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Situation ethics THE NEW MORALITY 1.

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1 Situation ethics THE NEW MORALITY 1

2 Overview of the topic The general principles of Situation Ethics
the middle way between legalism and antinomianism the idea of situation conscience – what it is and what it is not the emphasis on making moral decisions rather than following rules Fletcher’s six fundamental principles and the understanding of Christian love Fletcher’s four presumptions: pragmatism, contextual relativism, positivism, personalism The application of Situation Ethics to one ethical issue of the candidate’s choice apart from abortion and euthanasia Issues arising Strengths and weaknesses of Situation Ethics as an ethical system Does Christian love allow people to do anything, depending on the context, and how far is it true that love should be the highest Christian law, overruling all others when necessary? How practical is Situation Ethics? How compatible is Situation Ethics with other Christian approaches to moral decision-making?

3 LEARNING OBJECTIVES To understand the general principles of situation ethics and understand the concept of agape KEY WORDS AGAPE SELF SACRIFICE NEIGHBOUR

4 A radical Christian ethical approach
There is only one ultimate and invariable duty, and its formula is ‘Thou shalt love they neighbour as thyself.’ How to do this is another question, but this is the whole of moral duty. What does this quote tell us about situation ethics?

5 fletcher An American professor in the field of bioethics.
He starts his theory of situation ethics quoting two people. Bishop Robinson – there is no one ethical system that can claim to be Christian’ Rudolf Bultmann – Jesus has no ethics apart from ‘love thy neighbour’

6 Christian morality Old testament ethics – the law of Moses, centred on the 10 commandments Examples? New testament ethics: Primarily The ethics of Jesus, e.g. In Matthew 5-7, and The ethics of Paul Both demand very high standards (sometimes called ‘Kingdom Ethics’ since they hopefully get you into God’s kingdom). Roman catholic tradition based on Aquinas’ natural law ethics. The protestant tradition uses the moral laws in the Bible.

7 fletcher Fletcher offers different ethical principles that he maintains are true to Christian beliefs. Let an anecdote set the tone. A friend arrived in St. Louis just as a presidential campaign was ending, and the cab driver volunteered his testimony. “I and my father and grandfather before me and their fathers, have always been republicans. ‘I take it you will vote republican?’ ‘No, said the driver, ‘there are times when a man has to push his principles aside and do the right thing.” For Fletcher the Cabbie is the hero of situation ethics.

8 agape Fletcher believed that there are no absolute laws other than the law of Agapē love All the other laws were laid down in order to achieve the greatest amount of this love. This means that all the other laws are only guidelines to how to achieve this love, and thus they may be broken if the other course of action would result in more love.

9 agape Agapē is a term which comes from Greek which means absolute, universal, unchanging and unconditional love for all people. Fletcher believed that in forming an ethical system based on love, he was best expressing the notion of “love thy neighbour” Early Christians used agape in the sense of God’s self- sacrificial love. to which the appropriate response is that agape must, in turn, be shown to the community. In other words, Christians are not required simply to love others, but to do so to the extent that they self sacrifice part of themselves in doing so.

10 review Situation is based on Christian ethical values.
It is to replace other forms of Christian morality and become the dominant decision making method. Its central claim is that you should love your neighbour. That love is a selfless love and should be the decision making factor

11 Situation ethics THE NEW MORALITY 2


13 HOMEWORK Explain the meaning of the keywords and the link to situation ethics

There are three types of ethical ways to make a moral decision. What might they be? Legalistic ethics has a set of prefabricated moral laws such as; thou shalt not steal. Judaism and Christianity both have legalistic ethical traditions. Judaism has a law-based life based on the halakah oral tradition Christianity focuses on natural law or the commandments. (which is?) What about our society?

15 Legalistic ethics According to fletcher, legalistic ethics runs into problems when life throws you a curve ball and requires an additional law to fit a situation. Example: once murder has been prohibited you have to clarify Self defence War Abortion/euthanasia etc The legalist must either include all of the complex alternatives in the law or create new laws to cover the result.

16 Legalistic ethics This can produce a choking web of law.
A textbook morality that requires people to check the rulebook before they act. This is apparent in Islam and Judaism. There are legal rulings covering everything and are issued by the supreme courts. What happens when the source of authority is lost?

