Conscience can be described in different ways; such as our inner voice, our moral compass, thoughts or reason, morals, or our soul. Evidence of having a conscience is our ability to reason, doubt thinking in our heads, and the fact we are not life animals which follow instincts.
‘I have noticed my conscience for many years’ - Mark Twain, suggesting our conscience has developed over time and we weren't born with it like instinct.
Main views are Augustine, Aquinas, Butler, Newman, Freud, Fromm & Piaget.
Religious approaches give conscience a large role in moral decision making, and expect that people should follow the urging of their conscience. Roman Catholics are encouraged to inform their conscience before acting so they don't make the wrong decision, however it brings about the question of what we should do if the informed conscience disagrees with the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, because the Church teaches that if you don't follow your conscience then that is considered a sin, even if the conscience is objectively wrong. This doesn’t seem to be a reliable guide for ethical decision making because it isn’t clear on what to do if the conscience and church teachings conflict, and if the conscience is well enough informed to help us make moral decisions.
Conscience is a God-given ability to reason. ‘The mind of man making moral decisions’. It is the natural ability to see the difference between good and bad. We should aim to do good and avoid evil. He acknowledges that different societies have different views on what is right and wrong. When he says it is right to follow your conscience, he means it is always right to apply your moral principles to each situation the best you can. If you follow your conscience, that doesn't mean you are always right - you conscience can be wrong too, but we must still follow it as it is our best guide. There are two parts to the conscience: Synderesis: innate awareness for good and bad; Conscientia: acting out what synderesis gives.
✓ Explains the origin of the conscience
✓ Explains evil – our conscience can sometimes be wrong, so explains why there are bad people in the world.
✗ Cannot always do the right thing by following our conscience as our principles could be wrong.
✗ If the conscience is God-given, why is it fallible?
✗ His rationalistic approach does not consider revelations from God.
Saw human nature as hierarchical and at the top is conscience which came from God, and can ‘magisterially exert itself spontaneously without being consulted’. It is an innate gift from God which must be followed (ultimate authority) as it is not wrong. It sets us apart from animals and creates a balance between self-love and benevolence. Conscience is “our natural guide, the guide assigned to us by the Author of our nature”.
Butler didn’t see mistakes made by the conscience as a problem as most people in a…