to believe that (1) the law is unjust, (2) compliance would cause substantial harm, and (3) non-compliance would neither (3a) lose much greater benefits, nor (3b) cause harm of comparable magnitude or (3c) unreasonable cost upon the agent. The Nazi period offers examples. Justice required German citizens in typical circumstances not to obey a law that mandated that they report Jews to the authorities for internment in concentration camps. This is so because German citizens knew, or could and should have known, that (1) the internment of Jews (and others) was unjust, (2) reporting a non-interned Jew to the authorities was very likely to harm this person greatly, (3a) the internment of the person reported would not bring any substantial benefit, (3b) the non-internment of the person would cause no harm comparable to the harm of internment, and (3c) not reporting a Jew was typically without risk to the agent (at least when one could plausibly plead ignorance).

Yes. Clear cases are ones where the agent has strong reasons to believe that (1) the law is unjust, (2) compliance would cause substantial harm, and (3) non-compliance would neither (3a) lose much greater benefits, nor (3b) cause harm of comparable magnitude or (3c) unreasonable cost upon the agent. The Nazi period offers examples. Justice required German citizens in typical circumstances not to obey a law that mandated that they report Jews to the authorities for internment in concentration camps. This is so because German citizens knew, or could and should have known, that (1) the internment of Jews (and others) was unjust, (2) reporting a non-interned Jew to the authorities was very likely to harm this person greatly, (3a) the internment of the person reported would not bring any substantial benefit, (3b) the non-internment of the person would cause no harm comparable to the harm of internment, and (3c) not reporting a Jew was typically without risk to the agent (at least when one could plausibly...

I teach Philosophy of Law to Law students in Brazil, a discipline that lasts no

I teach Philosophy of Law to Law students in Brazil, a discipline that lasts no longer than one semester and does not count on the students' previous affinity, and I am always wondering about the best way of investing the short time I have. I'm an enthusiast of the analytical tradition and its way of approaching the problems of the field. May you give me some advices or tips? For example: Which units are better: subjects, problems, schools, authors, theories? Which model is better: cases and problems, or authors and theories? What is more important: learning a little on many subjects (authors, theories etc.) or learning more on one or two subjects (authors, theories etc.)? Is the direct reading of the authors' texts indispensable or is it replaceable by good introductions and commentaries? Should I spend some time with the history of the discipline, or only with the present debates? I know I asked too many questions, I know a lot of the answers depends on my options and preferences, I know that almost...

More than on your preferences, the answers also depend on the kind of students you face and on the legal system within which they serve. In light of my limited knowledge of these and other relevant matters, I would suggest you focus on leading your students to think philosophically about the law. For example, what moral authority do those in government have to enforce laws against non-consenters? What must the government be like, and what must the laws it is enforcing be like, for such enforcement to be morally permissible? And under what conditions does the mere fact that something is the law give citizens a moral (as opposed to a merely prudential) reason to act accordingly?

These sort of questions and reflections are crucial, I think, for students to appreciate the conceptual gap between the law and justice -- a gap that is often deliberately obscured, as when the government agency in charge of law enforcement is called the Department of Justice (its recent head in the US, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, authorized torture) and judges are referred to as justices. Being aware of this gap helps future lawyers to be sensitive to the responsibilities they bear, as officers of the law, for its broad conformity to justice.

Such broad conformity is endangered when lawyers and other officials act "under color of law," i.e. abuse their legal authority for personal ends. And such broad conformity is even more seriously endangered when the entire legal system is perverted in the service of a blatantly unjust regime, as arguably happened during Brazil's two decades of military dictatorship. As St. Augustin famously said (in somewhat different words), without justice a well-ordered legal system may be no better than organized robbery and exploitation. Such perversion is, of course, a matter of degree. And so the lawyer's responsibility always involves helping to make the legal system one that really has moral authority to command and really does generate moral obligations to comply. In Brazil, as in most other countries, a great deal remains to be done, and lawyers can play an important role in promoting not merely the rule of law, but the rule of just law.

