Personal Values Development

Essay by jdean32University, Bachelor'sA, August 2008

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Values and ethical standards are individual core qualities, standards, and principles that affect and influence individual actions. Each individual has different values and ethical standards that set the tone and the direction for one's life and for one's decision making process. "A value is a belief, a mission, or a philosophy that is meaningful" (Posner, R. & MSS, 2006). "Ethics can be defined as a set of moral principles or values" (Nelson, K. & Trevino, L., 2004). Individual ethics and values are instilled by one's culture, background, and environment and continue to develop throughout one's life (Posner, R. & MSS, 2006).

Some people believe humans are born with an innate moral sense. "Though no one has identified genes for morality, there is circumstantial evidence they exist" (Pinker, 2008). Noam Chomsky, a linguist who has been on the faculty of MIT since 1955, is just one of many who propose that humans have an innate ability to learn.

According to Chomsky, "we are born with a universal grammar that forces us to analyze speech in terms of its grammatical structure, with no conscious awareness of the rules in play. By analogy, we are born with a universal moral grammar that forces us to analyze human action in terms of its moral structure, with just as little awareness" (Pinker, 2008). This interesting concept is not as far-fetched as it may seem and may have something to do with the subconscious reactions people have to some ethical situations.

One's potential innate ability is just the start of the development of individual values and ethics. After birth, many things continue to impact the development of a person's values and ethics, and "the entire process of value development is lifelong and continuous" (Nucci, 2002). Individual values and ethics are developed over many years...