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`The conscience is a reliable guide to decision making
The view about whether the conscience is a reliable guide to decision making
depends on the interpretations of what the conscience derives from. Some
philosophers argue that your environment and emotions influence the
conscience, whilst others argue that it comes from God. All these factors can
affect the reliability of the conscience when it comes to decision making.
Firstly, Freud argued that our emotions influenced our conscience. He believed
that throughout our lives we are constantly battling with our eros (life instinct)
and thantos (death instinct). This conflict leads us to put restraints on our
desires. It is through our superego that anger and disappointment develops
and is retrained. This restraint leads to guilt. Therefore, Freud believed that our
conscience is the super ego restricting our aggressive and powerful desires.
This would suggest that the conscience is not reliable because we seem to be
making decision restrained from what we really want to do.
However, Butler disagreed with this view point since he believed that our
conscience is influenced by self love and love of others. This would suggest that
when we are making decisions we are acting for our happiness by making
others happy; therefore we are not restrained in anyway. In fact, our desires
cannot be restrained by the conscience because Butler argued that it is a
natural guide with a divine origin that is innate. Due to having divine origin this
means that it is actually a reliable guide to decision making.
Although, Butler argues that the conscience is reliable due to having divine
origin from God, it does not relate to secular people. Instead, Fromm
postulated about an authoritarian conscience that could be applied to any
authority figure, including God. This view developed from his reflection on
Nazism where he saw people submit to what Nazis told ordinary people to do.
Therefore, he believes that that our conscience comes from experience of
parental rules. People do not want to let the authority figures down so in
obeying them completely people lose their individuality. This would imply that
the conscience is not a reliable guide to decision making since we may be only
be obeying authority figures without reasoning through it.
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Aquinas disagreed because he believed that conscience came from God (an
authority figure), however as humans we have reason to enable us to
distinguish right from wrong. Therefore, we cannot say that our conscience is
only based on submission to authority figures. He believed that as humans we
tend towards the good and away from evil which he called the syderesis rule.
It is also a moral skill acquired over time which suggests that the Nazis would
realise their wrong doings in the long run.…read more