More than on your preferences, the answers also depend on the kind of students you face and on the legal system within which they serve. In light of my limited knowledge of these and other relevant matters, I would suggest you focus on leading your students to think philosophically about the law. For example, what moral authority do those in government have to enforce laws against non-consenters? What must the government be like, and what must the laws it is enforcing be like, for such enforcement to be morally permissible? And under what conditions does the mere fact that something is the law give citizens a moral (as opposed to a merely prudential) reason to act accordingly? These sort of questions and reflections are crucial, I think, for students to appreciate the conceptual gap between the law and justice -- a gap that is often deliberately obscured, as when the government agency in charge of law enforcement is called the Department of Justice (its recent head in the US, Attorney General...

When it comes to matters of law, are arguments for deterrence distinct from

When it comes to matters of law, are arguments for deterrence distinct from arguments about morality? Are practical concerns separate from moral judgment? It seems one thing to say "we should outlaw murder so as to prevent murder" and another to say "we should outlaw murder because it is wrong". -ace

The two statements in quotes are surely different. But the first can also express a moral standpoint: that it is morally important to achieve a low murder rate. This moral standpoint is reflected in various more specific claims.

1. We should not inflict punishment or pain on anyone unless doing so produces some good for others (e.g., by preventing the person from offending again or by deterring others).

2. We should inflict pain whenever doing so produces some greater good for others.

This second claim is highly problematic insofar as it may justify "punishing" the innocent when doing so helps deter real criminals. For this reason, those who hold deterrence to be morally important often claim instead:

3. In deciding how severely to punish specific types of crime, we should take into account how much of an impact greater severity would have on the frequency of this crime.

This third claim is consistent with the idea that people may be punished only for having done something wrong. But it allows two kinds of conduct that are equally wrong to be punished differently. One crime is punished lightly, yet some equally bad crime is punished more severely because here such punishment is more effective in getting the crime rate down. Moral arguments are made both for and against this claim.

The two statements in quotes are surely different. But the first can also express a moral standpoint: that it is morally important to achieve a low murder rate. This moral standpoint is reflected in various more specific claims. 1. We should not inflict punishment or pain on anyone unless doing so produces some good for others (e.g., by preventing the person from offending again or by deterring others). 2. We should inflict pain whenever doing so produces some greater good for others. This second claim is highly problematic insofar as it may justify "punishing" the innocent when doing so helps deter real criminals. For this reason, those who hold deterrence to be morally important often claim instead: 3. In deciding how severely to punish specific types of crime, we should take into account how much of an impact greater severity would have on the frequency of this crime. This third claim is consistent with the idea that people may be punished only for having done something...

Dear Philosophers,Why do you think suicide is considered "illegal"?

Dear Philosophers, Why do you think suicide is considered "illegal"?

Suicide is outlawed in different societies and epochs for all sorts of different reasons. These fall broadly into three categories: to enforce religious commands, to protect persons from themselves, and to protect persons other than the would-be suicide. Are these good reasons to outlaw suicide?

Reasons in the first category are not acceptable in modern democratic societies (and, in the US, violate the First-Amendment separation of church and state). Those in the majority must not impose their religion on their fellow citizens.

Reasons in the second category -- so-called paternalistic (or parentalistic) reasons -- can be plausible. It is a good thing that the police can stop the attempted suicide of a young man who is in despair after his lover broke up with him. Chances are he'll get over it and fall in love again, even if this now seems inconceivable to him. But what if, a year or two later, the man still judges his life not worth living and wants to die? Who are we to overrule his judgment in this matter? We may perhaps legally require would-be suicides to receive competent information from relevant experts (doctors, psychologists, etc.) and from others who have gone through a crisis similar to theirs. But when someone has done this, and still wants to die, we should not force him to stay alive "for his own sake." (Note that, in practice, modern democratic societies do not apply such coercion even though they do make suicide illegal. And criminal punishments for attempted suicide are exceedingly rare.)

Reasons in the third category invoke the interests of those who depend on the would-be suicide. This does not include the interests of society or other larger groups. A person is free to withdraw from these groups (to quit her job, to leave her religious group, to emigrate), and this shows that they have no right to her continued contributions. The same point would seem to hold, to a lesser extent, for a spouse: The fact that a person is free to have a divorce shows that her spouse has not right to her continued partnership. The interests of a dependent child, however, support a much stronger claim. To be sure, society must find a way to meet the needs of the child if its parent dies. But the loss of a parent, especially through suicide, is often a devastating loss for a child even if society meets its obligation well (something that, in the real world, is often not the case).

