Innate views on conscience





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  • Innate
    • Butler
      • Defined conscience as ‘facility of reflection’ given by G-d
      • worked automatically
      • Human nature = a hierarchy, with conscious at the top. At the bottom is the basic drive: basic drive for food, which influences us without thinking of the consequences. Above this is self-love and benevolence. Even higher is the principle of reflection, which makes us approve or disapprove of our actions. God gives this to us and we are to use it to live a proper, happy life. 
      • Conscience separates humans from other living beings. Thus an important part of being a human is being moral. 
      • Did not define whether it is based on reason or feelings or both.
    • Aquinas
      • Believed conscience was an innate ability a person has to distinguish between right and wrong. God gives this ability. Conscience is reasoning to find what God sees as moral, not a voice inside us.
      • Conscience exists to achieve our telos, eudemonia
      • conscience was, ‘mind of making moral judgements’
      • Distinguished two parts to the conscience: 
        • Synderesis The part of the recto ratio (right to reason). Gaining knowledge of basic moral principles (primary precepts) and understand it is right to do the moral good.
          • Therefore conscience able to know what is right and wrong and make decision in moral situations.
        • Conscientia Making an ethical judgment by reasoning using principles. Which then leads to a course of action.
          • Therefore conscience able to know what is right and wrong and make decision in moral situations.
    • Augustine
      • Believed that the conscience was the voice of God speaking to us
      • When we listen to our conscience = God telling us what = right or wrong - should not be contradicted. 
      • Urged people to ‘return to their conscience, question it’. And it should be seen to be more serious
    • Newman
      • When we follow our conscience we = following a divine law
      • Conscience = voice of God speaking to us; this happens when we feel intuitive moral knowledge + make decisions. 
      • conscience does not create a moral truth but detects one. 
      • our nature gives humans awareness of God and morality but nurture can destroy this. 
      • His view = agent centred. - to ‘examine your conscience’ and in doing so it will make people better judges of morality
      • church should not be authoritarian instead our conscience should guide us. 


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