Senior Theses

Publication Date


Document Type

Thesis (Open Access)

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies


Religious Studies

Faculty Advisor(s)

David Fiordalis

Subject Categories

Applied Ethics | Biblical Studies | Christian Denominations and Sects | Ethics in Religion | Religion


Beliefs are conventionally understood to guide people’s actions. Put another way, the actions which people take are understood to be products of what they believe. However, these claims are challenged by the fact that many Quakers hold that they do not have a creed. This feature of Quakerism creates a tension with the theory that actions must follow from beliefs. That tension prompts a question: How can Quakers make ethical decisions in a clear and decisive manner when they lack a creed? The answer to such a question is significant for two reasons. First, it provides insights into the specific case of Quakerism. Second, it brings about an important examination of the role which creeds play in the ethics of religions in general. Many variations of Quaker ethics resemble virtue ethics. This is not to say that Quakerism and the tradition of virtue ethics share a common origin, as they do not. Rather, the tendencies and values of many Quakers cause them to approach moral dilemmas in a manner which closely resembles that of virtue ethics. Accordingly, virtue ethics can be used as a tool with which one can understand, explain, and defend the ethical reasoning of many Quakers.



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