Situation Ethics

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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 either legalistice, 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 rules 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 
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For working principles and conscience

  • Pragmatism - which 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 Christian 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's taken 
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Six Fundamental Principles

  • 1st - "Only one thing is intrinsically good; namely love: nothing else at all"
  • 2nd - "The ruling norm of Christian decision is love: nothing else"
  • 3rd - "Love and Justice are the same, for justice is love distributed, nothing else."
  • 4th  - "Love wills the neighbour's good, whether we like him or not."
  • 5th - "Only the end justifies the means, nothing else." 
  • 6th - "Love's decisions are made situationally, not prescriptively." 
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Evaluation of Situation Ethics

  • Situation ethics provides an alternative Christian ethic that is consisten with the Gospel representation of Jesus 
  • Situation ethics is flexible and practical. It takes into account the complexities of human life and can make tough decisions where, from a legalistic persepective, all actions seem wrong. 
  • In 1952, Pope Pius XII called situation ethics "an individualistc and subjective appeal to the concrete circumstances of actions to justify decisions in opposition to the natural law or God's revealed will."
  • Situation ethics is subjective, because decisions must be made from within the situation as its perceived to be. 
  • Situation ethics is individualistic, because humans see thigns from their own perspective. There's 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 simply wrong 
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