Joseph Fletcher's Situation Ethics

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What is the only guiding principal for Fletcher?
Agapé love
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What ethical approaches does Situation Ethics take?
Relativistic, consequentialist and teleological
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What is the definition of 'relativistic'?
There are no universalisable rules/norms therefore the situation can be considered independently
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What is the definition of 'consequentialist'?
The outcome/consequence of an action or decision should be considered. In Situation Ethics that most agapéic outcome would be deemed the best
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What is the definition of 'teleological'?
Each action should be judged on its ability to achieve a desired goal/outcome. In Situation Ethics the goal must always be agapé
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What 5 characteristics can help to define agapé?
Altruistic, God is love, attitudinal, philanthropist and egoism is rejected
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What is the definition of 'altruistic'?
True selflessness
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What is the definition of 'attitudinal'?
Non emotional or based on individual feelings or attitudes; based purely on equality and selflessness
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What is the definition of 'philanthropist'?
Non preferential / everybody is equal, leaving personal feelings aside
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What is meant by 'egoism is rejected'?
The individual does not expect anything in return or performing actions that produce agapéic outcomes
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What is meant by 'God is love'?
God's love is selfless, christian and unconditional, and we should replicate this outcome in all our actions
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What did Fletcher mean by the 'middle way'?
Fletcher distinguishes Situation Ethics from legalism and anti-nomanism and Situation Ethics avoids the pitfalls of both; being more flexible than legalism but more principled that anti-nominaism
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What is the definition of 'legalism'?
The idea that there are strict laws that must be followed at all time, by all people
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What is the definition of 'anti-nomianism'?
There is no use of an ethical system and people enter decision making as if each occasion was unique; therefore making a moral decision is a matter of spontaneity
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What did Fletcher say about legalism?
That it was immature as it created text book morality because a rigid observance meant the person either acts out of fear for consequences or unthinkingly
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What did Fletcher say about anti-nominism?
"It is literally unprincipled purely ad hoc and casual ... they are exactly anarchic"
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How did Fletcher say we should make our decisions?
He suggested that we should be 'guided' by cultural norms (e.g. the Decalogue / Ten Commandments) but should sometimes be prepared to abandon them when agapé is not served
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Who demonstrated agapé in the Bible?
Jesus and His freely chosen willingness to die for others
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What Biblical evidence is there to support Fletchers claim that agapé is the only guiding principal?
1 Corinthians 13: "I have not love, I am nothing ... Love is patient ... kind ... it is not self seeking ... love never fails" "Faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love"
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Why does Fletcher reject an absolutist approach?
Fletcher follows how Jesus himself rejected absolutism, when He healed on the Sabbath. And Jesus said "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath". This could mean 'law was made for man, not man for the law' and should only be guided by it
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Apart from Jesus, who in the Bible showed a similar approach that Situation Ethics provides?
St Paul when he condoned the abandonment of Kosher dietary rules in 1 Corinthians 10:23-26
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What are the Four Working Principles?
Pragmatism, relativism, positivism, personalism
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In the Four Working Principles, what is meant by 'pragmatism'?
For a course of action to be right it must work towards the end goal of agapé / must be a practical outcome
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In the Four Working Principles, what is meant by 'relativism'?
Rules do not always apply. An act can be right or wrong dependent on the situation one is faced with. We should break rules if needed to, but follow them outside of those particular situations
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In the Four Working Principles, what is meant by 'positivism'?
Only love is constant, and one must have faith that love is the right or good thing to do. Reason can help us apply agapé in each situation, and faith in God must be constant
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In the Four Working Principles, what is meant by 'personalism'?
People must always come before the law therefore we should follow the spirit of the law rather than the letter of it (showing flexibility)
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What type of consciousness does Situation Ethics concern with?
Antecedent = with prospective decision making rather than with retrospective judgement passing. (Fletcher thought that our consciousness should come into play before we make a decision rather than after)
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What are Fletcher's Six Fundament Propositions?
1)Love only is intrinsically good 2)Love is the only ruling norm 3) Love and justice are the same for justice is love distributed 4) Love wills thy neighbours good 5)Only love justifies the means 6)Decisions are made situationally not prescriptively
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Expand on the proposition 'love only is intrinsically good'
St Augustine says "one does not ask what he believes or what he hopes, but what he loves", demonstrating the love comes naturally to mankind and we should seek to produce the greatest amount of love, and love only
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Expand on the proposition 'love is the only ruling norm'
Our decisions should be based always and only on love rather than a multitude of absolutist laws/norms / Jesus and St Paul replaced the precepts of the Torah with agapé
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Expand on the proposition 'love and justice are the same, for justice is love distributed'
Agapé is rational and therefore it treats everybody equally
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Expand on the proposition 'love wills the neighbours good'
We should want good for everybody and not just those we have individual preference over,
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Expand on the proposition 'only love justifies the means'
Fletcher argues that the end result / outcome of an actions is surely the only way we can assert the m
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Expand on the propostition 'love's decisions are made situationally, not prescriptively'
If we make decisions precriptively, this would mean that we have to make laws/rules/norms to fit every situation that could ever happen which would lead to a choking web of laws, so we should always choose the loving outcome in the moment, not before
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What example did Fletcher give and what did he conclude?
When a ship struck an iceburg and began to sink, there was also too many passengers for the life boat, therefore he ordered most of the males to drown. Fletcher concluded that Brown was bravely sinful, it was a good thing
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Identify 3 strengths of situation ethics.
1)Allows for free individual decision making and therefore gives them responsibility to act in faith 2)Appealing to liberal christians as it provides a gospel representation of Jesus 3)Does not abandon laws does not lead to anarchy
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Identify 3 weaknesses of situation ethics.
1)Could lead to abhorrent acts as only the loving outcome justifies the means 2)Abandoning absolute laws means that human rights will be lost 3)Outcome is not always foreseeable-how do we know what produces the most loving outcome?
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What 2 biblical quotes support situation ethics in compatibility with christianity?
1) Matthew 22:35-40: "thou shall love my neighbour" showing one of the propositions 2) Mark 2:27-28: "the sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath" shows how we should break the rules is society is best served
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What 2 biblical quotes do NOT support situation ethics in compatibility with christianity?
1) Deuteronomy 4:12-14: "He declared to you the Ten Commandments, which he commanded you to follow" SE does not follow absolutist laws that God commanded us to 2) Jeremiah 10:23: "Lord, I know that noone is the master of his destiny" we are to flawed
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Card 2

Front

What ethical approaches does Situation Ethics take?

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Relativistic, consequentialist and teleological

Card 3

Front

What is the definition of 'relativistic'?

Back

Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4

Front

What is the definition of 'consequentialist'?

Back

Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5

Front

What is the definition of 'teleological'?

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Preview of the front of card 5
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