Crisis of Conscience

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Jun 3, 2022, 8:27

We all have a moral code that is inculcated due to our upbringing. Religion, values taught by our parents, and societal norms influence our moral code. This moral code guides us to make ethical decisions when in a dilemma between our beliefs and the job at hand.

This decision-making process is at the core of the Crisis of Conscience.

Definition of Crisis of Conscience

A Crisis of Conscience arises when people find it difficult to differentiate right from wrong. They struggle with what they are expected to do and what they think is the right thing to do. The upbringing and the moral code conflict can clash with the job at hand.

There is usually grief no matter what decision is taken in such a situation. If the person follows their moral code, there is a sense of failure in performing their duty. If they do not heed their inner voice of conscience, they feel the guilt of being morally and ethically wrong.

A Crisis of Conscience can paralyze a person from making a decision. Their strong moral compass refuses to make it easy for them to compromise. This feeling can be so strong that it can overwhelm the person.

Voice of Conscience

The "voice of conscience" is the self-judgment that we pass on ourselves for our actions. This manifests itself as a feeling of guilt or an actual voice in the head, given the intensity of these feelings. When taking an ethical decision, it becomes difficult to ignore the voice of conscience.

Voice of conscience makes us pause before jumping into taking action. It forces us to evaluate the situation in a more balanced way. It is hard for people with strong moral values to ignore their voice of conscience.

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Examples of Crisis of Conscience

While there are several examples when people face a Crisis of Conscience, doctors face it more often than others. Some frequent examples are a decision to undertake a specific procedure during surgery. This procedure may be critical to saving the life of the patient, but the actual procedure itself can be life-threatening.

Another example of a typical Crisis of Conscience situation that emerged during the pandemic. It is the dilemma of what to do with more patients needing critical care.

During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were more critical patients than staff or equipment to save lives. Doctors had to choose whom to save and whom to let die. This must have been an extreme case of a Crisis of Conscience for the doctors facing these issues.

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There is no easy resolution for the Crisis of Conscience. The only thing a person can do when faced with this is to pause and think carefully about their choice. Sometimes you need to make a decision that you will feel guilty about later on.

It's nice to do the right thing. But you need to realize that you can't always act according to what your conscience tells you when there's a job to be done.

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FAQs on Crisis of Conscience

Q1. What is an example of a Crisis of Conscience?

An example of a Crisis of Conscience is doctors refusing to perform surgery due to a conscience dilemma. Another example is a military soldier experiencing a conscience objection to performing duty, for example, killing an enemy soldier.

Q2. How does the Crisis of Conscience show itself in the public domain?

Sometimes a sincere public servant faces a dilemma of following their conscience vs taking orders that conflict with their moral code. This is an example of a Crisis of Conscience showing itself in the public domain.

Q3. What is the voice of conscience, and does it have anything to do with a Crisis of Conscience?

The voice of conscience is self-criticism and judgment of your behaviour and decisions. A Crisis of Conscience arises when people find it difficult to differentiate right from wrong, which could happen despite or due to the voice of conscience.

Q4. How does a Crisis of Conscience help in decision-making?

A Crisis of Conscience acts as a moral guide to understanding right and wrong. In decision making, this helps weigh the pros and cons of following a decision path.