Situation Ethics - Summarised

A short summary of Situation Ethics, just a top up on knowledge for useful references for exam questions (Suitable for both A2 and AS students) 


Basic Principles and Understanding

- 'The law of love is the ultimate law because it is the negation of law' - (Tillich)

- 'Love thy neighbour as yourself' is a commandment and ultimate duty

- 'The situationist followa a moral law or violates it accordingly to loves need' - (Fletcher)

- Situation ethics is flexible and practical. It takes into consideration the complexities of human life and can make tough decisions where antinomian and legalistic perspectives fail. 

- Legalistic Ethics - An ethical system that contains rules for every situation and/or the association of doing good with simply following those rules.

- Antinomian Ethics - The view that there are no moral principles or rules at all.

- Situational Ethics - A Situationist would go into a situation with ethics, priiples and morals of their community and tradition; but are willing to set them aside to use love as their morals. 

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Six Fundamental principles and Love.

- First Proposition: 'Only one thing is intrisically good, namely love: nothing else at all'

- Second Proposition: 'The ruling norm of Christian decision -making is love: nothing else' 

- Third Proposition: 'Love and justice are the same for justice is love distributed, nothing else'

- Fourth Proposition: 'Love wills the neighbour's good, whether we like him or not'

- Fifth Proposition: 'Only the end justifies the means, nothing else'

- Sixth Proposition 'Love's decisions are made situationally, not prescriptevly' 

All of these propositions were dictated by Fletcher.

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Four Presumptions

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 plauge, 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 actions before they are taken

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Evaluating Situation Ethics

- Situation ethics presents peoplke with an enourmous amount of freedom and responsibiltiy 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 oppositions to the natural law or God's revealed will.

- Religous moral thinking is traditionally a rule-based end, so rejects situational thinking. 

- Situation ethics is subjective, becasue decsions must be made from within the situation as it is perceived. 

- Situation ethics is individualistic, because humans see things from different perspectives. There is a danger of a selfish human tendency polluting agape love. 

- Situation ethics depends on a human being free to act morally but in fact we are conditioned by many things and need law to guide us in the right directions

- Zygmund Bauman thinks legalisitc approaces to ethics rob people of their ability to make moral decisions out int he world.

- Situation ethics provides an alternative Christian ethic that is consitent with the Gospel representation of Jesus. 

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