In After Virtue, Alasdair MacIntyre once said that “it is the lawyers, not the philosophers, who are the clergy of liberalism.” That is, in modern societies – liberal in the broad sense – it is lawyers who do the work, and have the status, once given to the medieval European Christian priesthood.
On this point I think MacIntyre is half right – or perhaps three-quarters right. He is quite right to note the low status that the modern West accords philosophers; but he overemphasizes the role of lawyers, because his concept of the good is (to my mind) overly political. Lawyers do play the role of medieval clergy as the rulers’ intellectual assistants in determining what a good state will be in practice. When it comes to the good life itself, however, the intellectual heavy lifting is done by a very different group: namely doctors, and medical researchers. It is medicine, not law (and certainly not philosophy), that plays the greatest role in telling moderns how they should live.