ⓘ Vice


ⓘ Vice

Vice is a practice, behaviour, or habit generally considered immoral, sinful, criminal, rude, taboo, depraved, or degrading in the associated society. In more minor usage, vice can refer to a fault, a negative character trait, a defect, an infirmity, or a bad or unhealthy habit. Vices are usually associated with a transgression in a persons character or temperament rather than their morality. Synonyms for vice include fault, sin, depravity, iniquity, wickedness, and corruption.

The opposite of vice is virtue.


1. Etymology

The modern English term that best captures its original meaning is the word vicious, which means "full of vice". In this sense, the word vice comes from the Latin word vitium, meaning "failing or defect".


2. Law enforcement

Depending on the country or jurisdiction, vice crimes may or may not be treated as a separate category in the criminal codes. Even in jurisdictions where vice is not explicitly delineated in the legal code, the term vice is often used in law enforcement and judicial systems as an umbrella for crimes involving activities that are considered inherently immoral, regardless of the legality or objective harm involved.

In the United Kingdom, the term vice is commonly used in law and law enforcement to refer to criminal offences related to prostitution and pornography. In the United States, the term is also used to refer to crimes related to drugs, alcohol, and gambling.


2.1. Law enforcement Vice squad

A vice squad, also called a vice unit or a morality squad, is generally, though not always, a police division, whose focus is to restrain or suppress moral crimes. Though what is considered or accepted as a "moral" crime by society often varies considerably according to local laws or customs between nations, countries, or states, it often includes activities such as gambling, narcotics, pornography and illegal sales of alcoholic beverages. Vice squads do not concentrate on more serious crimes like fraud and murder.


3. Religion

Religious police, for example islamic religious police units or sharia police in certain parts of the Arab-speaking world, are morality squads that also monitors for example dress codes, observance of store-closures during prayer time, consumption of unlawful beverages or foods, unrelated males and females socializing, and homosexual behavior.


3.1. Religion Buddhism

In the Sarvastivadin tradition of Buddhism, there are 108 defilements, or vices, which are prohibited. These are subdivided into 10 bonds and 98 proclivities. The 10 bonds are the following:

  • Distraction
  • Drowsiness
  • Parsimony in the sense of stinginess
  • Torpor
  • Anger
  • Jealousy
  • Concealment of wrongdoing
  • Absence of embarrassment
  • Remorse
  • Absence of shame

3.2. Religion Christianity

Christians believe there are two kinds of vice:

  • Vices that come from the physical organism as instincts, which can become perverse such as lust
  • Vices that come from false idolatry in the spiritual realm

The first kind of vice, though sinful, is believed less serious than the second. Vices recognized as spiritual by Christians include blasphemy holiness betrayed, apostasy faith betrayed, despair hope betrayed, hatred love betrayed, and indifference scripturally, a "hardened heart". Christian theologians have reasoned that the most destructive vice equates to a certain type of pride or the complete idolatry of the self. It is argued that through this vice, which is essentially competitive, all the worst evils come into being. In Christian theology, it originally led to the Fall of Man, and, as a purely diabolical spiritual vice, it outweighs anything else often condemned by the Church.


3.3. Religion Roman Catholicism

The Roman Catholic Church distinguishes between vice, which is a habit of sin, and the sin itself, which is an individual morally wrong act. Note that in Roman Catholicism, the word "sin" also refers to the state that befalls one upon committing a morally wrong act. In this section, the word always means the sinful act. It is the sin, and not the vice, that deprives one of Gods sanctifying grace and renders one deserving of Gods punishment. Thomas Aquinas taught that "absolutely speaking, the sin surpasses the vice in wickedness". On the other hand, even after a persons sins have been forgiven, the underlying habit the vice may remain. Just as vice was created in the first place by repeatedly yielding to the temptation to sin, so vice may be removed only by repeatedly resisting temptation and performing virtuous acts; the more entrenched the vice, the more time and effort needed to remove it. Saint Thomas Aquinas says that following rehabilitation and the acquisition of virtues, the vice does not persist as a habit, but rather as a mere disposition, and one that is in the process of being eliminated. Medieval illuminated manuscripts circulated with colorful schemas for developing proper attitudes, with scriptural allusions modelled on nature: the tree of virtues as blossoming flowers or vices bearing sterile fruit, The Renaissance writer Pietro Bembo is credited with reaffirming and promoting the Christian perfection of classical humanism. Deriving all from love or the lack thereof his schemas were added as supplements in the newly invented technology of printing by Aldus Manutius in his editions of Dantes Divine Comedy dating from early in the 16th century.