17 Legalistic ethics For Fletcher this error has been made by Catholics through their adherence to natural law, and by protestants through puritanical observance of the Bible. The fanatical rigid sticking to moral laws in not, in the end, morally good, or morally good enough. Why not? Fletcher as a result rejects legalistic ethics.

18 Antinomian ethics This is the reverse of legalistic ethics
It means against the law. A person who uses this doesn’t have an ethical system at all. They enter each moral decision as if it were unique. Making a moral decision is a matter of spontaneity. example

19 Antinomian ethics According to Fletcher
“It is literally unprincipled, purely ad hoc and causal” “They follow no forecastable course from one situation to another.” “They are exactly, anarchic – without rule.” Fletcher criticises the antinomian approach because it is unprincipled.

20 The third approach The third approach is the situationist approach.
A different way of thinking about ethics Which is more concerned with love and people than rules for rules sake. The situationists enter into the moral dilemma with the ethics, rules and principles of the community or tradition But they are prepared to set them aside when the situation dictates. example

21 situationist The middle road Situationist ethics is in the middle.
This indicates that Fletcher appreciates the usefulness of both legalism and antinomianism in ethical decision making but thinks that they are extremes. legalism Situationism antinomianism

22 situationist The situation is an important factor in moral decision-making and influences whether the rule should be set aside. Reason is to be the instrument of moral judgements Moral decisions are hypothetical The deciding factor is love “The situationist follows a moral law or violates it according to loves need.”

23 The response - deontology
Deontologicalists do give answers to the problems suggested by Fletcher Hare’s “principle of overridingness” argues that rules are not absolute rather they are objective – meaning they relate to factual situations in the world. Where a factual situation requires it, the rule can be overridden.

24 The response - teleological
Act-utilitarianism overcomes this problem without resorting to antinomianism Do we need situation? Is it the middle path?

25 review There are three ways to make moral decisions Legalistic
Antinomianism Situationist Fletcher believes that situation is the middle road between the two. The deontologist can respond

26 Situation ethics THE NEW MORALITY 3


28 the situationist approach
The situation is an important factor in moral decision-making and influences whether the rule should be set aside. Reason is to be the instrument of moral judgements Moral decisions are hypothetical The deciding factor is love

29 The situation The situation is an important factor in moral decision- making and influences whether the rule should be set aside. Situations are important because they are all unique. No matter what situation you are in no two situations are exactly the same. Therefore a rule cannot apply to all situations. Each person approaches the situation with an understanding of a set of rules. However situation ethics says that it is not necessary that they follow them. In each situation you make a judgement based on the foreseen consequences. EXAMPLE?

30 The situation In each situation you are assessing the consequences.
If the consequences of the rule produce the most ‘love’ you follow the rule. If the consequences require the rule be set aside to produce the most ‘love’ you set aside the rule and act according to what you think will produce the most love. This is a teleological judgement because it is based on the action and not on a principle. Issues?

31 reason You use your own reason – mental understanding/logical reasoning to work out the correct thing to do. You must think carefully about what is going to produce the most love. You must analyse the scenario properly in order to decide what is the most loving thing to do. Issues?

32 Hypothetical judgements
Situations believe that moral decisions are hypothetical This means that they are dependent on some other issue being so in order to be true. For example the statement “charity is good” is not enough. It requires the additional ‘if’. It becomes “charity is good if... It produces the most love.” HOW DOES THIS LINK TO UTILIARIANISM? ISSUES?

33 love The deciding factor is love or agape.
You must seek to maximise the most love in any situation. This is not romantic love or erotic love. It is a selfless love a Self sacrificing love with benefits others before it benefits you. Issues?

A legalist would tell the truth An antinomian would be unpredictable A situationist would lie THE INDECENT PROPOSAL To survive? For luxury purposes? To fund a life-saving operation for a friend.

35 activity A teenage girl has become pregnant as a result of being raped by a close family member. She’s very poor and very young. How would legalists, antinomianists and situationists deal with the issue? What are the advantages and disadvantages of their approaches?

36 homework Read through the slides on conscience and learn Butlers understanding of conscience. Research Aquinas’ view as well.

37 application William temple ( ) ‘what acts are right may depend on the circumstances...but there is an absolute obligation to will whatever may on each occasion be right’ The only absolute law is that you should do what is right and that what is right is based on love.

38 review The situation is an important factor in moral decision-making and influences whether the rule should be set aside. Reason is to be the instrument of moral judgements Moral decisions are hypothetical The deciding factor is love

39 Situation ethics THE NEW MORALITY 4


41 HOMEWORK - ESSAY Explain the features of situation ethics. 30 marks
Use PEE system. Give examples Link paragraphs together. Give a summary conclusion TYPED AND ED DUE TUESDAY

42 Situation ethics 'The Situation Ethic, unlike some other kinds, is an ethic of decision - of making decisions rather than 'looking them up' in a manual of prefabricated rules.‘ He is claiming that action is more important than no action. A person should be defined through their actions and their choices. The emphasis here is on moral action because you cannot know before the situation arises what you are going to take. All you can do is make an individual assessment.

43 emphasis The emphasis for Fletcher is making moral decision rather than following rules. This means that the individual should have complete control over their own moral course. They should be responsible for all their actions The legal guardian of their own future. He believes that following rules does not make you a moral person because you have not worked the right answer out yourself.

44 Situation ethics It is primarily a challenge to the legalism of the established Christian church because it believes that strict adherence to the laws of the Bible or natural law does not express the teachings of Jesus as Fletcher sees it. He makes it very clear that making a moral choice should be individual to the situation and to the person. this is therefore, teleological

45 But how do you make a decision
Fletcher makes it clear what type of decision is the correct one but it is hard to determine how you should make a choice if there is no set rules. Fletcher draws on the writings of other Christians who have said that the best thing to help you understand the correct course of action is to use your conscience. Fletchers understanding says that as long as your conscience is lined up with the idea love then you will make the right choice.

46 But what is conscience? Some Christian writers argued that conscience was the voice of God inside you. It was God telling you what the most loving thing to do is. Others have identified it with a faculty of the mind. A sort of sixth sense given to you by God to help identify the correct moral action. Fletcher disagrees.

47 what it is not Conscience is used in a special sense in situation ethics. Fletcher rejects the idea that conscience is Intuition A channel for divine guidance The internalised values of the individuals culture The part of reason that makes value judgements All of these are mistakes.

48 What it is He believes that conscience is not a bag of reliable rules and principles to tell you what to do. It in no way guides human action. For the situationist conscience describes the process of weighing up of the possible action before it is taken. It is the process of reasoning through to come to a decision.

49 What it is Conscience is a verb and not a noun. It is a doing action.
It is something that you do when you make decisions. The weighing up of possible actions

50 What it is As a result when you come to an ethical decision weighing up the possible actions is the process of conscience You are not using your conscience to make up your mind. examples?

51 review Situation ethics is about making a moral choice.
It is not about following rules. The individual is important in the process. A person makes their moral choice using conscience but conscience is used in a special sense. It is not, intuition, a faculty, the voice of God or the voice of society. It is the process of you making a reasoned choice given the circumstances available.

52 Situation ethics THE NEW MORALITY 5


54 SITUATION ETHICS Situation ethics is sensitive to variety and complexity in the individual situation. In order to ensure a person enacting conscience chooses the correct decision Fletcher envisioned principles to illuminate the situation but not direct action Fletcher divides his principles into two categories. The six fundamental principles The four presumptions (or four working principles)

55 the Six fundamentals - one
First proposition “Only one thing 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 evil/good depending on how much love they produce.

56 the Six fundamentals - one
They are extrinsically good depending on their circumstances and consequences. Extrinsic – not part of the essential nature, coming out or operating from outside the object. Their goodness comes from the love they produce. EVALUATE?

57 the Six fundamentals - two
Second proposition The ruling norm of Christian decision is love: nothing else. Fletcher believes that Jesus replaced the Jewish Torah (laws) with love.

58 Mark 2: 23-28 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grain fields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, "Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?"     He answered, "Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions."     Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath."

59 Points to note… This took place on the Sabbath
On the Sabbath it was forbidden to… …work. To this day certain Orthodox Jews will observe this rule to a very high degree. The switching on of lights would be forbidden on the Sabbath, for example. In this story, Jesus’ disciples are criticised for picking corn on the Sabbath as they walk through a field on their way to the synagogue. Technically, this is harvesting.

60 the Six fundamentals - two
Jesus also made the decision to heal (work) on the Sabbath thus rejecting the obligations of Sabbath observance. The commandments are not absolute. Jesus broke them when love demanded it. Fletcher as a result believes that the law of “Love” for Christianity is not equalled by any other law. Example? EVALUATE?

61 the Six fundamentals - three
“Love an justice are the same, for justice is love distributed, nothing else.” For Fletcher love and justice cannot be separated from each other. “Justice is Christian love using its head, calculating its duties, obligations, opportunities, resources...justice is love coping with situations where distribution is called for.” Example? EVALUATE?

62 the Six fundamentals - four
“Love wills the neighbour’s good, whether we like him or not.” The love that Fletcher is concerned about isn’t a matter of feeling but towards another person. It isn’t sentimental or erotic but a desire for the good for the other person to be done. New testament – agape love. Your neighbour is anybody and agape is unconditional; nothing is required in return. Example? EVALUATE?

63 the Six fundamentals - five
“Only the end justifies the means, nothing else.” You should consider every action in result of its consequences. The consequences of every moral action should be the most loving. The end must be the most loving result.

64 the Six fundamentals - five
when calculating you must consider; The desired end The means available The motive for acting The foreseeable consequences Example? EVALUATE?

65 the Six fundamentals - six
Loves decisions are made situationally; not prescriptively. You should not create a moral law for a situation based on love. You should use love in each situation even if they situations are similar.

66 the Six fundamentals - six
Fletcher says that Jesus reacted against the kind of rule-based morality that he saw around him. There were Jewish groups that lived within rule- based moral systems but Jesus distanced himself from them. Whether something is wrong or right depends entirely on the individual situation. If an action brings about the most love then that action is right. example.? EVALUATE?

67 activity Take a moral dilemma you are familiar with and apply Fletcher's six propositions to the dilemma. How straightforward is it to apply them? What is the result of Fletcher's thinking? How morally satisfying do you think it is?

68 review Fletcher created six fundamental principles to be used as guides to illuminate the situation not to prescribe action. They are: Love is the only thing that is intrinsically good. Love is a moral truth for Christianity Love and justice are the same Agape is selfless love Only the consequences matter in an action you should act as if all moral situations are unique

69 Situation ethics THE NEW MORALITY 6


71 HOMEWORK Using the worksheet
Explain each proposition and evaluate the practicality of each one. AND Explain each assumption and evaluate the practicality of each one.

72 The six propositions It is clear from the six propositions that fletchers moral theory differs from traditional Christian ethics. It embraces a form of relativism as actions are not intrinsically right or wrong. Actions are right or wrong depending on their result. For Fletcher the good result is that which serves agape best. Any action that leads to the end is right. Whether any form of sex is good or evil depends on whether love is fully served.

73 The four presumptions Fletchers ethical thinking – his reasoning, rests on some general principles. These are: Pragmatism Relativism Positivism Personalism These are also known as four working principles.

74 pragmatism Fletcher claims that any ethical theory must be pragmatic.
It must be practical and work in each situation. As a result an ethical theory must have some form of success criteria.

75 pragmatism Fletcher’s success criteria is...
That in any situation LOVE is the overriding principle. What is this similar to? Examples?

76 relativism Fletcher believed that the best moral theories were relative as no two situations or people are the same. Fletcher writes: “The Situationist avoids words like “never”, and “perfect” and “always” and “complete”; as he avoids the plague, so he avoids “absolutely” What is his one exception to this rule?

77 RELATIVISM There are no fixed rules that must be obeyed.
However it is not a free for all – this is called.... Antinomianism All decisions are relative in accordance with love. “Situation ethics relativizes the absolute, it does not absolutivize the relative.” Examples?

78 positivism Situation ethics depends on people freely choosing to be Christian. It does not provide an argument for why you should be a Christian. It is not a logical proof for the existence of God. Rather it says if you believe in God, and you claim to follow Jesus then this is how you should act.

79 positivism This is theological positivism
Faith statements are made “love will bring you salvation through Jesus” And people act in a way that is reasonable. If you believe in the premise “love is intrinsically good” then you should follow Situation ethics it is what is reasonable to deduce from the statement. Examples?

80 personalism Situation ethics is concerned with the individual person.
The personalised moral situation Legalism puts the law first. Situation puts people first.

81 personalism 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 humans. Something is valuable if it is useful in producing love. Only love is intrinsically valuable. People are more sacred than rules. Examples?

82 activity In pairs consider each of these presumptions.
Do you think that these presumptions are correct or can they be challenged? Are there no absolute laws at all? Is it practical to have an approach to morality which puts people first and does not consider rules that important? What about people who don’t have a strong sense of what is right? How do you punish people?

83 review Fletcher makes four general assumptions or presumptions about ethics before he starts. These are: Pragmatism Relativism Positivism Personalism These are also known as four working principles.

84 Situation ethics THE NEW MORALITY 7


86 overview Flexible and practical Follows the teaching of jesus
Considers the whole situation and respects laws There is guidance available Forward looking

87 Non –normative and guidance
Does not produce rules on how to act rather there is guidance available to make the right decision. Fletcher provides guidance and criteria with the 4 working principles and 6 fundamental principles This means that everyone can follow it. What about children? What about non-Christians?

88 Flexible and practical
It considers the situation and consequences e.g. a pregnancy as a result of rape. Natural law is inflexible. it therefore gives it a dynamism that can free up deadlocked moral dilemmas. You simply step away from the law. Embryo research, genetic engineering, environmental issues examples?

89 Follows the teachings of jesus
It’s only absolute principle is agapeic love. This is a core belief of Jesus he did not judge prostitutes or outcasts He broke the Sabbath rules and put people first. He healed people who needed healing and fed the poor. Even in death he put himself before others through the crucifixion. Examples?

90 Whole situation It considers the whole situation and whilst respecting the laws is prepared to set them aside if agapeic love requires. Stealing is okay to save a family from starving. the individual situation is what matters not the overriding law. Example?

91 Forward looking It was described by Bishop Robinson as an ‘ethic for man coming of age’ which means we can be trusted to assess dilemmas and come to our decisions using Agape rather than following rules blindly. It is an ethic for the new culture of humanity where everyone is equal. Is this Idealistic?

Arrange yourself in agreement or disagreement with the strength. You will be asked to explain why you agree or disagree.

93 review Flexible and practical Follows the teaching of Jesus
Considers the whole situation and respects laws There is guidance available Forward looking

94 Situation ethics THE NEW MORALITY 8


96 HOMEWORK “Situation ethics is impractical as an ethical theory.” Evaluate 15 MARKS Use PEE system. Give examples Link paragraphs together. Give a summary conclusion TYPED AND ED DUE TUESDAY

97 OVERVIEW impractical Predict the future Rules are easier Judgement
Intrinsic worth Can everyone follow it? Freedom may be too much

98 impractical The theory is impractical
There is not the time nor the practicality to make the moral calculations necessary. If you have to weighup each individual situation even ones as minute as crossing the road in terms of the love created it becomes a logistical nightmare. Not everyone is capable of making such moral choice or evaluating their life in this way.

99 Rules are easier Not everyone is capable of making such moral choice or evaluating their life in this way. Rules are easier They work for children As not everyone has a moral understanding of the world rules allow everyday people to exist and act in a way that benefits society without making moral decisions. Rules benefit the everyday person in the street. Examples?

100 PREDICT THE FUTURE Situation ethics gives priority to consequences
However it requires you to predict the future. Just because a 16 year old pregnant girl gets pregnant does not mean she will be a good mother. How can you know the full range of decisions. Examples?

101 Intrinsic worth Surely some actions have no intrinsic moral value?
Actions like stealing, rape or murder. I may steal a gun to kill a mass murderer. Stealing a gun in this situation may be morally good, but that does not make stealing generally morally right? Is it not better an easier that somethings are morally wrong? Examples?

102 freedom William Barclay feels the freedom that situation ethics allows a person is terrifying. When faced with a situation there is no ‘prefabricated judgement; you – just you – have to make the right decision.’ There is no ready made decision No easy answer Even for the most everyday things With to much freedom people can become selfish or even cruel the complete opposite of agape

103 Activity - virtual evaluation
Take a copy of either a strength or a weakness find a partner who in an essay would fit together and is the opposite to your argument i.e. weakness – strength or vice versa Explain the link between the two premises and how you would write it in an essay find another pair and link together Finally arrange a way of linking the whole group together. What is the best arrangement. What are linking sentences What would a conclusion be?

104 activity Using the cards create an evaluation of Fletcher’s situation ethics. take a theory explain it using bullets Give an example Then link an opposite view Repeat this so you have four arguments and write your own conclusion.

105 judgement How can we judge people?
Judgement relies on their being a clear rule which a person breaks. Situation ethics has no clear rules except that you must act in love. Therefore, it is impossible to judge somebody even if they do something which the rest of society would disagree with. Example?

