This article investigates how Edith Stein’s philosophical work on conscience is relevant for appreciating conscience today. In particular, this article shows how Stein’s contributions to conscience explicates what it is and why it is relevant for moral decision making. Moral decision making is necessary in bioethics and healthcare. However, leading bioethicists today lack an understanding of what conscience is, how it applies to healthcare practice and why it should be respected. Recent developments in obligatory referrals for healthcare professionals reveal further challenges related to appreciating conscience in current bioethical contexts. In this article, I consider the importance of Stein’s work on conscience to address the gap in knowledge related to conscience in bioethics today. To do so, I will outline the main aspects of Stein’s phenomenological and metaphysical approaches to the psycho-spiritual-physical aspects of being human. I will then describe her work on conscience. Next, I will discuss how contemplation vis à vis the Catholic imagination could provide a way to perceive how conscience is a response to morality. Finally, I will show how Stein’s work can refute contemporary approaches to conscience and obligatory referral.
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