Document Type

Conference Proceeding

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Abstract

It is good to be back here in Minnesota. Before I give what I describe as my neo-Kierkegaardian view of the professions with a dash of post-modern theology thrown in, I want to say that this is a tremendously useful conference. It is useful for professionals, by which I mean people who work in self-governing professions, to meditate from time to time on what it is that makes professions special. However, my remarks are going to take this conference in a slightly different direction than some of the issues raised this morning, because I have something of a contrary view about the role of professions—both the source and nature of the public obligation of professions.

I would suggest that it is actually not helpful to try to figure out what professions have in common. On the contrary, to figure out what tlley have in common constitutes a kind of dangerous leveling of groups that in important ways we ought to keep radically separate. In fact, it is even in some ways a little bit dangerous to think in terms of the ways that professions fit neatly into American society. One of the reasons I call my remarks neo-Kierkegaardian, is that I am not persuaded that professions should try to fit into American society.

Date of Authorship for this Version

1999

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