Situation ethics

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  • Situation ethics
    • Joseph Fletcher, J.A.T Robinson
      • Came about in the 1960's when secularisation was increasing
      • Fletcher situation Ethics 1966
        • Ethics is a matter of always acting in agape
      • Developed situation ethics on teachings and examples of Jesus
        • emphasising importance of basing our decisions on what brings about the mmost love
      • Teleological as it determines whether something is right or wrong by the consequences of the action
      • New morality, man coming of age.
    • situationism
      • Middle grounds for two extremes; antinomianism legalism
        • Antinomianism; believe by faith and Gods grace, a christian is free from all laws
        • Legalism; Must use rules to guide your decisions found in books i.e Bible
      • We should follow the rules of society and our community, but when in a situation where following rules will not result in the most love then we must be willing to put these rules aside.
    • 4 working principles
      • Relativism-  absolute ideas such as 'never and always' should not be used; theres always an exception
      • Personalism- Ethics deals with human relations. People should always be put first.
      • pragmatism- never prejudge how you would act. Base your actions on the facts of a current situation
      • Positivism-  Love is always right and always leads to the best outcome. always aim to do the most loving thing.
    • 6 fundermental principles
      • Only one thing is intrinsically good, namely love.
      • Ultimate norm of christian decisions is love.
      • Love and justice are the same for justice is love distributed
      • Love wills the nieghbours good whether we like him or not
      • Only the ends justifies the means; nothing else.
      • Decisions ought to be made situationally, not prescriptively
    • The Golden Rule
      • Love your nieghbour as you love yourself
    • strengths
      • Solution to two tendencies' legalism and antinomianism
      • simple yet prfound
        • Not meant to encourage laxity, agape at mind.
      • Used Biblical support
        • John 8; Jesus stopped a prostitute from being stoned to death even though law says you should.
      • skirts the problems arising when a situation brings important rules into conflict
      • Deals with individuals, each case is judged on its own merit.
    • weaknesses
      • Cannot foresee consequences
      • Most loving thing is subjective
      • St. Paul wrote that 'love is the fulfillment of law' not that 'love is the end of law' love and law need each other
      • Based on the Bible so can only be followed by christian thinkers?
    • the church
      • Wrong to put the demands of love before the demands of morality
      • Pope Pius XII had declared Christian ethics based on situations as 'an opposition to natural law, God's law.'
      • Protestant and catholic churches did not think it was appropriate to change the churches rules to fit societys social norms
        • Church shouldnt try to please society but society should act in a way that pleases the church
      • 1964  British council of churches appointed a working party to create a document which promoted abstinence from sexual intercourse before marriage
      • 'It is individualistic because humans see things from their own perspective. There is a danger that the ideals of unconditional love will be polluted by selfish human tendency and people using it as an excuse for not obeying the rules'
        • 'How many parents can show equal love to strangers as their own children' Pope Pius XII
          • This argument made Robinson withdraw his support from situation ethics
    • William barcley
      • Living by the law of love is too optimistic because it is inevitable to be influenced by preferences, prejudice and confession
      • 'It is much easier to agree that extraordinary situations need extraordinary measures than to think that there are no laws for ordinary life.' ethics in a permissive society
    • Scandalous risks
      • Susan Hawkins 1990
      • In love with married priest but uses situation ethics to allow him to cheat and not get a divorce
      • New morality cannot relate to reality


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