I am a duty-driven, obligation bound individual that is grounded in family values that affect all moral decisions and backed up by faith. As a person who values my family above most, many of my decisions are based on the impact my decisions have on my family. I am happiest when my family is healthy and doing well in all aspects of their lives.
My core beliefs are rooted in respect for others, being honest and having pride in the work I do. Professionally, strong work ethics, duty, and integrity have been instilled in me during my 21 years serving in the U.S. Air Force and have carried over into my civilian life as well. Experiences in life, both positive and negative, have changed me from the young man I was to the man I am now. The ethical structure of my thinking has changed as I have proceeded through life, beginning when I was a child and the teachings of right and wrong by my parents. As I grew into an adult, I learned that my decisions not only affected me but others as well.
The ethical framework that I live by includes at its core is a deontological theory ‘focuses on duty and obligations: things we out to do regardless of the consequences,’ (MacKinnon & Fiala, 2017, p. 115), The utilitarian Jeremy Bentham described it as ‘knowledge of what is right or proper,’ (MacKinnon & Fiala, 2017, p. 115) and is further defined by Immanuel Kant through his categorical imperative. This theory is the base of my belief system where I make decisions based on my perspectives of what is right and wrong, and I use this base ethic as it is a moral guide to what I ought to do.
If I want to provide for my family I ought to get a job and work hard to earn the money to buy food, clothing, and shelter. This is what is considered a hypothetical imperative ‘is contingent or dependent on what I happen to want or the desires I happen to have,’ (MacKinnon & Fiala, 2017, p. 119), as hypothetical imperative are not moral imperatives, Kant’s moral imperatives are known as categorical imperative, moral obligation, moral oughts that are unconditional and or necessary.
Kant’s moral principle, ‘the categorical imperative is a principle of fairness’ (MacKinnon & Fiala, 2017, p. 121) simply put, it is a test to determine wither the actions taken are morally right or wrong and for the right reasons. These duties and obligations go beyond the family as the categorical imperatives first and second form address how we act towards others. First form ‘Act only on that maxim that you can will as a universal law,’ (MacKinnon & Fiala, 2017, p. 120) or whatever I am willing to do must be consistently accepted that others may do as well.
Moreover, the second form ‘universalizing ones contemplated action or policy…what constitutes proper treatment of persons as persons.’ (MacKinnon & Fiala, 2017, p. 121) as this form requires that we treat others as we treat ourselves, it is not permissible to use or deceive others to benefit us, we must not use others as simple means to our goals (MacKinnon & Fiala, 2017, p. 121). As the categorical imperative is Kant’s test of right and wrong it serves as a guide as to what we ought to do when addressing moral duties or obligations. I consider this a theory as a foundation that I use in conjunctions with other theories to strengthen my belief system.
Virtue ethics also play a part in my framework, which focuses on how we ought to be instead of what we ought to do. As I strive to be a moral person in my day to day life through virtue ethics ‘concerned with those traits of character, habits, tendencies, and dispositions that make a person good,’ (MacKinnon & Fiala, 2017, p. 156). Additionally, Aristotle outlines a few virtues including justice, magnanimity, temperance, courage, and pride, which make up the ‘framework for understanding virtue in general, as a means between extremes. known as the golden mean,’ (MacKinnon & Fiala, 2017, p. 158).
Virtue ethics has a golden mean, which is a balance between extremes like pride is between humility and vanity. Although there is a balanced or middle point that makes up the golden mean I do not always fall in that center or the golden mean its self, however, I do find a balance that suits me and does not clash with other core beliefs. In addition, others such as Plato, whose list of four virtues know as cardinal virtues which prudence, courage, temperance, and justice, are a few virtues that do not require a mean between extremes to be considered virtues.
‘Not all virtues may be rightly thought of as means between extremes, for instance, if justice is a virtue, then could there be such a thing as being too just?’ (MacKinnon & Fiala, 2017, p. 158). I relate to virtue ethics as they help me to become a better version of myself and through interactions with others. As virtue ethics have many traits that compliment my core belief structure of honesty, loyalty, courage, and a sense of fairness, I simply use virtue ethics to augment the ‘what I ought to do,’ of deontology, with the ‘how I ought to be,’ of virtue ethics.
Religious faith is the last ethical part of my framework. although I am no longer participating in an organized religion, my faith that was instilled in me as a young child is always present. As I do believe in a higher power I do not always rely on my faith to make moral judgments, ‘even religious believers regularly make moral judgments that are not based strictly on their religious views but rather on reflection and common sense,’ (MacKinnon & Fiala, 2017, p. 26). However, my faith is still always in the background as a moral compass that helps to deconflict moral issues that occasionally arise.
Growing up in the late 1970’s and 1980’s was a fun time that involved a lot of family time including family vacations and sports. Our family was considered larger as I have three older sisters and a younger brother. Naturally, siblings will argue but we were also very conscious of our bond as a family and our obligations to care for each other. My parents both worked full-time jobs and we attended Catholic church every Sunday and religious schooling every Tuesday.
Religious moral teachings were taught by my parents and the church beginning at a very early age. Essentially, they focused on traditional religious training, ‘all the great traditions teach the moral idea of generous good will, love, compassion epitomized in the Golden Rule,’ (MacKinnon & Fiala, 2017, p. 28). The Golden Rule, which is ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,’ (MacKinnon & Fiala, 2017, p. 28). However, the involvement with church slowly subsided over time and played a smaller roll in later years.
From an early age, my brother and I played sports as often as we could and formed relationships with friends that we still have contact with. During the summers, beginning at age 10 up to age 15, I worked for my uncle’s construction company, clean up job sites, and later learned how to frame a house. This time with my uncle and several older cousins was summer camp for my brother and me and it instilled rules, respect, and positive work ethics. My father was a cement truck driver and would leave very early in the morning.
During the summers, my father would offer to take me to work with him and seeing him work hard instilled in me that honest, hard work provided for our family. These were part of the value structure that my parents focused on, deontological theory ‘focuses on duty and obligations,’ (MacKinnon & Fiala, 2017, p. 115). Positive work ethics and pride in work completed was emphasized by my parents.
As a young man, on April 12, 1993, I joined the U.S. Air Force at 20 years old and began my career in the military. Based on my upbringing and how my ethical beliefs were structured, the military aligned with my core beliefs. My career in the military turned out to be very satisfying and I related to it with almost no adjustments. I joined the military nearly right out of high school, it was out of a need to fulfill a duty, not to the country but to do what was required of me as I was about to be a father at age 20.
It was a sense of duty that has always been a part of who I am. In the military, we had our core values, integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do. We called our moral compass integrity, ‘the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness,’ which is right in line with Kant’s deontological ethics and the virtue ethics that form my ethical framework.
The person I am today is still, for the most part, the man my parents raised with some well-developed ideas that have developed through life events. As I move on I do wish to continue to grow as my children no longer need me, as they are now adults themselves. Perhaps I developed a little egoism, which is, ‘it is good for people to pursue their own self-interest,’ (MacKinnon & Fiala, 2017, p. 70), and start investing in interests that are solely for myself. Returning to school at age 45 is a good start to a new version of myself.
Additionally, my wife of 17 years and I are still wanting a child of our own, as we continue to age, as my wife is nearing 40 its now a matter of science to help us have a child. Is it necessary to have a child between us to make us happy, in short, no, it is however obsoletely wanted! Many people have asked us if its even ethical to have a child through in-vitro fertilization, my answer is simple, its just a matter of perspective is not it?