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Considering the claims of both absolutism and relativism, discuss the importance of situation ethics as a moral theory.

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Introduction

Considering the claims of both absolutism and relativism, discuss the importance of situation ethics as a moral theory. Situation ethics is a predominantly relativistic approach to morality as the fundamental principle of situation ethics is, "Love and do what you will..." (St. Augustine). It basically suggests that a person can do as one wishes as long as their actions involve love. A relativistic approach is a flexible ethical system which can accommodate the wide-diversity of lifestyles found in the word today. It believes that people don't always agree on what's right and wrong, and that different cultures express different moral codes of conduct. Their morals are subjective to situation, culture, religion, time and place and they believe that in reality, there is no fixed objective, prohibiting the dominance of a single culture. Although this may allow more freedom for different beliefs and provide less conflict, as we would all accept each others opinions, this unfortunately is not always the case. ...read more.

Middle

Fletcher states that there are essentially three different ways of making moral decisions, Legalistic ethics, Antinomian ethics and Situation ethics. He rejects both Legalistic ethics and Antinomian ethics but later goes on to discuss situation ethics and why it is the best approach to life. He divides his principles into four working principles and six fundamental principles. His four working principles are Pragmatism, which is a proposed course of action which must work towards the most loving end. Relativism, which as explained before, has no fixed rules, however it does contain one, which is to include love in all decisions. Positivism, which is an article of faith that love is the greatest good. The last is Personalism, which states that people come first and morality must be centred around people. With these presuppositions acknowledged, Fletcher then goes on today out the main theory, the six fundamentals, actions aren't intrinsically good or evil, they are good or evil depending on whether they promote the most loving thing. ...read more.

Conclusion

Situation ethics is flexible and can accommodate even Christian believers, as well as enabling people to be true to their emotional and rational feelings, without being subjected to absolutist codes. Not only is it individual to every person but it is a straightforward formulation, anyone can understand and act upon it. Selflessness and love are the important features of most moral codes, therefore the end results should benefit others. Even though it can relate to Christianity, many Christians today reject the theory stating that knowing what the right thing to do in every situation is impossible. Pope Pius XII said, "An individualistic and subjective appeal to concrete circumstances of actions to justify actions in opposition to the Natural Law or God's revealed will..." The idea is said to be too vague and although it means well, does it really work? In the world today people are too focussed on self benefit to follow such a theory. So although if practised world wide situation ethics could be a significant moral theory, unfortunately today the idea is idealistic and the chances of people practicing it faithfully are low. ...read more.

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