Joseph Fletcher : the evolution of his ethical thought
Marshall, Mary Faith, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia
Childress, James, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia
Hook, Edward W., Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia
Fletcher, John C., University of Virginia
The goal of this study is to discover and critically examine the major influences on the development of Joseph Fletcher's theological and philosophical ethics. Subsidiary investigation will reveal the influence of particular philosophical points of view (personalism, pragmatism, utilitarianism), theological positions (Rauschenbusch, Gladden, Temple), and the effects of social context and other determinants on Fletcher's thought. Whether Fletcher's ethics remain dependent on social or temporal contingencies, whether they are historically contingent or of lasting practical value will be analyzed.
This paper will take the form of an intellectual biography. The first two chapters are purely biographical, sketching the social environment and formative personal relationships of Fletcher's youth and early adulthood. Three subsequent chapters chronologically critique the development of Fletcher's theology of social redemption, the personalistic and rights-based approach to an ethic of medical care espoused in Mi>Morals and Medicine, and the amalgam of presuppositions that comprises the moral framework of Situation Ethics. The primary foundations of Fletcher's basic ethical premises; control, choice, and responsibility will be analyzed in terms of their origins and place in the evolution of his ethical thought.
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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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