Wikia

Psychology Wiki

Changes: Situational ethics

Edit

Back to page

(References)
 
Line 1: Line 1:
 
{{Philpsy}}
 
{{Philpsy}}
'''Situational ethics''' (also known as '''Situationism''') refers to a particular view of [[ethics]] that states: ''the morality of an act is a function of the state of the system at the time it is performed.'' <ref>J. Fletcher, ''Situation Ethics'' (Westminster, Philadelphia, 1966)</ref>. This is frequently confused with [[moral relativism]], which states that there is no universal moral truth, that there are only beliefs and perspectives, none more valid than another. Situational ethics by itself does not say whether there are universal truths or not; it only says that the state of the system at the time of an act must be included in consideration of the act.
+
'''Situational ethics''' (also known as '''Situationism''') has in recent times been seen as a significant opponent to contemporary [[virtue ethics]]. In his [[2002]] work ''Lack of Character'', philosopher [[John Doris]] gives arguably the most developed statement and defense of the situationist thesis. Namely,
  +
<br><br>
  +
:'''Situationism''': Robust character traits are rare or do not exist. To a significant degree, it is not character traits but situational factors that determine our behavior (e.g. whether a person tells a lie, does not depend on if they have the character trait of "honesty." Rather, more often then not, if someone tells a lie will depend on minor situational features. For example, if they found a dime on the ground that afternoon).
  +
<br>
  +
To establish this thesis Doris draws upon a large number of results from experimental [[psychology]] that he interprets to show situationism true. After relying on the empirical results of psychology to establish the non-existence of character, Doris argues that the truth of situationism has two important implications:
  +
<br><br>
  +
:'''(1)''' We must reform those practices in [[moral education]], psychology, and in ordinary life that assume the existence of robust character traits.
   
The term situational ethics has been broadened to include numerous situations in which a code of ethics is designed to suit the needs of the situation.
+
:'''(2)''' We must reject any ethical theory that holds a necessary dependency on the existence character (Doris specifically has virtue ethics in his sights here).
  +
<br>
  +
Furthermore, Doris draws an additional methodological implication from that fact (2) leads him to reject or reform ethical theories (e.g. virtue ethics) on the grounds of a result of empirical psychology. Specifically, Doris defends the further implication that:
  +
<br><br>
  +
:'''(3)''' The [[is-ought problem|is-ought]] prohibition in ethics is mistaken. Ethics can and should draw upon empirical results in pursuing normative knowledge.
  +
<br>
  +
It is this third implication, perhaps even more than the denial of character, that has garnered situationism the attention it has received. Since situationists argue against virtue ethics on empirical grounds, they violate and perhaps disprove a long-standing belief in ethics that empirical results cannot be used to prove or disprove any doctrine of ethics.
   
The original situational ethics theory was developed by Joseph Fletcher, an Episcopal priest, in the 1960s. Based on the concept that the only thing with intrinsic value is Love (specifically agapē), Fletcher advocated a number of controversial courses of action.
+
== History ==
   
Opponents are usually moral universalists who view situational ethics, in its purest sense, as inherently contradictory, and argue that the very term "situational ethics" is an oxymoron. They argue that ethics and [[morality]] are fundamental and cannot be based on practical, functional, or ethno-centric values; therefore, ethics must be based on something more persistent than one group's assessment of their current situation.
+
The situational ethics theory was developed by [[Joseph Fletcher]], an Episcopal priest, in the 1960s. The founding idea is that the only thing of intrinsic value is [[Love]], (specifically [[agape|agapē]].) From there, Fletcher advocated a number of controversial courses of action.
   
Proponents who are also moral universalists respond that the opponent has misinterpreted situational ethics: Complexity does not mean contradiction, though it may seem so from a simplistic view of a situation. Those who are not might respond that the desire for, or belief one has arrived at, universal ethical principles is part of a group's assessment of their current situation.
+
Fletcher took situationism to claim that: ''the morality of an act is a function of the state of the system at the time it is performed.''<ref>J. Fletcher, ''Situation Ethics'' (Westminster, Philadelphia, 1966)</ref> That is, situationism was the claim that it is the actual physical, geographical, ecological and infrastructural state one is in, that determines one's actions or range of actions [[green economics]] is at least partially based on that view.
   
