Situation Ethics strengths and weaknesses

  • Created by: Julia0698
  • Created on: 11-05-16 16:38

Situation Ethics strengths and weaknesses

Advantages

  • Flexibility - it is flexible in that it gives personal freedom to people to decide what the most loving action is.
  • It fits in with the whole 'philosophy' and practical ethics of Jesus in the New Testament. Jesus broke religious rules and dealt with everyone as individuals and according to the circumstances.
  • Doesn't completely reject laws - Situation Ethics does not reject laws but sees them as useful tools which are not absolutely binding.
  • Encourages just acts - the 'situationism' of Fletcher has been instrumental in, for example, the Church of England recognising areas of possible injustice, such as the role of women in the Church.
  • Love can only be good - there can only be a Christian basis of morality if agape love is seen as central to morality. In other words, if we follow how love guides us then how can it be wrong?

Disadvantages

  • Love is subjective - there will always be a dispute as to what really is the most loving thing to do, and what this actually means in practice.
  • Fletcher's views do not necessarily accurately reflect New Testament views on morality, for example, the New Testament appears to have clear moral views on theft and adultery.
  • Laws are empirical - William Barclay argued that if law is "distillation of experience" that society has found to be beneficial, then "to discard law is to discard experience" and the valuable wisdom and insight it might bring.
  • Laws are necessary - the law and absolutes are there for protection of society. This is the reason they exist.
  • Situation Ethics seems to deconstruct itself. We need a specific or definitive idea what outcome is most valued, best or right before we can decide upon which acts are needed to bring about that right.

Evaluation

Situation Ethics is great in principle, surely it can only be right to do the most loving act? It allows for flexibility which may make it popular because lots of ethical issues are individual and require different responses to different situations. But it could also be seen as too idealistic, love is subjective and not everyone knows what constitutes a loving act. Discarding absolute laws would not work in society.

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