paper2 - Moral Goodness and Professional Excellence...

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Moral Goodness and Professional Excellence Although “doing the right thing” is not a substitute for technical expertise, professional excellence and good moral character have a relationship in which one cannot exist without the other. William M. Sullivan, a senior scholar at The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, uses his novel Work and Integrity and the idea of the three-fold apprenticeship to bridge the seemingly unconnected ideas of professional excellence and moral goodness and makes a powerful argument in his suggestion that ultimately, the two are inseparable. Many would declare their life goal as being the best person they can be, an achievement which would likely come in the form of doing one’s best to be a good person and live a life that allows them to serve humanity in some way. Though there is no exact formula for determining a moral person, one is simple enough to generally define. For the most part, people want to be good. They often feel the need for approval of their character or the way he tends to act given certain circumstances. Thus, the moral goodness of a person is in fact dependent upon his character. There is a certain degree of morality in people; the characters of others might be referred to as “good” or “bad” but in reality, few are likely to be at either extreme (Willard). The key to having moral goodness is finding the balance that at least leans towards the “good” side of the scale. Still, there is always difficulty in determining standards, especially in regards to something as potentially subjective as morality and ethics. The Golden Rule, in which it is expected of “good” to people to do unto others as they wish others to do unto them, makes the task of defining moral goodness much simpler because it is in some way present in almost every culture or religion around the world. This universal ethical code implies that one should live his life according to the rule, not just when his actions might be rewarded or scrutinized. One who acts in a moral way only when being observed is perhaps more morally inclined than a person 1
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with bad moral character, who is either indifferent to the existence and maintenance of the various goods of human life or intent upon the destruction of these goods; however, a person’s moral character has much more to do with his or her unconscious actions. After all, it has been said that a person is not moral in just one aspect of his life; if he is a truly moral person, his good character is consistent and is evident in every facet of his being. Therefore, the moral goodness of a person is expressed in what he does without thinking. Almost subconsciously, a morally good person seeks the advancement of the various goods of human life, even if it comes at personal costs or self-sacrifices, because of its benefit to humanity (Willard). Professionals, contrastingly, often claim their utmost goal as achieving professional
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This note was uploaded on 03/04/2008 for the course PHIL 141g taught by Professor Willard during the Fall '07 term at USC.

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paper2 - Moral Goodness and Professional Excellence...

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