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Outline the Six Fundamental Principles of Joseph Fletchers Situation Ethics

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Outline the Six Fundamental Principles of Joseph Fletcher?s Situation Ethics (30 Marks) Joseph Fletcher (1905-1991) is the father of Situation Ethics. He explains his theory in his book ?Situation Ethics: The New Morality? which was published in 1966. He said that we should always use the principle of agape when faced with a moral dilemma as this will lead us to the most moral decision. He said we should always apply this principle in everyday life and treat no two situations as identical. Situation Ethics is therefore both a relativistic and consequentialist theory. It is seen as a radical Christian approach to ethics as it goes against the legalistic approach that Christians had followed before, the theory also ?suggests? that Jesus was a situationist as many stories in the bible tell us of how he made decisions based on each individual situation and was not lead by the rules set out in the Old Testament; ?The Ten Commandments?. ...read more.


This rejected the obligation that one must rest on the Sabbath day, showing that the Ten Commandments are not absolute and can be broken when love demands it. Therefore this proposition says that love should replace any moral code, religious or state law. ?Love and Justice are the same, for justice is love distributed, nothing else.? This is the third proposition and explains that love and justice cannot be separated and within Christianity ?justice is Christian love using its head, calculating its duties, obligations, opportunities, resources ? Justice is love coping with situations where distribution is called for.? (Fletcher 1966) In other words we cannot act lovingly without an action also being fair on most or all parties. The fourth proposition suggests that: ? Love wills the neighbours good, whether we like him or not.? In other words this is repeating one of the Ten Commandments ?Love thy neighbour.? They both mean the same thing; both are referring to the principle of agape which is unconditional love rather than sentimental or erotic. ...read more.


Jesus however said to her prosecutors that the first man to throw the stone should be that who has never sinned. None of the men threw the stones because they had all committed some sort of sin within their life and therefore the woman?s life was also spared. This shows us that each individual should be approached with a fresh mind and not based upon any rule but that of love. The six fundamental propositions or principles give a clear indication that Fletcher?s theory was radical in its difference to the traditional form of Christian Ethics. The theory is relativistic in its approach towards ethics because within Situation Ethics an action is not intrinsically right or wrong until the result of a particular action is known. The theory is again very different as it does not ask a person to follow any written rule apart from the principle of agape love. It was particularly radical as it was written during the sexual revolution which explains this example that Fletcher gives in his book to explain the first proposition: ?Whether any form of sex is good or evil depends on whether love is fully served? ...read more.

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