REPRESENTING IGNORANCE a
If we wish to assess the morality of elected officials, we must understand their function as our representatives and then infer how they can fulfill this function. I propose to treat the class of elected officials as a profession, so that their morality is a role morality and it is functionally determined. If we conceive the role morality of legislators to be analogous to the ethics of other professions, then this morality must be functionally defined by the purpose that legislators are to fulfill once in office. Hence, the role morality of legislators will largely be determined by our theory of representation. We will need not a normative account of their role, but an empirical explanatory account. In David Hume's terms, the morality of role holders is one of “artificial” duties, that is to say, duties defined by their functional fit with the institutional purposes of a profession. Our most difficult problem, therefore, is to understand the role of our elected representatives.
a I am indebted to my fellow contributors to this volume, to participants in the Monday Night Theorists at New York University, and to Ellen Frankel Paul for comments on an earlier draft of this essay.