Santa Clara University

Ethics Center Blog
Bookmark and Share

At the Center

Capturing the lively discussions, presentations, and other events that make up the daily activities of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.

The following postings have been filtered by tag conscience. clear filter
  •  Mandates and Morals: A Talk by Carol Keehan, DC

    Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012 5:06 PM

    President and Chief Executive Officer of the Catholic Health Association of the United States Carol Keehan, S.J., will discuss ethical issues facing Catholic health care providers at a talk Oct. 17, 7 p.m., in the St. Clare Room of the Santa Clara University Learning Commons. 

  •  Conscience Models

    Monday, Jan. 23, 2012 1:33 PM

    In an article today for the National Catholic Reporter, David DeCosse, director of campus ethics at the Center, explores the reaction of American Bishops to last week's decision by the Health and Human Services Department to require religiously-affiliated organizations to provide insurance for their employees that includes birth control:

    On Friday, the Federal Department of Health and Human Services announced that religious institutions would have a year before they would be required to make contraception available at no cost to all female employees. In response, the Catholic Health Association both criticized the HHS statement and called for an 'effective national conversation on the appropriate conscience protections in our pluralistic country." Will the Church in the next year enter into such a conversation and possibly find solutions that balance the concerns of religious freedom with the respect for democratic equality? How this question is finally answered may well depend on what conceptual model of the Catholic conscience the Church brings to the table. 

    DeCosse analyzes that model with reference to Thomas Aquinas' definition of conscience as combining obedience to moral law and the exercise of practical reason.

  •  Bishop Robert McElroy on Conscience

    Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012 1:58 PM

    In a talk yesterday on the engagement of the Catholic conscience with American public life, Robert McElroy of the San Francisco Diocese reviewed three dimensions of conscience that, he argued, should frame our understanding about our role as citiznes:

    The Motivational Level: McElroy urged his audience to examine what motivates them in their political lives, to determine whether tribalism or self-interest were at the heart of their motivation or whether they were striving to be an instrument for attaining the common good.

    The Directive Level: McElroy identified key social teachings of the Church that should inform conscience, including:

    • The right to life and the dignity of the human person
    • The enhancement of family life
    • human rights
    • The option for the poor and the vulnerable
    • The dignity of work and the rights of workers
    • Solidarity
    • Caring for God's creation

    The Deliberative Level: McElroy pointed out that these key aspects of Catholic social teaching "bisect American politics."  Republicans, he said, tend to focus on the right to life and family values; Democrats are in sympathy with the option for the poor and the concern with the environment

    To McElroy, voting is a moral act.  It's not an endorsement of a candidate's entire platform; it's an assessment, using conscience, of what person will best advance the common good in the particular situation they face.

    McElroy's talk is available here as a podcast.




  •  Conscience, Catholicism, and American Politics

    Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012 1:05 PM

    Recently, the New York Times reported, " Roman Catholic bishops in Illinois have shuttered most of the Catholic Charities affiliates in the state rather than comply with a new requirement that says they must consider same-sex couples as potential foster-care and adoptive parents if they want to receive state money....  "The bishops have followed colleagues in Washington, D.C., and Massachusetts who had jettisoned their adoption services rather than comply with nondiscrimination laws."

    The bishops have increasingly raised concerns about what they regard as impositions on the Catholic conscience in American public life. Conversely, many Catholics have invoked the primacy of conscience to justify their support of something like pro-choice legislation.

    On January 18, the Ethics Center will welcomes Bishop Robert McElroy, one of the leading intellectuals among the American bishops, who will address these vexing issues in his talk, "Conscience, Catholicism and American Politics."  Join us at at noon in the SCU Wiegand Center.

  •  Must a Pharmacist Fill a Prescription That Violates His Conscience?

    Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2011 9:13 AM

    In 2002, a Wisconsin pharmacist declined to fill a prescription for birth control pills because, as a Catholic, he said to do so would violate his religous beliefs.  He also refused to refer or transfer the prescription. 

    That incident forms the basis of a case study by Center Bioethics Director Margaret McLean, exploring the rights and responsibilities of medical professionals who do not wish to be involved in lawful and standard treatments that violate their personal consciences. 

    She delivered the case at a recent conference, The Spark of Conscience Inflames Debate, which examined conscientious refusals in health care.  

  •  Ethics and the Catholic Church

    Monday, Nov. 21, 2011 11:33 AM

    Center Campus Ethics Director David DeCosse has given a series of talks this month offering a Catholic perspective on a variety of ethical issues. 

    At the Faith Formation Conference sponsored by the dioceses of San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, Monterey, and Stockton, he spoke on "Conscience and the Catholic Tradition: Contemporary Challenges."  He explored the topic of "Conscience in St. Ignatius' Contemplation of Divisne Love" at St. Ignatius High School in San Francisco and the topic of "Fathers, Sons, Forgiveness" at Sacred Heart Prep in Atherton, Calif.  For the Institute for Leadership in Ministry of the San Jose Diocese, he addressed "Ethics in Church Ministry."

  •  Conflicts of Conscience in Health Care

    Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011 5:00 PM

    May a pharmacist refuse to fill a prescription to which the pharmacist has a moral objection? Such cases of conscience have become more common in the health care setting and raise fundamental questions about the obligations of health care workers and the rights of patients.

    The Spark of Conscience Inflames Debate is a daylong conference Thursday, Nov. 3, featuring top experts in this area from the United States and Canada.  The conference, sponsored by the Ethics Center, the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education, and the SCU Philosophy Department, will be held in the Wiegand Room of the Arts and Science Building at SCU, 8:45 a.m. - 5:15 p.m.  The event is free.