Volume 18, Issue 2, Fall 2018
Middle Theory in Professional Ethics
In professional ethics, focus on ethical theory fails to offer practical advice and focus on individual cases fails to develop adequate ethical understanding. There is a wide gap between abstract moral theories and concrete professional cases. To understand professional ethics, we must pay more attention to this gap and the middle level of theory that we find there. This middle theory brings abstract principles closer to practical cases by considering and incorporating the goals, circumstances, customs and other established social practices and compromises of particular professions. Understanding the complex systems of individual professions is quite important morally as such systems can alter our ethical duties dramatically. Therefore, adequate consideration of professional ethics requires a thorough understanding of philosophical ethics and of the nature of the specific profession concerned. However, recognizing the importance of this middle area will require us to reconsider how we teach, and who teaches, professional ethics.