Essay On Morality

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Students are encouraged to email questions to Rimah Jaber, MA, Interim Director of Academic Programs, Center for Ethics Education, Rose Hill Campus.

The reward of a thing well done is to have done it.” Do the job well, whether serving fast food to hungry customers, driving a cab, cleaning a hotel room, pouring concrete for road building, organizing an off-site miniconference for the office, or anything else.

The work may be for pay, but in this view, honest work done well offers compensation beyond money.

For example, Aristotle wrote in the , “The life of money-making is one undertaken under compulsion, and wealth is evidently not the good we are seeking; for it is merely useful and for the sake of something else.” These philosophers note that people often work only to earn money for such necessities as food, shelter, and clothing.

In contrast, they point to a range of freely chosen human activities that are better aligned with virtuous behavior: love and friendship, art and music, bravery in war, participation in the community, healing the sick, helping the poor, and so on.

But the compulsions and necessities of work life have other aspects, too.

Thoreau’s friend and fellow Transcendentalist philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson said in 1844: “[W]hether thy work be fine or coarse, planting corn, or writing epics, so only it be honest work, done to thine own approbation, it shall earn a reward to the senses as well as to the thought: no matter, how often defeated, you are born to victory.

Does the study of economics itself discourage moral behavior?

After a rough day at work, or when the bills come due, many of us feel what Henry David Thoreau meant when he wrote in 1854: “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Indeed, philosophers since the time of Aristotle have drawn a line separating economic life from a life that is virtuous or well lived.


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