• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Explain Fletcher's theory of Situation Ethics (13) and Assess the strengths and weaknesses of his view (12)

Extracts from this document...


Hannah Dollimore Situation Ethics a.) Explain Fletcher's theory of Situation Ethics (13) Joseph Fletcher provoked a great debate amongst Christians. He is quite clear in the approach he advocates and in no way wants to be confused with antinomianism, (The belief that through 'grace' a Christian has no need to obey any moral rules/ laws. In Fletcher's Situation Ethics; no act is in itself either good or evil. He likes to speak in terms of principles, (Guiding decision making): and he stressed particularly the cardinal principle of love. Augustine had spoken of love in his celebrated remark, "Love God and do what you want". For Fletcher, love for people is to guide decision-making. Fletcher sets out four prepositions, which apply to all ethical systems. Firstly, one has to ask the question whether a particular strategy actually works (Pragmatism). Secondly, Fletcher says that the method must be relativistic. This is to avoid any absolutes. ...read more.


to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Fourthly, it should be clear that this agapeic love is not at all the same as liking, it isn't affection. It has its theological roots in the way God is believed to extend his love to all. This love is also supposed to be directed towards the self. Love of yourself is preferred where its advantages outweigh love for your neighbour. Fletcher's fifth proposition is that love justifies its means. Situation Ethics, according to Fletcher, regards any of these as right or wrong according to a situation. Sixth, love decides there and then. Fletcher sees it as a psychological weakness that people should wish to make their decisions by reference to a pre- existing code of laws. They see freedom as a curse with which they dare not cope. b.) Assess the strengths and weaknesses of his view (12) Situation Ethics has been criticised by both Catholic writers and Protestants of different theological standpoints. ...read more.


Fletcher may be too optimistic about people's capacity to calculate how love might be directed in the way he envisages also. If you accept the idea that human beings are limited in some sense, then you accept that some people may deceive themselves in the judgements they make. Some say that Fletcher overestimates human rationality. Oliver O'Donovan attempted to refine the issue of freedom. He argues that the situation ethicists are right to point to the freedom from bondage to the Law of Moses, which the coming of Christ has brought. There is danger of misinterpreting this freedom. Man cannot close his eyes to the universe as it already is. The spirit "forms and brings to expression the appropriate pattern of free response to objective reality". O' Donovan classified Fletcher as a conservative in ethics. His position is that knowledge of the past cannot be simply transformed into knowledge of the present. Ethical decisions faced in the future can't be resolved by resorting to guidelines from the past. Fletcher seems inconsistent with his own declaration that no actions should be predetermined by any moral rule. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Practical Questions section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Practical Questions essays

  1. Analyse and explain the strengths and weaknesses of deontology

    greater good for the majority that following such a commandment would have. Hence, it is understandable how Hare came to the conclusion that in actuality Kant's supposed deontology is similar to JS Mill's Utilitarianism. Logically this argument appears quite convincing, as Kant does indeed rely on consequences rather more than he would like to admit.

  2. Analyse and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of natural moral law as a definitive ...

    author and director of any actions, and moves away from the idea that actions have moral value in themselves. A more extreme form of personalism as demonstrated by Kelly, can be found in situation ethics, which abandons an uniform legalists approach to morality in favour of consideration of the situation

  1. What is Natural Moral Law? What are the strengths and weaknesses of NML?

    We can then go on to apply this theory to humans. A healthy educated person, who has developed their conscience, is better than a sick, ignorant or vicious one. Fulfilling purpose, or as Aquinas would say - turning potential into actual is the essence of goodness.

  2. Assess the strengths and weaknesses of Natural Law.

    It is also important to confirm that Aquinas distinguished 'interior acts' from 'exterior acts' and regarded the former of higher importance; an act may be good in itself (exterior concept) but undertaken for the wrong intention (interior concept) - for instance giving to charity may be good in itself but

  1. Examine the key features of situation ethics, and the main criticisms of it, and ...

    Dietrich Bonheoffer, was not based on law, or rather, perhaps, on one law only: the law of love. To illustrate their beliefs on new morality over old, both Fletcher and Robinson cited the examples of Jesus and the Pharisees, which were meant to exemplify new morality and old morality respectively.

  2. What are the strengths and weaknesses of Intuitionism? Evaluate the merits or otherwise of ...

    Moore thought that what makes an action good or otherwise are the aims of the person in question when carrying out that action. Moore then went on to make a distinction between the aims and the consequences of an action: the aims are decided intuitively before the action and determine its moral nature.

  1. Business Ethics

    Immoral management is a style that not only is devoid of ethical principles or precepts, but also implies a positive and active opposition to what is ethical. * Discordant with ethical principles. This view holds that management's motives are selfish and that it cares only about its own or its organization's gains.

  2. Examine and comment on the view that religious and/or moral principles provide essential guidelines ...

    However Dr Bernard Nathanson, joint founder of NARAL in the US admitted ?We aroused enough sympathy to sell our program of permissive abortion by fabricating the number of illegal abortions done annually in the US. The actual figure was approaching 100,000 but the figure we gave to the media repeatedly

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work