Situation ethics

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  • Created by: Lottie
  • Created on: 28-05-12 13:22

Situationist Fletcher quoted a St Louis cab driver who said “Sometimes you’ve gotta put your principles to one side and do the right thing”. Rules (or principles) aren’t the same thing as doing what is right. Some ethical theories suggest legalistic rules that mustn’t be broken, This is wrong as it makes rules more important than people, and doesn’t allow exceptions. There are antinomians who reject rules entirely. This is wrong as it leads to complete chaos with no laws at all, and no way of choosing between two courses of action. The situationist has respect for the laws, may often follow the laws and be informed by tradition. However, he is free to make the right choice according to the situation. Best Interests Agape - "... goodwill at work in partnership with reason" in seeking the "neighbour's best interest with a careful eye to all the factors in the situation". Agape is concern for others. Fletcher uses the term ‘best interest’, so this seems much the same as Singer’s utilitarianism. We act out of love for others, trying to do the best to serve their interests. The Four Working Principles Pragmatism For a course of action to be right, it has to be practical. It must work. For example, in the case of Jodie and Mary, conjoined twins, the Catholic church wanted to let both of the girls die. To kill one, saving the other, would be an evil or bad act, they said. Fletcher would have disagreed. Letting both girls die is not pragmatic. It would be of more use, more practical, to save one girl at the expense of the other. Whilst this is not consequentialist - it is love that is good, not an outcome - in practice it makes Fletcher's theory very similar indeed to Singer's utilitarianism. Relativism ‘It relativizes the absolute, it does not absolutize the relative’. This means that rules (absolutes) don’t always apply, they depend on the situation. Absolutes like ‘Do not steal’ become relative to love – if love demands stealing food for the hungry, you steal. However, it doesn’t mean ‘anything goes’. He doesn’t take…


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