Situational ethics theory

Joseph Fletcher invented this theory and it was aimed at striking a balance in the Christian word of ethics. This balance was to be created between the legalism that believe in a set of predisposed and different laws that determined every decision-making situation (Dresser, 1925).  However, the antinomianism posted that everything is relative to the moment and thus ruled out the existence of law.

According to antinomianism, the decision-making process should be conducted according to the man’s will and as sole source of truthFletcher asserted that we must enter every situation with only one moral weapon that is the law of agape love. The situation ethics theory states each situation is so different from every other situation in away that it becomes questionable whether a rule which is applicable to one situation can be applied to all situations associated to it, since they may not really identical. Only the single law of love (agape) that is viewed to be broad enough can apply to all circumstances and contexts (Fletcher, 1967).While considering the situational ethics theory as stated by Fletcher, one can conclude that it is worthy accepting for it presents itself as a simple yet effective method of solving ethics is a body of ethical thought is usually interested in answering these complex questions. These troublesome questions regarding how individuals should employ principles of normality in ethical dilemmas are usually the focus in the situational ethics.The question one should be asking at this point is; are the rules more important than people? Some of the ethical theories propose legalistic riles that should be followed strictly.

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Fletcher foresaw this situation of making rules to appear more important than people and without any exception. This is why in developing his ethical theory, Fletcher considered love and situation.Antinomians kind of thinking results to total chaos because they reject the law but situational ethical theorists, respects the law but when has a right to make a choice depending on the prevailing condition or situation. According to Fletcher, love and justice are the same or identical.

This implies that justice refers to the means to give others their “due” which is love. Therefore if love is the outcome or the end product of, then the end justifies the means (justice). If the process is utilized in decision-making is not justified, definitely the outcome is not love (Lisman, 1996).As mentioned earlier, the situational ethics takes into consideration only one single law of love. Despite the use of past collective wisdom in the guiding the ethical decision-making at present, the law of love may call for alternative ways. By proposing the situational theory, Fletcher avoided the extremes of legalism and a single factors but rather a number of interwoven issues that finally form a complex endeavor because he believed that life could not describe antinomianism.

Fletcher noted that the morally right action result into love or agape. This makes situational ethical theory a very attractive moral theory for so many people because it is not rooted in the church doctrines. The flexibility of the theory in that one decides what the right things in various circumstances are also makes the theory to very popular and mature.On the other hand, when individuals are given an opportunity to decide, they are likely to give not only subjective judgments but also ill-conceived judgments. The individual is also likely to be tempted to try and justify what should happen in terms of serving love  

Author: Dominic Phelps


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