What shapes our conscience is some combination of morality (handed down by authority), pragmatism (shaped by practice) and ethics (self-determined). It is safe to regard these as stated in order of ubiquity.
Almost everyone has a moral compass with “north” learned as a child from parents, teachers, and so on. Of course, not everyone has the same north.
Most people have attitudes and behaviours that work for them in everyday life largely causing as little damage to others as can reasonably be expected.
Many people, but not all, have developed their own internal sense of what is appropriate or allowable in their own behaviour and what is not.
What unites Conscience espousers is that they want the freedom to hold themselves responsible for their own actions. They do not regard “the law” as a sufficient expression of what it means to be a good person.
The law tends to say a lot about “what you can or cannot do” but very little about “why you should or shouldn’t do it”. The law seems obsessed with sanctions and rarely speaks to rewards. The reward for compliance seems mostly to be the avoidance of sanction.
To the Conscience espouser, to follow the law just because it’s the law is to surrender their own individuality – their own freedom to make choices for themselves. In a sense, they feel as if they are being treated like a child, unable to be trusted to behave in the playground. Conscience espousers don’t just think that “the law is an ass” – they actually resent it and demand the right to question it if it doesn’t seem relevant or fair.
So, these people want freedom from compulsion – and the freedom to express themselves as they really are. But this is not a completely unfettered, sociopathic freedom. It is freedom within a non-intrusive societal framework. In their minds, the law should be democratic, sensible, sufficient to the task and readily enforceable. Anything less counts as of questionable value.
Conscience espousers tend to share a view as to why the law is in the state it is. They see that the prime beneficiaries of the law are the law-makers, practitioners and, of course, their friends.
There is no doubt that there is too much power in the hands of too few people. The law is not an instrument of democracy and freedom - what to them is the social arena most conducive to making better people – it tends to be an instrument of fear and oppression.
1) Over-indexed: Male.
2) Under-indexed: Female.
Conscience espousers also espouse other Attributes. The top five most highly correlated Attributes of Conscience espousers are, in order of the strength of relationship:
In total those who espouse Conscience also over-index significantly on 25 other Attributes.
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