What are the Key features of Situation Ethics?
Situation ethics is a Christian ethical theory that was principally developed in the 1960’s by a priest called Joseph Fletcher and expanded by Bishop John Robinson. It is a teleological theory, but in contrast to utilitarianism; it is based on Christian principles, and primarily the promotion of agape. The moral worth of any action is judged on its consequences, not on the action itself. The judgement is made on how much love is produced by the action. In the 1960’s the traditional Christian Church was going through massive change. Society was dealing from post WW2 feminism, Vietnam War, civil rights, teenager and hippy culture, sexual liberation and a rejection of traditional sources of authority, e.g church teachings. Martin Luther King’s legacy in the 1960’s set the scene for a revolution in civil rights and sexual freedom and therefore challenging the traditional legalist approach. This radical change in society underlies Situation Ethics which was part of a general move for people to have greater autonomy and freedom. Fletcher laid down his beliefs in the book “Situation Ethics” published in 1966, he is against antinomian and legalism approaches. The Antinomian approach is where there are no set principles. The situation should tell us what is the right or wrong thing to do and if we are required to take any kind of action. We should listen for the 'inner voice' which many people see as being our conscience. Fletcher disagreed with this approach because he said it would lead to 'moral anarchy'. It was too vague and many people would disagree on which 'inner voice' is correct. The legalistic approach to moral issues is based on a set of absolute laws that everyone had to apply. It is said we should seek to apply these moral rules to our everyday lives and to do this there must be a large set of rules, sub rules and regulations we all must follow. e.g. Orthodox Jews. Fletcher also disregarded this argument...
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