Is conscience a more reliable guide when compared to laws, rules and regulations in the context of ethical decision-making? Discuss.

Model Answer


Law rules and conscience are considered sources of ethical guidance but their reliability is a matter of debate.


Why do laws and rules act as a source of ethical guidance?

  • Laws are based on social norms so it has more acceptance like Civil laws. 
  • Laws are enacted by representatives hence they have legal sanctity. 
  • Because the creation of law involves thorough collective debates and discussions by learned men it is rational to follow the law.

Limitations of law and rules and regulations as a source of ethical guidance

  • Mostly it is coercive: Income tax law
  • It is a tool of powerful: Lifelong presidency by Xi-Jinping with the help of law, and apartheid.
  • It may conflict with individual/social morality: Surrogacy law

Conscience as a source of ethical guidance:

  • It allows reason and transcends his animal instincts.
  • Conscience helps in interpreting ambiguous laws in the best possible manner.


Hence, we can conclude that conscience should be considered a supplementary source of ethical guidance along with laws and rules.

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