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Ethical Virtues and Vices Essay

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Updated: Apr 2nd, 2022

Ideals are moral standards that people pursue, and they are very important because they set benchmarks of ethics. Moral ideals define ethical standards and character of people in the society. Concisely, moral ideals are perfect standards of ethics that the society strives to uphold in norms, beliefs, and principles that govern humanity. Melleman (2010) asserts that an ideal is a moral attribute that an individual presents as a character trait or behavior. Common examples of moral ideals are honesty, integrity, generosity, beneficence, sincerity, veracity, and fidelity amongst many others. In the modern society where moral fabric is weak, the most important ideals are honesty, integrity, generosity, and beneficence. These ideals are very important because they do not only enable people to do good deeds in their lives, but also perform noble duties to others who are in need.

Worth is the value of something relative to what people consider as ideal. In other words, it is the measure or degree of perfection in a given construct or a person. Ethically, the best way to determine a person’s worth is by assessing the intrinsic value, as one is worth the intrinsic value that the society bestows to humans. Baum, Haqq-Misra, and Domagal-Magal (2011) argue that “human ethics is often anthropocentric in the sense that it places value only on human phenomena such as human life, human happiness, or other human factors” (p. 2121). Since humans are unique beings in the universe with rational capacity, they have intrinsic value. Humans have intrinsic worth because they are entities of life, which exist on their own. In this view, I consider my worth to be a life entity that deserves life, happiness, dignity, and freedom to serve other humans.

Ethical virtues are constructive behaviors or qualities that are in line with societal norms and ethics. They are qualities that enhance the greatness of individuals and society. Some of the virtues that are important in the life of an individual include integrity, justice, love, wisdom, honesty, prudence, loyalty, and temperance According to Kawall (2009), virtues are important because they are morally acceptable behaviors that drive people cultivate good character traits. Essentially, virtues are fundamental in promoting people to cultivate quality and productive lives. Thus, virtues are crucial in the lives of individuals as they lead to productive, ethical, and good behaviors.

Ethical vices refer to immoral behaviors that lower the integrity of a person and society. Essentially, ethical vices emanate from the deficits or excesses that occur in virtues (Mellema, 2010). Examples of vices are selfishness, hate, cruelty, cowardice, dishonesty, folly, and disloyalty. In this view, the ethical vices that I consider the worst are dishonesty and disloyalty. A dishonest and disloyal person has no integrity, and thus can do anything to achieve certain ends in life. The ethical vices that I possess are selfishness and hate, and I would like to cure these vices by being generous and kind to all people that I meet in the course of life.


Baum, S., Haqq-Misra, J., & Domagal-Magal, S. (2011). Would Contact Extraterrestrials Benefit or Harm Humanity? A Scenario Analysis. Acta Astronautica, 68(12), 2114-2129.

Kawall, J. (2009). In Defense of the Primacy of Virtues. Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy, 3(2), 1-21.

Mellema, G. (2010). Moral Ideals and Virtue Ethics. The Journal of Ethics, 14(2), 173-180.

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