Situation Ethics

Summary of situation ethics.

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  • Situation ethics
    • Fletcher's 6 fundamental principles
      • "Only one thing is intrinsically good; namely love: nothing else"
        • Things are good or evil depending on if they promote the most loving result because love is always good
      • "The ruling norm of christian decision is love: nothing else"
        • Love replaces law. it isn't equalled by any other law. E.g. Jesus broke the commandments when love demanded it.
      • "Love and justice are the same for love is justice distributed: nothing else"
        • Love and justice can't be seperated for eachother "Justice is love coping with situations where distribution is called for"
      • "Love wills the neighbour's good, whether we like him or not"
        • It doesn't matter about feeling, but the attitude of will towards the other person. "Desire for the good of the other person"
      • "Only the end justifies the means, nothing else"
        • For fletcher, the end must always be the most loving result. When weighing up a decision, one must consider the desired end and the foreseeble condequences.
      • "Love's decisions are made situationally, not prescriptively"
        • Whether something is right or wrong depends on the situation e.g jeus distanced himself from the jewish rule based systems
    • Four presumptions (Also known as the 6 working principles)
      • Pragmatism= A practial or success posture. Must work towards the end result which is love. For a course of action to be right it must be practical.
      • Personalism= puts people first. where in some ethical theories they place a lot of weight on rules. situationists are more interested in people.
      • Positivism= Natural positism gets faith from human experience. Theological positivism people act in a way that is reasonable for the light of those statements. Reason isn't the basis for faith but it works within faith.
      • Relativism= situation ethics is relativistic. The situationist avoids word like "always" or "never" There are no fixed rules that must be obeyed. However neither is a free for all! Fletcher maintains that all decisions must be relative for christian love.
    • Love
      • Philos = Friendship love/ family
      • Eros= erotic love/ lust
      • Agape= compassion/ selfless love e.g the love Jesus had for us
      • Storge= the love between parent and child
    • Key terms
      • Conscience = used in a special sense in situation ethics. Fletcher rejects the idea that a conscience is intuition, a channel for divine guidenc, the internalised values of the individuals culture or the part of reason that makes value judgements. Because all these treat conscience as a thing, which Fletcher believes is a mistake. For him conscience is a thing rather than a noun.
      • Proportionalism: A modification of natural law which seeks to take account of the consequences of action. It suggests that rules may be broken if there is a proportionate reason. When this happens the act remains objectuvely wrong but is morally right. e.g contraception is an objective wrong which can be morally right in order to prevent the damaging effects of over population.
    • Strengths and weaknesses of situation ethics
      • Strengths: 1)Individual cases are judged on their own merit.2)Individuals are not subjects to the rules 3) Love seeks the well being of others 4) it is modeled on the teaching of jesus
      • Weaknesses: 1)It goes against itself, to say that no rules apply but then is fundamentally judged on love is contradictory. 2) The cases presented are usually exeptional ones in which general rules don't apply. In ordinary everyday cases the answer is more obvious. 3)The theory justifies murder, adultey and even geoncide. 4) Fletcher is overly optemistic about a humans abbility to make the morally right choice.
  • Agape= compassion/ selfless love e.g the love Jesus had for us
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