The Golden Rule, revised

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GertC
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The Golden Rule, revised

Post by GertC » June 29th, 2012, 7:31 pm

Hello everyone! I was looking for a place where I could get some feedback on this thing I wrote, hope I'm posting it in the right place. Enjoy!


“The Golden Rule”: One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.

This concept describes a "reciprocal" or "two-way" relationship between one's self and others that involves both sides equally and in a mutual fashion. This concept can be explained from the perspective of psychology, philosophy, sociology, religion, etc.: Psychologically it involves a person empathizing with others. Philosophically it involves a person perceiving their neighbor as also "an I" or "self." Sociologically, this principle is applicable between individuals, between groups, and between individuals and groups. (For example, a person living by this rule treats all people with consideration, not just members of his or her in-group.) Religion is an integral part of the history of this concept. (source: Wikipedia)


This rule has since long been considered a standard of moral behavior, and is shared by every religion in some way. I myself have made use of this rule for most of my life. However, today I will share my first attempt at defining a higher standard, an ethical code that can stand the test of time as humanity keeps evolving.

Why do I think the Golden Rule is flawed?

The Golden Rule implies that the correct moral decision on how to treat another can always be found within one’s self. Basically, to comply with the rule you should follow these steps:

1.) Empathize, try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes
2.) Ask yourself: How would I like others to treat me, now that I’m in this situation?
3.) Treat the other person in the way of 2.
4.) Success! You are now treating the other person in a moral way!

First problem: Not everyone is equally capable of putting themselves in other person’s shoes, think of people with autism for example. Does this make them less capable of making moral decisions? A better rule would be one that’s applicable even for people who lack the ability to empathize.

Second problem: Tastes differ, see the example of the sadist described as a masochist following the golden rule. So barring perfect empathy, you are neglecting certain traits of the other person and replacing them with your own. This problem led to The Platinum Rule, treating others as they would like to be treated, by for example asking them. Better, but not quite there. Which brings me to:

Third problem: The way someone would like to be treated is not necessarily a way that’s good for them. I think giving someone what they want (treating others as they would like to be treated) is morally inferior to giving someone what they need (treating others in a way that’s best for them). Think of parents and their children! We could call this The Diamond Rule: One should treat others in the way that’s best for them. The problem here is that it’s very difficult for someone to know what’s best for them, let alone what’s best for someone else.

Now, my definition of what’s ‘best’ for someone is different than the generally accepted idea. I believe what’s fundamentally good for you, is also good for everyone else and vice versa. Put differently: If something is bad for someone, it’s also bad for you. We are all connected, by the planet we inhabit, by the cells we have in common, by every aspect of our lives. John Nash said something along the lines of: “The best result will come where everyone in the group does what is best for himself ... and the group”. I believe doing what’s best for the group is always the same as doing what’s best for yourself. Seperating yourself from the group, by for instance gaining wealth or power (something many would say is a good thing), is not fundamentally good for you. The closer you are to the group, the better for you… and the group. We as a people will be at our absolute best, strongest and happiest when we are all together, as one.

So taking my own views on the subject into account, the most moral way to treat someone else is to do so in a way that’s fundamentally good for everyone. This isn’t easy, and seems impossible to pull off by yourself. If you’re trying to find out what’s good for everyone, you will need to be in touch with everyone. In this time and age that seems impossible. So what do we do?

My answer is two-fold: Research and math. When presented with a problem (such as: How do I treat someone?), do the research. Ask others, read, go online, recall and rethink past decisions, do as much until you have a clear winner, a course of action that is most likely to result in success… success being a solution that’s best for everyone, which also happens to be the best for you! If you use research and math, you cannot fail. Even if the consequences of your decision are completely disastrous, it was still the right decision at the time. You can learn from the consequences, but cannot change the past. You took your time, and took the decision that was most likely to have a good outcome for everyone. That, in my opinion, is truly moral behavior.

Of course this solution can be different each time, even if the question remains the same! If you tried something last time and it didn’t work, it should factor into the equation for the next time. It’s crucial to remain flexible at all times, and when a better solution presents itself, the only moral thing to do is to embrace that solution. If something doesn’t work, find something that does. If something works, stick with it, until you find something that works better.

All of this results in my attempt at a new rule for moral behavior, which is not exactly a replacement for the one I started with (that specified interaction with others), but rather a broad view on moral decision-making: For every problem, try to find the solution that’s most likely to benefit everyone. If later a better solution presents itself, adapt.

If we apply this to the Golden Rule, we get:

One should continuously look for the way to treat others that’s most likely to benefit everyone.

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Re: The Golden Rule, revised

Post by Prismatic » June 29th, 2012, 7:54 pm

I believe it was Oscar Wilde who said, "Do not do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Their tastes may be different."
Everywhere I have sought peace and never found it except in a corner with a book. —Thomas à Kempis

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Re: The Golden Rule, revised

Post by Jinxy » June 29th, 2012, 8:15 pm

I've only been a member here for about a week, and I'm - twice - finding myself suggesting that a poster is thinking too much. LOL. Perhaps I'm in the wrong forum. When a person picks at every word and nuance, they often lose the general gist of a sentiment. And I believe that's the case here. I mean no disrespect, Gert, but I think its a golden rule because of its simplicity - treat others as you'd like to have them treat you. Yes, there will be individuals (perhaps serial killers) who would not like to be treated as they have or will treat others - but as a general rule for a society, I think it stands well.

