Contextualism: Morality and Ethical Judgment

Topics: Morality, Ethics, Decision making Pages: 3 (768 words) Published: December 8, 2010

Contextualism is one of the types of criteria we use to make a relevant and meaningful ethical decision (Christian, 2009. p 377). By definition, contextualism establishes that what is ethically right is determined by the situation rather than by a formal law or rule (Moore, 2010. Lecture week 5). This method of decision making has its advantages and disadvantages, an advantage would be the fact that this ethical judgment can be made only after the problem situation exists, not before (Christian, 2009. p 380) whereas the formalism and relativism have to meet certain ethical codes imposed by universal laws and society respectively. A disadvantage would be that no moral values or beliefs matter when making a decision. Contextualism can’t be used as the only way of decision making as there are times where only bad alternatives are open to us (Christian, 2009. p 380). Contextualism or Situation Ethics is one of the different criteria’s people use in order to make an ethical judgment. It is a theory or view of ethics that diminishes general moral principles while emphasizing the source of moral judgments in the distinctive characters of specific situations (Random House Dictionary, 2010. Sec.1); which means that there are no universal laws; that ethical decisions can be made only in the context of concrete situations and that there is a fundamental ethical guideline for all ethical behaviors; which is the concern for the well being of others (Christian, 2009. p 380). In other words, people decide the action they will take the moment they are in that situation, never before. For example, if I were to practice abortion, I would decide whether that was right or wrong the moment I am in that situation of course thinking about the well-being of others, in this case, my well-being or the future baby. This action is up to discussion and used for this purpose as an example to clarify the definition.

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