Conscience — Volume 3

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We moved your item s to Saved for Later. There was a problem with saving your item s for later. A good life need not be an especially reflective one; most of the best lives are just lived rather than studied. But there are moments that cry out for self-assertion, when a passive bowing to fate or a mechanical decision out of deference or convenience is treachery, because it forfeits dignity for ease. The philosopher Peter Singer considers that usually when we describe an action as conscientious in the critical sense we do so in order to deny either that the relevant agent was motivated by selfish desires, like greed or ambition, or that he acted on whim or impulse.

Moral anti-realists debate whether the moral facts necessary to activate conscience supervene on natural facts with a posteriori necessity; or arise a priori because moral facts have a primary intension and naturally identical worlds may be presumed morally identical. John Ralston Saul expressed the view in The Unconscious Civilization that in contemporary developed nations many people have acquiesced in turning over their sense of right and wrong, their critical conscience , to technical experts; willingly restricting their moral freedom of choice to limited consumer actions ruled by the ideology of the free market, while citizen participation in public affairs is limited to the isolated act of voting and private-interest lobbying turns even elected representatives against the public interest.

Some argue on religious or philosophical grounds that it is blameworthy to act against conscience , even if the judgement of conscience is likely to be erroneous say because it is inadequately informed about the facts, or prevailing moral humanist or religious , professional ethical, legal and human rights norms.

The Dissenters: Volume III: the Crisis and Conscience of Nonconformity: Volume 3

English humanist lawyers in the 16th and 17th centuries interpreted conscience as a collection of universal principles given to man by god at creation to be applied by reason; this gradually reforming the medieval Roman law -based system with forms of action, written pleadings, use of juries and patterns of litigation such as Demurrer and Assumpsit that displayed an increased concern for elements of right and wrong on the actual facts.

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching. It has been argued that these articles provide international legal obligations protecting conscientious objectors from service in the military.

John Rawls in his A Theory of Justice defines a conscientious objector as an individual prepared to undertake, in public and often despite widespread condemnation , an action of civil disobedience to a legal rule justifying it also in public by reference to contrary foundational social virtues such as justice as liberty or fairness and the principles of morality and law derived from them. Civil Disobedience. In the Second World War , Great Britain granted conscientious-objection status not just to complete pacifists , but to those who objected to fighting in that particular war; this was done partly out of genuine respect, but also to avoid the disgraceful and futile persecutions of conscientious objectors that occurred during the First World War.

Amnesty International organises campaigns to protect those arrested and or incarcerated as a prisoner of conscience because of their conscientious beliefs, particularly concerning intellectual, political and artistic freedom of expression and association. In legislation, a conscience clause is a provision in a statute that excuses a health professional from complying with the law for example legalising surgical or pharmaceutical abortion if it is incompatible with religious or conscientious beliefs.

Many conscientious objectors are so for religious reasons—notably, members of the historic peace churches are pacifist by doctrine.

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Other objections can stem from a deep sense of responsibility toward humanity as a whole, or from the conviction that even acceptance of work under military orders acknowledges the principle of conscription that should be everywhere condemned before the world can ever become safe for real democracy. Conscience , according to Johnson, was nothing more than a conviction felt by ourselves of something to be done or something to be avoided; in questions of simple unperplexed morality, conscience is very often a guide that may be trusted. Civil disobedience as non-violent protest or civil resistance are also acts of conscience, but are designed by those who undertake them chiefly to change, by appealing to the majority and democratic processes, laws or government policies perceived to be incoherent with fundamental social virtues and principles such as justice, equality or respect for intrinsic human dignity.

Hansen , environmental leader Phil Radford and Professor Bill McKibben were arrested for opposing a tar sands oil pipeline [] [] and Canadian renewable energy professor Mark Jaccard was arrested for opposing mountain-top coal mining; [] in his book Storms of my Grandchildren Hansen calls for similar civil resistance on a global scale to help replace the 'business-as-usual' Kyoto Protocol cap and trade system, with a progressive carbon tax at emission source on the oil, gas and coal industries — revenue being paid as dividends to low carbon footprint families.

