What You Do vs. Who You Are

What You Do vs. Who You Are

In Article, Recovery by Tree House Recovery

The Good Place is a hit television show which focuses on some simple, yet complicated, philosophical inquiries regarding ethics. In fact, a large portion of the show’s first season focuses on educating one of the main characters about ethical philosophy. Eleanor Shellstrop is, we come to learn, a “bad person”. She doesn’t have a good bone in her body. Yet, after her untimely death, she ends up in “the good place”, which is supposed to be something like heaven. If someone were to find out she doesn’t really “deserve” to be in “the good place”, she’d get sent to “the bad place”, which is by all intensive purposes, “hell”. She is partnered up with a man named Chidi who was, conveniently, a professor of and published expert on ethics and by the book an apparently “good person”. Thus the inquiry begins. Can someone learn to be good? Can someone become good by being good? What actually defines a “good person” from a “bad person”? If you do good things but act as a bad person, does it matter? Vice versa, if you’re a good person but continue to do bad things, what does that really mean? Do your intentions pay a role or are the results of your actions what dictate your ethical morality? On the basis of moral and ethical philosophy the inquiry is a general dichotomy of what you do versus who you are.

Four basic principles of ethics are widely acknowledged in law and philosophy.


  • The Principle of Respect for autonomy is the first principle, which states that we as individuals have an obligation toward the autonomy of other people. In recovery, we often maintain this principle through boundaries and respecting that every man is an individual with the ability to make his own decisions.
  • The Principle of Beneficence states that our actions should bring about good. Everything we do should be well-intentioned rather than ill-intentioned and should seek to cause good rather than cause harm.
  • The Principle of Nonmaleficence focuses more specifically on the doing no harm ethical morality. Doing no harm toward others should be the primary motivation behind our decisions and can fall under corollary principles like minimizing harm, not increasing harm, and wasting valuable resources which could be used for good.
  • The Principle of Justice is the final ethical principle which states that we are obliged to give others what they are due, like equality, just treatment, and more.


Through our recovery as growing, evolving, and developing men, we strive to become more ethically focused, morally driven individuals. We learn that the demonstration of our recovery is not just in who we become as men of sobriety, but what we do as men of sobriety. By creating sustainable changes in who we are, we create sustainable changes in what we do, and build the foundation for a positively impactful, sustainable recovery. Call Tree House Recovery today for information on our men’s treatment programs and how we’re helping men transform their lives inside and out:  (855) 969-5181