Legal Education, Philosophy and Values Consciousness of the Law Student

By Seow Hon Tan.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The value of teaching philosophy in law schools has been the subject of considerable debate, with detractors in practice and academia questioning its utility for professional practice. This paper suggests that teaching legal philosophy in law schools is necessary to challenge the law student to develop her own theory about law, its legitimacy, and its relation to justice, morality, power and rationality. Through such theoretical understanding, the law student acquires a sensitivity to, and concern for, the ideals underlying the law. Only when students’ hearts and minds are critically engaged on fundamental questions may they meaningfully understand their role and purpose in the larger legal process. Apart from becoming ethical professionals, morally transformed students with a greater values consciousness make for a more involved citizenry better equipped to harness the potential of law for positive social change.

Keywords: Values Education, Legal Education, Legal Philosophy, Jurisprudence, Public Square, Social Consciousness, Moral Development, Legal Ethics, Professional Identity

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp.197-204. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 582.739KB).

Dr. Seow Hon Tan

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore

SJD, LL.M. (Harvard), LL.B. (NUS); Advocate and Solicitor (Singapore); Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore. Dr Seow Hon Tan is an assistant professor at the Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore, where she teaches a first year core module, Introduction to Legal Theory, and two upper year electives, Jurisprudence and International Commercial Litigation. She was a Landon Gammon Fellow at Harvard Law School from 1998-1999 and a Clark Byse Fellow from 2003-2004. As a Clark Byse Fellow, she designed and taught a 7-session graduate workshop on legal philosophy. She is also a winner of the National University of Singapore’s Teaching Excellence Award in 2005-2006. As a teacher of legal philosophy in a professional school, Dr Tan is especially interested in making theory enjoyable for practice-oriented students. To participate in dialogues in the public square, Dr Tan has also written several legal philosophy op-ed pieces for Singapore’s main newspaper, The Straits Times.


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