Situation ethics was developed in the 1960’s by an Anglican Priest, Joseph Fletcher. Situation Ethics is an ethical system which embraces the fact that love is the only moral criterion and all of our decisions/actions are to be judged by the question, “What is the most loving thing to do? ” This question shows that whatever is the most loving thing to do in a situation is considered the right thing. Situation ethics means that there is no ethical standard that can be uniformly or consistently applied, for each situation demands its own standard of ethics.
It basically states that sometimes other moral principles can be cast aside in certain situations if love is best served. Situation ethics was created upon the belief that there are no universal moral rules or right because each case or situation is unique and deserves a unique solution. It teaches that ethical decisions should follow flexible guidelines rather than absolute rules, and be taken on a case by case basis. Situation ethics has many strengths. One of the main strengths of situation ethics is its flexibility.
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It allows practical decisions to be made while other ethical systems that are based on rules follow their own absolute commandments. It takes one’s circumstances into consideration, and allows for exceptions to be made. Another strength of situation ethics is it is particular. Since moral decisions are treated on a case by case basis, the decision is always modified to certain situations. The third strength of situation ethics is it is based on doing good and being loving.
Situation ethics teaches that right acts are those which are motivated by the desire to ensure the well being of others and to show them love. The fourth strength of situation ethics is that by acting out of love, you are doing the right thing and you are able to do so by putting moral laws on hold in order to achieve the greater amount of love. Despite the fact that situation ethics has many strengths, it has quite a few weaknesses. The first weakness of situation ethics is that it excludes most moral truths.
In doing so, situation ethics takes away the possibility of ensuring human rights and fulfilling the human needs of ethical structure for human behavior. A well known weakness of situation ethics is that it may approve of evil acts or acts that are considered immoral. Situation ethics teaches us that some types of actions do not have a natural moral value because whether they are good or bad depends on the result and if it helped someone or had a positive outcome on someone.
Therefore, situation ethics permits a person to carry out acts that are generally regarded as bad , such as killing, lying, and stealing, if they lead to an adequately positive result. For example killing a person is considered bad, but is seen as acceptable in some cases of self defence. Another weakness of situation ethics is the fact that just because an act is considered to be well motivated and done out of love doesn’t mean that it is automatically right.
The third weakness of situation ethics is it is fundamentally vague, resting on a very ambiguous definition of love, and therefore can be used to justify anything. Even though the notion of love used in situation ethics may seem interesting, it is very vague and can be interpreted in many ways, therefore there is a high chance of misunderstandings. In situation ethics, you make your decisions based on the type of situation in which you are placed in and you act out of love.
It basically states that sometimes other moral principles can be cast aside in certain situations if love is best served. Therefore, I favor situation ethics because I am able to approach ethical problems with some general moral principles rather than a set of ethical laws. In addition, in situation ethics, I am able to give up moral principles once I believe that doing so will lead to a better solution and I am doing it out of love. Situation ethics is also appealing to me because there are no fixed moral principles to judge whether I am right or wrong.