12. Criticisms of the idea of the Conscience

  • Created by: Alasdair
  • Created on: 26-06-17 21:12
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  • 12. Criticisms of the idea of the Conscience
    • Friedrich Nietzche's (1844-1900)
      • Nihilistic views assert that concepts like right or wrong do not exist
      • Life is intrinsically about ability of individual to control his or her own life
        • Power of will. as Nietzche calls it
      • Thus there is no need for the conscience
      • Indeed the conscience exists to prevent personal freedom
        • It is a barrier to self-realisation
    • Bentham's philosophy
      • Regards conscience as inhibition when it comes to issue of greatest good of the greatest number
      • He argues that hermits, whose conscience has led them to reject wealth and live as paupers, are condemned because they have a misguided idea of pleasure
      • Conscience is therefore a product of a false understanding of what pleasure is
    • Karl Marx
      • Contemporary of Nietzche
      • Argued life is about group and not individual
      • Saw conscience as part of individualism that emerged historically to preserve wealth and power of capitalist classes
      • Conscience is a way of exerting control
      • Feudal society, the Church and nobility controlled the thought processes of peasants
      • Therefore, conscience is determined obedience to Church's lws
      • In more recent times the needs of capitalist economy mean that conscience is grounded today in Protestant work ethic
    • Richard Dawkins
      • The Selfish Gene
      • Human beings are controlled by genes which exist to help human species survive
      • Evolutionary process creates morals
      • The conscience is simply biological process
    • Relativists
      • e.g. Richard Rorty
      • Maintain that there is no such thing as universal moral values
      • Thus the conscience is simply a person's sense of guilt when he or she goes against their own inclinations or that of their group


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