Assess the View That Conscience Need Not Always Be Obeyed

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“Asses the view that the conscience need not always be obeyed” (35 marks)

Conscience is the inner conviction that something is right or wrong. In a religious discussion, it may be thought of as the ‘voice of God’, speaking within the individual, and even as a direct revelation from God. John Newman defines the conscience as “the voice of God”, a principle planted within us, before we have had any training, although training and experience are necessary for its strength, growth, and due formation that is an “internal witness for both the existence and the law of God”. Newman shows how the light of conscience, active in every human heart, finds fulfillment not in subjectivity and in the communion of the Catholic Church. Newman’s view was that it is often said that second thoughts are best. So they are in matters of judgment but not in matters of conscience. Aquinas saw the conscience as the natural ability of a rational human being to understand the difference between right and wrong, and to apply the most basic moral principles to particular situations. Aquinas thought that there would be problems with people following their own moral sense, which lead him to natural moral law (NML). He thought that everyone should follow NML because they are moral laws found in nature (e.g. sex for procreation). He thought that the conscience was the intellectual part of you because you work out what to do using natural reasoning. Without following NML, people might have distorted judgments from their passions, ignorance and society and therefore different views on right and wrong. Therefore although he says that it is always right to follow one’s conscience, he does recognise that people may still get things wrong, through ignorance or making a mistake. Therefore Aquinas would not say that conscience should always be obeyed because a person may not be aware of the relevant moral principle. In order for conscience to work, a person needs to have some background information...
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