Is there honor in EVE? Is there honor in piracy? This question is brought up quite often around New Eden. Personally, I've been dumbfounded at the discourse on the subject; here is my attempt to set things straight.
Is there honor in EVE? Of course. However you may define "honor," it exists in EVE. There are pilots who would never initiate aggression against others, pilots who would never take from someone else's jettisoned cargo container, pilots who honor their 1-vs.-1's, pirates who honor their ransoms, pilots who never lie, etc. etc. etc. There are also pilots who lie, cheat, and steal every chance they get. And then there are pilots who are some custom honor blend--pirates who honor ransoms and 1-vs.-1's but will gank a 5-minute-old noob; otherwise trustworthy characters who succumb to the temptation of billions of ISK in corporate assets. If we envision a spectrum with "completely honorable in every conceivable way" on one end, and "the epitome of despicability, lying cheating scum" on the other, we could chart the pilots of New Eden and find that they are spread out across that spectrum. (Actually, people are more complex; it's more like a three-dimensional axis than a two-dimensional spectrum. Consider, for example, the pirate that honor ransoms, and always kills and pods so his ransom offers will be taken seriously. Or consider RMT, economic PVP, etc.)
This seems so totally self-evident to me, and perhaps you find yourself nodding thoughtfully. So what do people mean when they declare, loudly (and often with ridicule), "Of course there's no honor in EVE; it's just a game!" I contend that what they're really trying to do is argue that there should be no consequences for flying dishonorably. Everybody should like and respect the dishonorable (again, however you define "honor") just as much as the so-called honorable, and not shun them or point out their behavior or make them feel bad. Good luck with that. Since EVE pilots fall on a spectrum, like it or not what people think about any given pilot will also be spread out over some kind of spectrum.
Hmm. Now as I think of it, perhaps those asking the question, "Is there honor in EVE?" are being a little bit disingenous themselves. Are not they really arguing that everyone should fly with honor--in fact, with their flavor of it? They want to feel better about being duped, and they want their tormentors to feel bad. Based on the responses they get (many from people trying to justify some other standard of honor or dishonor), they'll need some luck of their own.
My view is that yes, EVE is a game; just as in chess one player tries to deceive the other as to his true intentions, so in New Eden pilots can, may, and will backstab one another, lie to one another, cheat one another, and abuse one another's trust. How one plays his role in EVE is not how one lives his (real) life. This is EVE working as intended. But EVE is "multiplayer"--it's social. People have reputations, they want reputations, and honor can serve as one of the criteria people use to form their identities. At the end of the day, each of us must play the game in a way that's fun for ourselves. For some, that means being noble and true--a nobility all more enobling for being optional. For others, it means being honest, if rascally. For yet others, it means lying, cheating, and backstabbing--only dishonorable if one protests "it has to be that way." It's that spectrum. We all must deal with it.
I have friends from across the spectrum. I recognize more than one definition of "honor" in our common context--or rather, I recognize that the definition of "honor" is subjective, and EVE is massively multiplayer. I pay attention to how pilots and corporations and alliances with which I am familiar behave; I want to know with whom it is and isn't safe to duel. I follow the "name and shame" threads, glad to know the names, not sure about the shame. I check the "corp thief" list everytime someone applies to the Tuskers. I have chosen to fly with pirates (we initiate non-consensual destruction and death) who honor their ransoms and their 1-v.-1's (though, being smart, there are precious few of those). I live for chances to gank others, but if I say I won't gank you, I won't; I keep my word. To some that still makes me a slimy griefer, to others I'm an out-of-touch goody-goody. Whatever. I'm having fun.