An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church


A person's moral judgment upon himself or herself. It often indicates the sense of judgment of right or wrong regarding what has been done. For Thomas Aquinas, for example, conscience is the mind of the human person making moral judgments. In moral theology, conscience is the basis of moral action. A primary moral obligation is always to obey one's own conscience. Acting against conscience violates one's own self-identity. Historically, in Anglicanism, the most significant contribution to understanding conscience was made by Joseph Butler in his Fifteen Sermons (1726). Butler developed the view that conscience was a power arising from affective sensibilities and rational judgment.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.