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Conscience and Moral Development

In order to answer the question of whether a lack or absence of sensitivity may be regarded as immortal, it is essential to address the term of morality that has two controversial perceptions. First of all, morality is defined as the set of particular standards that help people live in groups and cooperate with each other peacefully. Thus, if society determines what is right or wrong, people should sometimes sacrifice their interests and desires in order to act in a socially approved ethical manner. Individuals may be considered socially immoral if they decide to go against established standards. In addition, morality differs for people across the globe according to their cultural and religious beliefs.

At the same time, there is another major perception of morality as an individual, while ethics refers to the community’s standards. That is why if morals are specific to each person, in terms of “morally wrong”, in the eyes of an insensitive girl, she is not immoral. Moreover, while in the opinion of others, she may be wrong, it is not people’s right to condemn her for her preconventional displays of moral reasoning (Gilligan, pg. 95). Logic and stating valid rationalizations (pg. 88) of a personal opinion may serve better than showing righteous indignation and resentment towards her (pg. 84).

If the person is exhibiting what appears to be a lack of conscience, compassion, shame, and empathy, it is highly significant to investigate the reasons for such behavior before making any conclusion, as well. Thus, the ignorance of others’ sufferings may indicate that she was subjected to a morally compromised environment at a young age or was genetically predisposed to the lack of an altruism gene (Wilson, pg. 75). Similarly, she could be displaying signs of sociopathy and has experienced trauma unknown to others to her prefrontal cortex impairing her judgment of morally right and wrong behaviors (pg. 76). Without the further in-depth exploration of these possible explanations, they cannot be directly proven or disproven. With a clear disregard for others’ feelings or pain, it can be a sign of any of these explanations.

In addition, while others may feel as though she is morally unjustified in her actions, there are possible causes for the behaviors. The moral insensitivity she is portraying may even be subconscious behaviors she is unaware of. In turn, the emotional reaction in response to other people’s pain and suffering may be regarded as a subjective social expectation accepted in a particular community. Thus, people who intentionally or unintentionally refuse to respond to these expectations in a usual manner will be judged. However, this judgment cannot be regarded as objective. There is no one correct answer in the argument of right or wrong because morals are mostly individual beliefs, but these behaviors are all signs of a possible underlying issue.


Boss, Judith. Ethics For Life. 7ed. McGraw-Hill Higher Education. 2019


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