Assignment 3: Exploring Virtue on the College Campus – Case Study

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Assignment 3: Exploring Virtue on the College Campus – Case Study

Case Study:

500-750 words-(2-3 pages)

A young man meets a wonderful girl in his senior year in college. He believes this is the one that he might marry in the future. He is deeply in love with her. He has a problem. After leaving the constraints of parental authority at home, he went wild as a party animal at college. He was very sexually active in his freshman and sophomore years at college. During that time, he caught genital herpes. (Hint: Think about the following: Were these acts virtuous and honest? To whom? Is the individual responsible for his actions?)

His sister goes to the same college and is friends with her brother’s girlfriend as well as being close to her brother. She knows he has genital herpes. She does not want to hurt him or the relationship but she wonders if she should tell her brother’s girlfriend about her brother’s condition. (Hint: Think about the following: What would be the virtuous and honest thing to do in your own mind? Does the sister have a different relationship and/or responsibility to the girlfriend than the brother? What is the overlap of these relationships? What is the responsibility of the sister to each? What consequences might be expected? Are vices of lack and vices of excess evident?)

Answer the following four questions in your assignment response. Please read all four questions before beginning. After you have finished answering the four questions, read the new development and answer question 5.

  1. Discuss the following case in terms of virtue, non-malfeasance, and honesty. Can you identify examples of each (or their opposites) in the case study as written? Where and by whom? Explain your answers. Please do not get emotionally or personally involved with “finger pointing.” Stay focused on virtue, non-malfeasance, and honesty. 
  2. How should each person in the case (brother and sister) handle his or her situation moving forward? Explain how non-malfeasance and virtue come into play. For example, what should the sister do and why? The brother? The girlfriend? In your answer, discuss the concepts of “no harm” and “honesty.”
  3. In your opinion, can virtues or moral values conflict with each other? Do non-malfeasance and honesty conflict? Whether you answer yes or no, explain your answer.
  4. How can the concepts of “excellence” and the “golden mean” be applied to this case? What might it look like for each person in the case to act according to the golden mean? In your answer, discuss the relationship between excellence and the golden mean.

New Development: The sister learns that her brother has decided not to tell his girlfriend until much later if they become serious and he has an outbreak. He also asks his sister to promise to keep his secret. (Hint: Think about what the sister should do now. How do virtue, non-malfeasance, and honesty come into play?)

5.  Considering your answers in questions 1 – 4 above, consider how the “new development” might change your answers. What should the sister do now?

Remember: address the questions from the position of virtue, non-malfeasance, and honesty, not from an emotional response.

What does non-malfeasance mean?

Non-malfeasance:  the duty to do no harm; one ought to not do harm.
Origin: French 1690–1700;  earlier ‘malfaisance’ “wrongdoing,” from mal- “badly” + faisant, of faire “to do”.

Non-Malfeasance Applied:
The time-honoured principle for medics (the principle of non-malfeasance) establishes a core principle: a medical professional should not harm a patient.  It is founded on the Hippocratic Oath (a declaration of key principles for doctors that dates back to the fifth century bc). All doctors are required to swear to this oath, ‘I will use treatment to help the sick according to my ability and judgement, but I will never use it to injure or wrong them’.  All medical professionals providing a service are expected to remain aware of the risk for harm, and to reduce that risk by all means possible.

The components of non–malfeasance includes strict avoidance of all other conflicts of interest, in addition tohonesty & integrity of full disclosure of all known facts which could do harm.

Some would identify the acts of doing good as 

  1. removing harm and preventing harm which is ‘The Principle of Beneficence’
  2. the duty of not inflicting harm (omission) ‘The Principle of Non-­malfeasance’.

We may not have a duty to benefit everyone, although we do have a duty not to harm anyone.

Corey, J. (n.d.). Section 5: The principles of beneficence and non-malfeasance. Retrieved from
Key ethical and legal principles. Informally published manuscript, Oxford University, Retrieved from
malfeasance. (n.d.). Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved February 22, 2013, from website: