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Situation Ethics 

Moral decision-making understood as highly specific to the situation or context. Situation ethics is often contrasted with a focus on moral principles or duties which are seen as leading to formalism and legalism. A variety of reasons may be used to support a situational ethic. Most combine an existentialist emphasis on the uniqueness of each situation with an emphasis on the will of the person making decisions. Situation ethics often are dispositional ethics in which the right orientation of the will is important. Examples of such an ethic include Augustine's dictum "Love God and do what you will," Luther's understanding of the freedom of the Christian given in faith active in love, and Karl Barth's emphasis on the uniqueness of the concrete command of God given anew in each situation and moment in time. Situation ethics also includes consequentialism in which judgments are made based upon the consequences that follow from the actions taken in a situation. Anglican ethicist Joseph Fletcher popularized situation ethics by combining an emphasis on love and a focus on consequences. 




Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.
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