In conclusion, I think there are sufficiently strong reasons in the second and third categories for outlawing -- not all suicides, but some, in a way designed to discourage and to express disapproval. These reasons are strongest with respect to persons with dependent children who experience a kind of crisis that tends to be temporary. These reasons may justify restraining competent people for brief periods. And they may justify forcing competent persons to receive balanced information and counseling relating to their crisis and to the potential impact of their decision on their dependent children.

Suicide is outlawed in different societies and epochs for all sorts of different reasons. These fall broadly into three categories: to enforce religious commands, to protect persons from themselves, and to protect persons other than the would-be suicide. Are these good reasons to outlaw suicide? Reasons in the first category are not acceptable in modern democratic societies (and, in the US, violate the First-Amendment separation of church and state). Those in the majority must not impose their religion on their fellow citizens. Reasons in the second category -- so-called paternalistic (or parentalistic) reasons -- can be plausible. It is a good thing that the police can stop the attempted suicide of a young man who is in despair after his lover broke up with him. Chances are he'll get over it and fall in love again, even if this now seems inconceivable to him. But what if, a year or two later, the man still judges his life not worth living and wants to die? Who are we to overrule his...

I recently read an article where a lawyer referred to something called "Role

I recently read an article where a lawyer referred to something called "Role Morality" in defending his behaviour (which was not especially moral). What is "Role Morality" and what school or body of philosophy does it belong to? How is it supposed to work? It seemed somewhat bogus when presented as an excuse for behaviour that would otherwise be called immoral. Maybe there's a different moral system for lawyers? Thanks.

We sometimes play certain social roles in which it is morally appropriate to disregard certain otherwise weighty considerations and to give great weight to others than one could otherwise disregard.

Examples. A trustee should try to find the best possible investments for her ward without regard to how such investments of his funds would affect the value of her own portfolio. A judge or juror should set asides her likes and dislikes of certain kinds of people. A legislator should disregard the impact pending legislation would have on her son's business. The common idea here is that important social purposes are best promoted if the occupants of certain roles understand them in these ways.

The lawyer's role is somewhat unusual because it is fitted into an adversarial system. The idea behind such a system is that the socially best outcomes are achieved when some of the protagonists do not aim for them but for something quite different. To get the most exciting soccer match, we need players focused not on making the match as exciting as possible, but players focused on winning. To get just and fair outcomes in the courtroom, we need lawyers focused not on getting just and fair outcomes, but on getting their client to win. That's the theory.

It's immediately clear that, in an adversarial system, the role players' conduct must be constrained. Players and lawyers should want to win, but not by bribing the referee or judge, and not by poisoning their opposites. Still, within these constraints, players and lawyers may fight pretty hard and one-sidedly for their own side.

The lawyers' role morality raises interesting ethical issues when a lawyer's behavior hurts not the opposing side (which, ideally at least, has its own lawyer), but innocent third parties. Thus, a lawyer's best way to get her client off the hook may be to "destroy" an elderly witness or to suggest without a shred of evidence that a rape victim is a "loose woman." Lawyers like to think that their role morality permits or even mandates such conduct on their part. But I do not think it is plausible to hold that a lawyer may or should do in her client's behalf what it would be wrong for this client to do in his own behalf. If it would be wrong for a rapist to try to get a more lenient sentence by making wholly ungrounded suggestions about the "looseness" of his victim's "sexual morals", then it would be wrong for his lawyer to make such wholly ungrounded suggestions for the same purpose.

We sometimes play certain social roles in which it is morally appropriate to disregard certain otherwise weighty considerations and to give great weight to others than one could otherwise disregard. Examples. A trustee should try to find the best possible investments for her ward without regard to how such investments of his funds would affect the value of her own portfolio. A judge or juror should set asides her likes and dislikes of certain kinds of people. A legislator should disregard the impact pending legislation would have on her son's business. The common idea here is that important social purposes are best promoted if the occupants of certain roles understand them in these ways. The lawyer's role is somewhat unusual because it is fitted into an adversarial system. The idea behind such a system is that the socially best outcomes are achieved when some of the protagonists do not aim for them but for something quite different. To get the most exciting soccer match, we need players...

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