[[Situated ethics]] is an entirely different theory in which it is the actual physical, geographical, ecological and infrastructural state one is in, that determines ones actions or range of actions - green economics is at least partially based on that view. It, too, is criticized for lack of a single geographically-neutral [[perspective (cognitive)|point of view]] from which to apply standards of or by an authority.
+
However, situationism should not be confused with [[Moral relativism]]. For the moral relativist, there is no universal moral truth, that there are only beliefs, perspectives, ethno-centric values, none more valid than another. Fletcher's situational ethics finds the foundation of moral truth in agape; therefore it is not moral relativism. Situational ethics rejects both [[Legalism (theology)|legalism]], and [[antinomianism]]. However, like relativism, situationism is criticized for lacking a situation-neutral [[perspective (cognitive)|point of view]] from which to apply its standards.
   
 
==See also==
 
==See also==
 
* [[Situation ethics]]
 
* [[Situation ethics]]
 
* [[Situated ethics]]
 
* [[Situated ethics]]
* [[Situationist]]
 
   
 
==References==
 
==References==
 
<references />
 
<references />
[[Category:Ethics]]
 
 
*Bowers, H. S. Situationism in psychology: An analysis and critique. Psychological Review, 1973, 80, 307-336.
 
*Bowers, H. S. Situationism in psychology: An analysis and critique. Psychological Review, 1973, 80, 307-336.
[[fr:Éthique de situation]]
+
[[Category:Ethical schools and movements]]
  +
[[Category:Religious ethics]]
  +
[[Category:Philosophy]]
  +
  +
  +
  +
 
{{enWP|Situational ethics}}
 
{{enWP|Situational ethics}}

Latest revision as of 09:48, January 22, 2007

Assessment | Biopsychology | Comparative | Cognitive | Developmental | Language | Individual differences | Personality | Philosophy | Social |
Methods | Statistics | Clinical | Educational | Industrial | Professional items | World psychology |

Philosophy Index: Aesthetics · Epistemology · Ethics · Logic · Metaphysics · Consciousness · Philosophy of Language · Philosophy of Mind · Philosophy of Science · Social and Political philosophy · Philosophies · Philosophers · List of lists


Situational ethics (also known as Situationism) has in recent times been seen as a significant opponent to contemporary virtue ethics. In his 2002 work Lack of Character, philosopher John Doris gives arguably the most developed statement and defense of the situationist thesis. Namely,

Situationism: Robust character traits are rare or do not exist. To a significant degree, it is not character traits but situational factors that determine our behavior (e.g. whether a person tells a lie, does not depend on if they have the character trait of "honesty." Rather, more often then not, if someone tells a lie will depend on minor situational features. For example, if they found a dime on the ground that afternoon).


To establish this thesis Doris draws upon a large number of results from experimental psychology that he interprets to show situationism true. After relying on the empirical results of psychology to establish the non-existence of character, Doris argues that the truth of situationism has two important implications:

(1) We must reform those practices in moral education, psychology, and in ordinary life that assume the existence of robust character traits.
(2) We must reject any ethical theory that holds a necessary dependency on the existence character (Doris specifically has virtue ethics in his sights here).


Furthermore, Doris draws an additional methodological implication from that fact (2) leads him to reject or reform ethical theories (e.g. virtue ethics) on the grounds of a result of empirical psychology. Specifically, Doris defends the further implication that:

(3) The is-ought prohibition in ethics is mistaken. Ethics can and should draw upon empirical results in pursuing normative knowledge.


It is this third implication, perhaps even more than the denial of character, that has garnered situationism the attention it has received. Since situationists argue against virtue ethics on empirical grounds, they violate and perhaps disprove a long-standing belief in ethics that empirical results cannot be used to prove or disprove any doctrine of ethics.

History Edit

The situational ethics theory was developed by Joseph Fletcher, an Episcopal priest, in the 1960s. The founding idea is that the only thing of intrinsic value is Love, (specifically agapē.) From there, Fletcher advocated a number of controversial courses of action.

Fletcher took situationism to claim that: the morality of an act is a function of the state of the system at the time it is performed.[1] That is, situationism was the claim that it is the actual physical, geographical, ecological and infrastructural state one is in, that determines one's actions or range of actions — green economics is at least partially based on that view.

However, situationism should not be confused with Moral relativism. For the moral relativist, there is no universal moral truth, that there are only beliefs, perspectives, ethno-centric values, none more valid than another. Fletcher's situational ethics finds the foundation of moral truth in agape; therefore it is not moral relativism. Situational ethics rejects both legalism, and antinomianism. However, like relativism, situationism is criticized for lacking a situation-neutral point of view from which to apply its standards.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. J. Fletcher, Situation Ethics (Westminster, Philadelphia, 1966)
  • Bowers, H. S. Situationism in psychology: An analysis and critique. Psychological Review, 1973, 80, 307-336.



This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).

Around Wikia's network

Random Wiki