Having a conscience
Source: C.D. Broad, Conscience and
Conscientious Action. 1940.
Below is an extract from Broad’s essay:
To say that a person ‘has a conscience’, when this
phrase is used in its widest sense, is equivalent to asserting the following
three closely connected propositions about him.
he has and exercises the cognitive power of reflecting on his own past and
future actions, and considering whether they are right or wrong; of
reflecting on his own motives, intentions, emotions, dispositions, and
character, and considering whether they are morally good or bad; and of
reflecting on the relative moral value of various alternative ideals of
character and conduct.
he has and exercises the emotional disposition to feel certain peculiar
emotions, such as remorse, feeling of guilt, moral approval, etc., towards
himself and his own actions, dispositions, etc., in respect of the moral
characteristics which he believes these to have.
he has and exercises the conative disposition to seek what he believes to
be good and to shun what he believes to be bad, as such, and to do what he
believes to be right and avoid what he believes to be wrong, as such.
I propose to describe this as ‘the
phenomenological sense’ of the phrase ‘having a conscience’.