E is for Ethics

As you’ll no doubt guess from my recent posts, ethics have been on my mind quite a lot recently. The more I take a step back in my life and observe how I act, the more I’m not sure I like the person I am a lot of the time and so I think that’s driving me to look at creating for myself an ethical code. The problem is that this can quite easily degenerate into an attitude of self righteousness that I know I am prone to thanks to my past within Christianity. I have been reading Emma Restall Orr’s book “Living With Honour” which is about Pagan ethics and the philosophy of ethics in general and its given me a lot to think about. I haven’t finished reading it yet but when I do, I will write a big summary of what I’ve learned. I’ve also been researching Buddhism which is raising interesting points too. I especially like the ideas that through meditation, you can make yourself more patient, kind and compassionate, and become more mindful of your actions. I do have a separate page devoted to ethics but it does need a massive revamp and update so I’m hoping to do that by the summer when I’ve managed to finish the research I am doing.


Virtue (Photo credit: Leonard John Matthews)

Looking at many religious philosophies, from Druidry to Taoism, Christianity to Greco-Roman Philosophy, a common theme in all them is a commitment to Virtue Ethics. Virtue Ethics says that rather than have strict rules about conduct, we should have virtues that we aspire to in situations. This makes ethics a lot more flexible to time and place and avoids the problems raised by having rules which are culture and time specific. I like the idea of Virtue Ethics and have been going through the different Virtues to combine them into a code I think works. I do not claim that these are in any way divinely inspired or the way that all people should act, but they represent the top of person I aspire to be at this point in my life. Some of them are clearly based on our belief that nature is sacred, while others are passed down from different religions and philosophies in world history. They are subject to change but this is where I’ve got to at present –

There are 10 virtues to aspire to in life –

1) Reverence for Life, Humanity and the Universe – respect, piety.

2) Integrity – trustworthiness, reliability, truthfulness

3) Courage

4) Moderation – self control, temperance, frugality, simplicity

5) Creativity – fertility, passing things on to next generation, impacting the world

6) Humility – tolerance

7) Peace – non-violence

8) Kindness – compassion, mercy, forgiveness, generosity, hospitality

9) Diligence – persistence, effort, industry, endurance, commitment, carefulness

10) Patience.

What do you think? Are these enough? Would you add to them or combine any? Do you have a code of ethics you try to live up to?

One thought on “E is for Ethics

  1. To answer your question about personal ethical codes: I strive to live by ADF’s Nine Virtues (which are definitely not required!), which are Perseverance, Fertility, Moderation, Hospitality, Piety, Courage, Integrity, Vision, and Wisdom. Many of these include yours. If you would like details on some of these, please let me know!

    I don’t really like humility as an ethic, but that is a personal thing. I was also raised Christian, and humility brings up thoughts of “being submissive to God,” which I personally find distasteful. I think Paganism is about claiming our own power instead of submitting it to another force. Again, that’s a personal opinion, and you’re free to disagree!


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