Situation ethics

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: raveena
  • Created on: 01-05-13 22:53

Situation ethics

 ‘The law of love is the ultimate law because it is the negation of law’-Tillich.

‘‘Love thy neighbour as thyself’’ is the ultimate duty’ -Bultmann.

Ethics is legalistic or antinomian or situational.

The situationist enters into the moral dilemma with the ethics and rules and principles of his or her community or tradition. However, the situationist is prepared to set aside those rulers in the situation if love seems better served by doing so.

‘The situationist follows a moral law or violates it according to love’s need’- Fletcher.

Moral decisions are guided by what best serves love.

1 of 8

Six fundamental principles and love

First proposition: ‘Only one thing is intrinsically good; namely love: nothing else at all’- Fletcher.

Second proposition: ‘The ruling norm of Christian decision-making is love: nothing else’- Fletcher.

Third proposition: ‘Love and justice are the same, for justice is love distributed, nothing else’- Fletcher.

Fourth proposition: ‘Love wills the neighbour’s good, whether we like him or not’- Fletcher.

Fifth proposition: ‘Only the end justifies the means, nothing else’- Fletcher.

Sixth proposition: ’Love’s decisions are made situationally, not prescriptively’- Fletcher.

2 of 8

Four presumptions (four working principles) and co

Pragmatism- is a practical or success posture.

Relativism -situation ethics is relativistic: ‘The situationist avoids words like “never” and “perfect” and “always” and “complete” as he avoids the plague, as he avoids “absolutely”’.

Positivism -situation ethics depends on Christians freely choosing faith that God is love, so giving first place to Christian love.

Personalism -the legalist puts the law first, but the situationist puts people first.

‘Conscience’ describes the weighing up of the possible action before it is taken.

3 of 8

Related ethical developments

Contextual ethics places importance the Christian community and acting in according with God’s will, while keeping love at the centre and avoiding generalised laws.

Proportionalism seeks to find a midway position between situation ethics and natural law by following the natural laws by following the natural laws in the main but being prepared to set them aside in extraordinary situation.

4 of 8

Evaluating situation ethics

Situation ethics is flexible and practical. It takes into account the complexities of human life and can make tough decisions where, from a legalistic perspective, all actions seem wrong.

Situation ethics presents people with a enormous amount of freedom and responsibility which Barclay thinks is terrifying.

In 1952, Pope Pius XII called situation ethics, ‘an individualistic and subjective appeal to the concrete circumstances of actions to justify decisions in opposition to the natural law or God’s revealed will’.

Religious moral thinking is traditionally rule-based and so rejects situational thinking.

Situation ethics is subjective, because decisions must be made from within the situation as it is perceived to be.

5 of 8

Evaluating situation ethics

Situation ethics is individualistic, because humans see things from their own perspective. There is a danger of a selfish human tendency polluting agape love.

What is believed to be a loving end could justify actions that many people regard as simple wrong.

Situation ethics depends on humans being free to act morally but in fact we are conditioned by many things and need law guide us in the right direction.

Bauman thinks legalistic approaches to ethics rob people of their ability to make moral decisions out in the world.

6 of 8

Evaluating situation ethics

Situation ethics provides an alternative Christian ethics= that is consistent with the Gospel representation of Jesus.

Situation ethics is well suited to work in a world were people are more uncertain about what is right and wrong, but does this by placing the unconditional love of the other person in the situation at the centre of a decision-making process.

7 of 8


Situation Ethics

8 of 8


No comments have yet been made

Similar Ethics resources:

See all Ethics resources »See all resources »