Conscience Essay 1

Topics: Morality, Ethics, Decision making Pages: 3 (1937 words) Published: January 13, 2015
“Conscience is the most reliable guide to ethical decision making.” Discuss (35 marks) There is no one definition of Conscience; depending on one’s own interpretation of what conscience is, depends on whether it is the most reliable guide to ethical decision making. There are three main approaches to defining conscience. They include Freud’s definition, which was developed by both Piaget and Fromm. They believed our conscience came about due to environmental factors, therefore influencing our choices when making decisions. An entirely different and second approach to it is that conscience is innate, meaning it’s within each one of us. This view comes from Cardinal Newman’s Christian writings of how our conscience comes from the voice of God. Bishop Joseph Butler also identified conscience as intuitive and a gift from God. However, intuition is not fallible; the conscience could be misinformed or even wrong. Therefore, it is not necessarily always a reliable guide to ethical decision making. Aquinas believed that conscience wasn’t the voice within us, that it is in fact our right reason making right decisions. He stated there are two main aspects to decision making: synderesis, meaning the right reason, and conscientia, is the faculty that tells us what is good and evil in certain situations. Butler and Aquinas seem to have the strongest and most reliable guide to ethical decision making. Conscience is something that is shared by all and gives us an innate knowledge of what ‘good’ is. Freud believed that human behaviour was inspired by instincts and desires. The development of conscience starts with our parents encouraging good behaviour and punishing bad behaviour. Therefore, from a young age children are morally developed. Humans create the ‘ego’; it’s our rational self and is very important when it comes to interaction. It is also seen by the outside world; it is the part of the conscience which we are aware of. The set of moral controls given to us by...
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