Situation Ethics

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  • Created by Joseph Fletcher, who was influenced by the hippy movement.
  • Fletcher created SE in a rebellion against the authoritarian deontological morals such as the Ten Commandments.
  • It was, however, still a religious ethic.
  • It was a relativist/teleological ethic, which means we take the consequences of an action into account, not the action itself.

Legalism (rejected by Fletcher)

A rule based ethic. Doing good is simply following these rules. Protestants followed it through the 613 commandments, Catholics were following Natural Law.

Fletcher rejects legalism for three reasons

  • It stops people thinking, because all the answers to moral dilemma's are written down. Fletcher said "With this approach one enters into every decision making situation encumbered with prefabricated rules and regulations."
  • It's impossible to create rules for every moral situation. It becomes impossible to apply.
  • Some rules are ludicrous, such as "People working on the Sabbath (Sunday) should be put to death'.

Antinomianism (rejected by Fletcher)

Opposite of legalism, no ethical system at all. People would enter each moral situation as if it was unique, making a spontaneous decision. Fletcher states "It is literally unprincipled, purely ad-hoc and casual."

Fletcher rejects antinomianism for two reasons

  • People need guidance, or they would…


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