Situation Ethics

  1. What is the fundamental principle of situation ethics? What type of theory is it?
    • Moral decisions are those that are "guided by what best serves love"
    • Teleological - concerned with the outcomes rather that the means
  2. What is the background behind situation ethics?
    • 1960's
    • sexual revolution - contraception available --> people more sexually promiscuous 
    • women were in the workplace following ww2
    • The Church was changing to keep up with the people, still teaching the Divine Command Theory
  3. What is the Divine Command Theory?
    "The good consists in doing as God commands at any particular moment"
  4. Which Philosopher challenged the view of God, in what book, and what did they say?
    • J.A.T Robinson
    • 'Honest to God'
    • God is not a being that intervenes from outside our world, but is instead the ground of our being
  5. Who was the philosopher that founded situation ethics and what were his views on how society should be?
    • Joseph Fletcher
    • Rejected legalistic society - too rigid
    • Rejected antinomianism - no rules becomes chaotic

    Came up with Situationism in which people should follow and respect the culture and laws, but may break them if doing so better serves love.
  6. What did Fletcher want within Situation ethics?
    To maintain the fundamental feature of Christianity which Jesus preached - "love one another as I have loved you"
  7. What did Fletcher write in his book and what was it called?
    'Situation Ethics' - "the morality of an action depends on the situation"
  8. What are Fletcher's Principles and Presuppositions of Situationism?

    • Relativism - No absolutes
    • Personalism - People first, not the law
    • Positivism - love is the most important thing


    • Only love is always good
    • Love is the only means
    • Love decides there and then
    • Love is not liking
  9. What is the Law of love?
    • The Golden Rule: "love your neighbour as yourself"
    • New Testament shows Jesus is an advocate for the theory e.g. saved adulterous woman from stoning
    • Agape Love: Selfless and unconditional love for everyone
  10. What case studies did Fletcher use?
    Burning House - who do you save? family member or doctor with cure for cancer?

    Pregnant by rape yet Church refuses abortion.
  11. What example did Robinson write about?
    The Divorce Law - may be the most loving thing to allow divorce for some people
  12. What does it say in the Bible John 8:2-11?
    "Let any one of you who hasn't sinned be the first to throw a stone at her"
  13. Part B: Strengths vs Weaknesses
    • ☂ Could accept any action - some things should just be wrong
    • ☀ Allows situations to be judged individually rather than what has happened in the past

    • ☂ The Law is Essential WILLIAM BARCLAY - guides us and has a deterrent value
    • Fletcher did say to follow the law AND sometimes tough decisions have to be made that are wrong either way in the eyes of the law

    • ☂ People dont truly have free will, they are preconditioned by society - Barclay 
    • ☀ It is admirable to seek the good in people

    • ☂ Fletcher's case studies are unrealistic (said Barclay)
    • ☀ Even so, it prepares us to make moral decisions when we need to, in the way Jesus would
Card Set
Situation Ethics
Situation Ethics flashcards for edexcel AS religious studies unit 1 exam