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Critically assess the claim that the conscience is the voice of reason (35)

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´╗┐JAN 2011 Critically assess the claim that conscience is the voice of reason. [35] The origin of the conscience is much debated by both secular and religious beliefs. One may insist that the conscience is the voice of reason and this can be supported by Aquinas? belief in the recta ratio. One may however discuss that the conscience is the voice of God, supported b y the Butler and Newman, or is influenced mainly by society, parents or authority figures, usually supported by secular views. This essay will critically asses these claims. Aquinas believed that the conscience is the right reason (recta ration) and this reason is central to moral life to aid the conscience in choosing right from wrong. If man can use reason correctly, in line with the conscience, then it can help us to understand what it is God sees as good. We must use reason to what is good as some may perform bad actions due to faulty reasoning and thus commit sins; for example this is seen in the event of the man who slept with another man?s wife believing that is was his own wife and thus did not believe he was committing a sin. ...read more.


As the ultimate authority in moral judgements, one may argue that it must be given that it must be given by the ultimate authority in the universe: God. It is ?our natural guide, the guide assigned to us by the author of our nature? that author is God and his voice will guide man to make the right decisions. For instance as man is motivated by both self-love and benevolence, as a benevolent God He will guide man away from selfish love and towards a benevolent society that will ultimately focus on happiness. As God?s purpose for man is to reach eudemonia it is understandable why Butler and Newman may believe that it is God?s voice that guides us towards this through the conscience. A secular approach may deny Aquinas? belief that the conscience is the voice of reason (given by God) and Newman/Butler?s belief that it is the voice of God. For thinkers like Fromm, Freud and Piaget the conscience is instilled by society, authority figures and parents. ...read more.


cannot be implemented universally as this is proven to be insufficient. Though all of mankind possess reason it is the influences of outside agencies that allows man to use the ?conscience? in line with what they have been taught as right and wrong; therefore it cannot be the voice of reason. By discussing Aquinas? support for claiming that the conscience is the voice of reason and analysing it with the concept of the conscience being the voice of God, viewed by Newman and Butler, and the concept that it is instilled by society, viewed mainly by those of secular beliefs. From this one may finally come to the conclusion that the conscience is not the voice of reason. Although it is still much debated, it is clear through history that society and authority figures play a major role in deciding what is morally right or wrong. In addition to Fromm?s authoritarian conscience there is the negative authoritarian conscience that misleads groups of people into doing sinful things; for example the Rwanda genocide in 1994. If all mankind posses reason how can one truly believe that the killing of innocents is the best thing for society. ...read more.

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