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Lahore University of Management Sciences is Pakistan's most prominent private sector research university. Every quarter, LUMS students produce hunderds if not thousands of research papers. Many of those papers are well-researched and well-written; some are rare unadmired gems.

The LUMS STUDENT JOURNAL aims to bring together all those research papers. Soon you will see just how massive the students' research output is!

The internet edition publishes each and every paper that it receives. However, we hope that once we start receiving a good number of high-quality papers, we will also publish a print-based quarterly edition which would be peer-reviewed.

Review: The Remains of the Day

Write-up by Umer Gilani


The movie that we saw in class is based upon a post-WWII novel titled "The Remains of the Days" written by a British-Japanese author Kazuo Ishiguro. David Luban's paper "Stevens's Professionalism and Ours" uses this story to discuss aspects of legal ethics. The novel, and the movie based on it, present certain reflections upon the nature and consequences of the ethic of professionalism. The character of Mr. Stevens, butler par excellence, is as though the very embodiment of the ethic of professionism. Lord Darlington, on the other hand, is the amateur politician who merely dabbles in politics, often with great idealism and conviction, but in a way that is anything but 'professional.' In the properly narrated story of the lifes of these two men, Ishiguro is able to provide some glimpses of the truth about his subject-matter (ethics and professionalism) - a feat quite impossible for philosophical discourses on the same subject (as you may have noticed throughout this course).

Perhaps it is that ethics is a 'lived science': it secrets may be discerned by reflecting upon life stories (one's own and others'), but which may never be described, or even understood, when abstracted from life-stories.

Why Study the Life of a Butler in Legal Ethics?

Because butlers and lawyers are both members of established professions, who adhere to a code of 'professional' ethics. Also, both (particularly transactional lawyers) offer service to clients, are entrusted with large responsiblities and sensitive information, and do their job best by being as inconspicuous as possible.

Three Types of Professionalism:

'Professionalism of deference': You exert moral choice in finding the 'right' and worthy employer. You will be guilty for choosing an 'evil' employer. However, once you have, independently and morally chosen you employer, thereafter you may not be critical of your employer's conduct, but rather serves in an way he requires you to serve, in the best possible manner. Mr. Stevens adheres to this ethics in that he chose Lord Darlington as an employer because of Darlington's nobility. He did not, however, consider it right to defect when it appeared that Lord Darlington had become a pawn in the hands of Nazism - because Mr. Stevens deferred to the judgment of Lord Darlington.

Professionalism of expertise 'consists, roughtly, in reducing evry practical question to a technical question having no moral dimension'. The American senator Lewis, at the 1923 conference, represented this view.

Professionalism of presumption is the author's aleternative to the above, both of which the authors considers deeply flawed. The vision here is that the 'professional should assume the responsibility of counseling and even correcting an employer's bad moral judgment.' The author concedes that this view of professionalism is quite anti-thetical to what is currently considered 'professionalism' - adopting this view requires us to remove much of the subservience that professionals are expected to show; rather, this view commands the professional to engage more deeply with that client so as to affect both his motives and his strategy to achieve them.

Some Simple Priciples which the Author Advocates:

1. When professional morality commands us to do something revolting to the nonprofessional conscience, the default assumption should be that the nonprofessional conscience has it right and that professional morality is too clever for its own good.
For instance, in 1923, when professional politicians were insisting on meting out an extremely harsh treatment to Germany, Lord Darligton's nonprofessional conscience revolted - and history proved him right. In 1937, when popular sentiment was in favour of confronting Hitler, Lord Darlington's professional engagement with the appeasement process turned out to be a disaster.

2. Professionalism takes the system of stations and duties as a given; its relations to history is, at bottom, uncritical and anti-utopian. It is not a morality for dreamers. Given the tremendous injustice that the current 'system of stations and duties' creates, we cannot refuse to dream about and struggle for re-ordering the system. If so, we should not adopt professionalism as our code of ethics.

In short, whereas professionalism is generally touted as a reliable moral guide for the likes of lawyers, this reading exposes the perils involved in adopting such a stance. If, in the remains of his day, Mr. Stevens is left with no love, no honour, no light and no hope, it is but the logical outcome of a life dedicated to 'professional excellence', nothing less and nothing more. A lawyer must, for moral guidance, adopt standards other than just 'professional ethics'.