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Assess the View That Fletcher's Situation Ethics Gives No Useful Guidance for Making Moral Decisions

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Assess the view that Fletcher's situation ethics gives no useful guidance for making moral decisions

Situation Ethics, is a Christian ethical theory that was developed by Joseph Fletcher. It basically says that sometimes other moral principles can be overruled in some situations if love is the final consequence of an action. "Love is the ultimate law". Situation ethics underlines the importance of the individual in making moral decisions. Fletcher has some basic principles that are the basis of his beliefs. He says that love alone is intrinsically good and that it should be the sole guide of more decisions and actions, which is the opposite of utilitarianism. He also says that love and justice are the same as justice is love distributed to the community and nothing else. Sometimes people think of love and justice as opposites. Bruner held the opinion that ‘love must be between two people whereas justice exists in a group of people fletcher uses this statement to backup his idea that justice is love working out its problems. In my essay I will be assessing the four working principles, six fundamental principles of situation ethics and the strengths and weaknesses of situation ethics when applied to for making moral decisions.

His four working principles are: Pragmatism, which means the proposed course of action must work and work towards the end which is love. Relativism meaning there are no absolute fixed rules that must be obeyed, except love. Positivism which means that situation Ethics depends on Christians freely choosing faith that God is love and Personalism which means the situationist puts people first, not the law.

There are six fundamental principles of Situation Ethics. The first is that “love is intrinsically good, namely love, nothing else at all”. Only love is good in and of itself. Actions aren’t intrinsically good or evil, they are good depending on whether they promote the most loving result. Secondly, “the ruling of norm Christian decision is love, nothing else.” Love replaces law as Jesus broke the commandment which love demanded. Any other law didn’t equal it. Thirdly “love and justice are the same.” This was explained in an above paragraph. Love and justice cannot be separated from one another. Justice is Christian love using its head calculating its duties, obligations, opportunities and resources. Fourth, “only ends justify the means, nothing else.” Fletchers feelings about love is Agape love, meaning unconditional and nothing is required in return. Fifth, “love wills the neighbor’s good, whether we like him or not.” this means to use things as a means to an end, not as an end itself. Finally, “loves decisions are made situationally, not prescriptively.” Fletcher believes that the action isn’t wrong unless it hurts someone in the process or in the final outcome.

Situation ethics can however have several problems. For example if someone were to say that it was against the law to steal, a person could say that this is a false statement as if the person was homeless and with two starving children and she stole a loaf of bread, that this would be morally correct as it produces the most love. From this example, it is shown that Situation Ethics can be potentially problematic. People have different views of what love is and there may be times where moral reason demands that something may be done which goes against ones immediate feelings. It is subjective so how do we decide what is the most loving action out of all the possible outcomes. It is also individualistic so Agape (love) will be destroyed by our selfish desires.

Another problem or weaknesses is that situation ethics could also seem prepared to accept any action if it fits the fact that love was the outcome so that it is regarded as a loving end and could justify actions that many people regard as simply wrong for example, cheating on a partner will satisfy you and the person you are cheating with but will not have the best outcome for your partner and possibly

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