Situation Ethics

Situation Ethics

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  • Created by: Charlotte
  • Created on: 15-05-08 16:36

Key Features

* The greatest amount of love for the greatest number

- Developed by Joseph Fletcher 1966 to bridge gap between legalism + antinomianism

- Teleological principle

- Christian ethic based on love in the Christian sense - agape, applies this as Jesus commanded

- Every situation is unique and must be treated without reference to past events

- No action is intrisically wrong; this can only be established by the loving outcome

- Love is the only criterion by which to judge right and wrong and is therefore up to the individual

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Four Working Principles

PRAGMATISM: Demands that a proposed course of action should work, and its success/failure should be judged according to the principle

PERSONALISM: Demands that people should be put first

POSITIVISM: Recognises that love is the most important criterion

RELATIVISM: Rejects absolutes such as 'never', 'always'

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Six Propositions

- Love is always good

- Love is the only norm

- Love is not liking

- Love and justice are the same

- Love justifies its means

- Love decides there and then

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> Individual cases judged on their own merits irrespective of past events

> No binding rules - nothing is intrinsically right/wrong except the principle of love

> Love seeks the well being of others even if the course of action is undesirable

> Modelled on Jesus' teachings, could be considered a Christian approach to ethical dilemmas

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> Despite Fletcher's attempt to be anti legalistic, it is a contradiction to promote one principle whilst maintaining that no rules apply

> The cases situation ethics are based on are exceptional - no general rules apply

> Theory is teleological, depends on consequence calculation which is impossible

> Theory justifies murder, adultery etc in the name of love

> Fletcher believes all humans will make moral choices and not personal ones; realistically they need guidelines offered by rules to avoid moral chaos

> Traditional rules e.g. 10 Commandments full of wisdom, good for society

> Barclay: Undermines point of Church (providing support + guidance) by isolating the individual as the decision maker

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