Conscience In Ethical Decision Making

Essay by jonnowyvillHigh School, 12th gradeA-, April 2013

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Over the years, psychologists have marvelled at the mind's ability to process external action, discriminate it, identify it, and to make moral, conscious decisions. The development of psychology and the understanding of the human mind has been a crucial step forward in the development of civilisation, as psychological insights have proved to be beneficial in improving everyday life, helping us in avoiding things that cause stress, to be more efficient in our thinking, and to make better decisions to a certain degree. There is significant importance behind the understanding of the behaviours of the mind and cognitive processes of which it will experience, though it is the conscience that has been questioned whether it alone can be considered as a satisfactory moral authority for making ethical decisions. The answer to this lies within one's own interpretation of what conscience actually is, though through consideration of various theories, conscience can be classed as a viable moral authority.

There are various sources which define conscience in different manners; therefore this essay will review a selection of theories produced by Sigmund Freud, and Thomas Aquinas, whilst providing alternate viewpoints inclusive of those of the Islamic religion derived from scripture and also making reference to law and the effect it has on making moral decisions.

Conscience can be defined as "the complex of ethical and moral principles that controls or inhibits the actions or thoughts of an individual", though how we develop these ethical and moral principles will allow one to gather an understanding of how the conscience operates (Encarta Dictionary).

Sigmund Freud was a Jewish psychiatrist famed as the founding father of psychoanalysis, which essentially describes that human behaviour, experience, and cognition are largely determined by irrational drives which are fundamentally unconscious (Fromm & Funk 1992). Freud asserted that the conscious...