How would you classify the conscience? Suppose an old man has a pension claim before a civil servant and according to law it is a doubtful claim, what he should do and why? (150 W/ 10 M)

Mentor’s Comment:

Define Conscience or bring the essence of it, and mention the source of conscience for civil servants i.e. our constitution.

Further, mention different interpretations of conscience in order to classify conscience: i.e. Conscience as a faculty of moral cognition, mode of developed sensibility, internal judge, motives, faculty of practical reason and conscience as a reflective consideration.

Next, how CS should takes decision on above case with his/her conscience. Here CS should not be strictly following the rules and regulations though he should act with his own conscience in the manner that the old man is not being harassed.


Model Answer:

The conscience is defined as that part of the human psyche that induces mental anguish and feelings of guilt when we violate it and feelings of pleasure and well-being when our actions, thoughts and words are in conformity to our value systems. Conscience is not be bound by the logic, facts and arguments. Conscience for a civil servant should be derived from constitutional morality and galvanized with emotional intelligence.

There are several different interpretations of conscience based on which it can be classified such as:

  1. Conscience as a faculty of moral cognition: A faculty that enables us to ascertain what is morally right and what is morally wrong (Buttler).
  2. Conscience as a mode of developed sensibility: Such that we feel painful regret and remorse when we act contrary to it (Mill).
  3. Conscience as an internal judge or the moral worth of our ends and motives: Conscience does not determine what we are to do, but it can judge whether we have acted in a morally worthy manner (Kant).
  4. Conscience as a faculty of practical reason by which we deliberate with a view to deciding on
    particular actions to perform, in aiming at conformity with moral principles. Conscience specifies particular actions in the overall project of aiming at what we take to be This allows scope for the possibility that an agent could be conscientious but have wrong values (Aquinas).
  5. Conscience as a reflective consideration guiding employment of criteria of moral soundness with a view to ascertaining which actions meet those criteria (Smith).

In case of doubtful pension claim by an old man as mentioned in the above case, the civil servants should act in conscience manner. The following steps he can include in his action.

He should take through enquiry of the legitimacy of his claim. If found genuine, he should be facilitated with the pension as soon as possible and in case of doubtful claim the person should be asked to clear the doubt by furnishing the relevant document as a proof. The office staff should be asked to cooperate with the old person in his effort of finding the valid documental proof.

The Civil Servants have delegated authority and are allowed to act with conscience in times of need. His action should not be bound by the common code of conduct rather should be guided by his experience and rationality.

Strictly following the rules and regulation will not be in conformity of the dynamic nature of our society and values.  In case, if the minor proof in missing, the Civil Servant should take action as per his cognizance if his inner conscience allows about the same. Person with the old age should be looked with sympathy and empathy and should not be harassed and asked to furnish the relevant proof again and again. Here, the action of the civil servant should be in accordance with his conscience.

However, the civil servant should also look for other options for availing the benefits to the old age person to avoid any confrontation with laws and regulations. There should not be huge compromization with the rules and regulation while allowing for pension, and also it should not hurt in any manner to other beneficiaries.