Situation Ethics

This is an Essay plan type focusing on two main questions. It has all the key ideas of Situation Ethics aswell as criticisms too.

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  • Situation Ethics Essay Plan
    • Question 1 Identify the Key features of Situation Ethics
      • Paragraph 1
        • Teleological and Christian Theory
        • Developed during the 1960's. Changes were taking place in society such as; religious beliefs, breaking away from the church, invention of contraceptive pill, sexual revolution, free love. At this point Joseph Fletcher believed that a new ethical system was needed for Christians, therefore Situation Ethics was established.
      • Paragraph 2
        • During 1960's, Robinson wrote book 'Honest to God' challenged ideas of Christianity and God. suggested 'man had come of age'.
        • Over the years, man has grown n intelligence and knowledge. We should make our own decisions about God.
        • William Barclay suggested that love is 'unconquerable good will'.
        • Situation Ethics is the seach for the most amount of Agape love. Agape love is not like phelia love or Eros love, it is uconditional, sacrificial love.
        • Agape love is what God has for humans. This love is highlighted in New Testament. Jesus self-giving death for humans.
          • 'Good Samaritan' in Luke 10. Shows Agape Love
        • Paul Tillich declared that 'love is the ultimate law'
        • Fletcher says hat Agape love is the highest good and Situation Ethicists should show Agape love just like Jesus did.
      • Paragraph 3
        • 3 approaches to morality. Antinomianism, Situationism, Legalism
        • Legalism = focuses on particular laws and rules. Importance of rules and strict enforcement. Fletcher rejects this because it 'becomes a web sooner or later that chokes people'
        • Antinomianism = No guiding principles, no rules 'one must rely upon the situation of itself'. It's spontaneous and unpredictable. Fletcher rejects this.
        • Situaionism = Fletcher believes is the best because we have rules and morals as guidance ad they should be followed or rejected depending if love seems better served doing so.
      • Paragraph 4
        • Four Working Principles:
          • Pragmatism = course of action must be practical and work. Bonhoeffer a 'success posture'
          • Positivism = love is the highest good and you should make a decision in a positive light and work towards a positive outcome e.g. 'love our neighbour'
          • Relativism = Rules don't always apply. Situationists avoid words like 'never', 'always' and 'complete'. Absolutes become relative to love.
          • Personalism = Situation Ethics puts people first. People are more important than rules. 'Man was not made for the Sabbath'
      • Paragraph 5
        • 6 Fundamental Principles
          • 1. Love only is always good. Love is intrinsically valuable. 'only one thing is intrinsically good; namely, love: nothing else at all'
          • 2. Love is the only norm (rule). Love replaces the law. Jesus: 'love God' 'love your neighbour'.
          • 3. Love and Justice are the same. 'Justice is love disturbed, nothing else.'
          • 4. 'Love wills the neighbours good whether we like him or not'. MLK described Agape love as 'creative and a goodwill to all men'.
          • 5. love justifies the means. 'Only the end justifies the means; nothing else,'
          • 6. 'Loved decisions are made situationally not prospectively. Decisions should be made at the time and not from predetermined rules.
    • Question 2 Examine the view that the strengths outweigh the weaknesses of the theory
      • Paragraph 1
        • SE has significant strengths but I would not agree that these strengths outweigh the weaknesses of the theory.
        • A strength of this theory is that it caters for every individual situation and takes into account personal relationships with others.
          • However, the search for the most amount of love can be misguiding. Distort a person's judgment which may result in them committing immoral acts.
        • Pope Pius XII describes SE as 'individualistic' and 'subjective'. SE is 'in opposition to the natural law or God's revealed will'.
        • Fletcher advocates stealing, divorce and adultery - not what the bible says.
        • Fletcher is contradicting Gods word. Pope Pius XII says hat because the theory is individualistic it cannot e used because judgements will always be subjective by own personal feelings and attitudes. Only God can make the true moral decisions. Never get a clear, objective view, only God can and therefore only God can be a Situation Ethicist.
      • Paragraph 2
        • On the other hand, key strengths such as; its based on the teachings of Jesus. Jesus taught good morals and Jesus 'abolished the law with its commandments and legal claims'
        • However, predicting the consequences is very difficult. What looks like the most loving thing to do now may not be in the future. Crimes like murder and rape acceptable if the most loving outcome is reached? Sadistic guards example.
      • Paragraph 3
        • The principle of Pragmatism is worth nothing. If principles do fail to result in the most loving outcome, then it does seem reasonable to adopt a 'success posture' and abandon them.
        • William Barclay = law letting us down is rare. Fletchers examples are very very extreme dilemas that we wouldn't face on a day to day basis. Whats the point in this system is these situations are so unlikely to occur?
        • Hoose = propsed theidea of proportionalism that allows for breaking laws as and when they benefit of doing so is proportionally greater than following them.
      • Paragraph 4
        • SE is positive in many spects ad has significant strengths, however the weaknesses make the system unreliable and they defiantly outweight the strengths.


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