7 November 2017
Assess the view that conscience
need not always be obeyed.
We can define conscience as an inner conviction as to the rights and wrongs of a
situation or decision or choice. From a religious standpoint, we can view conscience as being
an individual almost hearing the word of God, or in certain instances even a direct revelation
from the almighty. John Newman defined our consciences as being ‘the voice of god’ i.e. it’s a
principle that is planted within us from birth even before we have received any training in the
ways of God. He felt though that training and life experience would be essential to ensure
that those God given principles would develop within us.
Aquinas saw our conscience as the natural ability of a ‘rational human being to
understand the differences between right and wrong’. He believed that a conscience gave us
the ability to apply those basic moral principles in any situation that would arise. Aquinas
developed his principles of natural moral law; because he felt that there would always be
problems if people were left to follow their own moral senses. Aquinas felt that our
consciences were always an intellectual response to a problem or situation because you come
to a decision based on natural reasoning. If you weren’t to follow the principles of Aquinas’
natural moral law peoples judgements and ability to make decisions might be skewed by
ignorance, human passions or even societal/peer pressures. As such without following the
natural moral law, we would have different views of what is right and wrong.
Simply put, Aquinas believes that our consciences are the means with which we apply
the principles of natural moral law. He believed that we should follow our consciences
whenever we are able to apply the right moral principle...