Professionalism, Profession and Professional Conduct: Towards a Basic Logical and Ethical Geography

  • David CarrEmail author
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


For various reasons, concepts of profession, professionalism and professional conduct are of considerable political interest and concern, especially in modern liberal democratic contexts and economies. For one thing, the idea of profession has become the modern gold standard of occupational status: for another, insofar as ideas of profession or professionalism have been associated with notions of enhanced occupational standards, to regard workplace conduct as ‘professional’ is to consider it to have been performed according to the highest moral and technical standards. That said, it seems that such notions are liable to unhelpful confusions between different and distinguishable senses of such terms as ‘profession’, ‘professional’ and ‘professionalism’. From this viewpoint, the first aim of this chapter to distinguish and clarify different senses of professionalism and profession – in particular, to distinguish ‘profession’ as a term for a particular type or category of human occupation from a broader notion of ‘professional’ as a more general term of normative appraisal. Following this, however, the chapter turns to deeper exploration of profession, arguing that while other occupations can and often are conducted morally, what mainly distinguishes professions from other occupations is their inherently ethical nature and status. Further to this, the chapter also aspires to give a distinctively ‘virtue ethical’ account of such status focused on the development of ‘professional phronesis’.


Professionalism Professional Profession Ethics Moral virtue Phronesis Practical wisdom 


  1. Aristotle. (1941a). Politics. In R. McKeon (Ed.), The basic works of Aristotle (pp. 1114–1316). New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  2. Aristotle. (1941b). Nicomachean ethics. In R. McKeon (Ed.), The basic works of Aristotle (pp. 928–1112). New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  3. Bondi, L., Carr, D., Clarke, C., & Clegg, C. (Eds.). (2011). Towards professional wisdom: Practical deliberation in the people professions. London: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  4. Carr, D. (1999). Professionalism and professional education. Journal of Applied Philosophy, 16(1), 33–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Carr, D. (2000). Professionalism and ethics in teaching (Routledge professional ethics series). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  6. Carr, D. (2003). Character and moral choice in the cultivation of virtue. Philosophy, 78, 219–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Carr, D. (2007). Character in teaching. British Journal of Educational Studies, 55(4), 369–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Carr, D. (2009). Virtue, mixed emotions and moral ambivalence. Philosophy, 84, 31–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Carr, D. (2010). Education, contestation and confusions of sense and concept. British Journal of Educational Studies, 58(1), 89–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Clarke, K. (1991). Primary education: A statement. London: Department of Education and Science.Google Scholar
  11. Davis, J. (2002). The Inner London Educational Authority and the William Tyndale Junior School affair 1974–1976. Oxford Review of Education, 28(2/3), 275–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dent, H. C. (1977). The training of teachers in England and Wales 1800–1975. London: Hodder & Stoughton.Google Scholar
  13. Department of Education and Science and the Welsh Office. (1989). Discipline in schools (The Elton Report). London: HMSO.Google Scholar
  14. Edelstein, L. (1943). The Hippocratic oath: Text, translation and interpretation. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press.Google Scholar
  15. Etzioni, A. (Ed.). (1969). The semi-professions and their organization: Teachers, nurses and social workers. London: Collier-Macmillan.Google Scholar
  16. Hoyle, E. (1974). Professionality, professionalism and control in teaching. London Education Review, 3, 13–19.Google Scholar
  17. Humes, W. (1986). The leadership class in Scottish education. Glasgow: Bell & Brain Ltd.Google Scholar
  18. Hyland, T. (1993). Competence, knowledge and education. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 27, 57–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kant, I. (1967). The critique of practical reasoning and other works on the theory of ethics (T. K. Abbott, Trans.). London: Longmans.Google Scholar
  20. Kirk, G. (1988). Teacher education and professional development. Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press.Google Scholar
  21. Koehn, D. (1994). The ground of professional ethics. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  22. Larson, M. S. (1977). The rise of professionalism: A sociological analysis. London: Martin Boyars.Google Scholar
  23. Leadbeater, C., & Miller, P. (2004) The pro-am revolution: How enthusiasts are changing our economy and society. Retrieved from
  24. Rawls, J. (1999). A theory of justice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Rousseau, J.-J. (1973). The social contract and other discourses. London: Dent.Google Scholar
  26. Thomas, J. B. (1990). British universities and teacher education: A century of change. London/New York: Falmer Press.Google Scholar
  27. Weinberger, D. (2011). Too big to know: Rethinking knowledge, now that the facts aren’t the facts, experts are everywhere and the smartest person in the room is in the room. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  28. Winch, C. (2002). Work, well-being and vocational education. Journal of Applied Philosophy, 19(3), 2002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Jubilee Centre for the Study of Character and ValuesUniversity of BirminghamBirminghamUK

Personalised recommendations