Situation Ethics

  • Created by: Jenna
  • Created on: 14-04-15 14:44

introduction paragraph

-in situation ethics its important to know right and wrong actions depend upon the situation, there are no universal absolutes because each case is unique and therefore deserves a unique solution.

-The theory is teleological which means its concerned with a purpose and outcomes, unlike deontological theories that are concerned with the intention behind the action.

- Emerged in 1960's, a time of change, such as the womens liberation movement and anti-war movements, questioning traditional values.

-As a result Joseph Fletcher felt there was a need for a 'new morality', a subjective approach to fit in with the shift of secularisation. From this SIT is regarded as the 'middle way', in between legalism and antinomianism, Fletcher thinks this to be a 'modern' ethical theory.

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Agape love

-Joseph Fletcher episcopal priest, also believer in abortion and euthanasia, piorneered they theory and said "sometimes you gotta put your principles aside and do the right thing".

- Fletcher used the christian idea of Agape, meaning slefless love, found upon a statement in the new testament "god is love". Therefore the only absolute and motive should be love.

- He suggested as long as love is the intention, the end justifies the means. He also used several other stories from the New Testament to illustrate the law of love, for example The story of the woman caught in adultery

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4 Presuppositions

-Fletcher proposed 4 presuppositions, they go by relativism, pragmatisim, personalism and positivism

- These are important concepts as he explained through these how actions should be.

- Relativism means rules do not always apply, it depends on the situation. Absolutes such as 'Do not steal' become relative to love, e.g if love demands stealing food to feed a starving family, then you should steal food .

- Pragmatism which means for an action to be right it has to be practical e.g. the case of the conjioned twins, the Catholic Church thought to be letting 1 twin die would be an evil act, so both of them should die. But Fletcher disagreed, letting both die isn't pragmatic, it would be more practical saving 1.

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6 fundamental principles

- They explain how agape love should be understood

- They go by love is always good, love decides there and then, love justifies the means, love and justice are the same, love is the only norm and love replaces the law.

- He meant 'love replacing the law'- by explaining the law should be obeyed in the interests of love not just for the laws sake, and 'love decides there and then' means there are no rules about what should and what shouldnt be done- in each situation' you decide there and then what the most loving thing to do is.

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Unique Situations

-Fletcher drew on a wide range of cases that could not be resolved by fixed rules

- sacrifical adultery, this scenario highlights how the absolute law 'thall shall not commit adultery' should be broken to produce the most loving outcome

- Awoman was desperate to return to her family in Berlin after being taken to a POW camp in Ukraine. She asked a frielndly volga camp guard to impregnate her, which he did. her condition being medically verfified they sent her back to Berlin where her family welcomed her with open arms.

-Situation ethics would say the most loving outcome justifies the 'law break' of adultery, this scenario also shows how the 4 presuppositions and 6 fundamental principles are put into action to produce the most 'loving outcome'

- Pragmatism was used as it worked as she was reunited with her family and her children finally had their mother back.

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-Fletchers ethical argument has moved away from a legalistic approach to ethical dilemmas to more of a subjective and partially consequentialist theory.

- by freeing up from the restraints of moral absolutism fletcher believed the 'right' action was able to be made and therefore the most moral outcome was achieved

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