Directions for Legal Education?

In his wonderful book Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry, Alasdair MacIntyre claimed there were three main “rival” worldviews that can guide our conduct: Enlightenment rationality, Nietzschean genealogy, and the “Thomistic-Aristotelian” synthesis. As anyone familiar with After Virtue can guess, MacIntyre was pretty skeptical of the university system, and suggested that “fundamental debate on . . . moral questions” may not be possible in “the conventional academic system.”

I was reminded of MacIntyre today by three articles I’ve come across on education recently. MacIntyre himself is still critiquing the fragmentation of the American university. Meanwhile, NIH bioethics czar Ezekiel Emmanuel seems to speak up for the enlightenment when he argues that medical education must incorporate far more social scientific training. He also foresees a great deal more collaboration among professional schools:

Collaboration among medical, business, and law schools would be a win-win situation. Medical students would be better prepared to deliver effective care, run research groups, and administer practices and hospitals. And universities would have a model for effective multidisciplinary, multischool education.

And finally, we come to the Nietzschean alternative: a postmodern appropriation of pop culture that turns an entire class into a video game. The professor claims that it may be “the first [class] to fully emerge students in a narrative story and treat the whole course as a game.” Part of me worries about a “gamist perspective” that requires participants not merely to learn about a subject, but to enact it. But I imagine this might be very effective pedagogically. I just hope that the types of humanistic values that Emmanuel and MacIntyre worry about can be programmed into these types of experiences.

You may also like...