Conscience - Religious & Secular Views


What is conscience

Moral faculty prompting us to see that certain actions morally right or wrong

Moral Compass = Prompt in different directions 

Reliable guide but lacks consistency - lead people to do bad actions

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Religious Views

Rely on intuitionist approach - conscience innate from God

Bible = law written on the heart 

Augustine - voice of God speaking to us 

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Religious Views - Aquinas

Aquinas = all people aim for what is good, sinning falling short of God's ideals - idea of deprivation of good.

but even following conscience we will get it wrong 

Two parts of conscience:

1) Synderesis = use of right reason, learn principle of doing good + avoiding evil

2) Conscientia = actual judgement leading to action

Jukebox - synderesis request song, result the song playing is conscientia

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Moral faculty of conscience is what separates humans from animals. 

Being human involves being moral

Conscience - God-given guide to right conduct + demands must be followed always 

B/c comes from God, must be obeyed 

Will harmonise self-love and benevolence. BUT may take time so uncertainty normal

Non-consequentialist, purpose is to guide person to happy life 

Conscience controls human nature

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Conscience voice of God - like Augustine 

Voice in our head implies God b/c we feel ashamed and fear 
--> conscience is witness 

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Secular Views - Freud

3 parts of the mind - superego (conscience + conscious), ego (conscious, seen by outside world) and ID (unconscious, amoral, in conflict with superego)

Clearly connected with guilt felt when go againt conscience - simply construct of mind 
Religious people - perceptions in response to God
Non-religious - responses to externally imposed authority

Conscience product of experience + internalisation of disapproval of others.

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Child's moral sense develops + ability to reason morally depends on cognitive development.

2 stages of moral development:

1) Heteronomous (controlled) morality - ages 5-10, when conscience is immature, rules broken, punishments expected. Consequences determine action right or wrong.

2) Autonomous morality- 10+ when children develop own rules + understand how to operate in society. Less dependent on others for moral authority - more subjective.

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Authoritarian Conscience

humans influenced by external authority apply rules and punishments for breaking them

Internalised by individuals 

Guilty conscience result of displeasing authority = submissive to authority

Humanistic Conscience 

healthier - asseses + evaluates behaviour 

use to judge how successful we are as people 
Use teachings + examples of others + discoveries to give personal integrity + moral honesty

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Other Views

Vincent MacNamara - conscience is an awareness or attitude - seeing goodness and truth as imporant 

Richard Gula - way of seeing the world, responding through choices made

Daniel Maguire - decides which moral choice is best

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