Hybrid Ethical Theory

[hahy-brid eth-i-kuhl thee-uh-­ree]

Definition

Hybrid Ethical Theory combines aspects of various ethical theories to reach an outcome which is desirable or necessary for an individual or group.

Origins

Although many claim hybrid ethics came to prominence in the mid-20th century, its origin dates back to the times of Aristotle and Confucius. Both insisted, Confucius in Analects and Aristotle in Nicomachean Ethics, that a great many ethical theories (including some that we would regard as moral) have to be made on a case-by-case basis, with due regard to the particular features of each case (1). Facets of one ethical theory can be combined with those from another to create the best ethical decision/ situation for the individual or group.

Probabilism

Hybrid Ethical Theory origins can also be seen in Probabilism – a claim that when an individual or group is uncertain which range of actions is the correct one to perform, it is acceptable to perform any which has a good chance of being the right one even if there is another that will have a better chance (2). This was advanced and defended by a number of Catholic theologians, mainly in the 16th and 17th centuries (3) – such as Spanish theologian Bartolomé de Medina and Jesuits such as Luis de Molina (4). Probabilism is argued to be the most significant attempt in the history of philosophy to identify the minimum conscious rationality demanded by virtuous behaviour (5).

New Age Probabilism

Today`s Hybrid Ethical Theory grew in the mid-20th century, and can be attributed to technological and medical advances (6). One such example is human cloning and Utilitarianism. Utilitarianism holds that the moral worth of an action is determined only by its resulting outcome – the greatest good for the greatest number (7). It can be influential in pushing medical science and technology to its ultimate outcome – there is no limit to human experimentation and its benefits to mankind. However, Utilitarianism will not survive on its own in creating the secular moral framework to keep pushing ethical limits. It can be blended with Cultural Relativism, Emotivism and Ethical Egoism to provide the optimum outcome, retaining the best of each, to decide such morally incongruous issues (8).

Argument(s) Against Hybrid Ethical Theory

Probabiliorism is a theory in moral theology for resolving practical doubts, and directly counters Probabilism. It maintains that one may follow the opinion favouring liberty when the reasons for this opinion are certainly more probable than those that favour the law (9).

Arguments against are also made by those who hold steadfast to specific ethical theories. For example, the Divine Command Theorist will believe in the word of God to decide their morality and does not subscribe to Moral Relativist ideologies.

Alternate Terminology

Satisficing is also a modern term that describes the situation where people settle with a solution to a problem that is “good enough” (10). And Hybrid Ethical Theory can also be known as Multi-Account Theory (11).


References


  1. Kupperman, J.J. (2010). Theories of human nature. Indianapolis, Indiana: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.
  2. Hill, J. (2009). Probabilism today: Permissibility and multi-account ethics. Australian Journal of Philosophy, 87:2, 235-250.
  3. Redmond, W. (1998). Conscience as moral judgement: The probabilist blending of the logics of knowledge and responsibility. The Journal of Religious Ethics, 26:2, 389-405.
  4. Kraye, J., Saarinen, R. (2005). Moral philosophy on the threshold of modernity. Norwell, MA: Springer.
  5. Redmond, W. (1998). Conscience as moral judgement: The probabilist blending of the logics of knowledge and responsibility. The Journal of Religious Ethics, 26:2, 389-405.
  6. Kupperman, J.J. (2010). Theories of human nature. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.
  7. Waluchow, W.J. (2003). The dimensions of ethics: An introduction to ethical theory. Toronto, ON: Broadview Press Ltd.
  8. Hull, R. "The Varieties of Ethical Theories". Buffalo Psychiatric Center. Buffalo, NY. 27 Mar. 1979.
  9. Hardon, J. (1980). Modern catholic dictionary. Garden City, NY: Double Day.
  10. Swanton, C. (2004). Satisficing and perfectionism in virtue ethics. In M. Byron (Ed.), Satisficing and maximizing: Moral theorists on practical reason (pp. 176-189). St. Kent, OH: Cambridge University Press.
  11. Hill, J. (2009). Probabilism today: Permissibility and multi-account ethics. Australian Journal of Philosophy, 87:2, 235-250.