Historical Background of Joseph Fletcher

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Joseph Fletcher was born in 1905. He was ordained as an Episcopal priest and taught Christian Ethics from 1944 to 1970. He published many works on a variety of subjects – ten books and more than 200 other items over 50 years. His specialism was Bioethics, but he wrote about sex, birth control, abortion, eugenics, cloning, euthanasia – he was president of the Euthanasia Society of America from 1974-1976 – distributive justice, war, business ethics, etc.

Fletcher is best known as the founder of Situation Ethics, although it would better to call him the theory’s populariser, as the basic ideas had been around some time before Fletcher wrote ‘Situation Ethics – the New Morality’ in 1966.

Many biographies say that Fletcher became an atheist before he died in 1991, although I cannot find a reliable source for this claim. In his later years, Fletcher described himself as ‘agnostic’.