Weekly online seminar series organized by Robert Pasnau, professor of Philosophy at the University of Colorado Boulder, current Paris IAS Fellow, with the support of the Paris IAS.
by Robert Pasnau
Aquinas on Wrong Judgements of Conscience
by Tianyue Wu (Peking University).
Conscience can err. Yet an erroneous conscience still seems binding in that it is likely to be morally wrong to ignore the call of conscience. At the same time, it seems equally wrong to act according to such a wrong judgement of conscience. The moral dilemma of erroneous conscience poses a challenge to any coherent theory of conscience. In light of this, I will examine Aquinas’s reflections on the psychological mechanism of erroneous conscience in terms of the practical syllogism. I will argue that Aquinas offers a more sophisticated explanation of the obligatory force of erroneous conscience than usually acknowledged, in which the conscientious integrity of the agent is intimately integrated with the sovereignty of divine law. Then I will appeal to Aquinas’s distinction between the judgement of conscience (iudicium consentiae) and that of free decision (iudicium liberi arbitrii) to prove that the judgements pertaining to conscience are purely cognitive. This analysis will also help us specify in what sense we can tolerate conscience’s wrong judgments without falling into the trap of moral relativism.
No registration needed. You can watch live and participate in the Q & A following this Zoom link: https://iea-paris.zoom.us/j/91117963985