'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 legalistic, antinomian or situational
The situationist enters into the moral dilemma with the ethics, 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 rule or violates it according to love's need.' (Fletcher)
Moral decisions are guided by what best serves love
Four working principles and conscience
Pragmatism - which is a practical or success posture
Relativism - situation ethics is relativistic: 'The situationist avoids words like "never" and "perfert" 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
Six Fundamental Principles
'Only one thing is intrinsically good; namely love: nothing else at all.' (Fletcher)
'The ruling norm of Christian decision is love: nothing else.' (Fletcher)
'Love and justice are the same, for justice is love distributed, nothing else.' (Fletcher)
'Love wills the neighbour's good, whether we like him or not.' (Fletcher)
'Only the end justifies the means, nothing else.' (Fletcher)
'Love's decisions are made situationally, not prescriptively.' (Fletcher)
Evaluating Situation Ethics
Situation ethics provides an alternative Christian ethic that is consistent with the Gospel representation of Jesus
Situation ethics is flexible and practical. It takes into account the complexities of human life anf can make tough decisions where, from a legalistic perspective, all actions seem wrong.
In 1952, Pope Pius XII called situation ethics 'an individualistic and subjective appeal to the concrete circumstances of actions to justify decisions in oppostition to the natural law or god's revealed will'.
Situation ethics is subjective because decisions must be made from within the situation as it is perceived to be
Situation ethics is individualistic, because humans see things from their own perspective. There is a danger of selfish human tendency polluting agape love
What is believed to be a loving end could justify actions that many people regard as simply wrong.