Situationist ethics was established by Priest Joseph Fletcher. Identify the key voice in this ethical position. Summarize the key components of Situational ethics' six propositions. For example, of...

Situationist ethics was established by Priest Joseph Fletcher. Identify the key voice in this ethical position. Summarize the key components of Situational ethics' six propositions. For example, of the six propositions, love is the most important one.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Situational ethics are constructed based on a construction of universal love. What Father Fletcher would call "agape" or a universal notion of love is the defining element of situational ethics.  Being able to maximize this becomes the driving force behind situational ethics.  Fletcher never really saw his ethical formulation as a type of rigid calculation or set of laws.  Rather, they were an approach to maximize a type of "agapeic calculus."  Fletcher himself did not see situational ethics as bound by dogma or ideology because it was the "fruit" of rejecting such notions.

The increase of universal love and the reduction of others' suffering are critical components to Situational ethics.  This becomes the key voice in the philosophical position.  Everything else flows from this point:

One of the biggest difficulties in our contemporary society is that we try to locate the evil in somebody else and then we try to get rid of him. The police are pigs or the students are worthless, and so on and so on. The Marxists are the devils or the Republicans are the devils or you name it. We try to isolate the evil and then get rid of it.

For the situational ethical position that Father Fletcher conceived, increasing the presence of universal love is the only cure for a setting filled with such a focus on evil.  The critical voice that emerges from Situational ethics seeks overcome the condition of hatred and disdain that is intrinsic to the modern setting:

But the teaching of the Bible is that we are thoroughly entrenched in this ourselves, so we can't toss rocks at someone else; we have to see the extent to which the moral ambiguities fall directly on us. We need forgiveness; and only when we receive it do we have our lives cleaned up so that we can start seeing situations accurately.

From the primary premise of maximizing universal love, there is a greater chance in following Christ's model.  It is in this light where "situations" can be seen with greater accuracy and moral clarity.

Following this position and voice, other ethical principles in the situational paradigm become evident.  Justice is seen as a dissemination of the universal love that forms the basis of the ethical position.  To be just is to act in a way whereby greater increase of love and the minimizing of suffering is demonstrated.  In this setting, love is a universal good, an end to which all people are entitled.  Regardless of our personal disposition for our neighbor, they are worthy of the universal condition of love that should guide all of our actions.  The ends of pursuing expansion of the unconditionality of love justify the means.  Situational ethics does not seek to establish universal laws that cannot be broken.  The enhancement of love becomes a critical element in the situational ethics configuration.  Each situation has its own unique elements that have to be understood to ensure that bringing more unconditional love into the world is evident.  Understanding the "elements of a human act" is an essential part of the situational ethical voice.

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