April 19, 2004

Cultural Values and Personal Ethics

Cultural values and personal ethics are quite interesting to describe. Cultural values represent the implicitly or explicitly shared abstract ideas about what is good, right, and desirable in a society (Williams, 1970). These cultural values (e.g. freedom, prosperity, security) are the basis for the specific norms that tell people what is appropriate in various situations. The ways that societal institutions (e.g. the family, education, economic, political, and religious systems) function, their goals and their modes of operation, express cultural value priorities (Shwartz, 1999). In everyday life, cultural values and personal ethics usually go hand-in-hand. While one is making a personal or business decision everything about them is at work, her cultural background as well as her personal ethics. We do not suddenly make a decision or decide something. These deliberations come from the things that have made us the individuals that we are. Our upbringing is the key to the decisions and moral choices that we make every single day. Females in some countries are not afforded the same rights that same men are in exact those same place. In some countries women find themselves hidden, walking behind men, not working, not being in power, and ultimately doing what they are told; but that is what culturally is acceptable to these women in their part of the world. However, in other parts of the world like the United States that is not the norm; the women here having seemingly the same backgrounds as the women in other countries all over the world. With the exception, that the women here have children, jobs of power and respect, and run households all on their own at times. And here in the United States there are even women who are held in the same high regard as some men in other countries. Again ethics is all about the cultural values of the individual.

That does not mean that there is anything wrong with the first set of women who I spoke about that do not live here in the United States its just that the women here culturally are different.

Along with our everyday cultural values comes our personal ethics, our ethics tend to guide us as we walk and communicate in the world daily. People often ask what ethics is. Every society and culture has different ways of interpreting and defining ethics; ethics is the development, understanding, and application by the way their own culture does things or the society norms. According to the Webster’s Dictionary, ethics is defined as the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty. I see ethics as the set of rules of conduct that reflects the character and the sentiments of the community. Ethics helps us establish standards of honesty, loyalty, and fairness. Expressing one’s personal take on ethics and life may not always be understood in the context of the world at large. Belief systems are established early on through environments of home, church, school, and social gatherings which help to form these beliefs. Most of these beliefs and patterns of behavior are made more intricate by learning what is right or wrong then doing the right thing -- but "the right thing" is not nearly as straightforward as conveyed to us on a regular basis growing up or even in the workplace.

Ethics is a code of conduct and values that are accepted by society as being right and proper. Code of ethics simply is a compilation of the rules that are meant to govern the conduct of members of a particular organization or profession. Moral philosophy and political philosophy is a true and reasoned state of capacity to act with regard to the things that are good or bad for man. In the daily scramble to move ahead, earn a profit, and outwit competitors, some people do not play by the rules. Sometimes the culprits are respected and ordinarily well-behaved persons even though they are accused of a crime or offense. Unfair and unscrupulous actions hinder the development of harmonious relationships between workers and coworkers and between workers and supervisors. A person who cannot be trusted to do the right thing fails to win the respect of others.

The ethical dilemmas that are