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Copy of Conscience

OCR RS A2 Ethics: Conscience

on 13 January 2015

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Transcript of Copy of Conscience

Religious views of Conscience
Secular views of Conscience
Different Views of Conscience
Early Christian Ideas of Conscience
For Debate:
If conscience is the voice of God speaking to us and guiding us then would it not mean that everyone hears the same voice and should do the same actions
St Paul
St Augustine
"Voice of God speaking to us like a law written onto our hearts"
Listening to this voice and following it allows us to become closer to God, therefore we should always obey our conscience
St Jerome
1st Century CE
334 - 430CE
147 - 240 CE
The conscience enables us to to distinguish good from evil
"...the spark of conscience...with which we discern that we sin
"...who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law... since they show that the requirements of the law is written on their hearts, their conscience also bears witness"
Romans 2: 14-15
When Gentiles, who do not possess the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these, though not having the law. are law to themselves. They show what the law requires is written on their hearts.
Romans 2: 14 - 15a
Translate the following quotes so that a year 11 student would understand
Conscience is an innate awareness of good and bad, but it can sometimes be weak and therefore mistaken
St Thomas Aquinas
Conscience is the natural ability to use our reason to distinguish right from wrong
Conscience consists of 2 parts; Synderesis and Conscientia
the innate 'right reason' that aquires knowledge of the basic principles of morality and understands the importance of doing good and avoiding evil
using the principles of synderesis, this is the ethical judgement which leads to a specific action
For Debate:
If decisions are left to reasoning, then we can make any decisions and claim that we have reasoned that it is morally correct! Why is this a dangerous approach?
"The mind of man making moral judgements"
People sometimes get things wrong, as they understand bad to be good. This happens because they are not using their reason properly
Conscience must be informed
An uninformed conscience will lead you to make a bad descion
not just a voice inside you
Do we always use reason in this way?
Should we use emotions to make a moral decision rather than reason?
Some Christians argue that Aquinas' rationalistic approach does not consider revelation that comes directly from God
Look at Aquinas' understanding of the conscience, especially synderesis and conscientia. List the problems of this approach and then list the strengths. Is an approach from reason really practical? Write up an evaluation of Aquinas' teaching on conscience.
Joseph Butler
Conscience is intuition
18th Century Anglican priest and philosopher
Conscience distinguishes us from animals. Being human involves being moral
"There is a principle of reflection in men by which they distinguish between approval and disapproval of their own actions...this principle in man... is conscience"
It "magisterially exerts itself" spontaneously "without being consulted
Has the supreme moral authority
"Had it strength, as it has the right, had it the power as it has manifest authority, it would absolutely govern the world
For Debate:
Can a religious approach to conscience really explain how moral decisions are made? Butler and Newman have quite 'fixed' and absolute views, whilst Aquinas seems to present a more realistic teaching
Human nature has 2 general impulses Self Love and Benevolence
Wanting the well-being of the self
Not selfishness
wanting the well-being of others
Conscience encourages humans towards benevolence and away from self love
Above these two impulses is the "principle of reflection" which,
approves or disapproves of our actions
is God-given
will lead us to a proper, happy life if used to make moral decisions
God-given and must always be obeyed
Butler does not analyse whether it is based on; reason,
feeling or both, he simply says it just "obviously exists"
Cardinal John Henry Newman
nineteenth century catholic theologian
Conscience is God's voice giving us direction
Conscience is intuitive
Alike to Butler
Although he agreed with Aquinas that the conscience is the ability to appreciate and apply moral principles
When someone follows their conscience they are following a divine law from God
detects the truth, but does not invent it
"If, as is the case, we feel responsiblity, are ashamed, are frightened at transgressing the voice of conscience, this implies there is One to whom we are responsible, before whom we are ashamed, whose claims upon us we fear" (Grammer of Assent)
hearing the voice of God whispering to us
"return to your conscience, question it... Turn inward, brethren, and in everything you do, see God as your witness"
St Augustine also believed conscience was the voice of God speaking to us personally
Look at the 3 religious approaches (Aquinas, Butler, Newman). Make a chart outlining the
Main propositions
Philosophical differences (should we always obey it, It is intuitional or rational, Where does it come from?
Practical uses
Sigmund Freud
Must aways be obeyed
Translate the following quote
"I toast the Pope, but I toast my conscience first"
Making Links:
How does Butler's approach to conscience be linked with GE Moore's ideas about meta - ethics and moral statements?
Stretch and Challenge:
How can Butler's perspective be taken seriously as an academic approach if it requires a belief in God who intuitively speaks to humanity and tells them definitively the correct action to pursue? Try to give an evaluation of this theory, using your knowledge of Situation Ethics, Natural Law and the teachings of Aquinas
Stretch and Challenge:
How could the religious approaches be developed, ammended, combined or restructured to make them more effective, whilst still retaining their basis in Christianity's truths?
List reasons why Freud's understanding of conscience seems good and why his approach may be too simplistic
For Debate:
Using the Freudian approach to conscience, discuss how issues such as racism and discrimination can be explained and approached
Jean Piaget
Erich Fromm
Stretch and Challenge:
Why do you think Fromm's perspective changed from authoritarian conscience to humanistic conscience? Could they be two-sided of the same approach or are they completely opposing views
For Debate:
Fromm's humanistic conscience is too idealistic, the authoritarian conscience is more likely to be true
For Research:
