The topic of developing professionalism dominated the content of many academic medicine publications and conference agendas during the past decade. Calls to address the development of professionalism among medical students and residents have come from professional societies, accrediting agencies, and a host of educators in the biomedical sciences. The language of the professionalism movement is now a given among those in academic medicine. We raise serious concerns about the professionalism discourse and how the specialized language of academic medicine disciplines has defined, organized, contained, and made seemingly immutable a group of attitudes, values, and behaviors subsumed under the label of "professionalism." In particular, we argue that the professionalism discourse needs to pay more attention to the academic environment in which students are educated, that it should articulate specific positive behaviors, that the theory of professionalism must be constructed from a dialogue with those we are educating, and that this theoretical and practical discourse must aim at a deeper understanding of social justice and the role of medicine within a just society.