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Flashcards in Situation Ethics Deck (21):
1

Fletchers 3 approaches to situation ethics

Situational
Legalistic
Antinomian

2

Situational

-Each individual situation is different and absolute rules are too demanding and restrictive
-Instead we should decide most loving cause of action
-Not fully relativist as absolute principle that love is non-negotiable

3

Legalistic

-Someone who follows absolute rules and laws
-Fletcher rejects as leads to unthinking obedience
-E.g. Once murder prohibited must clarify self-defence, war, abortion - leads to textbook morality

4

Antinomian

-Someone who rejects all rules and laws
-Fletcher rejected as leads to social chaos

5

Four working principles

Relativism
Pragmatism
Positivism
Personalism

6

Relativism

-There are no free absolutes apart from all being relative to agape love
-'situation ethics relativises the absolute, it does not absolutise the relative'
-If love demands you steal food then you should
-special meaning of relativism - 'principled relativism' every action is relative to one principle of agape love

7

Pragmatism

What you propose must be practical and work in practice towards the end, which is love

8

Positivism

-Kant and natural law are based on reason as both theories argues reason can uncover right course of action
-Fletcher disagreed with this: you have to start with a positive choice or commitment
-Reason isn't the basis of faith, but worlds within faith
-SE depends on Cristian's freely choosing faith that God is love, so giving first place to Christian love

9

Personalism

-Legalistic puts the law first
-situationist puts people first
-he asks what to do to help humans best
-'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'

10

6 fundamental principles

First

'Only one thing is intrinsically good, namely love: nothing else at all'

-Only love good, actions aren't intrinsically good or evil, it depends upon whether they promote most loving result
-They are extrinsically good, depending on the circumstances or consequences

11

6 fundamental principles

Second

'The ruling norm of Christian decision it love: nothing else'

-Jesus replaced Torah with principle of love
-E.g. His decision to work on the sabbath day, rejecting obligations
-The commandments are not absolute
-Jesus broke them when love demanded it

12

Origins of agape in New Testament

-William temple - 'there is only one ultimate and invariable duty: and it's formula is this: thou shalt love thy neighbour as they self' (inspired Fletcher)
-Love is heart of God's character 'God is Love' 1John
-Agape if the highest form of love 'greater live has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends' John 15 (sacrificial love)

13

Strength

Not limited to reason

-Whilst rationality may play a part in working out best interest of other, love is not limited to cold, hard reason
-Rationality cannot motivate our actions as it is dispassionate
-Love moves us to do what reason shows us is the best outcome

14

Strength

Autonomous

-Allows individual to make own decision. Acting out of love frees us from having to follow established authorities of which we have become distrustful
-Paul said that Christians have died to the law and 'are not under the law but under grace'

15

Strength

Flexibility and practical

-Takes into account the complexities of human life and can make tough decisions there from a legalistic perspective, all actions seem wrong
-Gives it a dynamism that can free up dead locked moral dilemmas
-Able to take least bad of two options, which legalistic approaches can't
-Legalistic may always feel band to tell truth but then murder seeks victims they are in impossible position
-Situationist can lay aside rule of not lying for better outcome of saving person's life

16

Strength

Positivist

-Focuses on love, which is 'patient, kind, not self-seeking, it bears all things, endures all things' what better motive to act on?

17

Strength

Provides an alternative Christian ethic that is consistent with gospels representation of Jesus

-Orthodox Christianity today often takes a kind of pharisaic Judaism that Jesus opposed
-SE develops a principle from Jesus' action of breaking the law when the situation demanded it for reason of love
-Therefore argues SE is more consistent with New Testament than natural moral law ethics, providing a corrective to that and other legalistic approaches

18

Limitations

View does not completely reflect New Testament on morality

-New Testament appears to have clear moral views on theft and adultery 'thou shall not steal' 'thou shall not commit adultery'
-These suggest absolutes which could infer a legalistic point of view that Fletcher rejects
-Even though Jesus broke two rules, the two commandments also suggest they are rule

19

Limitations

Pope Pius XII 1952

'An individualistic and subjective appeal to the concrete circumstances of actions to justify decisions by opposition to the natural law or God's revealed will'
-Roman Catholic Church hadn't abandoned Aquinas' natural law approach and views SE as a subject and individualistic moral approach

20

Limitations

Subjective

-Decisions must be made from within the situation as it's perceived to be
-It isn't easy to be certain that Ines perception of the situation is correct
-How can individualists safely decide which is the most loving action?
-We don't have birds eye view of morality and could end up justifying unloving actions on the basis of loving results that never emerge
-Situation ethics could privacy unworkable because it isn't easy to determine all the consequences of an action

21

Limitations

Seems prepared to accept any action

-As long as it fits the required criteria
-After a century of some of the most horrendous acts of genocide and the rise of concern for the absolute protection of human rights on any grounds
-What is believed to be a loving end could justify actions that many people regard as simply wrong