Personal values are the ideas that people hold as important such as honesty, faithfulness, effort, perseverance, patience, education, responsibility, commitment, and fairness, among others. They determine my behavior, communication, and interaction with other people in society. Furthermore, values define the worth of any human being. Personal beliefs are the basic sources that individuals embrace as valid, usually not considering their real evidence. Personal beliefs comprise the assumptions or theories and/or perceptions about the world based on our education level, what we can see, hear, and experience. Our personal beliefs and values shape our attitudes and opinions that we have towards other people and the community at large. Consequently, personal beliefs shape one’s interpretation and analysis of ethical issues. This paper focuses on how my personal values and beliefs have shaped my interpretation and analysis of ethical issues based on my knowledge of utilitarian, deontological, and virtue-based ethical theories. The essay also provides an overview of how these theories have influenced my values and beliefs.
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Personal Values and Beliefs that have shaped my Interpretation of Ethical Issues
People have different values and beliefs based on aspects such as heritage, ethnicity, culture, family, religion, level of education, and socio-economic background, among others. Personally, my Christianity and educational backgrounds have gained me values of responsibility, commitment, fairness, honesty, and compassion. These core values govern me in situations that involve ethical dilemmas. I make choices bearing in mind my obligations to individuals and society. My commitment and fairness drive me to treat people with equality, regardless of their differences in various aspects. I have learned to practice justice and/or avoid discrimination based on gender, race, and other socio-cultural factors.
On the other hand, I believe in equity. Every person deserves a chance to make choices and do what he or she construes as best for him or her. I also believe in diversity. A team of various groups that consist of people with different abilities to make choices, thinking, and perception produce better results in relation to a team of people who have the same cultural and ethnic backgrounds. This value helps me make decisions in the best interest of all involved parties. My advancement in education has gradually evolved my understanding of the multitude of viewpoints regarding various concepts on ethics, culture, and global health. However, ethical theories have influenced my ethical interpretation and analysis. Presently, I make decisions about the ethical dilemma in accordance with ethical principles on which each of the theories bases its arguments.
Deontological theory suggests that individuals are supposed to abide by their roles whenever they encounter complex situations in society. The implication of the theory’s definition is that people should keep their obligations towards other individuals in the society based on heritage, ethnicity, culture, family, religion, community, education, and socioeconomic background (Doris, 2002). Deontology theory holds that confident clusters of the society should be provided with foundations for exceptional activities. For instance, the UN convention obligates parents to take care of their children. Therefore, a child is a responsibility to parents. Hence, parents should make decisions based on a set of duties and responsibilities.
However, it praises deontologists who exceed their responsibility. This phenomenon is known as supererogation. Aaron (1998) confirms that supererogation is an act of individuals to sacrifice their efforts and time in an attempt to advance further assistance to others, despite having completed their assigned tasks in society. Generally, people who volunteer to do extra work for society receive more gratitude than those who limit their efforts to specific tasks. Despite the expression of various constructive principles, the deontology theory presents some imperfections that provide improper guidelines to moral predicaments in society. At the outset, the theory does not provide a logical procedure for arbitrating personal responsibilities.
According to Rokeach (1973), the rules imposed by deontological theories are nonrepresentational in nature. They majorly emphasize morality issues in society. In that manner, they seem too abstract to address ethical issues in technical dimensions. Secondly, there is a conflict of duties because deontology is not concerned with the welfare of others. Finally, some authors have claimed that deontological theories do not provide people with collective solutions or guidelines that can serve as holistic measures to ethical dilemmas. Thus, it does not provide any guidance in instances of complex situations, which may involve conflicting obligations, as shown in the appendix section (Doris, 2002; Faustin, 2006).
Nevertheless, regardless of the theory’s weaknesses, I agree that deontological concepts concur with my cultural heritage, ethnicity, and values of responsibility and commitment, which have greatly influenced my analysis and interpretation of contemporary ethical complexities. Therefore, the constructs of deontology have enabled me to make decisions based on my responsibilities and obligations as per the expectations of society.
The utilitarian ethical speculation is founded on the capacity to foresee the outcome of any accomplishment (Aaron, 1998). Utilitarian beliefs hold that individuals should carry on their activities in ways that are more beneficial to society. The advocates of utilitarian theories posit that the significance of upright ethical behavior is to generate the greatest good to individuals in society without interfering with their existence. The theory builds on logical constructs that seek the good of society by offering powerful guidelines to individuals to induce morality. The utilitarian ethical theory uses two general principles of act and rule to encourage integrity that matches my cultural heritage and value systems. As a result, its advocates have divided it into two dimensions that include ‘act utilitarianism’ and ‘rule utilitarianism.’ With act utilitarianism, an individual chooses to do something that poses a greater advantage to most of the citizens, despite any special thoughts or communal restrictions such as decrees (Duignan, 2007). On the other hand, rule utilitarianism does not guarantee unrestricted privileges to individuals. It is concerned with fairness and value for justice. In this sense, the theory presents beneficence and concurrence with my value of fairness.
However, these two utilitarian perceptions contain numerous weaknesses. Firstly, utilitarianism assumes the consequences of impending occurrences in society. The fact presents false and unpredictable happenings based on present ethical deliberations. This uncertainty may lead to unexpected results. Secondly, utilitarianism bases its argument on immeasurable moral traits. Certainly, it is impossible to estimate the amount of happiness experienced by an individual. Thirdly, the theory neglects the influence of personality traits such as trust and honesty. Perhaps, people may present egocentric behaviors once they are exempted from the guiding principles of utilitarianism (Hofer & Pint Rich, 2004). In my opinion, from a Christian point of view, I do not exclusively agree with this theory. I believe that no person can perfectly predict the future. For instance, religious values and value systems shift from generation to generation. Therefore, the basis of the prediction is more of an act of belief than projected expectations.
Virtue-based presumption gauges people in terms of their temperament instead of any proceedings that can make them diverge from their regular behaviors. This theory helps individuals to construe morality by developing upright visions for their wellbeing in society. However, it fails to reflect on an individual’s variations of ethical personality (Duignan, 2007). For example, a person with a good motivating history may honestly have the same story as a person who has had a dark one but changed towards the end. In addition, the virtue-based theory of ethics is too intricate to handle tactical ethical complexities in society. Based on my personal values and belief in second chances, I agree with the theory that individuals can be judged with respect to cultural heritage, ethnicity, religion, community, education, family, and socio-economic backgrounds. My character reflects most of my behaviors. Therefore, it is almost impossible for someone to act contrary to his or her behavior (Doris, 2002).
Ethical theories provide guidelines, which human beings use to interpret and analyze ethical issues in societal settings. They enable people to gain a better conceptualization of the evolution of belief systems and the manner in which they correlate with societal ethics, culture, and global health. Nonetheless, ethical theories present a number of hypocritical guidelines that falsify the probability of accomplishing certain ethical solutions in society. Therefore, individuals should understand each theory by taking into account the aforementioned strengths and weaknesses to achieve the correct solutions to ethical dilemmas whilst avoiding conflicts amongst social aspects of ethnicity, culture, family, religion, community, education, and socioeconomic background.
Doris, M. (2002). Lack of character: Personality and moral behavior. Cambridge University Press.
Duignan, P. (2007). Educational Leadership: Key Challenges and Ethical Tensions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Faustin, P. (2006). On Philosophy. Web.
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Hofer, K., & Pintrich, R. (2004). Personal epistemology: The psychology of beliefs about knowledge and knowing. New York, NY: Psychology Press.
Rokeach, M. (1973). The nature of human values. New York, NY: Free Press.