Sample Essay Paper on Ethics

Description and Definition of Ethics

Ethics is a branch of philosophy that focuses on systematizing and recommending various concepts of right or wrong conduct. Ethics can also be defined as moral philosophy as it is concerned with what is good for the entire society. It is concerned with how people make moral decisions, live a good life, as well as how they use the language of wrong and right. Philosophers recognize three significant areas of study, and these include meta, normative, and applied within the ethics concept. Meta-ethics is concerned with the origin and the nature of a moral decision or judgment. On the other hand, normative ethics emphasizes the content of the moral decision. It tends to describe whether the criteria used to make the moral decision is right or wrong. Applied ethics tends to focus on controversial issues such as animal rights. These areas are of significance to human lives, actions, and practice. Ethics helps people to find their way out of difficulties underscoring the argument that it provides a moral map. Ethics can also help us to identify or pinpoint a disagreement between or amongst the practitioners. Using the ethical framework, arguing persons can come to a broad agreement about the moral issue of conflict. Moreover, ethics gives answers to various moral issues people encounter. As such, practitioners are required to choose the right answers between the many options.

Principles of Ethics

The roles and responsibilities of the practitioner in various healthcare settings tend to be both rewarding and challenging. During medical interventions, practitioners face merits and disadvantages, and patients have inputs and circumstances that have to be considered. Four principles including autonomy, justice, beneficence, and nonmaleficence were established to act as guidelines to the practitioners to make decisions at challenging and inevitable situations. Many healthcare practitioners usually face an ethical dilemma with respect to autonomy.

Respect for autonomy is one of the health care ethical principles, and it requires practitioners to respect the decisions that patients face according to their values and beliefs. This principle supports various moral rules such as the respect of the privacy of the patients, protection of the patients’ health information, and obtaining consent for interventions with patients. This principle is challenged when a patient is suffering from dementia disease that majorly leads to loss of one’s identity. In this situation, the practitioners are allowed to make decisions for the patient’s best interest as the patient can make wrong decisions concerning his or her treatment. The beneficence principle focuses on the practitioners’ moral obligations to act for the benefit of patients. Additionally, it supports various obligations such as removing conditions that can cause harm, protecting and defending the rights of patients, and helping persons with disabilities. The principle of non-maleficence emphasizes on the practitioners’ obligations not to inflict harm to the patients (Ashcroft, Dawson, Draper, & McMillan, 2007). Moreover, it supports rules such as do not cause pain or suffering to a patient, do not kill, and do not cause offense to patients. An example of a challenging situation to both beneficence and non-maleficence principle is when a practitioner provides a treatment that a patient does not desire to prevent a more serious problem in the future. In such a situation, the treatment may be unpleasant or can cause pain as some patients are highly sensitive to certain medications.


Vanlaere, L., & Gastmans, C., (2007). Ethics in Nursing Education: Learning to Reflect on Care Practices. Nursing Ethics14(6), 758-766. Retrieved from

Ashcroft, R. E., Dawson, A., Draper, H., & McMillan, J. (Eds.). (2007). Principles of Health Care Ethics. John Wiley & Sons. Retrieved from