106 review impractical Predict the future Rules are easier Judgement
Intrinsic worth Can everyone follow it? Freedom may be too much

107 Situation ethics THE NEW MORALITY 9


109 The future of situation ethics
Situation ethics has been important in the assessment of modern Christian ethics. Paul Lehmann wrote ethics in a Christian Context and is associated with what is called contextual ethics. His thinking is similar to Fletcher’s in that love is central, and Christian behaviour cannot be generalised. He is according to RM Crook more concerned with faith in Christ and the involvement of the Christian community than Fletcher

110 The future of situation ethics
Christian ethics can be defined as “Disciplined reflection upon the question and its answer; What am I, as a believer in Jesus Christ and as a member of his Church to do? Christian ethics is not concerned with the good, but what I, as a believer in Jesus Christ, and as a member of his church, am to do. Christian ethics, in other words, is orientated toward revelation and not towards morality.”

111 The future of situation ethics
Christian ethics can be defined as; You should think about these two questions What am I, as a believer in Jesus Christ and What am I, as a member of the Church to do? Christian ethics is not after absolutes but individual actions that benefit the community. Finding the revealed answer. Not using rules to act correctly.

112 The future of situation ethics
For Lehmann the Christian community is very important. This is less personal than Fletchers view. Decision making is made by the church not by an individual on their own. The church is the moral space where decisions should be considered. This is because it has a maturity and an authority on Christ which is important for making the ethical decisions.

113 Comparisons with situation
Less personal Gives more authority to the church Takes the responsibility from the individual Has to create rules because the church could not make your decisions for you. Focuses on the issues faced in society No mention of relativity – this is essentially what happened and we have had no change for over 1200 years.

114 proportionalism This is a fusion of natural law and situation ethics.
Created in an attempt to fuse the important advancements of situation ethics but retain the traditional interpretations of natural law. It is supposed to be a midway between the two. natural law proportionalism Situation ethics

115 proportionalism Situation ethics opposes natural law on several grounds. Natural law states that actions are intrinsically good/bad according to the law of nature. Situation – whatever produced the most happiness. Natural law deontological Situation teleological

116 proportionalism Bernard Hoose modifies both theories.
He comes up with the maxim “It is never right to go against a principle unless there is a proportionate reason which would justify it.” This means that it helps deal with controversial ethical reasons but allows the rules to take priority. This was thought to overcome many of the issues facing situation ethics. Example?

117 proportionalism It is not a new idea
It can be found in Aquinas creation of the Just war principles which makes it possible for a church that opposes killing to justify war in particular circumstances. It other words the basic rule of ‘do not kill’ usually applies, but there are certain proportionate circumstances when it can be right to overrule the moral principle.

118 issues There is no guidance on when you can put aside a moral law
It does not help the everyday person as there is no working definition of proportion There is no understanding of how it can produce a consistent ethical theory. It also does not accept the supremacy of Jesus as Fletcher originally proposed. The church still has ultimate authority.

119 review Contextualism Proportionalism
The church should make the decisions not the individual based on love No individual enough To much power to the church Proportionalism The law stands unless there is a proportional reason to avoid it. No clear definition of proportion

120 Situation ethics THE NEW MORALITY 10


122 HOMEWORK Explain the meaning of the keywords and the link to situation ethics

123 Christianity and situation ethics
As a priest, Joseph Fletcher claimed situational ethics to be a true set of Christian morals that tie in with Biblical teaching. However, not all people agree with him on this, so he presented some passages of relevant biblical scripture, and left it up to the reader as to whether the teachings of situational ethics are Biblical or not

124 disagreement Traditional Christian thinkers reject situation ethics Pope Pius called situation ethics “an individualistic and subjective appeal to the concrete circumstances of action that attempts to justify decisions in opposition to the natural law or Gods revealed will.” Catholics see natural law as Gods revealed will. His aim for people. Therefore, situation ethics is trying to justify things that are not to be justified.

125 disagreement The RC church hasn’t abandoned Natural Law and views situation ethics as a subjective and individualistic moral approach Isn’t that the point though?

