Thursday, April 25, 2013



Wikipedia defines vice as “a practice or a behavior generally considered immoral, depraved, or degrading in the associated society”.  In more minor usage, vice can refer to a fault, a negative character trait, a defect, or a bad or unhealthy habit. 

The poet Dante Alighieri identified these as the seven deadly vices:

Ø  Pride/vanity
Ø  Envy/jealousy
Ø  Wrath/anger
Ø  Sloth/laziness
Ø  Avarice (I had to look this one up—it means “greed” or a desire to possess more than one has need or use for)
Ø  Gluttony
Ø  Lust

There’s been some newer thinking about what constitutes a vice.  Those identified above are character traits expressed by actions.  The newer definition of vices looks at emotions that are felt and gives examples of hate, greed, vanity, envy and cruelty (you can see the overlap).  The notion is that these emotional vices are overcome not by suppressing them but rather by feeling and cultivating the opposite virtue.

I’m surprised that none of these examples of vices include criminality.  Maybe that’s because different “associated societies” have different definitions of what constitutes criminal behaviors.  I think people also use the term “vice” in a more casual fashion, such as when they describe their enjoyment of chocolate, or coffee, or even stitching.  I certainly wouldn’t call any of those depraved or immoral!


  1. I agree that nowadays we think of vices in less serious terms, habits that harm us personally more than society as a whole. And yet character flaws that lead to negative behavior in those in authority can have devastating public consequences. Great choice for "V"!

  2. Yet Vice Squad includes drugs and prostitution. I have a vice....buying craft supplies. *hangs head in shame*