Essays

Importance of Principles

Clare McCullough

The first prime minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, once said “Failure comes only when we forget our ideals and objectives and principles.” The leader of this new democracy knew the importance of keeping to our principles. A principle is a set of standards that determine the actions a person choses. Operating on principles hold you to a higher level of morality and integrity. Principles generally allow for more structure in life and thereby allow for your mind to ground itself and be used in a more efficient and appropriate way. They make up the fundamental basis of democracy, ethics, and all rules governing behavior.

For a morally right principle to become institutionalized as a norm it must become a standard of behavior. Norms are relative to culture, family, country, etc. and are often subject to change. Norms are the actions that countries are excepted to take based on the preferences of a substantial proportion of any population. Principles are an important part of government as well as pertinent to the integrity of our legacy as a human person. Unfortunately, some principles are purely symbolic and are ignored in practice. Principles are essential to uphold justice and provide the foundation of a functional society because if we agree on a set of standards it would be easier to apply the principles fairly and equally. We can assign basic rights to people and protect appropriately.

Moral actions are justified by the principle that the person acted upon. A person needs to accept universal application, or the norm, of whatever basic truth one acts upon. Principles guide order. A logical chain of reasoning is necessary for a principle to create foundations. There are Primary principles that are universal and secondary principles that apply in cases of exception. According to Aquinas, Natural law states that the basic ethical principle is as follows, “Good is to be done and pursued and evil is to be avoided.” If Principles provide a foundation for being a good person then, they are the single most important thing in your life.

 

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