Relationship between conscience and moral law

Law and Conscience (Position Papers ) |

relationship between conscience and moral law

It is what the moral theologians call the proximate norm of morality. The relationship between law and justice is vital and needs to be properly. Law and Conscience God's eternal law is first divided into physical laws and moral laws. Physical . There is a clear difference between the law and legalism. A conscience vote in a parliament allows legislators to vote without liberty or fairness) and the principles of morality and law derived from them. political and artistic freedom of expression and association. . capital of Lithuania between Germany and the Soviet Union) and.

The FPPR is self-evident upon reflection, and is axiomatic because one must functionally assume the truth of the FPPR in order to attempt to justify or deny it. You cannot not act in accord with the FPPR. The precepts of natural law do not stipulate how any and all rational beings must act in accord with right reason; they stipulate what is good for human beings.

Angels are rational creatures but are non-human and incorporeal; natural law would be is constituted by different norms, rights, and duties for angels than it is for us. For example, there are not angelic goods of marriage, health or life, since angels have no bodies.

relationship between conscience and moral law

Or the act itself could be immoral. One can conscientiously abstain from acting for either reason. One may never do evil so that good may result from it; [and] the Golden Rule: That is, one is not absolved of moral culpability for doing, in good conscience, what is in reality an immoral type of act if that act can be known to be wrong via natural law i.

It is not the case that, since to act against your conscience is always wrong, acting in accord with your conscience cannot be wrong; it can be, and for many people, it is. Conscience is not a personal defensive sphere of infallibility, the final interior arbiter of what is true and good. Were this the case, moral relativism would displace transcendent, objective truth, since what is true would be synonymous with what is believed to be true. The Decalogue — the Ten Commandments — is often cited as a robust expression of the natural law.

Many of the precepts of natural law proscribe only those actions that are incompatible with human flourishing, which types of acts harm basic human goods or the integrity of those goods together as a whole. Murder is a negative imperative, but murder is intrinsically wrong because life is a human good and also a human right.

Law and Conscience

Natural law is more foundational than even the revealed law expressed definitively in the person of Jesus Christ. What of the alleged universality of natural law?

  • Modal header
  • Navigation menu
  • Conscience and Natural Law: What the Church Really Teaches

A just law should rightfully evoke a free response in the citizen who, if he is not dominated by prejudice, ought to see that such a law corresponds to truth and justice, and therefore makes a legitimate appeal to his own conscience. It possesses in fact all the authority of truth and justice over his conscience.

An unjust law should provoke a movement of rejection on the part of a person of conscience. An unjust law can bind a person physically in virtue of coercive political powerbut not morally. An unjust law can give rise to no moral obligation of obedience or acceptance. Unjust laws can be evaded to the extent of the unfairness of the burden they impose. If the injustice of a legal decision or disposition were to affect no one but one's self, one could - if one wishes - tolerate it.

Other unjust laws, however, because of the harm they cause to public or private good and the injustice they cause to individuals and society, must be resisted. To acquiesce in them would be to cooperate in injustice. This applies particularly in a democratic state where each citizen shares responsibility for the common good.

The repeal of such laws must be a priority for every person of conscience. A practical question for legal practice is how far one can defend rights which one knows not to be properly grounded; which in other words are not true rights, and are even wrongs: Since conscience tells us that it is wrong to defend wrong, it would seem that one can never act as an advocate for ungrounded or unsubstantiated rights.

A practical question for the lawyer, who often enough needs to ask himself how far one can go in defending a bad case First, let me suggest some broad general principles, and then qualify them.


In civil matters, if the lawyer is sure that the potential client coming to him has absolutely no grounds to his case, has no justification for his claim, then the lawyer cannot in conscience take on that case, for to do so would mean applying his knowledge and skill in an endeavor to nave a wrong done, to have a wrongful claim upheld. A conscientious lawyer should not however conclude that if he adheres to this principle, his practice will then be severely limited.

I doubt it, unless he has chosen to specialize in working for the Mafia.

relationship between conscience and moral law

A few further remarks can perhaps clarify this. The main point to keep in mind is that justice is a matter of measure: There may be reasons in charity to give someone more than his due, but none in justice.

Now, especially in civil cases, it is not always or even regularly that everything is due to the person who is in the right, and nothing to the one who is in the wrong. A person may have a rightful claim to damages, but perhaps not to as much as he actually seeks. If the party in the wrong were forced to pay more than is due, a wrong would be done to him.

So a conscientious advocate can certainly defend the legitimate right of the person in the wrong - that no more than due amends or compensation or punishment be imposed on him. As a complement to this, it is also true that when the lawyer knows his client to be in the right, he still has the moral obligation to try to get him to be content with a rightful judgment, and not to want to seek more, for then he would be inflicting a wrong.

relationship between conscience and moral law

In criminal cases, it is clear that a lawyer can defend a client he knows to be guilty: What if the lawyer is so able that he gets his guilty client acquitted?

Broadly speaking I think he can let the matter ride, unless he knows his client to be in fact some sort of homicidal or anarchical maniac.

relationship between conscience and moral law

The issue here is the defence not of private rights but of public good; and it may well be that the guilty man acquitted may no longer violate that good.

The lawyer would have to act according to his evaluation of each concrete case.

Conscience - Wikipedia

The power of justice to "heal" A conscientious task of the jurist - the advocate of rights and justice - is to seek to have justice done all round and accepted ali round. A canonical article I read some time ago maintained that a judgment does not have the "power to heal" and therefore, the author suggested, is not "pastoral".

I understand the difficulty he had in mind, but I disagree with his statement. He subsequently reinforced this idea through the lense of the gene-centered view of evolutionsince the unit of natural selection is neither an individual organism nor a group, but rather the "selfish" geneand these genes could ensure their own "selfish" survival by, inter alia, pushing individuals to act altruistically towards its kin. Free willCompatibilism and incompatibilismDeterminismLibertarianism metaphysicsTheory of justificationVirtue ethicsMetaethicsMoral motivationand Normative ethics The word "conscience" derives etymologically from the Latin conscientia, meaning "privity of knowledge" [83] or "with-knowledge".

The English word implies internal awareness of a moral standard in the mind concerning the quality of one's motives, as well as a consciousness of our own actions. Conscience in this sense is not necessarily the product of a process of rational consideration of the moral features of a situation or the applicable normative principles, rules or laws and can arise from parental, peer group, religious, state or corporate indoctrinationwhich may or may not be presently consciously acceptable to the person "traditional conscience".

By debating test cases applying such understanding conscience was trained and refined i. Thomas Aquinas regarded conscience as the application of moral knowledge to a particular case S. Thus, conscience was considered an act or judgment of practical reason that began with synderesisthe structured development of our innate remnant awareness of absolute good which he categorised as involving the five primary precepts proposed in his theory of Natural Law into an acquired habit of applying moral principles.

relationship between conscience and moral law