Thirty Principles of Ethical Living


George Desnoyers


People suddenly placed in the position of having to make a choice, especially if a decision is needed quickly, will be most likely to make a decision that is proper, right, and good if they have given thought beforehand to the principles that can be helpful in decision making.


The following resolutions, if accepted, can help a person in decision making. The grouping into the three categories is only for the purpose of placing similar principles together. In fact, all of these principles will apply to choices in which the decisions made will affect self, others, and society in large.


The thirty principles below are very far from a complete set. Many other principles could be added. Each reader should decide for themselves: (1) which of these thirty principles make sense and are acceptable to them, (2) what modifications would make other of these principles acceptable, and (3) what other – and perhaps completely different - principles of ethical living will be added to their own personal list.



Primarily Personal (Responsibilities toward Self)


  1. I will think before I act.
  2. I will gather sufficient facts before I act.
  3. I will give consideration to the opinions and judgment of others.
  4. I will periodically review and clarify my goals, and consider the implications of my goals on others.
  5. I will consider the consequences of my actions and omissions on myself and others.
  6. I will consider all reasonable options before making decisions.
  7. I will monitor and review the results of my actions.


Primarily Responsibilities toward Others


  1. I will not cheat. I will not steal. I will be honest.
  2. I will be fair to others.
  3. I will not interfere in healthy relationships between others.
  4. I will speak truthfully.
  5. I will be dependable and trustworthy in my interactions with others.
  6. I will root for and encourage the success of others.
  7. I will be tolerant of those who are different from me.
  8. I will respect the rights and freedoms of others.
  9. I will respect boundaries set by others.
  10. I will be impartial and objective when judging others.
  11. I will not take advantage of others when opportunities to do so arise.
  12. I will be open in sharing information. I will respect others people’s right to know. I will willingly provide full disclosure whenever appropriate.
  13. I will work to prevent harm to others.
  14. I will respect privacy and maintain proper confidentialities.
  15. I will faithfully carry out my duties to care for others.
  16. I will support primacy of conscience. I will not put pressure on others to act contrary to their beliefs.


Primarily Responsibilities toward Society


  1. I will seek justice for all, including global justice.
  2. I will willingly comply with reasonable laws in the absence of a compelling reason to disobey.
  3. I will be unselfish and benevolent. I will place the greater good for all above the greatest good for myself.
  4. I will be faithful to my professional responsibilities.
  5. I will avoid real or apparent conflicts of interest.
  6. I will be socially responsible. I will place the welfare of society before my own welfare.
  7. I will be a good steward of the environment.