Roman Catholic Church
*In the second vatican council (1962-65), the RC Church agreed that was a law inside each person which speaks to the individiual heart.
*Conscience is a personal and inner sense of right and wrong.
>It works like any law, and holds the person to obidience.
*The Pastoral Consitution of the Church in the modern World states that:
>This 'law of the heart' is really 'a law written by God. To obey it is the very dignity of man; according to it he will be judged."
Vincent Macnamara - Roman Catholic
*MacNamara states that it is misleading to refer to conscience as a 'voice' in a person's head.
*He believed that this infers that it is a seperate entity to the individual.
*He says it is much better to consider it as an attitude or awareness which people have when there is a moral path to be followed through life.
"It is not so much that I have a conscience, as that I am a conscience."
Timothy O'Connell - Roman Catholic
*Sees conscience as having 3 levels:
>General sense of responsibility for who we are and who we become.
>Sense of obligation to search out the good and avoid the bad through help of moral reasoning available to us, e.g. the Church.
>"Concrete judgement a person makes so that good as he or she sees it must be done"
St Thomas Aquinas - Roman Catholic
*Saw conscience as the "mind of man making moral decisions."
*For his, conscience has two parts:
>Synderesis: Repeated use of "right reason" by which a person gains knowledge of basic moral principles + understands that it is important to do good and avoid evil.
>Conscientia: Ethical judgement or decision a person makes which leads to a particular course of action.
*Therefore, conscience is being able to distinguish between right and wrong, and make decisions in difficult moral situations.
*Aquinas held that we should follow our conscience.
>This means that it's right to apply moral principles to everyday situations as best you can.
*However, this doesn't always mean you're right.
>If your principles are wrong, then our conscience will be wrong too.
*Conscience is nor just a voice.
>It is reasoning used correctly to find out what God sees is good.
John Newman - Roman Catholic
*When a person follows conscience, they follow a divine law at the same time.
*Conscience is a 'messenger' of God.
>It is God speaking to us when we feel intituitive moral knowledge & make decisions.
*Conscience is more than a 'law of the mind', as it comes from God.
*Conscience does not invent truth, but detects it.
Joseph Butler - CofE
*Distinguished from animals through our possession of the "faculty of reflection" (conscience)
*Being a human involves being moral
*Conscience can determine & judge the rightness or wrongness of an action.
*Conscience "magisterially exerts itself spontaniously without being consulted"
>Conscience is therefore authoritative & automatic.
>It has the final moral authority.
*Human nature is hierarchal - at the top is conscience:
Principle of Reflection
>Given to us by God in order to live a good and happy life.
Self Love & Benevolence
Basic instincts (food, sex etc.)
*Mistakes made by conscience are no big deal.
*However, when people convince themselves that a wrong action is actually the right action, this corruption by self-deception is worse than the bad action.
*Conscience harmonises benevolence and self love, and controls human nature.
Augustine of Hippo - Influenced western Christiani
*Conscience is the voice of God whispering to us
*When we listen to our conscience, we hear the voice of God
*This voice whispers to us about what is right & wrong