Transcript of The Conscience
Different views of Conscience as God given, innate, voice of reason, instilled by society, parents and authority figuresIs conscience a reliable guide to ethical decision making?Views of Augustine, Aquinas, Butler, Newman, Freud, Fromm, PiagetStrengths and weaknesses of these views
• Write down list of all possible things that you think might explain what the conscience is. When you have done this list evidence that you think might support this viewpoint and the evidence that would disagree with it.
• Write down what you believe the conscience is and how you use it yourself, including feelings and examples
What is conscience?
• ‘I have noticed my conscience for many years, and I know it is more trouble and bother to me than anything else I started with.’
What is Conscience?
• ‘I think we all have a little voice inside that will guide us. It may be God, I don’t know. But I think that if we shut out all the noise and clutter from our lives and listen to that voice, it will tell us the right thing to do.’
Do you agree?
• Conscience is something that is intrinsic to our everyday lives. Regardless of what we believe its nature is , it is used for making decisions. Individual consciences can choose very different actions. (Abortion)
• People have different interpretations of what is morally right and in many cases justify their actions and motivations. (Rwanda and Dafur)
• Some people claim that their conscience permitted them to be prison guards in concentration camps during WW2. How could they have stood back and watched what was happening or even participated in such atrocities?
What is conscience?
• ‘A moral sense of right and wrong, especially as felt by a person and affecting behaviour or an inner feeling as to the goodness or otherwise of one’s behaviour’
Oxford English Dictionary
Conscience• For many people, their idea about the conscience is
having an angel on one shoulder ‘urging’ them to do a good moral action and devil on the other shoulder ‘urging’ them to ignore the angel and perform an immoral action
• Is this a good way to visualise and understand our conscience?
• What are the strengths and weaknesses of this approach?
• God givenActual voice of God (Butler, Newman, St Augustine)Ability to reason from God (Aquinas,St Jerome, St
Paul)• Innate within usGenetically placed there due to human evolutionary
design or developmentAquinas suggested it was innate but requires
instruction and training
Views• Instilled by society?Conscience is the result of society’s
expectations upon us (Georg Hegel 1780-1831)
• Instilled by parents?Piaget’s developmental theoriesSociologists propose that concept
of conscience is significantly reinforced by the upbringing and influences we have in our early years
Views• Instilled by authority figures?Police officers? Teachers? Politicians?
If we accept the idea that conscience is instilled by external influences such as parents or other authority figures, then does that not mean that the negative actions that people perform can be attributed and blamed on these authority figures?
Tasks for Today and Friday’s lessons
• Using the extracts from the textbook that I have given you, make notes on ALL of the key scholars this week.
• Complete the 4 bullet points on the Thought Point section on page 219