IB Philosophy of Ethics: Situation Ethics

A mindmap summary of the key points and philosophers surrounding situation ethics. The weaknesses and strengths of the argument are also included. 

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  • Created by: Milly
  • Created on: 10-04-13 16:01
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  • Situation Ethics
    • Constitutionalist/teleological ethical theory because it considers the consequences/end purpose (telos) of the action
    • Normative ethics
    • Concept of love as a motivation for moral decision
    • William Temple
      • Used 'thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself' to justify ethical idea
      • Do things to benefit others and the most loving thing
      • How to act depends upon the situation
    • Paul Tillich
      • The law of love defies all law
        • Love is the ultimate law
      • It is a flexibly theory as love should be maximised
      • Love will always guide you in the right direction
    • Joseph Fletcher
      • In some situations you need to do the right thing by challenging your beliefs and principles
      • Ethics should be relative
      • The world around us is not static therefore we should adapt our principles
      • Accommodates Christian belief
      • Four working principles
        • Pragmatism
          • Realistic
          • a practical or success posture
          • The purposed cause of action must work and must work towards the end which is love
        • Relativism
          • There are no fixed rules that must always be obeyed. However, nor is it free for all.
          • All decisions must be relative to Christian love
        • Positivism
          • Christian approach with free will to promote love
          • Religious knowledge or belief can only be approached by one of two ways
          • With natural positivism, reason deduces faith from human experience or natural phenomena
          • With theological positivism, faith statements are made and people act in a reasonable way
        • Personalism
          • Despite the law, humans should always be helped first
      • Six fundamental principles
        • 1.Only love is good, actions aren't intrinsically right or wrong - it depends on the situation
          • Intrinsically good meaning good in itself without references to consequences
        • 2. The Commandments are not absolute, love replaces law
        • 3. Love and justice can't be separated, justice is love at work
        • 4. Love is a desire for the good of another person.
          • This is agape love, which is unconditional and nothing else is required in return
        • 5. You must take into account the means available, the motive for acting and the consequences to achieve the most loving result
        • 6. Whether something is wrong or right depends on the situation. The most loving thing is the right thing to do.
      • Strengths
        • By allowing free will as well as Christian approach, religious extremism is prevented as there is more flexibility of thought
        • The approach is logical, realistic and can therefore be attained
        • Doing the most loving thing prevents hatred
        • It is easily adaptable and flexible
        • Encourages people to take into account the consequences of their actions - less self centred
        • Agape love supersedes inequality
        • Philosophy and religion complement each other
        • Takes into account the complexity of human life
        • Allows lesser of two evils
      • Weaknesses
        • How can love replace law if love and justice are intrinsically linked?
        • Do people have the same perception of what the most loving thing to do is?
          • Too subjective
        • Could this lead to religious extremism, if the aim to achieve love is taken too far?
        • Pragmatism- can only work if the situation itself is practical
        • Contradicts what is in the Bible about Christian law
          • Is it not trying to maintain Christian ideas
        • By being based on Christian ethic does it only allow for Christian followers?
        • Consequences can be difficult to predict
        • Agape love is underachievable and  unrealistic
          • We naturally love those who are close to us more
        • The majority may outweigh the minority
          • Could allow for discrimination of the minority
        • The actions may be wrong to promote the end loving result
          • Killing someone to save others
          • Torture in order to potentially help others
      • Philosophers' criticisms
        • William Barclay
          • Living by the law of love is too optimistic because it is inevitable to be influenced by preferences,prejudice and confusion
        • Kirkwood
          • Fletcher offers no definition of love
            • Three different accounts of how the principle of agape love can be followed
          • Gives no guidance of what a 'situation' is
            • Different people would percieve the situation differently
              • Lack of consistency
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