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360012 DR Conscience in Contemporary Theological Literature (2019S)

Continuous assessment of course work



Language: English


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Wednesday 27.03. 17:30 - 19:15 Seminarraum 3 (Kath) Schenkenstraße EG
Friday 14.06. 08:00 - 20:00 Seminarraum 3 (Kath) Schenkenstraße EG
Saturday 15.06. 08:00 - 18:30 Seminarraum 8 Tiefparterre Hauptgebäude Stiege 9 Hof 5


Aims, contents and method of the course

From the medieval notion of conscience as a function of the intellect (practical reasoning) and the will (choosing), through the manualist understanding as a rationalistic deductive operation to the Second Vatican Council´s “the most secret core and sanctuary of a man [sic]”, it is safe to say that there is no one, traditional, “Catholic” understanding of what conscience is. Yet, most Catholics would subscribe to the maxim ´Let conscience be your guide´, which points to the indispensable role of this “proximate norm of personal morality” and necessitates a careful discernment of its meaning, structure, and operation.
With a one eye on how the notion of conscience was understood in the past, this course will engage with the understanding of conscience in the contemporary theological literature. By dealing with various perspectives and positions, the students will learn how the notion was discussed in the post-conciliar theology, which other issues are related to it, and whether there are some dominant or at least discernable trends in this theological discussion. By successfully completing the course students will have a better grasp of the role of conscience in moral life and in contemporary theological discourse, especially in terms of “paradigm change” that this notion might currently be undergoing.

Assessment and permitted materials

During seminar meetings the students will engage in structured discussions on conscience in contemporary theological literature and issues related to it on the basis of seminar papers that each participant will prepare. Since the goal is to get a good grasp of these issues and draw out implications for the discipline of theological ethics, the student who prepares a paper (for a given meeting) is evaluated on the basis of his/her paper, while others are evaluated on the basis of their contribution to the discussion. The progress through the seminar course ought to be evident in the final version of the paper that each participant will submit. Throughout the whole process participants can expect substantial feedback from the course teachers during the seminar meetings and in individual consultations.

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

The course assessment comprises of three items: class participation and contribution to discussions (30%); presentation of a seminar paper (30%); final paper (40%).

Examination topics

There will be no final exam for which students would have to prepare by studying certain material, but the course teachers will discuss the final paper of each participant with him/her before determining the final grade.

Reading list

Curran, Charles, ed. Readings in Moral Theology 14: Conscience. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2004.
Davis, Henry. Moral and Pastoral Theology, Volume I. London: Sheed and Ward, 1935.
Francis. Amoris Laetitia. Nn. 37, 222, 298-312.
Gallagher, Raphael and Brendan McConvery, eds. History and Conscience: Studies in Honour of Sean O´Riordian CSsR. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1989.
Grisez, Germain and Russell Shaw. Fulfillment in Christ: A Summary of Christian Moral Principles. Notre Dame, IL: University of Notre Dame Press, 1991.
Gula, Richard M. “Conscience,” in Christian Ethics: An Introduction, edited by Bernard Hoose, 110-122. London: Cassell, 1998.
John Paul II. Veritatis splendor. Nn. 54-64.
Patrick, Anne E. Liberating Conscience: Feminist Explorations in Catholic Moral Theology. New York, NY: Continuum, 1997.
Pope, Stephen J. ed. The Ethics of Aquinas. Washington D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2002.
Second Vatican Council. Dignitatis humanae. Nn. 3, 14.
Second Vatican Council. Gaudium et spes. Nn. 16-17.
Selling, Joseph A. Reframing Catholic Theological Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.

Association in the course directory

LV für Doktorat-/PhD- Studien

Last modified: Mo 07.09.2020 15:46