Book Review: Towards Professional Wisdom: Practical Deliberation in the People Professions
Counselling and Psychotherapy Research
People professions - such as social work, teaching, nursing, ministry and counselling - are at heart ethical or moral enterprises. Much recent theorizing has been concerned to show that effective professional deliberation and judgement cannot be reduced either to technical rationality or to simple obedience to general occupational procedures or prescriptions. Professional judgement would seem to require the development of a distinctive mode of practical (ethical) reflection or 'wisdom' - perhaps along the lines of Aristotle's 'phronesis' or practical wisdom. Reflection is required to address such key professional concerns as: What is the impact of official prescription and regulation on professional judgement? How should conflicts of professional judgment and public/political accountability be resolved? How might one reconcile tensions between universal justice and equality and particular client need? What is the role of emotion and/or affect in 'people professional' practice? This ground-breaking work addresses, in a thoroughly multidisciplinary way, the central question of the nature of professional judgement and deliberation that has recently come to the fore in the academic literature of profession and professionalism. It proposes a marked shift - in theory, practice and policy-making - away from technical-rational approaches to professional decision-making in favour of reflection and deliberation informed by responsible moral judgement. This reflects a significant progressive trend in this literature by taking practical wisdom, rather than technical rationality, to lie at the heart of professional judgement. It is unique in bringing together key authors from different professional fields to address the issue of professional wisdom in a cross-professional and multidisciplinary way. © Liz Bondi, David Carr, Chris Clark, Cecelia Clegg and the contributors 2011. All rights reserved.