A PHILOSOPHICAL APPRAISAL OF JOSEPH FLETCHER’S NEW MORALITY

0
417

CHAPTER THREE

THE CONCEPT OF SITUATION ETHICS

Introduction

Fletcher (1966) states that there are only three main Christian approaches to moral choice: legalism, antinomism and situationism[i]. Legalism seeks moral principles that are universally applicable in nature and in the Scriptures. Fletcher (1967a) condemns legalists because they have made “idolatrously” that their many rules are absolute. While Fletcher (1966) leaves no room in his analysis of various ethical methods for contradictory or qualified absolutism, he admits that the idea of ​​a “better” morality makes sense (1967a, 173)[ii]. Antinomianism, according to Fletcher (1966), is illegal and completely relativistic and is based on “the situation of himself to find his ethical solution there and then (emphasis on it)”. Unlike legalism, situationism is not methodologically substantive and, unlike antinomics, it is based on norms and not on laissez-faire. Legalists and situationists agree that contexts (situations) and principles (generalizations) are essential components of ethical judgments (1967b, 156), although situationists generally focus more on relativity and pragmatism than on the normative behavior Several situationists in Europe who strongly influenced Fletcher were Bonhoeffer, Barth, Brunner and Bultmann[iii]. In the United States, H. R. Niebuhr, Joseph Sittler, James Gustafson, Paul Lehmann, Gordan Kaufman, Charles West and Paul Tillich were co-supporters of Joseph Fletcher’s situationism. Paul Ramsey (1965) welcomes Fletcher’s personalism and contextualism[iv]. In Fletcher’s opinion (1966), “modern Christians should not be naive enough to accept anything other than the situational vision of Jesus”[v].

The Approaches to Decision-Making in Ethics

There are three alternative ways or approaches to make moral decisions. They are: the legalistic approach, the antinomic approach, extreme contrasts, d. H. An approach without law or without principles; and the situational approach. All three have played their role in the history of Western morals.

(A) LEGALITY

Legalism is the most used and persistent approach to decision making. He has triumphed after exile among the Jews and has always dominated Christianity. There are a series of clearly defined and absolute laws (secular, cultural and religious) that individuals must implement in each situation. Legalism does not see moral rules and principles as a guideline, but as absolute norms that must be respected in all circumstances. With this approach, enter any decision-making situation that is equipped with established rules and regulations. Fletcher states that “legalism considers the letter of the law and insists on its compliance, without respecting the spirit of the law.”[vi] However, the question arises whether the law actually applies in individual cases or which of several more or less contradictory laws should be observed. In this case the legalist applies the casuistry.