Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Philosophical Case for Conscience

Writing in the Public Discourse, Prof. Christopher O. Tollefsen presents a philosophical case for the protection of the right of conscience, discussing abortion and the pro-life physician:

In sum, under extremely serious circumstances, the state can forbid what is otherwise taken to be obligatory. But the state should never command that an agent do something that an agent takes himself to be forbidden from doing by an exceptionless moral norm, and, it seems, the state should make a considerable effort to protect its citizens from demands by others that they violate their conscience in this way. . . . Another straightforward consequence is that citizens opposed in principle to participating in abortion should not be compelled by the laws of the state to violate what they take to be exceptionless negative precepts. There can be no weak form of intrinsice malum in this domain.