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Main Concept
Many people believe that the conscience acts as our moral compass ­ it tells us
what is right and what is wrong
It is intrinsic ­ we all use it no matter who we are
HOWEVER
There are many different concepts as to what the conscience is and why it is we
have one. The main arguments come in the form of;
Religious reasoning
Psychological reasoning…read more

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Main Thinkers
Religious Approach Scientific Approach
John Henry Newman Sigmund Freud
Joseph Butler Jean Piaget
Thomas Aquinas Fromm
Augustine of Hippo…read more

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Freud
Developed theories about the mind ­ psychoanalysis
Believes the mind is made up of the Id, ego and the superego
The id is the part of our subconscious that tells us to act on our animal instincts
The superego is the part of our unconscious that tells us to conform to the
morality of society
The ego balances the two out by using reason to make conscious decisions
Our conscience is feelings of guilt that have developed because we haven't
completely conformed to what out superego is telling us ­ we are going against
the perceived expectations of society
Our conscience is guilt!…read more

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Freud
His ideas on conscience are based on his theories of child development
Children learn through the adult world and learn what behaviour to do through reward
and punishment
If a child has done an action and is punished they will feel guilt and shame. Therefore if
they do the action again they will have a guilty conscience
We only become aware of our conscience when we do actions that go against the
moral teachings of our upbringing
e.g. a person brought up in a strong religious family will experience strong feelings of
guilt if they begin to question these teachings
Many believe the church has created a repressive attitude towards sex which has
resulted in a `guilty conscience' for Christians who may have had sex before marriage
or are homosexual…read more

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Evaluation of Freud
· It is commonly accepted by atheists as they can accept the conscience as
being their intuition
· Supported be the fact that many children have the same values as their
parents
· A logical approach
· Is able to explain to some extent why people experience different levels of
guilt ­ some people may rebel against their upbringing more than others
· Is unable to explain the large number of people who do not experience guilt
when they go against their childhood
· Freud completely rejects the idea that God created the conscience yet he is
unable to provide suitable evidence to prove this
· A lot of his research is based on small samples and is arguably too simplistic…read more

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