Notable historical examples of conscientious noncompliance in a different professional context included the manipulation of the visa process in by Japanese Consul-General Chiune Sugihara in Kaunas the temporary capital of Lithuania between Germany and the Soviet Union and by Raoul Wallenberg in Hungary in [] to allow Jews to escape almost certain death. We are your bad conscience. The White Rose will not leave you in peace! World conscience is the universalist idea that with ready global communication, all people on earth will no longer be morally estranged from one another, whether it be culturally, ethnically, or geographically; instead they will conceive ethics from the utopian point of view of the universe , eternity or infinity , rather than have their duties and obligations defined by forces arising solely within the restrictive boundaries of 'blood and territory.

Often this derives from a spiritual or natural law perspective, that for world peace to be achieved, conscience , properly understood, should be generally considered as not necessarily linked often destructively to fundamentalist religious ideologies, but as an aspect of universal consciousness , access to which is the common heritage of humanity.

Edward O Wilson has developed the idea of consilience to encourage coherence of global moral and scientific knowledge supporting the premise that "only unified learning, universally shared, makes accurate foresight and wise choice possible". The microcredit initiatives of Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus have been described as inspiring a "war on poverty that blends social conscience and business savvy".

The American cardiologist Bernard Lown and the Russian cardiologist Yevgeniy Chazov were motivated in conscience through studying the catastrophic public health consequences of nuclear war in establishing International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War IPPNW which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in and continues to work to "heal an ailing planet".

A challenge to world conscience was provided by an influential article by Garrett Hardin that critically analyzed the dilemma in which multiple individuals, acting independently after rationally consulting self-interest and, he claimed, the apparently low 'survival-of-the-fittest' value of conscience -led actions ultimately destroy a shared limited resource, even though each acknowledges such an outcome is not in anyone's long-term interest. The philosopher Peter Singer has argued that the United Nations Millennium Development Goals represent the emergence of an ethics based not on national boundaries but on the idea of one world.

Noam Chomsky has argued that forces opposing the development of such a world conscience include free market ideologies that valorise corporate greed in nominal electoral democracies where advertising , shopping malls and indebtedness, shape citizens into apathetic consumers in relation to information and access necessary for democratic participation. We have produced one firearm for every ten inhabitants of this planet, and yet we have not bothered to end hunger when such a feat is well within our reach.

This is not a necessary or inevitable state of affairs. It is a deliberate choice" see Campaign Against Arms Trade. In a notable contemporary act of conscience, Christian bushwalker Brenda Hean protested against the flooding of Lake Pedder despite threats and that ultimately lead to her death. Conscience played a major role in the actions by anaesthetist Stephen Bolsin to whistleblow see list of whistleblowers on incompetent paediatric cardiac surgeons at the Bristol Royal Infirmary.

Climate Change Science Program, blew the whistle on a White House official who ignored majority scientific opinion to edit a climate change report "Our Changing Planet" to reflect the Bush administration 's view that the problem was unlikely to exist. At the awards ceremony for the metres at the Summer Olympics in Mexico City John Carlos , Tommie Smith and Peter Norman ignored death threats and official warnings to take part in an anti- racism protest [] that destroyed their respective careers.


Mark Felt an agent of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation who retired in as the Bureau's Associate Director, acted on conscience to provide reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein with information that resulted in the Watergate scandal. After being ordered to fire warning shots from her 50 calibre machinegun to make the boat turn back she saw it beginning to break up and sink with a father on board holding out his young daughter that she might be saved see Children Overboard Affair.

