An ethicist is one whose judgment on ethics and ethical codes has come to be trusted by a specific community, and (importantly) is expressed in some way that makes it possible for others to mimic or approximate that judgement. Following the advice of ethicists is one means of acquiring knowledge (see argument from authority).
The term jurist describes an ethicist whose judgment on law becomes part of a legal code, or otherwise has force of law. This may be due to formal (de jure) state sanction.
Some jurists have less formal (de facto) backing by an ethical community, e.g. a religious community. In Islamic Law, for instance, such a community following (taqlid) a specific jurisprudence (fiqh) of shariah mimics judgment of a prior jurist. Catholic Canon Law has a similar structure. Such a jurist may be a theologian or simply a prominent teacher. To those outside this tradition, the jurist is simply an ethicist who they may more freely disagree with, and whose input on any issue is advisory. However, they may find it hard to avoid a fatwa or excommunication or other such shunning by the religious community, so it may be hard advice to ignore.
Outside the legal professions and spiritual traditions, ethicists are usually considered to be either philosophers or more practical mediators of disputes. Indeed, views of ethics that are not deemed to be useful in resolving actual disputes are usually frowned upon as ideology. Modern ethicists often take the view that ethics is only about such resolution.[verification needed]
The list of ethicists demonstrates the extreme range of people who have made, or contributed to, ethical debates. It also demonstrates that not all individuals who do so can be considered to be good moral examples by all.
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