Situation Ethics

rachael haddow
Mind Map by rachael haddow, updated more than 1 year ago
rachael haddow
Created by rachael haddow over 6 years ago
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AS - Level RS Mind Map on Situation Ethics, created by rachael haddow on 05/09/2015.

Resource summary

Situation Ethics
  1. 4 Propositions
    1. PRAGMATISM: The situationist must ask ‘what is the most loving thing to do?’, but this action must be practical, and it must work. The decision that is made should work towards the end, which is love. The right thing to do is the thing which works to produce the most love, rather than the law.
      1. An example of the practical application of situation ethics is an example of a group in hiding that will be discovered as a baby is crying. If the mother choses to smother her baby, the rest of the group will be saved, making this decision practical as well as the most loving.
      2. RELATIVISM: There are no fixed rules that must be obeyed. However, all decisions must be relative to agape, Fletcher’s idea of Christian Love. Situation Ethics ‘relativizes the absolute, it does not absolutize the relative’ [Fletcher], and therefore, each situation requires the decision maker to make a different decision.
        1. For example, if a rich man stole, it would be a crime, but if a poor mother stole to save her dying children, it would not be such a crime as she was acting out of love.
        2. POSITIVISM: This is the situational presumption that Christians freely choose to believe that God is love. The situationist must then choose to act in a way that is reasonable with this faith statement. Christian love is what comes first in the basis of decision making.
          1. An example of this is CAFOD. The Christian church says that Christians should give their money to this charity rather than straight to a person, so CAFOD may be able to build a hospital or school. By doing this, Christians choose their faith
          2. PERSONALISM: This is the proposition which puts the people first, which makes it different from legalism which puts the law first. People are of value because they are made in the image of God. The effect on the person makes the action ‘good’ rather than something laid down by the law.
          3. INTRO: Situation Ethics is an ethical theory devised by Joseph Fletcher. Fletcher believed Situation Ethics to be the middle way between legalism and antinomianism [no rules]. There is only one rule in Situation Ethics; the most loving action is the right action. Fletcher created six fundamental principles and four presumptions, or propositions, to guide the Situation Ethicist in their moral decision making.
            1. CONSCIENCE: Fletcher’s understanding of conscience is different from traditional views, he sees it as a ‘function, not as a faculty’. He is not so much interested in what it ‘is’ as what it ‘does’. He rejects that it is intuition, guidance by the Holy Spirit or introjection. Fletcher believes that the way that conscience functions is by looking forward towards moral problems to solve, not looking back and reviewing in guilt or shame. That is to say, conscience is applied before the moral decision is made, rather than evaluating afterwards.
              1. Actions are not intrinsically good or bad, but extrinsically right or wrong, judged on whether they produce the most love or not.
                1. AGAPEISTIC LOVE = Christian love
                  1. 6 Fundamental principles
                    1. Love only is always good
                      1. The ruling norm of Christian decision making is love
                        1. Love and justice are the same for love is justice distributed
                          1. Love wills the neighbour's good, whether we like him or not
                            1. Only love justifies the means, nothing else
                              1. Love's decisions are made situationally no prescriptively
                              2. Middle way between legalism [completely ruled] and antinomianism [no rules]
                                1. FLETCHER!
                                  1. The action which produces the most love is right
                                    1. STRENGTHS
                                      1. Flexible
                                        1. Gives personal freedom
                                          1. Doesn't reject laws but sees them as useful tools
                                            1. If we follow how love guides us how can we be wrong?
                                              1. Alternative Christian Ethic
                                                1. Easy to understand
                                                2. WEAKNESSESS
                                                  1. There's a reason laws exist
                                                    1. Rejected by Christian church
                                                      1. Induvidualistic
                                                        1. Could justify morally wrong things
                                                          1. "It is as difficult to define love as it is to catch a greased pig"
                                                            1. Actions (eg adultery) do not become good because the are done out of love
                                                              1. Really hard to apply
                                                                1. Examples Fletcher gives are too extreme for real life
                                                                2. COMPATIBILITY WITH CHRISTIAN ETHICS
                                                                  1. COMPATIBLE
                                                                    1. Agape= Christian love and it is therefore compatible with any Christian approach that has love at the centre
                                                                      1. Christianity also realises that absolutes are not absolutes with change in views on women, war and death penalty
                                                                      2. INCOMPATIBLE
                                                                        1. Banned from RC acadamies
                                                                          1. Clear absolute laws in the bible
                                                                        2. IMPRACTICAL
                                                                          1. Too complex to be of any practical use
                                                                            1. Confusion over what is good and what is right
                                                                              1. Issues remain relative
                                                                                1. Different ideas on what is the most loving thing to do
                                                                                2. Application to IVF
                                                                                  1. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a process by which an egg is fertilised by sperm outside the body: in vitro ("in glass"). The process involves monitoring and stimulating a woman's ovulatory process, removing eggs from the woman's ovaries and letting sperm fertilise them in a liquid in a laboratory. The fertilised egg is cultured for 2–6 days in a growth medium and is then implanted in the woman's uterus, with the intention of establishing a successful pregnancy.
                                                                                    1. The couple must be pragmatic, only 32% of women under 35 who go through with IVF get a child at the end of it. Is it worth the 68% chance of failure?
                                                                                      1. 1. makes us consider whether a couple seeking IVF is doing it out of unconditional love for each other, or whether they are being selfish.
                                                                                        1. 2. suggests that Christians should not only love others, but to some extent sacrifice themselves for others; what will happen to the spare embryos that are not used?
                                                                                          1. 3. that love needs to support the whole community. How much love will come out of IVF? Would more love be created if another couple had IVF? Would it be more just if only those who had their reproductive organs damaged by surgery or dangerous working conditions could have IVF? These are all questions that the Situation Ethicist needs to consider.
                                                                                            1. 4. means that it may be more loving to find another solution, such as adoption.
                                                                                              1. 5. but does this mean ignoring the cost involved, other people’s concerns and feelings, as well as religious teachings?
                                                                                                1. 6. takes us back to the beginning; Situation Ethics allows a couple to have a child via IVF for loving and compassionate reasons but it ultimately depends on the best interests of the couple involved.
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