Understanding Conscience and Tolerance
August 5, 2009
I think in a pluralistic culture like ours, the key to understanding conscience lies in tolerance, not in trying to change anyone’s conscience decisions—but in seeing how our society can adapt.
Now in some cases, adaptation is uncalled for, e.g., if something were illegal. But isn’t the sign of a civil civic society the measures taken by individuals, institutions, and society itself to support sincere conscience decisions—if possible.
Example: I know a hospital in which an ER doctor cannot in conscience prescribe a certain medication for rape victims, claiming that it is abortifacient. Even though the hospital’s policy is that such medication be prescribed because it is not seen to be such, the doctor cannot agree.
So the ER staff have agreed among themselves that they will be available whenever a rape victim comes into the ER. I call that adaptation or tolerance.
Yes, yes, I know there are some weird “conscience decisions” out there that make “toleration” heroic. But I have argued that, with the pharmacist in the one-drug-store town who will not fulfill certain prescriptions, that’s druggist’s professional association, by certifying him/her, assumes responsibility to cover when the occasion warrants.
PLEASE, disagree with me! Tell me I’m naïve!!!