We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Explain What Is Meant By Situation Ethics Essay Sample

essay
  • Pages: 5
  • Word count: 1,108
  • Rewriting Possibility: 99% (excellent)
  • Category: morality

Get Full Essay

Get access to this section to get all help you need with your essay and educational issues.

Get Access

Introduction of TOPIC

Religion has for a long time been a source of moral rules for many people. Probably the most famous set of rules is the 10 Commandments. An alternative view of moral rules is known as Situation Ethics. Situation ethics is an idea that was first developed by Joseph Fletcher. What Fletcher attempted to do was to create a compromise between having too many rules and no rules at all. Fletcher rejected the idea that everyone should follow a whole series of rules.

Instead of a whole number of rules, Fletcher suggested that there is only one rule that everyone should follow. This rule is about love and was called ‘the law of love’. Fletcher defines what people should do in terms of love: the right course of action is to do the most loving thing. Christian love is not based on desire; it is self-giving love or agape. Agape does not depend on being loved in return. The command love calls individuals to a high level of person responsibility. There is only one ultimate and invariable duty, this is ‘Thou shall love thy neighbour as thyself’. From the Bible (Leviticus 19.18)

How do we know what the most loving thing to do is? As the name situation ethics suggests, for Fletcher, it is the situation that is important for determining what should be done. There is therefore, no way of knowing beforehand what is right and wrong because each situation is different and particular circumstances will have to be taken into account. All anyone should do in any situation is to determine what the most loving course of action would be. Fletcher used the example of a woman in a prison camp that became pregnant in order to be released, therefore it may have been the right thing to do, as she wanted to see her family who loved her and missed her.

Fletcher argued that the two extremes of antinomianism and legalism cannot work, ant that he only truly capable ethical standard is the middle course of love. Each situation therefore is best assessed and acted upon in terms of the best consequences to be brought out by love and love alone. Utilitarianism is very much the antithesis of situation Ethics, for utilitarianists they evaluate the morality or otherwise of an act in terms of its consequences. Thus, if an action produces good results, it is morally acceptable, if it produces i

ll consequences, it is not. Is one rule too general? It has been

Sorry, but full essay samples are available only for registered users

Choose a Membership Plan
argued that Fletcher does not really give any real instructions about what morally ought to be done. If ethics can be reduced to one moral rule, which Fletcher believes it can, then this rule must be very general. The rule must be able to cover every eventuality.

Another criticism is what about God? The traditional Christian view is whatever God does is love and essentially humans should try to follow this. However, Fletcher goes against this idea because, for Fletcher, it is the situation that determines what love is.

Situation Ethics has been criticised on a number of important points. For example, in order to ‘do the most loving thing’ in every situation one must look to the long term consequences of one’s actions in the present moment. But this is a difficult thing to do. We do not know if our actions will lead to heartache or joy but the promotion of love for the Situationist requires us to do so if we are to avoid acting selfishly, for example if a 16 year old girl should have an abortion because it is believed she will not be a responsible mother, we do not know based on her present age and actions whether she will hold her responsibility and be a great mother to her child or struggle to take on this huge responsibility, and this is only something that time would be able to tell .

It is also possible to act selfishly, in the name of love’ without being aware of it. We also need to consider Fletcher’s claim that actions have no intrinsic moral value. Does murder, lying, cheating and stealing become ‘good acts’ just because someone commits them in the name of love? There seems to be a uncertainty here between what is morally good (motive/intention) and what is morally right (the act itself – E.g. It may be morally good for me to steal someone’s gun to stop them killing people but does that then make stealing morally right?). Finally, by what criteria is the Situationist able to make moral decisions? If there are no ultimate ethical principles then the Situationist is making subjective decisions based potentially on personal impulses.

Those concerned that Situation Ethics went too far in its desire to be free from any notion of Law have required to develop amore balanced approach through what is known as Proportionalism. Proportionalists believe there are certain moral rules which one should not let go of unless there is a proportionate reason for doing so and this would be grounded in the particular situation. In this way one could take the ‘primary precepts’ of the Natural Law (for example, killing, stealing, lying and cheating) as foundations which should be adhered to unless there are good reasons not to.

Despite accepting the Situationist’s notion of love as the highest principle Proportionalists do not accept the view that love can make a wrong action right. However Proportionalists also face the same difficulties as Situationists do in trying to determine the outcome of an action committed in the name of trying to ‘do the most loving thing’ and the possibility of making a decision based on selfish reasons.

In conclusion I think that Situation Ethics is too general a rule to follow. I think that it would be very hard to follow just one rule that is ‘To do the most loving thing’. In a situation there may be three consequences and possible out comes, two out of those out comes may be the most loving thing to do, What do you do then.

Bibliography

‘Ethics’ (TY Books) by Mel Thompson

‘The Puzzle of Ethics’ by Peter Vardy & Paul Grosch

‘Ethics and Religion’ by Joe Jenkins

We can write a custom essay on

Explain What Is Meant By Situation Ethics Essay Sa ...
According to Your Specific Requirements.

Order an essay

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

Three Views on Morality

Mrs Birling is a confident and prideful women with some public influence. She sits in charity organisations and is described as a “a rather cold woman,” and her husband’s “social superior.” Mrs Birling is the only one in the play who does not seem to realise her responsibilities. She thinks that different classes behave a certain way and lacks of empathy-how people live. This is shown in the quote “a girl of that class.”The word ‘that class’ conveys how she looks down upon lower classes treating them less than human. It also shows she is judgmental and thinks that she is more socially and morally superior. She makes the audience see how the class division was in the 1912 and how awful life was for the lower classes. Mrs Birling does not feel any sympathy towards Eva as she does not accept any responsibility. This is shown in the quote....

The Trouble with the Birlings and Gerald...

The Birlings are an upper class family living in pre-war England; they think very highly of themselves and are quite shallow minded. They concentrate centrally on material possessions. The Birlings live in a well-established and comfortable home, which is richly furnished, yet does not have a hint of homeliness or a sign of family life in it. Throughout the play there are symbols used to create the air of wealth, such as the Port they drink, and the careless way they talk about golf. It is obvious that they are rich and used to being that way. You could never call the Birlings anything but respectable; they consider social status as an extremely serious matter. However they seem to confuse respectability with morality; no matter what they do it is only their own benefit or enjoyment. Even Mrs Birling's charitable works do not seem genuinely to be because she cares...

Animal Experimentation

Examine and consider religious and ethical responses to animal experimentation One philosopher that strongly is against animal testing is Peter Singer; he became involved after studying the work of Jeremy Bentham. He is most famously known for his book named animal liberation which states that The Institute of national health spent over $11 million on experiments that involved direct manipulation of the brain, over $5 million on experiments that studied the effects drugs have on behaviour, almost $3 million on learning and memory experiments, and over $2 million on experiments involving sleep deprivation, stress, fear, and anxiety. This government agency spent more than $30 million dollars on animal experiments in one year. This surely arises the question of how can these things happen? How can people who are not sadists spend their working days driving monkeys into lifelong depression, heating dogs to death, or turning cats into drug addicts? How...

Popular Essays

logo

Emma Taylor

online

Hi there!
Would you like to get such a paper?
How about getting a customized one?