Whittle jumped without a life vest 12 metres into the sea to help save the refugees from drowning thinking "this isn't right; this isn't how things should be. The ancient epic of the Indian subcontinent, the Mahabharata of Vyasa , contains two pivotal moments of conscience. The first occurs when the warrior Arjuna being overcome with compassion against killing his opposing relatives in war, receives counsel see Bhagavad-Gita from Krishna about his spiritual duty "work as though you are performing a sacrifice for the general good".

Our great and glorious masterpiece is to live properly". The critic A. Bradley discusses the central problem of Shakespeare 's tragic character Hamlet as one where conscience in the form of moral scruples deters the young Prince with his "great anxiety to do right" from obeying his father's hell-bound ghost and murdering the usurping King "is't not perfect conscience to quit him with this arm? Bradley develops a theory about Hamlet's moral agony relating to a conflict between "traditional" and "critical" conscience: "The conventional moral ideas of his time, which he shared with the Ghost, told him plainly that he ought to avenge his father; but a deeper conscience in him, which was in advance of his time, contended with these explicit conventional ideas.

It is because this deeper conscience remains below the surface that he fails to recognise it, and fancies he is hindered by cowardice or sloth or passion or what not; but it emerges into light in that speech to Horatio. And it is just because he has this nobler moral nature in him that we admire and love him". Riding Westward : "Let man's soul be a sphere, and then, in this, Th' intelligence that moves, devotion is;" [].

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Anton Chekhov in his plays The Seagull , Uncle Vanya and Three Sisters describes the tortured emotional states of doctors who at some point in their careers have turned their back on conscience. A promiscuous student, for example, in The Fit describes it as a "dull pain, indefinite, vague; it was like anguish and the most acute fear and despair As Irina Ratushinskaya writes in the introduction to that work: "Abandoning everything, he travelled to the distant island of Sakhalin , the most feared place of exile and forced labour in Russia at that time.

One cannot help but wonder why? Simply, because the lot of the people there was a bitter one, because nobody really knew about the lives and deaths of the exiles, because he felt that they stood in greater need of help that anyone else. A strange reason, maybe, but not for a writer who was the epitome of all the best traditions of a Russian man of letters.

Russian literature has always focused on questions of conscience and was, therefore, a powerful force in the moulding of public opinion. Carr writes of Dostoevsky 's character the young student Raskolnikov in the novel Crime and Punishment who decides to murder a 'vile and loathsome' old woman money lender on the principle of transcending conventional morals: "the sequel reveals to us not the pangs of a stricken conscience which a less subtle writer would have given us but the tragic and fruitless struggle of a powerful intellect to maintain a conviction which is incompatible with the essential nature of man.

Hermann Hesse wrote his Siddhartha to describe how a young man in the time of the Buddha follows his conscience on a journey to discover a transcendent inner space where all things could be unified and simply understood, ending up discovering that personal truth through selfless service as a ferryman. Tolkien in his epic The Lord of the Rings describes how only the hobbit Frodo is pure enough in conscience to carry the ring of power through war-torn Middle-earth to destruction in the Cracks of Doom , Frodo determining at the end to journey without weapons, and being saved from failure by his earlier decision to spare the life of the creature Gollum.

But we create human nature. Men are infinitely malleable". A tapestry copy of Picasso 's Guernica depicting a massacre of innocent women and children during the Spanish civil war is displayed on the wall of the United Nations building in New York City , at the entrance to the Security Council room, demonstrably as a spur to the conscience of representatives from the nation states. The impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh wrote in a letter to his brother Theo in that "one must never let the fire in one's soul die, for the time will inevitably come when it will be needed.

And he who chooses poverty for himself and loves it possesses a great treasure and will hear the voice of his conscience address him every more clearly. He who hears that voice, which is God's greatest gift, in his innermost being and follows it, finds in it a friend at last, and he is never alone! That is what all great men have acknowledged in their works, all those who have thought a little more deeply and searched and worked and loved a little more than the rest, who have plumbed the depths of the sea of life.

