Dr. Dan Popov, co-founder of The Virtues Project™, scholar of the world's sacred texts and a pediatric clinical psychologist, has researched, written and spoken extensively on this topic. The following is a summary of one of Dr. Popov's talks.
Ethics, Morals, Values and Virtues:
Each one points to the same goal - the right way to be or do something. Each one uses a different criteria.
Ethics: Moral principles that lead to agreed upon standards of behavior.
- Ethics are based on principles that communities agree are fundamental.
- They are designed and developed by various communities to establish standards of day to day behavior that all members agree to live by. Eg: code of conduct. Ethics are based on principles - the Virtues
Morals: Do good/avoid bad-do right/avoid wrong
- Running through all revealed sacred texts and the moral codes contained within them, like a silver thread, are the virtues-use them to meet the challenges of life.
- Morals are what a culture says is good or right- the Virtues
Values: Anything a culture thinks is important
- Values are what anyone considers important or worth seeking.
- You can value money or fame, you can value winning regardless of what it takes to win, you can value love or honesty.
- The Virtues are universally valued.
Virtues: The underlying basis of Ethics, Morals and Values
- Virtues are fundamental to ethics, morals and values because they form the foundation of each of them.
- They are universal principles by which all societies organize themselves.
- They are ways we are called to be-the best within each of us.
- They are ubiquitous in every faith and culture.
- They are the keys to success in any individual endeavor, and the basis of every relationship that works.
Virtues are elemental. Just as molecules on the earth are made up of the same chemicals, so the ethics, morals and values of humanity are made up of one or more of the virtues. Using the Virtues will give you access to each system.
While traveling recently in Northern Wisconsin, I came upon this document in the Ojibwe Museum and Cultural Center in Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin. What beautiful teachings.