Chapter 2.2-Theology

  • Created by: Tahalia
  • Created on: 10-02-20 10:01


  • Situation Ethics is based off of the work of Jospeh Fletcher 
  • He created a book called "situation ethics" in 1966.
  • Situation ethics is a largely TELEOLOGICAL ETHICAL SYSTEM.-relating to or involving the explanation of phenomena in terms of the purpose they serve rather than of the cause by which they arise.
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Fletcher's 3 approaches to Moral thinking.

Moral thinking is divided into 3 types:

  • Lagalistic- based on laws that are fixed.
  • Antinomian- Having no laws at all
  • Aituational- looking at the context of the moral problam and adopting the law of doing the most loving thing in that situation.
  • Fletcher believed that the 3rd type was the best medium between legalism and antinomian.
  • Feltcher was influenced by other theologians like Barth, Bonhoeffer and Bultmann, who thought that Chriastian ethics should not depend too heavily on trying to apply biblical laws directly to modern situations but shouldbe flexible in expressing agapeic love.
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Agape love

  • Fletcher believed that agape love should be the centre of ethics.
  • Agape love is known as christian love that should be unconditional aswell as reflecting the love of God.
  • Agape love states that people should love their neighbours aswell as their enemies ,
  • Agape love is not self interested, but self sacrificing.
  • Fletcher believed that the "law of love" should guide moral decision-making. 
  • People should aim to do the most moral thing and if the consequences of their actions are producing something loving, then they are doing the right thing.
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Fletcher's 6 propositions

1. The only thing that is intrinsically good is agapeic love.  
    Other things are good depending on whether they produce loving results, but agapeic love is good for it's own sake.
2. Love is the ruling norm of Christian ethics.
    Fletcher gave examples of rules broken by Jesus when it was necessary for bringing about loving results.

3. Justice is love distributed.
    Justice is done when people act with love in a rational manner for the benefit of the community.

4.  Love does not depend on emotional like and dislike.
     It is an act of will, a deliberately chosen attitude.
5.  Love should not be the goal of a moral action.
     If it is, then the means of getting to that goal are not important.
6. Love should be considred in the context of each situation as it arises "situationally not prescriptively"
    Rules should not be made with out the context of the moral situation being a serious consideration.


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The 4 Working principles

Otherwise known as the "rules of thumb", they help to determine the right thing to do.
1- PRAGMATISM: About practicality in the real world.  The pragmatist will look for something which will work in the practical circumstances, rather than following the abstract principles of philosophy.

2- RELATIVISM: Rules are not to be seen as fixed and absolute but can be changed according to the situation.

3- PERSONALISM: People matter more than the laws, menaing that the needs of people should be considred when moral actions are taken.

4-CONSCIENCE: Consicence is not seen as a reliable set of internal rules but as activity, the use of reason in maing loving moral judgements.

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Fletcher's understanding of conscience.

  • Fletcher believed that the conscience does not guide human action
  • Is not a store of reliebale rules to which people can refer
  • The conscience is not a kind of inner voice that has access to divine truth 
  • The conscience is a verb, not a noun.
  • It describes what peope do when they are trying to make moral decisions and are weighing things up.
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Strengths of Situation ethics.

1. It allows consideration of an individual's personal circumstances when making moral decisions,as it is a relativist theory.

2. Because of it's flexibility, it doesn't have problems of being outdated.

3.  It's a quick and easy method of decison making,due to the fact that it simply recommends acting with agapeic love instead of worrying about a range of dutuies, principle and outcomes.

4. it allows people autonomy (the right or condition of self-government.) by giving them the responsibilty of choosing their own actions without having to obey others rules.

5.  It is believed that it fits in well with the christian faith as you think about what Jesus would do in regard to maing moral decisions,as he used agapeic love in situations.

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Weaknesses of situation ethics.

1.  Because it is a relativist, it doesn't give clear instructions on what to do in all circumstances.

2.  It can be difficult to apply- it isn't clear what the most loving thing to do in a situation, because it's not clear what Jeus would do.

3.  it's not always clear to work out which people should be considered in the efforts to find a loving action, or what to do if an action would be loving for one person but may not be loving for someone else.

4.  No action is ruled out as absolutely immoral and there are no moral rules that cannot be broken.

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