The Ingmar Bergman film Seventh Seal portrays the journey of a medieval knight Max von Sydow returning disillusioned from the crusades "what is going to happen to those of us who want to believe, but aren't able to? Johann Sebastian Bach wrote his last great choral composition the Mass in B minor BWV to express the alternating emotions of loneliness, despair, joy and rapture that arise as conscience reflects on a departed human life. Ludwig van Beethoven 's meditations on illness, conscience and mortality in the Late String Quartets led to his dedicating the third movement of String Quartet in A Minor Op.

The American Society of Journalists and Authors ASJA presents the Conscience-in-Media Award to journalists whom the society deems worthy of recognition for demonstrating "singular commitment to the highest principles of journalism at notable personal cost or sacrifice". The Ambassador of Conscience Award , Amnesty International 's most prestigious human rights award, takes its inspiration from a poem written by Irish Nobel prize -winning poet Seamus Heaney called "The Republic of Conscience.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Conscience disambiguation. For other uses, see Scruples disambiguation. Not to be confused with Consciousness. Further information: Origins of morality and Morality. Further information: Religious belief , Philosophy of religion , and Spirituality. Further information: Psychology and Sociology. Further information: Free will , Compatibilism and incompatibilism , Determinism , Libertarianism metaphysics , Theory of justification , Virtue ethics , Metaethics , Moral motivation , and Normative ethics.

We might still have come to an understanding if, instead of asking everybody to pray for my soul, she had given me a little confidence and sympathy. I know now what prevented her from doing so: she had too much to pay back, too many wounds to salve, to put herself in another's place. In actual doing she made every sacrifice, but her feelings did not take her out of herself. Besides, how could she have tried to understand me since she avoided looking into her own heart? As for discovering an attitude that would not have set us apart, nothing in her life had ever prepared her for such a thing: the unexpected sent her into a panic, because she had been taught never to think, act or feel except in a ready-made framework.

Further information: Conscientious objector , Civil disobedience , Natural law , Natural rights , Nonviolence , Nonviolent resistance , Protest , Prisoner of conscience , and Keeper of the King's Conscience. A man has not everything to do but something; and because he cannot do everything , it is not necessary that he should do something wrong It is for no particular item in the tax bill that I refuse to pay it. I simply wish to refuse allegiance to the State, to withdraw and stand aloof from it effectually. I do not care to trace the course of my dollar if I could, till it buys a man, or a musket to shoot one with—the dollar is innocent—but I am concerned to trace the effects of my allegiance Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator?

Why has every man a conscience, then? Further information: Comparative religion , Universalism , World government , Cosmopolitanism , and Common heritage of humanity. Further information: List of nonviolence scholars and leaders and List of whistleblowers. Further information: Philosophy and literature. Cambridge University Press.

Moral Integrity. Basil Blackwell. Universal Declaration of Human Rights , G. How Might We Live? Global Ethics in the New Century. Cambridge p.

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Dordrecht pp. Outlines of the History of Ethics. Eberhard Bethge ed. Neville Horton Smith trans. London p. American Philosophical Quarterly. Conscience: An Interdisciplinary View. Reidel, Dordrecht. Psychoanalytic Review. Broadway Books. Appeals to Conscience. Ethics ; — Greatness and Limitations of Freud's Thought. Jonathan Cape, London. Oxford University Press. The Feeling of What Happens. The Social Conscience. Shepheard-Walwyn, London. Created from animals: the moral implications of Darwinism. Oxford paperbacks. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Science and Conscience. Conscience and Its Right to Freedom. Sheed and Ward, New York Hannah Arendt: politics, conscience, evil.

Martin Robertson, Oxford. Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation. Eichmann in Jerusalem. Penguin Books, New York. Archived from the original PDF on 28 June Retrieved 16 January New York: Plume. To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately, you may Download the file to your hard drive. Advanced Search. Privacy Copyright. Skip to main content. admin