Chapter 4 Inquiry
The chapter four of the book Thinking Critically about Ethical Issues by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero discusses the role of conscience. Different definitions of conscience surface in the book. One depicts conscience as an “inner voice” (Ruggiero, 2015). It is also considered to be intuition or moral sense within humans. Ruggiero suggests that it is the most useful guide to take either a right or wrong turn whenever situations demand immediate exercise of moral choice (Ruggiero, 2015). Thus, this essay reflects the shapers of conscience as one of the main inquiries in this chapter.
It is an indisputable truth that social conditioning and natural endowment are the main shapers of human conscience. Conscience is sensitive to moral issues, thereby influencing general human behavior (Ruggiero, 2015). Natural attributes that control human conscience include the level of intelligence and basic temperament. Each person has a level of temperament. Some people can easily control their temperaments while high-tempered individuals always act uncontrollably. Moreover, high temper often makes people regret taking their actions afterwards. In such a case, it can be inferred that level of temperament can override person’s conscience. In addition, it is notable that intelligent people act differently compared to less intelligent individuals. For instance, it is rare to find intelligent people characterized by a high level of education and reasoning participating in wayward activities such as stone throwing and robbery among other vices. Therefore, intelligence shapes human intuition that determines ability to act ethically.
Social conditioning can either deter or promote individual development of conscience. It is the perfect explanation of how peer influence occurs. For example, a student may enter university with strong ethical values but may change into being liberal after going through campus life because of social influence. This phenomenon implies that people’s conscience is conditioned by everyday contact with people, ideas read in books, places, and media. The most common example is media. Media is a powerful tool in spreading information to people. For example, prolonged watching of movies featuring explicit sex scenes and promoting cohabiting can make a lady forfeit her values of abstaining until marriage. Additionally, going to church several times can lead to the change of behavior. Therefore, conscience affects moral ethics and everyday interaction with people, places and media determines how conscience influences behavior.
In conclusion, this essay examines how social conditioning and natural endowment impact conscience. It becomes clear that the level of intelligence and temperament are the principal factors that shape human conscience. In turn, conscience determines individual’s ethical perspectives in different matters and course of action.
Ruggiero depicts how ‘ought statements’ shape beliefs and ethics in human life. He suggests that if morality was biased and knowledge of what ‘is’ could contribute to knowledge of what ‘ought’ to be, it can be expected that only foolish individuals would give their opinion on the right course of action and their views would obviously be shallow and irrelevant to how people led their lives (Ruggiero, 2015). The basic idea in this chapter is that people have always hold beliefs and ethical principles based on preconceived and predetermined thought systems of groups, affiliations, cultures, and personalities. In other words, people often conform to what they find in the environments where they are born and raised rather than focus on their personal beliefs, opinions, and perspectives regarding morality, religion, and ethics. The rest of this essay discusses the foundation for judgment of issues as the core element of inquiry in chapter six.
Common ‘ought statement’ made by the authors in various cultures has proven meaningful in addressing contemporary conditions in human life. Ruggiero states that it may not be possible to judge them at a personal level but their words categorized as wise sayings are still relevant in application (Ruggiero, 2015). For instance, Babylonian philosophy forbidding slander, Greek insistence on choosing loss rather than upholding shameful gains, and Hindu’s teaching against beating a woman promotes peaceful co-existence and justice in the society. Moreover, ought statements are significant in defining the code of conduct today especially because of the fact that when important figures in the society make them, people see the necessity to follow. Therefore, ethics is widely defined by what people with functional authority in the society say rather than individual conceptions.
Governments’ ‘oughts’ influence ethical standards in a course. These ‘oughts’ are contained in constitution, bill of rights, UN declaration of human rights, and organizational mandates, just to mention a few. The amount of effort a government or an organization puts in enforcing such demands always determines agility and tendency of people in upholding ethics. In regard, Ruggiero notes, “the fact that a majority adopts a particular way of life is not enough to prove that it is the right way” (Ruggiero, 2015). This statement is true and affirms the basic nature of morality. In fact, there is nothing absolute to test most perspective against, thus, making them relative in application. In summary, governments and organizations set ‘oughts’ that are applicable within their domain but cannot be regarded as the right approach.
In conclusion, this essay puts into perspectives how issues are often judged by ‘ought’ statements. Therefore, a theory of relativism and absolutism is applied to everything. It means that there is no possible objective standard of judging rights and wrongs, which are subjective and personal. Finally, there are moral absolutes that are true in all occasions admitting zero exceptions.