Virtues and Values in Personal Life and Healthcare


The most important human goal is struggling to achieve morality in every action. The inner balance of a human being is dependent on morality (Alfano et al., 2018). In this regard, virtues and values are significant concepts that shape peoples behaviors. Although people use words such as virtues and values interchangeably, they are different (Pozgar, 2012). The essay explores the difference between virtues and values, their characteristics and importance, how they are acquired, their effects on a person’s character, and their usefulness in resolving healthcare dilemmas.

Difference between Virtues and Values

Virtues ethics focuses on the inborn character rather than the actions of an individual. Traditionally, virtues are considered to be those features that distinguish good and bad people (Pozgar, 2012). For instance, virtues such as justice and honesty are abstract principles. A person with virtues performs right acts by habit (Arvidsson, 2018). Therefore, a virtuous person naturally exhibits a good character due to unswerving good action and behavior.

On the other hand, values are qualities of a person that are desirable. They can be defined as standards of behavior, of an individual’s judgment about what is important in life (Arvidsson, 2018). They are the principles forming the foundation of an individual character, shaping its perceptions, behavior, attitudes, and personality. These values assist human beings in making distinct choices in life. Values symbolize an individual’s set preferences, irrespective of whether they are good or bad (Pozgar, 2012). Generally, although a person can have negative values, virtues are supposed to be blameless.

Impact of Virtues and Values on a Person’s Character

Developing a decent character requires one to not only understand and aspire for positive moral but also chase it through public and private acts. Being brought up with virtues, especially prudence, forms an exemplary character (Alfano et al., 2018). For instance, a physician might have a belief that the use of contraception is immoral. Therefore, such a person ought to act in a manner that is in agreement with their belief and evade acts that encourage using such medications.

Values are vital elements that affect a person’s behaviors and character toward others. If individuals value honesty, they will make every effort to be honest (Alfano et al., 2018). The relationship between behaviors and values is close because values create a construct for the right action. In addition, people who value transparency will work hard to be transparent in their activities (Alfano et al., 2018). Therefore, if a person upholds certain standards of behavior, they will work hard to develop a character that reflects those principles.

Acquiring Values and Virtues

A person acquires virtues through learning and practice while character is built by practicing self-discipline. The early philosopher Aristotle said that an individual can enhance character through practice and self-control, while a good character can be tarnished by repetitive self-indulgence (Arvidsson, 2018). Therefore, just like the ability to run a marathon develops through a lot of practice and training, so does one’s capacity to be courageous, fair, or compassionate.

Values are acquired through socialization and represent more or less stable personal characteristics. In addition, values are learned throughout an individual’s life cycle (Arvidsson, 2018). For instance, in early childhood, interpersonal identification with parents influences the process of value learning. The behavior of parents toward each other and their interaction with their children transfer certain values explicitly or implicitly (Arvidsson, 2018). Parents not only tell their children what is right and wrong but also provide examples of the behavior for solving daily problems. Therefore, through learning and socialization, values are transferred from one person to the other.

Importance of Virtues and Values in Solving Healthcare Ethical dilemmas

Virtues and values play a vital role in solving healthcare ethical dilemmas. Since there are no rigid rules to be followed, virtue and values allow any choice to be adapted in certain situations. Thus, two different people might behave well while resolving the same situation in diverse ways (Kotzee et al., 2017). Such flexibility encourages the pursuit of creative solutions to healthcare dilemmas. Finally, virtues and values recognize that it is challenging to resolve healthcare dilemmas to a total gratification of all parties and that sometimes a final decision will possibly leave to be a reminder of pain and regret.

Health-Related Case in Which Virtues and Values Played a Part

There was a case of ethical dilemma where a patient was almost dying, and values and virtues played a significant role. The case involved a pregnant woman from Jehovah’s Witness church (Vincent, 2018). The lady had been involved in a serious road accident, and it had been known that religion would play a great role in the patient’s treatment. The woman was in life-threatening state and showed signs of inner bleeding. The medical team advised the client’s family that there was an emergency need for a blood transfusion to save the life of the patient and the unborn baby (Vincent, 2018). However, the family members refused the transfusion and the planned surgery because of their religious beliefs.

As members of the Jehovah’s Witness church, they do not believe in blood transfusions. The husband explained that if the wife underwent surgery and blood transfusion, they would cease to be church members (Vincent, 2018). They believe that the only blood sacrifice that ought to be made is for God. The client’s health condition deteriorated by an hour and passed after three hours. The death was caused by injury and refusal of treatment that the physician would have done to save a life.

The occurrence of an ethical dilemma arises when one is expected to decide between two mutually exclusive alternatives. Some decisions are desirable, while others are undesirable (Haahr et al., 2020). In this case, the decision made, which was to refuse transfusion and emergency surgical procedure, resulted in the death of the patient and the child, but the family remained true to their religious beliefs (Haahr et al., 2020). Since the doctors had the virtue of omnism, they respected the decisions of the patient family. Although their choices took away two lives, they accepted the outcome.


Conclusively, this paper has explored the differences between virtues and values and how they impact a person’s character. For instance, it has been found that virtues aid in developing the right character. The importance of virtues and values has also been explored, such as they allow medical practitioner to make choices in any situation because there are no rules governing their use. Finally, the paper has explained a health-related case where values and virtues played a part. Therefore, it is evident that virtues and values are vital concepts that change one’s behavior and ability to make decisions.


Alfano, M., Higgins, A., & Levernier, J. (2018). Identifying virtues and values through obituary data-mining. The Journal of Value Inquiry, 52(1), 59-79.

Arvidsson, A. (2018). Value and virtue in the sharing economy. The Sociological Review, 66(2), 289-301.

Haahr, A., Norlyk, A., Martinsen, B., & Dreyer, P. (2020). Nurses’ experiences of ethical dilemmas: A review. Nursing Ethics, 27(1), 258-272.

Kotzee, B., Ignatowicz, A., & Thomas, H. (2017). Virtue in medical practice: An exploratory study. In HEC forum (Vol. 29, No. 1, pp. 1-19). Springer Netherlands.

Pozgar, G. (2012). Legal aspects of health care administration (12th ed.). Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Vincent, C. (2018). Civic virtue and values teaching in a ‘post-secular world. Theory and Research in Education, 16(2), 226-243.

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