126 disagreement Many religious views of ethics are based on rules-based systems of thinking Either because it is believed that these rules are good for us Or because they are God’s rules for us. Ten commandments Natural law Situation ethics seems to be a long way from traditional Christian ethics

127 However – evidence from bible
However the evidence presented by Fletcher does seem to indicate that Jesus was prepared to set aside some rules in some cases. Usually because a person mattered more than the rule He associated with those that were sinners and unclean (sick) He worked on the Sabbath. He overrode the ten commandments

128 The greatest commandment
An expert in the law, tested Him with this question: 'Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?' Jesus replied: ''Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.' All the Law and Prophets hang on these two commandments.‘” (Matthew 22:35-40) Well said, teacher', the man replied. 'You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.' When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, 'You are not far from the kingdom of God.'...“ (Mark 12:28-34)

129 Lord of the Sabbath "Then He said to them, 'The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath...'" (Mark 2:27)

130 Jesus at a Pharisee's House
"One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Jew, He was being carefully watched. There in front of Him was a man suffering from dropsy. Jesus asked the experts in the law, 'Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?' But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, He healed him and sent him away. Then He asked them, 'If one of you has a son or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull him out?' And they had nothing to say."(Luke 14:1-6)

131 Paul talks about freedom we have in grace
"For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love... You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.'" (Galatians 5:6-14)

132 However – pastoral reasons
There exists the concept of ‘pastoral reasons’ This means that local ministers can use their own judgement to differentiate how they apply laws to particular people in certain situations. There is a recognition that sometimes, heavy rule-based approaches to people in complex and difficult situations may not be the most helpful way of ministering to them.

133 However – more consistent than nl
Situation ethics provides an alternative Christian ethics that is consistent with the Gospel take on the legalistic character Jesus opposed. Situation ethics develops a principle from Jesus’s action of breaking the law when it was necessary for love. It could be said that situation ethics is more consistent with the new testament than Natural Law because it takes its evidence directly from the New Testament. It is a corrective to that and other legalistic approaches.

134 review Not all people agree that situation ethics is Christian.
Catholic Church feels it is individualistic, subjective and against the will of God. Christian ethics is rule based. Ten commandments Natural Law However Fletcher provided Biblical evidence which shows Jesus disregarding the law when love dictated. Because of this it could be more consistent with the Christianity than NL Pastoral reasons allow a minister to let situations matter in how to minister individuals.

Christianity is a christian ethic because... Christianity is not a christian ethic because... EXPAND THESE SENTENCES AS MUCH AS YOU CAN.

136 Situation ethics THE NEW MORALITY 11


138 HOMEWORK Revise for unseen exam next lesson

139 Application What options are available in this situation?
Which of these options gives most consideration to the people in the situation? Pragmatically, how likely is each option to succeed? Regardless of moral laws, how loving (in an unconditional agape sense) will the outcome or consequences be? To what extent does each option seem to reflect a love that supports the whole community – just love?

140 Embryo research Embryo Research is the resultant of doing something useful with spare embryos which are fertilised to maximise chances of pregnancy through IVF.

141 EMBRYO RESEARCH BENEFITS ISSUES embryo research come mainly from stem cell usage it is hoped that stem cells can be stimulated to develop any tissue or organ of the human body. A cure for Alzheimers and Parkinsons may be possible in the near future as a result of embryo research. personhood; whether or not an embryo can be considered as a person with rights the right to life; the extent to which an embryo has the right to life and the morality of discarding it for research. Pain

142 scenario What is the motive behind the action?
a team of scientists are using embryos donated from IVF to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease. What is the motive behind the action? Love - moral Not love – immoral Does it produce the most love? Yes – moral No – immoral Is the love selfless? Yes – moral No – immoral Does it benefit the community in a sense of Justice?

143 Environmental issues Environmental Ethics is the relationship between human beings and the environment in which they live ISSUES GLOBAL WARMING POLLUTION OVER POPULATION ANIMAL RIGHTS

144 scenario What is the motive behind the action?
An individual is considering if he should sell his car for a more energy efficient one. What is the motive behind the action? Love - moral Not love – immoral Does it produce the most love? Yes – moral No – immoral Is the love selfless? Yes – moral No – immoral Does it benefit the community in a sense of Justice?

145 review Embryo research is concerned with using embryos to create medical advancements The environmental concerns facing planet earth suggest we need to change our ways. A situationist would ask: What is the motive behind the action? Does it produce the most love? Is the love selfless? Does it benefit the community in a sense of Justice? To decide what is the best course of action morally.

146 Situation ethics THE NEW MORALITY 12


148 exam

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