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Why does Joseph Fletcher reject both legalism and antinomianism (situation ethics)

Rejection of legalistic ethics:
-Said these rules don’t work inn real life situations e.g thou shall not kill, how do we apply this to self defence and the world is becoming more secular so these rules shouldn’t be held as moral absolutes.
-Legalistic approach uses ‘directives’ rather than ‘guidelines or maxims’ such an approach is to rigid
Church made moral principles and applied them to real cases (casuistry).

Rejection of antinomianism:
- Antinomians have no strategy and no maxims whatsoever.


What is legalism and antinomianism?
(situation ethics)

Legalistic ethics:
- following the rules of the church, an approach to ethics that accepts the absolute nature of established rule and principles

-Belief there are no fixed moral principles
Rejects law ‘anarchic-i.e. without rule’.


Outline Fletcher's situation ethics- foundations

-Developed theories in response to Christian legalism and antinomianism.
-In 1960 people were turning away from the church and towards antinomianism
-Three ways of making moral decisions; SE antinomianism and legalism, Rejected antinomianism and legalism.
-Roots ‘new mortality’ in Christianity.
Each situation is different, what is right depends on application of boss principle- agape=selfless love
-Accepted scripture is crucial but rejected all ‘revealed laws’ except, ‘love God in the neighbour’.
Quotes taxi driver who said ‘there are times when a man has to push his principles aside and do the right thing’ e.g insane murderer looking for victim asking someone his whereabouts, legalist would have to tell the truth but the situationist would do the right thing and serve love William Temple said ‘what acts are right depend on the circumstances’
-SE=Middle way (midway between antinomianism and legalism), called it principled relativism as reject absolutes but didn’t accept total autonomy
-Other guiding principles should be ignored if they don’t serve agape
-‘moral precepts of Jesus are not intended to be understood legalistically’


What is the conscience as part of situation ethics?

-F viewed this as ‘function, not as a faculty’
-Noun not a verb not something that directs us but a process in which we respond to ethical decisions and therefore there is no conscience
-SE = emphasis on action not theory and not adhering to a set off rules


Outline the Biblical evidence supporting situation ethics

Ethics of Jesus (understand these in context in a way of acting to gain access to Heaven)
-Romans 13:10 ‘Love does no harm to a neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfilment of the law’
-Luke 10:6 ‘Love thy neighbour as yourself’
-Corinthians 13:13 ‘And now these three remain; faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love’
Main focus of term agape is In way it was applied to good Samaritan

Ethics of Paul:
Pauls letters (Epistles) written when Christians were trying to apply Jesus’ teachings to new situations
P stresses importance of freedom from the law
Said ‘loving thy neighbour is paramount’


Outline Aquinas' support for situation ethics

- Without love, no virtue is paramount ‘without love, no virtue is possible’


What type of theory is situation ethics?

-Relativistic as doesn’t recognise any universal norms and proposes each situation should be looked at independently, principle of agape remains constant but responds differently according to the needs of the situation.
-Consequentialist as SE makes moral judgements based on consequences of an action
-Teleological concerned with the end purpose or goal of any proposed action, Fletcher says the end should assert the triumph of Christian love.


Outline the Boss principle of situation ethics?

-Agape: Greek for unconditional love and love shown in life of Jesus.
-F said 'Augustine was right to make love the source principle'.
-Therefore agape is the boss principle.


Outline the 4 working principles of situation ethics

-Pragmatism- must be practical, don’t suggest solution if cant pull it off
-Relativism words like ‘never’ and ‘always’ aren’t used as there are o fixed rules about decisions but they must all be relative to agape
-Positivism statement of faith should be accepted voluntarily, then used to work within or work out ones faith
-Personalism SE puts people at the centre of concern, Jesus showed personalism (Jesus said man was made for Sabbath, not Sabbath made for man)


Outline the 6 fundamental principles of situation ethics

Norm (love is the only norm), love = only absolute
Intrinsic good (only thing good in and of itself is love)
Neighbour as thyself (love has no favourites, agape love goes out to everyone)
Justice is love distributed
Ends justify the means (refers to how the theory is consequentialist)
Situation ethics (loves decisions are made situationally not, prescriptively)


Outline fletchers examples of situations in which established moral laws might need to be put on hold in order to achieve the greater amount of love

Hiroshima bomb:
-Before dropping the bomb the US president gathered his most responsible members in government and scientists and said they couldn’t find an acceptable alternative to using the bomb and using it would end the war swiftly saving many more future lives, they used situation ethics and its consequentialism

Sacrificial adultery:
-A woman in a POW camp needed to see her family but the only way she could was if she was pregnant, so she asked a guard to impregnate her who did and she then got to be with her family again, Fletchers reason for using this example is that surely God would not think this adulterous was immoral just for breaking one of the commandments


