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Situation Ethics

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i) Identify the distinctive characteristics of situation ethics ii) Outline the main weaknesses of situation ethics and assess how far they lead to a rejection of the theory i) Situation ethics can be summarised as a guide to show the most agape love in a particular situation. Joseph Fletcher was an Anglican Theologian and as he did, we must ask ourselves, how are we meant to go about life? If we look at Matthew 22:35, Jesus says, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself". So this gives us what Jesus wanted us to do, but is this not an outdated proposition? We can draw on Archbishop William Temple to modernise this quote, "There is only one ultimate and invariable duty and its formula is 'Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself'" Temple went on to add, "How to do this is another question" This is where Joseph Fletcher came to try and forge a link between Jesus' message and more modern scholars to teach us how to act. Fletcher began his book1 with a story from one of his friends who was talking to a cab driver in America near the time of the presidential elections. ...read more.


Fletcher answers, situation ethics, "relativizes the absolute, it does not absolutize the relative" He means that situation ethics does not give a definite ending but tells us how to deal with what will definitely happen. Positivism states that we have to start with a positive choice. You need to want to do a good deed. We cannot answer 'why should I love?' Situation ethics is depends on Christians freely choosing faith that God is love, so giving first place to Christian love. Personalism maintains that situation ethics puts people first. People are more important than rules. "Man was not made for the Sabbath". Fletcher then put forward 6 propositions. First proposition Only one thing is intrinsically good; namely love: nothing else at all. Second proposition The ruling norm of Christian decision is love: nothing else Third proposition Love and Justice are the same, for justice is love distributed, nothing else. Justice is Christian love using its head, calculating its duties, obligations, opportunities, resources...Justice is love coping with situations where distribution is called for. Fourth proposition Love wills the neighbour's good, whether we like him or not. Fifth proposition Only the end justifies the means, nothing else. ...read more.


"Love your neighbour as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfilment of the law.2 Religious leaders would look at it in a way to act as Jesus taught and to be loving and kind to your neighbour. But is this outdated, with situation ethics depending on agape love and there being people in the world that do not honour this so we cannot fully follow the Church's teachings. Situation ethics can be used to justify anything because it is individualistic. Why did Hitler try and 'cleanse' Germany? Partly because he thought it was the right thing to do. Why didn't Hitler think what he was doing was wrong? Each person thinks differently and we cannot justify situation ethics if technically it allows this kind of action. Hitler cleansed his country because he thought it would be good for the German people. In conclusion, we must reject situation ethics due to its potentially dangerous nature. Although Fletcher intended it to be a fair system, he did not anticipate abuse of its structure and because of this, the way of analysing an action is not by situation ethics. 1 Fletcher, 'Situation Ethics, The New Morality' 2 Romans 13:8-10) ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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