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

Clarify and explain the key concepts of situational ethics

Extracts from this document...


Clarify and explain the key concepts of situational ethics. The situational ethics theory was brought about by Joseph Fletcher. It refers to a particular view of ethics that states: the morality of an act is a function of the state of the system at the time it is performed. The founding idea is that the only thing of built-in value is love. From there, Fletcher advocated a number of controversial courses of action. There are 3 kinds of ethical theories, and these are essentially three different ways of making moral decisions. There are the legalistic ethics, the antinomian ethics and the situational ethics. The legalistic ethics have a set of moral rules and regulations. Both Christianity and Judaism also have legalistic ethical traditions. Different religions have different approaches to how to dealing with decisions, and where to look for guidance. For example, Judaism has a law-based approach to life, and Christianity looks for guidance either in the commandments of the bible or natural law. But Fletcher believes that these traditions fail when life's problems require additional laws. The legalist must either include all of the complex alternatives in the law or create a whole new law altogether. ...read more.


A situationist will avoid words such as 'never', 'perfect', 'always' and 'complete'. They refrain from making anything of absolute value. There are no fixed rules that must be obeyed. But Fletcher also believes that all decisions must link with Christian love. Situation ethics 'relativizes the absolute, it does not absolute the relative' - Fletcher. Positivism: With natural positivism reason understands faith from human experiences. Nature provides the evidence and reason grabs hold of it. Reason isn't the basis for faith, but it works within faith. Situation ethics depends purely on the Christian choosing that God is love, so therefore giving first place to Christian love. Personalism: A legalist would put the law first and a situationist would put people first. Fletcher asks what's best to do to benefit humans: 'There are no "values" in the sense of inherent goods - value is what happens to something when it happens to be useful to love working for the sake of persons.' Conscience isn't a pile of rules and regulations that tells you what to do, it in no way guides humans in what action to take. ...read more.


Fletcher believes that rule-based morality is wrong, and something is wrong or right depending on the situation. If an action will bring about an end that serves love most, then that decision is most appropriate. Another idea and theory of situational ethics, is Deontology. (Greek: Deon meaning obligation or duty) Deontological ethics is a theory holding that decisions should be made solely or primarily by considering one's duties and the rights of others. One of the most important implications of deontology is that a person's behavior can be wrong even if it results in the best possible consequences. In contrast to consequentialism, a philosophy infamous for its claim that the ends justify the means, deontology insists that how people accomplish their goals is usually (or always) more important than what people accomplish. Situation ethics provides an alternative Christian ethic. It is flexible and practical and takes into account the problems and complexities of life. But from a legalistic point of view, all actions seem wrong. Fletcher's theory is subjective as decisions must be made from within the situation as it's perceived to be. It is individualistic as humans can see things from their own perspective. What is believed to be a loving end could justify actions that many people believe as simply wrong. Kate McGill, 12C ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Ethics 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 GCSE Ethics essays

  1. Virtue Ethics

    and that the mistake has been to associate good with actions rather than people. She argued that responsibility to follow rules made absolutely no sense without faith in God. She thought that a person's character is the key to eudaimonia, and believed we should return to Aristotle.

  2. Problems with Utilitarian and Kantian Ethics.

    The morality that Ross circumscribes is one that is noble and even possible. William Frankena also brings about an interesting point, among others, but one stands out. That it seems right that we promote the most good that we can while trying to prevent as much evil as possible.

  1. Discuss whether moral judgments are subjective or objective

    However to then state: 'euthanasia is justified', is neither true by its definition, nor can this be demonstrated. Consequently moral facts cannot be meaningful, and therefore cannot be deemed true or false. Like utilitarianism, emotivism has received considerable criticism, on the grounds that in many cases statements can become meaningless, as they are deemed true by definition or by observation.

  2. The boundaries between ethics and science are very controversial. Many scientists have the attitude ...

    By the result of some people becoming more knowledgeable, other people are killed and/or suffer severe chronic side affects. Growing up, I have always been taught to think about the consequences before I act.

  1. Religion and Medical Ethics

    A fourth treatment that is used to help infertile couples have children is IVF. In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) is a process in which the egg cells are fertilised by the sperm outside of the womb. After the egg has been fertilised, the embryo(s)

  2. Euthanasia can never be justified

    People argue that euthanasia can be in someone's best interest, but they can be wrong because there can be many situations where euthanasia isn't in a patient's best interest. For example, if the diagnosis is wrong and the patient is not terminally ill or if the doctor's prediction as to

  1. Different religious and philosophical views on controversial topics.

    The Iraq war is therefore wrong because it was not in desperate self defence. Utilitarian A utilitarian would, surprisingly, agree with the American war philosophy of "The greater good" in that a war should be fought if the result of the war would cause more pleasure then the pain caused

  2. Critically Compare The Use Of VIDe Decision Making Software With Traditional Ethical Approaches In ...

    It is for this reason that deontology proves to be not necessarily right, yet one of the most compelling and interesting theories. Deontology Deontology is a theory of the right, which suggests that people have an obligation and a duty to behave in a specific way towards others, whatever the consequences (Seedhouse, 1998).

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