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Relating your values, morals and ethics to nursing practice

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Ethics is a subject used every day. You may not identify your decisions as using 'ethics' but, whatever you do in life, there are reasons why you follow certain paths.

Over the centuries, people have looked at why individuals follow different paths and have considered frameworks to identify trends. This is loosely what ethical theory is.

Thomson et al define ethics (which is from the Greek word ethos, meaning the spirit of a community) as the collective belief-and-value system of any moral community, or social and professional group.1

It is one of the ways by which a group/community can live in harmony. This definition introduces two more words: 'morals' and 'values'. Again, according to Thomson et al, morals and morality refer to the domain of personal values and the rules of behaviour regulating social intercourse.

Human values
Morality and ethics deal with human relationships - how humans treat other beings so as to promote mutual welfare, growth, creativity and meaning as they strive for good over bad and right over wrong.2

Values can be described as 'one set of personal beliefs and attitudes about the truth, beauty and worth of any thought, object or behaviour. Values are action oriented and give direction and meaning to one's life'. 3


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