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

How useful is Joseph Fletcher's "Situation Ethics"as a guide to human behaviour?

Extracts from this document...


Stacey Carter "How useful is Joseph Fletcher's "Situation Ethics" as a guide to human behaviour?" Rudolf Bultmann claimed that Jesus Christ had no ethics except for "Love thy neighbour as thyself". This is what the Anglican Joseph Fletcher based his theory of Situation Ethics on. Fletcher opposed the idea of Legalistic and Antinomian Ethics. Legalistic ethics is where there are absolute rules to what should and should not be done. Fletcher said that Legalism couldn't accommodate the "exceptions to the rule" and that rejecting a particular aspect of the law than you surely must reject it all. For example the law "Do not kill" may require more laws to allow killing in self defence, killing in war, killing unborn babies etc. and doing this contradicts the law in the first place. Antinomian Ethics means "against law" and people using this approach do not live by an ethical system at all. Fletcher is against this not only because it is unprincipled but also on the basis of existentialist ethics, which argues that reality is composed of singular event and moments in time and Antinomian ethics follows no predictable direction from one situation to another. ...read more.


experiencing a good feeling or seeking altruistic deeds in return) but should be done for their own sake. Jesus and Paul taught love as the highest principle above the Law. 3) Justice is love at work in the community. 4) Love is practical and not selective. We should show love to all, even our enemies. Christian love is unconditional. 5) Love is the end - never a means to something else. 6) Humans have the responsibility of freedom. They are not bound by any Law. With this comes the responsibility to 'do the most loving thing' in every situation. "Fletcher claims that it is a mistake to generalise. You can't say 'Is it ever right to lie to your family?' The answer must be, 'I don't know, give me an example.' A concrete situation is needed, not a generalisation. 'It all depends' may well be the watchword of the Situationist." (Vardy & Grosch p.130) There are many benefits to Situation Ethics. The Bible does not cover many modern topics such as abortion, artificial insemination etc and situation Ethics allows us to work out which is the most loving action with the most loving end. ...read more.


A way that considers both Situation ethics and legalism and is somewhere in between is Proportionalism. Proportionalists believe moral rules can only be overridden if there is a proportionate reason in a particular situation. This includes both Natural law (killing, stealing, lying, cheating) and the Situational ethics view. Proportionalists believe that these laws should be adhered to unless there are good reasons not to. This allows for flexibility and a certain amount of relativism whilst still using the fundamental aspects of the Bible. An evil like pain, death or mutilation is, in itself, pre-moral or non-moral, and should never be described as 'moral'. It is the act as a whole, which is right or wrong, and it is the person, or the person in his or her acting, who is morally good or morally bad. (Bernard Hoose quoted by Vardy & Grosch) I conclude that Fletcher's situation ethics is highly useful for Christians in everyday life for all the reasons above. However I do believe that there has to be a balance and in my opinion it seems that Proportionalism is the best and most moral route to follow. It contains principles of both Situation ethics and Legalism and seems to make the most sense. ...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. Examine the key features of situation ethics, and the main criticisms of it, and ...

    For marriage is not merely indissoluble: it is indelible". He believed that it was potentially damaging and out-dating to believe that divorce was an impossibility.

  2. Evaluate the claim that conscience is a reliable guide to ethical decision making.

    Without the divinity attributed to conscience by Aquinas and Newman, and the recognition that reason is fallible, the prescription that we should follow conscience absolutely seems reminiscent of the General's pronouncement that 'While we accept that your weather reports are no better than random guesswork, we would like you to

  1. Business Ethics

    Market researchers collect information by talking to a relatively small number of people, which gives them an indication of the views of a larger number. But it only works if they talk to the right number of people, right type of people, ask the right questions and analyse the data in the right way.

  2. Ethical Criticism of McDonalds

    McDonald's has been criticized for the way it treats animals before they are killed and turned into fast food. 'The corporation is the world's largest promoter of meat-based products, the largest user of beef and the second largest user of chicken' (McSpotlight.org: McDonald's and Animals, 2005), and thus is faced with the usual claims aimed at slaughterhouses.

  1. Outline the Six Fundamental Principles of Joseph Fletchers Situation Ethics

    This proposition explains that agape love shows purity. The Second Propositions says: ?The ruling norm of Christian decision is love: nothing else.? This particular proposition is derived from the New Testament when Jesus replaced the Torah (Jewish holy book) with the principle agape. Jesus put this into practice when he made the decision to heal a sick person on the Sabbath day.

  2. The Ethics of Stealing

    This belief ties in with Naturalism or knowing the right thing to do, based on what we have observed in society. Based on this, it is clear that stealing is wrong. Even the word has a negative, pessimistic sound. Thieves are punished by our universal law system and it does not make exceptions based on the circumstances (for stealing).

  1. Medical Ethics And Organ Transplants

    everyone to help one another and by being automatically ?opted in? we are proving the goodness of humans and increasing the number of lives which are saved. However there are many who would contest this. Elizabeth Buggins reviewed the issue and stated that an opt out system should not be

  2. To what extent would you say Situation Ethics is a useful ethical theory?

    would be bound to tell the truth because the act of lying is wrong whereas the situtionalist would be able do the most loving thing in that particular circumstance. One weakness of Situation Ethics is that it?s subjective.

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