Document Type

Article

Publication Date

7-6-2011

Abstract

This article describes a fundamental dimension, ignored in the literature, of the ethical basis of the fiduciary relationship. It considers and rejects an account of the fiduciary relationship based on contract. It develops, instead, a virtue-based approach to the fiduciary relationship founded upon the goods of faithfulness, beneficence, clarity of thought, and dedication to the truth.

This article proposes that the relationship between teacher and student is fiduciary. It develops the thesis that a primary or secondary school teacher has especially high duties to the student: obligations, resembling those of a guardian, a trustee, an executor, and an attorney, of fidelity, zealous devotion to the well-being of the other party, and full disclosure. This article does not endorse this approach for the positive law. It is not here proposed that teachers be held legally liable for violations of those obligations. The topic of this article, rather, is ethics. The teacher, it is here proposed, is morally a fiduciary.

Teachers in primary and secondary schools are ethically fiduciaries in a special way because they exercise, exemplify, and transmit fiduciary virtues and, preeminently, the intellectual virtues.

This Article sketches a few implications of virtue-based fiduciary ethics and proposes some implications for teachers pertinent to the recognition of marriage.