What Are Moral Values?
Published February 4, 2021
You may not realize it but every moment of our day, we make a moral decision. From the moment you wake up until you go to sleep, your moral values are constantly put to the test. Even simple acts like making your bed or coming to work early involve a moral decision. That’s how moral values affect every facet of our lives.
Yet, the question of what moral values are seems to stop most of us in our tracks. If I am to ask you now what your moral values are, you’d probably think of honesty, respect, courage, and the like. But these traits are your values. And, as you will learn later, not all values can be considered moral values.
So what then are moral values? In this post, we’ll define moral values and how they motivate us.
Moral Values Definition
To define moral values, we first need to define the two words that made it up: values and morals.
In a philosophical context, values are traits that are considered desirable. As mentioned, this includes honesty, respect, and courage among others. But even though we tend to think of values as something good, it may not always be that way.
Courage, for example, in certain situations can come off as foolish bravado. While some people may view honesty as tactlessness. In short, values are relative. It can be good or bad depending on the situation and the person. But it’s also because of this that values tend to be more personal. Each of us has certain traits that we desire. They motivate our actions and reactions to people and circumstances.
Morals, on the other hand, are defined in the dictionary as a person’s standards of behavior depending on what they think is right or not. It governs our behavior and defines our intentions in everything that we do. It’s more than just what society thinks you should do. It’s that basic instinct of right and wrong common to all humans.
With these, we can define moral values as relative values that are fundamental to human existence. They are born out of experiences that we can all relate to, regardless of who we are or where we came from. A value becomes a moral value when it’s intended towards protecting and respecting life and making life better for everyone.
To give you a better perspective, think about the values mentioned above. Honesty, courage, and respect can be considered moral values but only when they are intended to protect life or enhance life for all.
For instance: if you are being honest only when it suits you, then it’s not a moral value. Everyone is capable of honesty, courage, and respect, even the most violent terrorists. But what sets us as a person with moral values apart is that innate desire to protect life and improve other’s quality of life.
Moral Values vs. Ethics
Most of the time, we confuse moral values with ethics. Though they are dependent on each other, they’re quite different.
As mentioned, moral values guide a person to act on what is right and good for everyone. While ethics is the willingness to do the right thing no matter the cost. In short, ethics is moral values put into action.
For instance, moral values like justice tell a person to fight for what is right. But an ethical person will not just stand by and watch when an injustice is happening. They will do something to correct it even if it endangers their life.
This is why moral values without ethics are useless and ethics wouldn’t exist without moral values. Knowing what to do is different from actually doing it. But you cannot do the right thing if you can’t tell the difference between right and wrong.
About The Author
Judy Ponio is a full time blogger and is devoted to topics about charity, kindness, and Christianity. She is part of Correct Digital, Inc which is paid by private donors to provide website digital marketing services to this non-profit organization.