Investigate how Laurence Kohlberg (1927 - 87) built upon Piaget and Freud's work, and how it is relevent to our understanding of moral responsibility
For Debate:
"Secular approaches to explaining the conscience are much more realistic" Discuss
Conscience is guilt
Freud believed that during our early upbringing we accept certain values and beliefs about morality and society.
Although these may be rejected as we grow up by our moral reasoning, they will continue to influence our morality through the conscience that seeks to deal with the conflit that the early and later beliefs bring.
The part of the personality that seeks to censor and restrain the ego. Often associated with the feelings of guilt
Part of the unconscious personality that is driven by impulses to seek pleasure and satisfaction
Part of the personality that experiences and reacts to the world, as mediating between the drives of the Id and the Super-Ego
(1856 - 1939)
Psychiatrist who formed a very influential theory of personality. He studied the human mind, and it's effects on reactions with the body. Freud believed there was no such thing as a soul and his view of the mind was essentially mechistic
Human personality consisted of 3 parts
Set of moral controls given to us by outside influences.
moral code or conscience
it has no concearns about right and wrong only itself
For Freud, the conscience is most clearly connected with the sence of guilt we feel when we go against our conscience
Conscience is simply a construct of the mind - in religious people this will be a response to perceptions of God and in non-religious people it would be their reponse to externally exposed authority
No absolute moral law
all moral codes (the content of our consciences) are shaped by our experiences
culturally dependent, which explains the variety of varieties of moral codes that are to be found in different societies
Societal Values
Oedipus Complex
Freud believed that the feelings of guilt was linked to his theory of psycho - sexual development
All young boys are sexually attracted to theit mothers and resent their fathers, who they believe will resent them for these feelings.
These feelings are eventually repressed into the unconscious and then form the basis for neuroses that lead to the concept of guilt
A developmental conscience
2 Stages of Moral Development
Heternomous Morality
Autonomous Morality
Approx 5 - 10 years old
When the conscience is still immature, rules are not to be broken and punishment expected if a rule is broken. The consequence of an action will show whether it is right or wrong
Approx 10 years old +
When children develop their own rules and understand how rules operate in and help society. The move towards autonomous morality occurs when the child is less dependent on other for morality
A child's moral development grows with the ability to reason morally depends on cognitive development
(1896 - 1980)
Swiss psychologist and philosopher
Fromm's two consciences
Authoritarian Conscience
Humanistic Conscience
Fromm believed that all humans are influenced by external authorities, who apply rules and punishments for breaking them, and these rules are then internalised by the individual, to become central to their ideas of morality
Church Leaders
A gulity conscience is a result of displeasing authority
Disobedience produces guilt, which in turn weakens our power and makes us more submissive to authority
A negative authoritarian conscience The way in which the Nazi's manipulated the consciences of the German people to feel guilty about helping or not harming the Jews, This is thought to be the reason why so many Germans were willing to participate in the atrocities in the Holocaust
Nazi's holding hands so that Jewish people cannot enter the University of Vienna
Based reward and punishment
A good authoritarian conscience can provide a sence of security and well-being, as it provides a structure that we can work within to ensure that both society and we are moral
Fromm's views changed over time and he developed a much more healthier picture of conscience
conscience enables us to assess our sucess as a human by evaluating our behaviour
In this way we moderate our behaviour according to the examples of others, by developing our integrity and honesty to become moral people
Similar to the Virtue Ethics of Aristotle
developing virtues
the importance of role models
The opposite of the slavish obedience and conformity of the authoritarian conscience
Where does conscience come from?
Instilled by Society
Authority Figures
For Debate:
This illustration of the angel and devil on a person's shoulders is quite a common concept. Is this a good way to visualise and understand our conscience? What are the strenghts and weaknesses of this approach?
Define conscience without using any words
Mark Twain
1835 - 1910
American Author and Humourist
“I have noticed my conscience for many years, and I know it is more trouble and bother to me than anything else I started with”
Implies that conscience is with us from birth and remains with us throughout our lives
This is what Aquinas called an apparent good.
Generate an example of someone acting upon an apparent good due to an unformed conscience.
Butler did not see mistakes made by conscience as a serious problem, as he believed that in any moral dlemma most people will see intuitively what is the right thing to do.
Wicked to blind one's conscience as this will pave the way for wrong action.
People can easily convince themselves that all sorts of wrong actions are right, for Butler this corruption of conscience by self-deception is worse than the evil action that results from it
Harmonising self love and benevolence involves organisation of ideas, which can often lead to confusion, this is why in moral dilemmas we can be uncertain of what to do
Speaks to us when we feel intuitive moral knowledge and make decisions
More than simply "a law of the mind"
Both quotations are taken from Newman's Letter to the Duke of Norfolk in 1874
For Discussion:
If children learn their moral behaviour from their parents, teachers and other authority figures, is any choice they make free? If the super-ego internalises the disapproval of others and creates the guilty conscience which grows into an internal force regardless of any individual rational thought or reflection, i it not just a form of moral control which traps us in it's grasp?
These psychological accounts of conscience may seem to conflct with the religious views of Aquinas, Butler and Newman - but the do not necessarily undermine the possibility of God having some role in our conscience.
1900 - 1980
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