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Decision-making in an Uncertain Time. Should you always obey your conscience?


Prof. Cornelius Casey, Loyola Institute, Trinity College Dublin

Guided by Hope: Conscience in the perspective of the virtue of hope

ABSTRACT: Ivan Illich: ‘As far as I can understand, conscience and norm are inextricably bound together and mutually dependent. The Samaritan did not act of our conscience. How should one call what he acted out of? Paul speaks of love, faith and hope’. The lecture will examine Illich’s thesis that through a ‘corruptio optimi quae est pessima’ , the crimination of sin (from the twelfth century) leads to the development of conscience as ‘an internal forum’, in which conscience and norms become mutually dependent. The lecture will further explore how it is that the virtue of hope plays a pivotal role in Christian moral life, and, in that light, what role ‘norms’, as well as the concept of ‘conscience’ has in this perspective.

Speaker details here.

Prof. Raphael Gallagher CSsR, Alphonsianum, Rome

Conscience and Truth

ABSTRACT: The meaning of conscience plays a significant role in contemporary discussion about what constitutes the essence of morality and how this may be recognized. This conversation involves concepts of freedom and truth, self-determination and external constraint. It is a challenging conversation for Christians. Using a classic text of the catholic tradition offers a surprising insight into how the freedom expressed in decisions of conscience is not incompatible with an acceptance of the criterion of truth.

Speaker details here.

Prof Patrick Hannon, St Patrick’s College, Maynooth

Conscience, Law, and Politics

ABSTRACT: Of the many questions on which our title invites reflection, one in particular has again achieved prominence in the United States: how is a politician who is Roman Catholic expected to vote when a measure purports to legalise what church teaching says is morally wrong? This was thought to have had a satisfactory resolution in the distinction John F Kennedy made between his personal moral beliefs and his responsibilities under the Constitution as president of a religiously pluralist people. But that distinction was rejected by New York’s Archbishop Cardinal O’Connor when it was invoked by Geraldine Ferraro, Democratic candidate for vice-president in 1984. The debate has become increasingly acrimonious, to the point where senior prelates are among those who contend that President Biden is unfit to receive Holy Communion since he subscribes to the ‘pro-choice’ position of the Democratic Party. The core question has become politicised, its public discussion poisoned by association with toxic elements of the so-called culture wars, at an impasse that is impairing effective leadership in the US Catholic Church, and an effective Catholic contribution to the common good of American society. I shall argue that this is as unnecessary as it is regrettable, and that a way through the impasse is to be found in mainline Catholic thinking about morality, law, and politics.

Speaker details here.

Prof. Desmond Ryan, Trinity College Dublin

Conscientious Objection in an Uncertain Time: New Challenges in Employment Law

ABSTRACT: This paper explores the employment law framework concerning conscientious objection rights of employees under Irish law, and critically considers how the various legal sources within that legal framework overlap and intersect. It specifically considers the uncertainties created by section 22 of the Health (Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018, and its interaction with the Constitution, the common law, other statutory regimes in employment law, EU law and the European Convention on Human Rights, and attempts to map out likely future directions of travel within the law of conscientious objection. .

Speaker details here.

Prof. Fáinche Ryan, Loyola Institute, Trinity College Dublin

Thomas Deman: Prudentia and Conscience


Speaker details here.

Prof. Stefania Tutino, University of California (UCLA)

Early Modern Uncertainty: Reason, Conscience, and Belief in Post-Reformation Catholicism

ABSTRACT: This paper explores some aspects of the significance of moral and epistemological uncertainty in post-Reformation Catholicism. More specifically, in this paper I seek to show that early modern Catholic uncertainty was, to a great extent, a function of the theological question of the relationship between knowing -- that is, holding something as true based on reasonable assessments -- and believing -- that is, holding something as true without being able to verify it as such by means of reason. In this paper I explain the reasons why the relationship between knowing and believing had come to occupy a novel centrality in post-Reformation Catholic theology, and I discuss some of the historical, religious, cultural, and intellectual implications of this centrality.

Speaker details here.