Monday, June 6, 2011

Undervaluing Non-Harming: On Brendan Myers on the Wiccan Rede

Hey boys and girls, it's that time of year again! That's right, it's Pagan Values Blogging Month!!

So, what should we discuss? I've got a suggestion: lets discuss noted Pagan philosopher and author Brendan Myers' criticisms of the Wiccan Rede.

Myers' critique is based on his contention that the ethical stance of the Wiccan Rede amounts to what he calls "utilitarianism". In my opinion, Myers is wrong both about what the Wiccan Rede actually means, and about the nature of genuine Utilitarianism.

In a follow-up post to come soon I'll say more about the true philosophical import of "an it harm none", but for now here is Myers in his own words from a discussion he initiated in March of 2010 at MysticWicks on "Alternatives to the Wiccan Rede" (March 4, 2010) (scroll down for more links):
As some of you may know, I'm not a big fan of the Wiccan Rede. I see it as too utilitarian: this is a problem because some questions of right and wrong have nothing to do with benefit and harm. I also see it as too 'negative': it tells us what we should not do, but does not offer positive alternatives. It's an ethic of freedom, which is obviously a good thing, but the Rede doesn't teach anything about what our freedom is for.

My own preferred alternative is a system of heroic honour and classical civic virtue. But this is perhaps not the only alternative.

Anyone else out there find themselves unsatisfied with the Wiccan Rede? What alternatives do you prefer?

Last edited by BrendanMyers; March 4th, 2010 at 09:38 PM.
Other relevant links (writings on ethics by Brendan Myers available online):

Other (more or less) related posts on Pagan Ethics (with a special emphasis on Socratic ethics) from this blog:

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