Honor Principle

The Honor Principle

Living with the Honor Principle is one of the challenging aspects of becoming part of the Reed community. But what is the Honor Principle? It has no official definition; you won’t find it in the community constitution or tucked away in some obscure governance document. Nevertheless, all members of the community are bound by the Honor Principle.

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The most common formulation of the Honor Principle states that any action that causes unnecessary pain or discomfort to any member of the Reed community, group within the community, or to the community as a whole, is a violation of the Honor Principle. While most people would agree with these points, this is an interpretation of the Honor Principle rather than a definition. The fact is that the Honor Principle has never been officially defined.
 
Instead, each member of the Reed community must work to develop an understanding of it, both as an individual and as a community member. The Honor Principle gives us a space to conceive of what kind of life or action we truly consider good. Coming to find what you think honorable behavior is and what the Honor Principle means is a morally and intellectually challenging part of your Reed education. You should keep this in mind as you read and think about the Honor Principle.

"Coming to find what you think honorable behavior is and what the Honor Principle means is a morally and intellectually challenging part of your Reed education."
 
This handbook explores how the Honor Principle can be both useful and used, despite the fact that it is not explicitly defined. We hope to help you think about what the Honor Principle is and how it works. The Honor Principle is not an easy way to run community affairs: it would be much easier to impose numerous rules and regulations, the route chosen by many other colleges and universities.
 
Reed, however, remains committed to the notion that the expectation of honorable conduct is the best way to run its internal affairs. Each individual must recognize and accept the extraordinary responsibility placed on them by the Honor Principle in order for the community to function effectively for everyone.