situation ethics

Topics: Morality, Love, Ethics Pages: 3 (915 words) Published: June 30, 2014
A) Outline Fletcher’s main teachings on Situation Ethics.

American moral theologian, Joseph Fletcher, published a book called Situation Ethics: The New Morality in 1966. Fletcher proposed an approach to Christian Ethics that considered each situation on its merits before applying the Christian principle of love (agape). Fletcher saw this as the middle way between an approach to ethics that rigidly followed laws as absolutes and that of an approach that acted without reference to any rules at all leaving a person free to do as he or she pleases.

Fletcher saw his ‘Situation Ethics’ as theological way of meeting a practical need in light of the radical social changes of the twentieth century; in particular, changing views on what is seen to be acceptable moral behaviour.

Fletcher argues that absolute moral principles do not work in the real world and that in order to make a meaningful ethical decision; the situation needs to be considered for each individual moral decision and action. In turn, this decision then depends upon the practical application of Christian love (agape). The right decision is one circumstance, however, does not become the blueprint for all other circumstances. Each situation should be considered independently.

Therefore, Fletcher rejected the idea of morality as a manual for the conscience. In other words, morality is not something that is set in stone and dictates how the conscience is to react in a given situation. Situation Ethics calls for the practical application of Christian love to given situaitions. The situation and context come first and principles are put aside.

However, the roots of ‘new morality’ can be found in ‘classical’ Christianity. Fletcher sees his approach to things as grounded in the Christian gospel. He sees love as an active principle- it is a ‘doing’ thing rather than a noun in itself. Agape is the word used in the New Testament for pure, unconditional Christian love. It is love which is disinterested...
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