Examine the Key Characteristics of Situation Ethics

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A. Examine the key characteristics of Situation Ethics (21 Marks) Although Christian ethics has traditionally followed divine command ethics – the view that morality came directly from God – an alternative approach emerged in the 1960s that could be used more widely in ethical decision making. Situation Ethics, a teleological theory, most commonly associated with Joseph Fletcher (an American Episcopalian moralist from the US) and J.A.T. Robinson (Was the Bishop of Woolwich, from the UK), emerged at a time when society and the Church were facing drastic and permanent change. Situation ethics is a consequentialist theory, as well as a relativist one; an action is only wrong if the motive for the action is wrong i.e. murdering for the sake of murdering is wrong, and murder is not wrong if the consequences (the end) are (is) justified. When Fletcher wrote Situation Ethics (In which he coined the phrase Situation Ethics) in 1966, both the USA and the UK had witnessed a series of highly significant events, driven by a complete re-evaluation of moral laws which had shaped society before WWII, that changed the shape and direction of the latter half of the twentieth century. Both Europe and the USA were socially, culturally and morally transformed. In the USA, Fletcher maintained that this social change made it essential for religious morality to change with it. He proposed that rather than continuing to adopt the traditional morality of previous generations, Christian ethics had to be updated. He claimed the way to do this was to employ the single principle of agape – Unmotivated, Christian love exemplified in the ministry and teaching of Jesus: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). The ‘law of love’ would make it possible for

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