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Ethical Principles Paper - Essay Example

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In many cases, the values that we as individuals hold include the morals adopted by our society over time. Some of these morals, for better or for worse, shape our behavior. Perhaps it is important to describe some of those moral ideals held by contemporary societies so that we can understand behavior and individual decision-making from an objective perspective. What are the most important morals in our society? It seems the ideal that we lessen the amount of harm suffered by others is one of the most important values of contemporary society, and thus many of us as individuals. This kind of perspective, however, is ancient. The Greek philosopher Aristotle described a system of virtue ethics that tells individuals to do good, not to do harm, to others. This includes corollaries like respecting individual rights, telling the truth, being faithful, and so on. All of these prescriptions are directly related to healthcare, where virtue ethics is an important ethical perspective. Beneficence, which is the duty to do good, is an important principle in healthcare work, especially when the healthcare provider has good intentions. Non-maleficence, which is the duty to not do harm, suggests that the healthcare worker should attempt to avoid the worst-case scenario when serving a patient. Autonomy, which is respect for an individual’s right to make decisions, is important when healthcare workers are delivering a service to someone who might have cognitive or behavioral deficiencies. Truthfulness, which is tied to autonomy, tells us that we should always give others all of the information in order to make an informed judgment. Fidelity, which is the virtue of being loyal to a patient in terms of establishing trust, is fundamental to the provider-patient relationship. The Aristotelian system of virtues is best practiced in healthcare because it provides a basis for how a healthcare provider should act in all situations. How does one determine worth and what does one consider worth to be? Worth seems to be something that is desirable, useful, or valuable to many people. We might measure something’s desirability in terms of the pain or pleasure that it causes for others. If, for example, a medicine gives a patient a great deal of pleasure (which includes long-term pleasure knowing that his disease has been cured), then we might judge it to be of worth to someone. We might also measure something’s desirability in terms of how it aligns with someone’s values. If, for example, someone values close relationships with others, then the worth of a hospital’s program to connect volunteers with terminally ill patients for one hour each week might be judged in terms of whether the patients might value that experience. What virtuous qualities are most important? Virtues enable people to pursue moral ideals of disposition or character as a means of developing their own potential as human beings. Any given society has many virtues. Some examples include honesty, courage, compassion, generosity, and fidelity. From such a list, individuals or societies can pick and prioritize based on their perceptions of which virtues are most important. One might say that, from this list, generosity is important. In health care in particular, generosity is essential. Generosity leads healthcare providers to give their best service to the community. In healthcare, when we are dealing with people’s lives, commitment to generosity and service is very important because only the very ...Show more


Everyday life involves making relatively important decisions. In making these decisions, values play a crucial role in guiding and shaping how one thinks and acts. In fact, a value can be thought of as a compass for someone’s life insofar as it gives a hint to the direction for that person to travel…
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Ethical Principles Paper
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