Exemplary Existence Essay

890 words - 4 pages

Any person in the United States is entitled to doing what he or she pleases to do, although there may be negative consequences in doing so. When a person willingly places what he or she desires to do below what should rightly be done, he or she would be able to live a morally exemplary life and/or ethically exemplary life. The two lives may or may not correspond with each other because a distinction exists between ethics and morals. Both may determine the difference between right and wrong behavior, but ethics refer to the standards imposed by the individual's group (nation, profession, etc.) while morals are imposed by the individual (Source X). Ethically, a scientist testing an experimental drug on human test subject would randomly choose who receives what treatment. Morally, the scientist would choose the more critically ill subjects to receive what he perceives is the best treatment. Therefore, living a morally exemplary life means followings one's own conscience; living an ethically exemplary life means following the code of conduct for the individual's group, be it all of humanity or all those in a given profession.
The difference between ethics and morals, between unethical conduct and immoral behavior, is significant with regards to the actions of elected officials. Elected officials should be obliged to live with ethical conduct but necessary moral behavior. Obligating elected officials to live ethically exemplary lives with regards to their profession is appropriate because the officials are elected into their government positions by the nation's or region's citizens. Those denizens expect their officials to abide by the region's own ethics, by “well-founded standards of right and wrong that prescribe what humans ought to do” (Source A). If the officials do not follow the overall ethics of the region, how can the officials correctly and accurately represent the region's citizens? Obligating elected officials to live a morally exemplary life within regards to their private time is, however, not appropriate and not just because ethics and morals occasionally clash against each other.
Similar to the potential dissimilarity between ethics and morals, an official's private and personal life does not necessarily mirror the official's public and professional life. A wall can be constructed between a person's private and professional lives, and an official can easily monitor what qualities can penetrate the wall. The public, for example, had a “dual perception of [Bill Clinton]–as a smart, effective president but as a liar and a cad in his personal life” (Source C). The two perspectives may appear to be incompatible with one another, but Clinton the immoral...

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