1.4: Phronesis in the Professions



Phronesis is increasingly being seen as an important concept to use when thinking about what it means to be a virtuous professional. Studies that link phronesis to professional practice in professions such as medicine, law, teaching, nursing, business and the armed forces are becoming more commonplace.

The Jubilee Centre has dedicated a large part of its research to this field. Commonly asked question in this area are ‘what does it mean to be a wise professional?’ and ‘how does a professional make virtuous decisions when faced with ethical dilemmas?’ In this section you will explore the importance of phronesis in the professions more generally, and medicine in particular.

Watch this TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) talk by Professor Barry Schwartz, which provides an outline of what phronesis means in a professional context, and the importance of virtue cultivation in one’s professional practice.

Download the worksheet and read the quotes on virtue ethicsSummarise the key points in your own words.

Working in pairs, review the following scenario and discuss what you would do. Compare your approach with others in your class.



J. Oakley – In this paper, Prof. Justin Oakley argues that good medical ethics requires an empirically-informed moral psychology of medical virtue along with sound action-guiding prescriptions for virtuous medical practice.