1 SE is a relativistic, consequentialist
theory. Does not prescribe fixed rules;
considers outcomes of actions.
2 It was first developed
by Joseph Fletcher in
Situation Ethics (1963)
3 The theory was inspired by
Jesus' gospel message of
love (Agape - unconditional
4 Fletcher appealed to Biblical scholar Rudolf
Bultman, according to whom Jesus taught no
ethics other than 'Love thy neighbour as
5 ANTINOMIANISM AND LEGALISM
5.1 Fletcher distinguished SE from two common approaches in ethics: legalism and antinomianism (nomos = law)
5.1.1 Legalists enforce fixed rules and rigid morality.
126.96.36.199 Anti - nomians shun laws and live without moral restraints .
188.8.131.52.1 According to Fletcher, his theory avoids the pitfalls of both, being more flexible than legalism and more principled than anti-nomianism
6 THE FOUR WORKING PRINCIPLES
6.1 Fletcher stated that there are 4 basic principles to SE
6.1.1 1). Pragmatism -
must work or
2).Relativism - There
are no fixed laws
always be obeyed.
3). Positivism -
First place is
given to Christian
love, rooted in
4). Personalism -
People come first,
not rules or ideals:
made for man, not
man for the
7 6 FUNDAMENTAL PRINICIPLES
7.1 Fletcher wanted to guide and
help people act in accordance
with Agape he provided
principles to act as a guideline,
these relate closely to Biblical
teaching on what Christian love
7.1.1 1. Love is the only good - Actions are only good if they help humans (showing love for another) and they are bad if they hurt people.
7.1.2 2. Love is the only norm - Jesus and St Paul replaced the Torah with the principle of
love, in the past Christians have broken the 10 commandments to do the right thing
7.1.3 3. Love and Justice are the same, and love is justice distributed - Love and justice can not be separated
7.1.4 4. Love wills the neighbours good, whether we like him or not - your neighbour is anybody and Agape love goes out to everyone
7.1.5 5.Love is the only means -When weighing up a situation, one must consider what you want the outcome to be and what you need to do to get there. Fletcher said the end must be the
7.1.6 6. Love decides there and then - whether something is right or wrong depends on the situation and can't be pre - determined
7.2 Application of Fletcher's theory.
7.2.1 Sacrificial Adultery - Russian Concentration
Camp, pregnant women considered liability
184.108.40.206 Merciful Murder - Mother smothers baby to prevent being discovered by hostile Indians.
8 STRICT APPLICATION OF THE BIBLE'S RULES NO LONGER NEEDED
8.1 The adulterous woman - Evidence of PERSONALISM
8.2 Jesus and the Sabbath Day
8.3 Jesus commented on the divorce law
9 POPE PIUS XII
9.1 SE individualistic
9.2 SE subjective
9.3 SE seens to prepared to accept any action.
10 William Barclay Criticisms
10.1 Fletcher uses extreme cases to
10.1.1 Suggestion laws can be abandoned too optimistic