The principles and assessing morality


The boss principle

  • Agape was the boss principle meaning the most important principle 
  • biblical and theological teachings make it clear in the bible:
  • Old Testament: the Greek word agape has it origins in the Old Testament from the hebrew word 'aheb'
  • new testament: jesus argued (matthew 22) the greatest commandment were: love god and your neighbour as yourself 
  • st Augustine: he developed the term agap by stating love was the ultimate virtue "Augustine was right to make love (agape)... the hinge principle upon which all other 'virtues' hang"
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Six fundamental principles

1. Love is the only good = love is the only 'intrinsic good' 

2. Love is the ruling norm of Christianity = religious moral rules have been given false high status in christian ethics. He points to jesus who broke several religious laws in his lifetime 

3. Love equals justice = true justice is just love at work in society, so supporting justice is just showing selfless love on a practical community scale 

4. Love for all = moral agents should act in a loving way to everyone; even their enemies 

5. Loving ends justify the means = we should judge the outcome 

6. Love decides situationally = there should be no rules about what we should and should not done in a particular situation 

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Four working principles

These principles are designed to help apply th boss principle in a practical way 

1. Pragmatism = the moral decisions must work in practice 

2. Relativism = the belief that no action is right or wrong in itself, situation ethics is relativist because there are no right or wrongs 

3. Positivism = this is being based on faith and not reason 

4. Personalism = people are more important than religious rules 

"situation ethics puts people at the centre of concern"

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Biblical evidence

Many theologians deny situation ethics can call itself a christian ethic, for example pope pius  condemned the principles that became situation ethics.

however, fletcher defends the theory by claiming the two most important people in the NT support it:

Jesus = he said the most fundamental commands are to love god with all your heart and "love your neighbour as yourself" 

St Paul = in his letter to the church in Corinth he emphasised the importance of love 

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