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Q5. Is conscience a more reliable guide when compared to laws, rules and regulations in the context of ethical decision-making? Discuss. (Answer in 150 words)10




There are numerous basis on which ethical decisions can be made of which conscience is the prominent one. Conscience refers to the inner voice of a person, a moral compass to differentiate between right and wrong.

Laws, rules and regulations, on the other hand, are external guides providing a clear set of consistent and objective framework.




Voice of conscience can be a preferred guide for ethical decision-making over external guides because –

It questions unjust law – Rosa Parks, refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a bus, questioning unjust segregation law in the US, which led to the American Civil Rights Movement in 1955.

It is flexible – unlike rigid laws, rules and regulations.

For instance, there is a scheme providing monetary support to homeless elderly people. Many with no required document, but deserving are denied the benefits if the law is to be followed.

However, if the official decides to follow his/her conscience he/she can support the needy and deserving.

However, conscience as a guide has its own set of limitations:

Vulnerability to Bias – Conscience can be influenced by personal biases and cultural norms.

E.g.- Abhorrent practices like female genital mutilation may be considered acceptable by some members of the Bohra community while it is regarded unethical by broader societal standards.

High Subjectivity – leading to ethically inconsistent decisions.

E.g.- some doctors object to abortion and refuse to carry it out, while some other doctors conscientiously agree to perform abortions believing it to be the right of a woman.

Limited Perspective- An individual’s conscience may not always consider the broader societal impact of their actions.

For instance, a business person’s conscience may guide her to maximize profits, even if it involves harm to the environment and exploitation of workers




Finally, the reliability of conscience vis-à-vis laws, rules, and regulations depends on various factors such as – an individual’s moral values, the situation at hand etc.,

Laws, rules, and regulations are necessary to establish a baseline of ethical behaviour as they are well-deliberated codified ethics in any society. Striking a fine balance between voice of conscience and adherence to established ethical standards is essential.