3.4. Religion Dantes seven deadly vices

The poet Dante Alighieri listed the following seven deadly vices, associating them structurally as flaws in the souls inherent capacity for goodness as made in the Divine Image yet perverted by the Fall:

  • Pride or vanity: an excessive love of the self holding the self outside of its proper position regarding God or fellows; Dantes definition was "love of self perverted to hatred and contempt for ones neighbour". In the Latin lists of the Seven Deadly Sins, pride is referred to as superbia.
  • Sloth or laziness: idleness and wastefulness of time or other allotted resources. Laziness is condemned because it results in others having to work harder; also, useful work will not be done. Sloth is referred to in Latin as accidie or acedia, which vice tempts a self-aware soul to be too easily satisfied, thwarting charitys purpose as insufficiently perceptible within the soul itself or abjectly indifferent in relationship with the needs of others and their satisfaction, an escalation in evil, more odious than the passion of hate
  • Gluttony: overindulgence in food, drink or intoxicants, or misplaced desire of food as a pleasure for its sensuality "excessive love of pleasure" was Dantes rendering. In the Latin lists of the Seven Deadly Sins, gluttony is referred to as gula.
  • Wrath or anger: feelings of hatred, revenge or denial, as well as punitive desires outside of justice Dantes description was "love of justice perverted to revenge and spite". In the Latin lists of the Seven Deadly Sins, wrath is referred to as ira, which primitive vices tempt astray by increasingly perverting the proper purpose of charity, directing it inwards, leading to a disordered navel-gazing preoccupation with personal goods in isolation absent proper harmonious relations leading to violent disruption of balance with others.
  • Lust: excessive sexual desire. Dantes criterion was that "lust detracts from true love". In the Latin lists of the Seven Deadly Sins, lust is referred to as luxuria, which vices tempt cultivated souls in their ability to direct charitys proper purpose to good things or actions, by indulging excess. Thus in Dantes estimation the souls detachment from sensual appetites become the vices most difficult to tame, urges not as easily curbed by mere good manners since inflamed via appropriate use rather than inappropriate misuse. Hence conventional respect for the ninth and tenth commandments against coveting and social customs that encourage custody of the eyes and ears become prudent adjuncts to training against vice.
  • Avarice covetousness, greed: a desire to possess more than one has need or use for or according to Dante, "excessive love of money and power". In the Latin lists of the Seven Deadly Sins, avarice is referred to as avaritia.
  • Envy or jealousy: resentment of others for their possessions Dante: "love of ones own good perverted to a desire to deprive other men of theirs". In the Latin lists of the Seven Deadly Sins, envy is referred to as invidia.

The first three terraces of purgatory expiate the sins which can be considered to arise from love perverted, that is, sins which arise from the heart of the sinner being set upon something which is wrong in the eyes of God. Those being purged here must have their love set upon the right path. The fourth terrace of purgatory expiates the sins which can be considered to arise from love defective, that is, love which, although directed towards the correct subjects is too weak to drive the sinner to act as they should. Those being purged here must have their love strengthened so as to drive them correctly. The fifth, sixth, and seventh terraces of purgatory expiate the sins which can be considered to arise from love excessive, that is, love which although directed towards ends which God considers good is directed towards them too much for the sinner to gain bliss from them, and also so that the sinner is distracted from the love of other things of which God approves. Their love must be cooled to a more sensible level.


3.5. Religion Islam

The Quran and many other Islamic religious writings provide prohibitions against acts that are seen as immoral.

Ibn abi Dunya, a 9th-century scholar and tutor to the caliphs, described seven censures prohibitions against vices in his writings:

  • Intoxicants
  • Slander
  • Instruments of pleasure
  • Obscenity
  • Ire
  • Envy