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Explain and evaluate the role of conscience in moral decision-making

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Introduction

´╗┐Explain and evaluate the role of conscience in moral decision-making. Conscience can be defined as something within each of us that tells us what is right and what is wrong. In Latin ?Con? means with and ?science? means knowledge. Therefore we should surely use our conscience when we are making decisions as we should be being told what is the right thing to do and what is wrong. This however doesn?t always seem to be the case. The problem with using your conscience is that it is not consistent. We can see this when claims have been made after someone made the wrong choice. For example at the time he was Prime minister Tony Blair took the choice to go to war with Iraq. It is widely regarded as being the wrong choice to have made and Tony Blair said in response that he was following his conscience. There are religious and secular (non-religious) views on the conscience. The religious views have been developed from biblical teaching and the divine command theory. However there is more than one interpretation about the conscience. Thomas Aquinas for example believed that people should follow their conscience totally as long as your principles are right because it is the voice of reason. On the other hand Butler argued the conscience comes form intuition. ...read more.

Middle

He therefore saw that our conscience will continuously change in different circumstances not making it a reliable source to make a decision on. Augustine too believed that we should take it seriously and listen to our conscience because we are hearing the word of God. Therefore Newman, Augustine and Butler take a much less rationalist view upon conscience compared to Aquinas but as all four believe that God is involved with our Conscience it is important to use it when making moral-decisions, especially if we believe in God. Due to there being Secular views on the conscience the debate over nurture or nature has risen. This is questioning whether we get our morals and our conscience before we are born or whether we develop morality as we get older. With this argument there is also the belief that we have both. For example a Secularist could hold that we are born with our natural instincts that encourage us to do good because it will encourage our survival. This would be a Darwinian approach. The same person could then argue that we also develop our morals during life that allow us to fit into society and the rules and regulations that surround it. A religious person could say the same except that we would have been given a conscience before we were born by God. ...read more.

Conclusion

The most important moral development occurs through social interactions. Fromm on the other hand had two approaches and didn?t think there was stages in moral development but saw that all humans are influenced by external authorities like parents, teachers and church leaders. He thought that a guilty conscience is a result of displeasing these authorities. The example of the Nazi government in Germany in the 1930?s was very successful about manipulating the conscience?s of its people to encourage them not to help the Jews. But that was his authoritarian approach and he had a humanistic approach. This was that our conscience is our real self and leads us to realise our full potential using our experiences not slavish obedience. It appears the conscience should take a large role in how we make moral decisions. However for both Secular and Religious views on the conscience we have seen that mistakes can be made. These mistakes are the products of wrong principles or bad nurturing as a child growing up or manipulations and bad influences. Therefore conscience should take a big role in making moral decisions but one should also consider the fact that they may be wrong and should compare the choice they want to make to another to see if one is greater. Key issue is found in a resolution of the nature nurture debate. The origin of conscience Try to come to a conclusion that focuses on the key issue.. Is the conscience in anyway linked to God and moral absolutism B 75% ...read more.

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