In general, conscience is the judgment of sound and right reason whereby the human person recognizes the moral quality of an act that the same is about to do, will do or have done. In particular, moral conscience that is present in the heart of every thinking feeling person, enjoins at the right time, in the proper occasion, to do good and to avoid evil. While usually unsaid in these “modern times”, conscience on the licit or illicit judgments, on the morality or immorality of human acts, can be categorized in the following contrast pairings.
Right or Erroneous Moral Conscience: A judgment of conscience is right or wrong, good or bad, moral or immoral, depending on whether it is in accord with objective knowledge or personal ignorance. The conscience act is right when it is based on a true value system, and erroneous when premised on a false value. While the effects of both right or erroneous moral conscience judgments may be the same in the external forum before other people, evidently the personal accountability or responsibility of the subject agent concerned is not the same, viz., full or less, total or partial depending on whether the conscience is right or erroneous, respectively.
Delicate or Lax Conscience: someone has a delicate conscience when he or she adopts a tender mode in making decisions and taking actions in terms of being extra careful lest the judgment is wrong, bad, immoral. With a lax conscience, the person concerned could not care less what he or she does, how his or her conscience judgment might adversely impact to others. It can be said that while a delicate conscience uses a lot of breaks, a lax conscience employs no breaks at all. Delicateness and laxity spell the contrast between being prudent, guarded and mindful on one hand, and acting with abandon, recklessness and thoughtfulness on the other hand.
Scrupulous or Gross Conscience: Neither kind of conscience is exactly proper, much less morally sound. Scrupulosity in conscience judgment makes someone so preoccupied and wherefore much inhibited in deciding, in acting, lest there be a readily foreseen moral violation. Grossness of conscience however is definitely worst in nature and implication. While the former is rather rigid in judging what is ethically correct and morally right, the latter however, in effect sees nothing illicit and immoral at all in anything at anytime. A gross conscience is dangerous specially when the person having it, has command over much resources and holds position of great power not to mention extensive influence.
What is desirable and enjoyable, what is convenient and profitable, what is easy and advantageous—these are the basic criteria of judgment on the part of someone with gross conscience. Good or bad, right or wrong, moral or immoral are basically irrelevant, and merit no real consideration. While right conscience is the best, erroneous conscience is unfortunate. As delicate conscience is unrealistic, gross conscience is a menace to others.
Question: Who has what kind of conscience?
4 April 2008