Situational Ethics – it was developed by Joseph Fletcher. Decision making should base on circumstances of a particular situation, and fixed law should never include in it. Literally, it is “A system of ethics that evaluates acts in light of their situational context rather than by the application of moral absolutes ” Besides that, situational ethics is also perceived as a Christian ethical theory . This is because its critics follow as what is written to be the moral values from the Bible.
Advantages of Situational Ethics
It uses rules to provide a framework but allows people to break rules to reflect life’s
complexities. The quota system in Malaysia can be the best example. Malaysia practices the quota system in its education ( especially in public universities ), public sectors ( i.e. Polis, Hospital Servants and armed forces), and so on. And the latest is in football team. In a country with mixed culture, quota system should not be applied. Because of it could be a discrimination for the Chinese and Indians who are better off or who are at par together with the Bumiputeras . The government are considering a removal of this system in some of its sectors. According to Malaysian Mirror (2010), Kudat DAP chief Alex Wong suggested to remove quota system in armed forces. Based on Situational Ethics, if the implemente of quota system is not good or beneficial to its “Rakyat” it might be abolish as well. It is incredible to say that 70% of bumiputera must be represented as a minimal majority.
Situation Ethics makes the important link between justice and love. Justice can be reasonably achieved by a person who meets each situation with a spirit of love. For example, The war torn Iraq during 2003 were intruded by American army. America invaded Iraq in order to disrupt Saddam Hussein’s governor and to free the Iraq people, and to end Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs as well. The people in Iraq were living in fear by the governance of Saddam Hussein, so justice had to be done ! If America did not to intervene in this matter, would justice prevail for Saddam and his followers ( cabinet and government ) ? The people of Iraq are much better off now after his conviction . Critics blamed that the people of Iraq did not know the Mischievous act of its ” SUPREME” leader. Situational Ethics relate that there is a link between justice and love.
Disadvantages of Situational Ethics
In most cases (situations of normality) moral rules work perfectly well. It is when
situations are extreme that the rules appear to fail. The currently situation happening in Egypt is best lustrate it. The country is under corrupting now, everyone is protesting and the president of the country has lost power to control citizens, and denies to resign. So that the rules and laws of the country failed to control over citizens right now, whereas personal moral rules which force the president to resign is working perfectly well.
Can the decision to behave in the most loving way be impeded by self-interest? There are disavtange of doing thing that ourselve loving because of we mighty only do it for our own need and satifaction, and sometime we do something just for our own benefit despite other people. There was a ship of 86 people from Dominican Republic who illegally migrant to American. Unfortunately, the ship’s engine went down and the captain left his passengers by escaping the boat. The foods resources can maintain only three days until the fifth day they started to die and people demanded breast milk from the women on board. Two mothers agreed to feed them but one mother who refused was thrown away cruelly to the sea. In this situation, the migrants to order the mother to breast breed to satisfy their need, otherwise will be thrown to sea which showed they judged by self-interest.
The end does not always justify the means. There was a woman who suffered cancer which turned her down and to commit suicide at the shopping mall. her parents try to convince her to claim down, in order to save her life her parents had to lie to her that the disease can be cured. in that situation, If we tell the true to her, It will result that she would get depress which will encourage her inner mind to commit suicide.
When a situation begins and ends , Situation Ethics cannot cope with the large scale issues of social morality. because situational ethic can be apply only by self perception and may not apply by overall in the society such example A killing case of an old man crucifies his beloved wife who suffered from disease in year 2011 January in Taiwan. An 83 year old man who is retired engineer laid his 79 year old wife to swallowed sleeping pill. When she was sleeping, the husband used a screwdriver with a hammer knock on the wife until death. The husband was arrested, he was very claim, and talked to the media, said that “A clear conscience.” He said he cannot bear to look at his wife suffered the pain of Parkinson so he killed her for a good reason.
So according to the analysis of situational ethics, we think situational ethics is not the best ethical principle to use.
What are some of the issues or problems with Situational Ethics?
Problems and issues
The major problem of situational ethics is that it is hard to identify the standard of value and define situation. The problems can be futher explained by folowing:
There are times when it is acceptable to disobey God. If the situation demands it, almost any command of God can be set aside. According to Jesus state that survival is important than keeping the God Law. We have to value what is most important among our life style. For example, doctors have to work on anytime when there is not enough doctors to treat the patients even in the God’s festival, such as Christmas. Saving life is more important than following the God’s command. We disobey god law when it contributes more.
The outcome may be unacceptable by others although when one thinks that the particular action is right thing to do. I.e. in order to destroy Al-Qaeda after 9.11 happened, George W. Bush decided to send armies to Afghanistan in 2001, although they overthrew the regimes of it, but it brought disaster to the people in Afghanistan. To the people Afghanistan, the overthrowing of regimes brought the societies into chaos, they could not have peaceful life. However, to Bush, it might be right action, it fulfilled his purpose to overthrow the regimes of Taliba.
It may appear to be unfair for certain people when the decisions involve unnecessary victims. I.e, in the final stage of World War II, in order to against Japan, United States dropped two atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki respectively. There were numberless residents were killed, and numerousness were infected by the radiation after bombing as well. In that situation, U.S was about to force Japan to surrender, but it killed numberless victims.
What do you think would be the best ethical principle/s for your group to follow?
Utilitarianism theory is closely connected to the philosophy of consequentialism. It means that the morality and ethical value are judged based on the consequences of actions. In utilitarianism as stated above, actions may be consider as moral if the outcome is benefits to the majority or maximize positive utilities. Outcome of an action that benefit majority is our main purpose of choosing utilitarianism as our group guide.
First of all, we think that benefits and good things should be shared together as whole rather than enjoy it alone. For example, France illegalizes the use of ‘CFC’ propellants because it depleting the earth Ozone layer which is important for our nature although ‘CFC’ propellants is easy to use and manufacture. The France had benefited most people in the world, because it allows them to have fresh air and prevent them to be exposed to the harmful ray.
Secondly, with the rationality of utilitarianism, although it sacrifices of interest of one section people in the society, but it benefit the people in whole society. For example, the “family planning” in China, it allows the parents only to have one child rather than have more than one. It sacrifices the benefit of the parents who want to have more than one child, however, it controls the population, and reduces the burden of large population to the society and avoids the problems that will bring to society because of the large population.