• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

To what extent, if at all, should conscience be ignored when making ethical decisions?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Dominic Kennedy Conscience Essay To what extent, if at all, should conscience be ignored when making ethical decisions? The exact status of conscience has been much debated by ethical theorists and theologians throughout Christian history. This is partly because conscience is not a tangible object that can be seen and isolated within the mind. Individual human experience, however, points towards what appears to be a universal characteristic in sane human beings; the ability to make moral judgements when faced with challenging ethical situations. On one level conscience may be understood as an inner conviction that informs people of what is 'right ' and 'wrong' in moral situations. Bishop Joseph Butler said, "conscience, without being consulted, magisterially exerts itself". (Considering Conscience from Dialogue Magazine by David Torevell, p.21) Such an approach understands conscience as springing from a divine source. This intuitive aspect of conscience can be difficult to ignore and can be very persuasive. On the other hand, Thomas Aquinas took a more rationalistic view and asserts that conscience is "the mind of man making moral judgements". (Considering Conscience from Dialogue Magazine by David Torevell, p.21) ...read more.

Middle

The right to freedom of conscience prohibits the state from regarding itself as owning its subjects. However, conscience may not always be infallible, a conscience that is not properly informed or educated can have little authority. The source from which conscience originates is ultimately, unknown. However scholars, such as Gula and Newman, believe that God create the conscience and moral educators place the content of conscience within the individual. Therefore lack of moral input from significant moral authorities such as a parent, school or church may lead to an underdeveloped conscience. The media may also, give complex and sometimes contradictory moral messages, which may confuse an individuals conscience. All of us to a greater or lesser extent have consciences that are imperfect, if an individual's conscience is very weak we might claim that they would be better off ignoring it and sticking rigidly to other sources of moral authority such as law or church teaching. However one's duty is to make constant efforts to develop our consciences; to do this we must use conscience. However a strong case for ignoring conscience can be made when reason justifies harming people with acts of violence or terrorism, such as the Palestinian suicide bombers and the fundamentalist terrorists of September 11th 2001.These people have consciences that are in clear conflict with the values which underpin civilised human society. ...read more.

Conclusion

('In Solitary Witness', Gordon Zahn) In conclusion, there have been many views and ideas about the importance of following your conscience. All people, however, have a duty to educate their conscience and use it appropriately. In general conscience is our best authority as an in-built set of internalised moral laws has great authority in most moral decisions we are called upon to make. In more complicated moral dilemma's, conscience must be able to weigh up the moral alternatives and reflect upon them in the light of God's presence. Sometimes we do not know all the facts involved in a complex moral situation. It may be difficult to make an informed decision and so it may be better to delay moral actions until my knowledge is as complete as it can be. This point is relevant to the area of environmental ethics. The confusion about this issue was noticeable at the last World Summit in South Africa where there were many views about the issues involved and the true facts were hard to distinguish. Under these circumstances the actions a conscience instructs may cause more harm than good. Conscience should never be ignored, it should however put into action after waiting for the best possible decision to be discovered. (Words 2, 028) 1 Dominic Kennedy 1284 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Practical Questions section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Practical Questions essays

  1. RE euthanasia for and against

    Research, by the surgical unit of Westminster hospital, showed that they were ineffective at times of great pain such as childbirth and immense pain, "we conclude that TENS ... does not reduce postoperative pain"22. This asks a question, are they really a successful alternative to euthanasia for those in chronic pain?

  2. Evaluate the claim that conscience is the voice of God

    His belief was that it is given to intuitively and it exerts itself at the correct time without being called upon, or us making a conscious decision to 'enable' the conscience, Butler believed that it was the ultimate authority in moral judgements.

  1. Evaluate the claim that conscience is a reliable guide to ethical decision making.

    The implication of this is that the law of conscience is not routed in any kind of rational or logical idioms, or any external reality, but rather the fear of castration, or the insecurity which women (supposedly) experience as they have been deprived of the phallus.

  2. We are free to make ethical decisions, discuss

    However, what determines Ghandi's actions is internal, where as the man locked up has been externally caused to be without food. They would draw a distinction between actions caused or determined by our personalities, free actions and actions with external causes where we are pushed into a decision.

  1. The Ethical Debate Concerning Cloning.

    The problem that this presents is that as cloning techniques become more refined and easier to use, the temptation to clone humans will increase. The problem we then face is whether or not we allow science to move from cloning animals to cloning humans.

  2. Examine the differences in ethical and Christian views concerning homosexuality

    This changes the meaning entirely of the supposed reference to homosexuality, as we know very well that relations between men and boys is still found highly unacceptable and illegal even in today's society, not just in the religious circles. This is a highly different interpretation to what most Catholics would

  1. Kantian ethics provides a helpful method to making moral decisions

    As all duties are absolute and universal, one would have to do something they disagreed with in order to be moral citizens. Kant attempts to rebuttal this with his argument that all humans still have free will, even though they should follow their duty they don?t have to; humans remain autonomous.

  2. Does the "War on Terror" mean the just war doctrine is dead?

    Although in practice and in modern times, this is hard to achieve, and modern just war theorists admits that some harm will come to non-combatants during military operations, so the United States adopted a doctrine of double effect where one may take military operations aimed at legitimate targets even if

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work