Outline the application of situation ethics to homosexual relationships

-F was writing at time homosexuality was illegal, he was unhappy with how Church had influenced the government on issues of morality and law:
-said attitudes towards homosexuality were outdated, didn’t refer to Bible or SE but said it was legally wrong to treat people differently on the basis of their sexuality
-Said it was a mistake to allow religious or philosophical stances on what constitutes sin to dictate and shape the law ‘the only real sanction for criminal law is the common interest’
-Fletcher said ‘Whether any form of sex is good or evil depends on whether love is full served’
-Referred to Wolfenden report and stated how the report made no judgement according to morality, the report concluded that there ‘must remain a realm of private life that is in brief, not the laws business’


Outline the principle of utility as part of Jeremy Bentham's act utilitarianism

-Action is right if promotes an maximises happiness
Said rightness or wrongness of action determined by its ‘utility’ (happiness caused by action), known as greatest happiness principle
Proposed a Hedonic calculus to measure the results of an action as to which action provides the maximum amount of happiness for the most people.


Outline the Hedonic Calculus as part of act utilitarianism

-Considers 7 factors as a means for measuring pleasure
Said happiness = pleasure- pain
Hedonic calculus therefore weighs up pain and pleasure generated by available moral actions
Remoteness (nearer pleasure is, the better)
Extent (the more people who experience it the better)
Certainty (more sure a pleasure will result the better)
Duration (longer lasting the better)
Richness (more chance pleasure will be repeated or resulted in other pleasures = the better)
Intensity (stronger the pleasure the better)
Pain (least amount of pain involved the better)
Bentham said using the criteria its possible to work out right of any action in any situation and to choose the correct action you compare them using the calculus, wasn’t concerned with which forms of hippiness are superior to others


What type of theory is act utilitarianism?

-Teleological – end justifies the means (something is right or wrong depending on the result of the end of the action), end goal should always be happiness
-Consequentialist- considers the consequence of an action
-Relativist- there are no universal moral norms and each situation must be looked at differently, he said each situation was different so needed to be considered a fresh


Outline the criticisms of act utilitarianism

-Possibility of justifying any act that brings most happiness e.g gang rape
-Not practical to measure every moral choice (may not have info needed for hedonic calculus )
-Can have extreme consequences e.g every time you walk to cinema you give to charity instead= you will cease any form of leisure experience


Outline John Stuart Mills universability

-Similar to B's principle of utility.
-Happiness is desirable
-Things are desirable as they bring about happiness
-Therefore everyone ought to aim at happiness for everyone, increased general happiness = increased my happiness.


Give a brief intro to Mill

-Political economist, civil servant and MP and v interested in social reform.
-Accepted utility principle (greatest good for greatest number of people) but was concerned by ethical issues of this, (the greatest good being measured quantities of pleasure of this e.g gang rape).
-Thought Bentham didn’t clarify about nature of pleasure.
-Mill therefore focused on qualitative pleasures, higher pleasures over lower pleasures.
‘its better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied’- Mill
-Pleasure of the mind are greater than pleasures of the body e.g poetry over sex
-Was aware people chose lower pleasures over higher pleasure and said its because they hadn’t experienced the higher.
-We should move from quantity to quality, lower pleasures do need to be satisfied but we shouldn’t focus on them.


Outline Mills rule utilitarianism

- Focuses on general rules everyone should follow to bring about greatest good for community by using principle of utility.
-One can draw up general rules based on our experiences that can help keep this principle, one must obey rules even if doesn’t create greatest pleasure for me in particular situation as it concerns the greater good of the community.
-E.g. do not drive on wrong side of road to avoid traffic jam. JSM said experiences do help us make decision.


Outline Mills strong rule utilitarianism

Any rules created with principle of utility should never be broken, rules are universal in nature and applied to any situation they would be the right thing to do


Outline Mills weak rule utilitarianism

Allows breaking the rule originally created because it generally fills the principle of utility in extreme cases where breaking the rule will more likely fulfil principle of utility than keeping the rule


Outline JSMs utilitarianism as teleological/deontological hybrid

JSM viewed rules as more of a helpful guidance than obligatory therefore it is a deontological/teleological hybrid as rules have been established through experience of applying utilitarianism but also at times with consideration of the end goal.


Outline the criticisms of rule utilitarianism

-RM Hare: maniac chases victim into shop, asks owner where is he ? Rule utilitarianism would say you don’t lie.
-Possible Rule UT could permit practises such as slavery:
No guarantee minority interest would be protected as long as slaves are the smallest group minority interest may keep them enslaved because of benefits the majority would reap.


Outline Mills harm principle

JSM said people should focus more on interest of the group before own interests, he said a society is made up of individuals, for a society to be happy its therefore ‘rule’ for society to protect happiness of its subjects= led to development of the Harm principle individuals collectively have to be happy , said B’s principle had no concept of protecting common good universally.