Critically Assess the Claim That Conscience Is the Voice of Reason Essay

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Critically assess the claim that conscience is the voice of reason (35)
There are a number of views on whether conscience is the voice of reason and where this voice comes from; is it from God, do we acquire it or is it innate. Aquinas thought conscience was the natural ability of people to understand the difference between right and wrong. He believed that all people aim for what is good and try to avoid the bad (synderesis rule). Aquinas argued that although people should always follow their conscience he understood that people make wrong choices. He defined conscience in this way as “the mind of man making moral judgements” and defined it as having two parts- synderesis and conscientia (decision leading to a particular action). Therefore, for Aquinas Conscience is being able to distinguish between right and wrong and to make decisions when a person is confronted with a difficult moral situation. Aquinas always put forward the idea that it was right to follow your conscience; by this he means that it is always right to apply your moral principles to each situation as well as you can. However, he does not mean that if you follow your conscience you are always right (as if your basic principles are wrong your conscience will also be wrong too) In relation to whether conscience is the voice of reason Aquinas highlighted that conscience is just reasoning used correctly to find out what God sees is good and is therefore not just a voice inside of us. However, it has been argued by some Christians that this rationalistic approach does not consider revelation that comes directly from God.
It is possible to argue that Butler suggested similar ideas to Aquinas as he also believed your conscience can help you decide what is right and wrong and therefore is a voice of reason. However, he believed conscience is not just the voice of reason, but that this voice comes from God. Like Aquinas, Butler believed conscience could determine and judge the rightness or wrongness of...

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  • on December 29, 2012
  • Category: Miscellaneous
  • Length: 997 words
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