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Re: The Golden Rule, revised

Post by Spectrum » June 30th, 2012, 2:21 am

Jinxy wrote:I've only been a member here for about a week, and I'm - twice - finding myself suggesting that a poster is thinking too much. LOL. Perhaps I'm in the wrong forum. When a person picks at every word and nuance, they often lose the general gist of a sentiment. And I believe that's the case here. I mean no disrespect, Gert, but I think its a golden rule because of its simplicity - treat others as you'd like to have them treat you. Yes, there will be individuals (perhaps serial killers) who would not like to be treated as they have or will treat others - but as a general rule for a society, I think it stands well.
This is a philosophy forum and 'maximum' thinking is one aspect of philosophy, albeit not imperative for everyone.
'Maximum' does not mean obsession, but rather thinking to the ultimate level of one's intellectual potential.
Philosophy also make provision for diversity, and those who prefer other methods of approaching knowledge should follow their inclination and they the best they can.

In philosophy, there is the Principle of Charity, i.e. in the event of any reasonable doubts, provide the benefit of doubts and assume the other party has good intentions.

The golden rule is established in the context of the overall positiveness of humanity. It cannot be perfect, as such, if there are any exceptions that is negative, it was never intended to be part of the golden rule. Thus the extreme of sadism-masochism context of 'One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself' is not covered within the original intent of the Golden Rule.

The problem of dogmaticism is glaring in immutable holy texts and exposes its limitation when whatever Golden Rule is in the Bible it taken too literally for all occassions without exception.

The plus point for other practical and realistic philosophies are their dynamism.
As such one can look at the Golden Rule from another perspective, re Prismatic's,
'Do not do unto others as you would have them do unto you'
Confucious also stated that.
Even with combining the two, one can still find holes if we dig deep enough.

The other principles we need to take into account is, there is no absolute perfection and completeness
in reality.

Re OP:
'One should continuously look for the way to treat others that’s most likely to benefit everyone.'
This sounds reason, but the definition of 'benefit' may be problematic.

One more effective approach to a principle for moral law is from Kant's
“Act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law.”
The above is only a principle, the effective and practicalness of the above require complex interpretations and entail the cultivation of a spontaneous natural uncontaminated good will (impulse). I believe this would be the ultimate to establish generic moral laws.
Not-a-theist. Religion is a critical necessity for humanity now, but not the FUTURE.

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Re: The Golden Rule, revised

Post by Seremonia » June 30th, 2012, 3:39 am

“The Golden Rule”: One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.

Someone should treat someone else as someone would like someone else to treat someone itself.

Since for someone can be divided into functions, therefore we can widen this statement as: someone & someone self are variables.

Therefore, the first group of functions should treat another group of functions as the first group of functions would like another group of functions to treat the first group of functions, or

One (the first of someone or a group, a community or even bigger) should treat others (the second of someone or a group, a community or even bigger) as one (the first of someone or a group, a community or even bigger) would like others (the second of someone or a group, a community or even bigger) to treat oneself (the first of someone or a group, a community or even bigger)


If we follow these, the result will give us an awareness that there is no way for us to force someone, a group or even bigger community to do as we wish for. Because the bigger of something we are dealing with, the more we are aware the consequences that it's not as easy as it looks like (not always, but closer to this is useful enough).

If we change the point of view: "One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself" as "Women should treat man as women would like man to treat women", and it's an inappropriate attitude, because the golden rule wasn't stated (shouldn't be understood) as simple as this.

The statement "One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself" asserts that one should treat (honestly and relevantly to) others (that differ to us) as one would like others (that differ to us) to treat (with honest and relevantly to) oneself".
The point is: what is in Golden Rule implies our understanding to treat someone and to be treated by someone honestly and proportionally. It's just for us to understand that don't put our effort less than we can do to do properly.
I am free not because I have choices, but I am free because I rely on God with quality assured!

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Re: The Golden Rule, revised

Post by wanabe » July 2nd, 2012, 4:39 pm

GertC,
wanabe wrote:Golden rule+universality principal+Promote benefits-harm+logical consistency=morality
GertC wrote:One should continuously look for the way to treat others that’s most likely to benefit everyone.
We seem to agree.
Secret To Eternal Life: Live Life To The Fullest, Help All Others To Do So.Meaning of Life Is Choice. Increase choice through direct perception. Golden rule+universality principal+Promote benefits-harm+logical consistency=morality.BeTheChange.

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Re: The Golden Rule, revised

Post by GertC » July 2nd, 2012, 7:42 pm

Jinxy wrote:I've only been a member here for about a week, and I'm - twice - finding myself suggesting that a poster is thinking too much. LOL. Perhaps I'm in the wrong forum. When a person picks at every word and nuance, they often lose the general gist of a sentiment. And I believe that's the case here. I mean no disrespect, Gert, but I think its a golden rule because of its simplicity - treat others as you'd like to have them treat you. Yes, there will be individuals (perhaps serial killers) who would not like to be treated as they have or will treat others - but as a general rule for a society, I think it stands well.
Not the first time someone said that to me! However, I actually like the Golden Rule and have made great use of it throughout my life. I just happen to believe that it can be improved, for the greater good. In this way I am following my own rule: The Golden Rule is effective, but if I believe I have found something that works even better, I will adapt.
Spectrum wrote:Re OP: 'One should continuously look for the way to treat others that’s most likely to benefit everyone.' This sounds reason, but the definition of 'benefit' may be problematic.
When I say benefit, I'm talking about growth. Maximum of personal growth for a maximum amount of people. I believe we are progressing towards an utopia of some kind, the faster we grow, the closer we get to said utopia and the more we all benefit.
wanabe wrote:Golden rule+universality principal+Promote benefits-harm+logical consistency=morality
Sounds pretty similar eh? :) Both your way of putting it and mine suffer from the same issue: I suspect there will be many who will not understand what those words mean. I look forward to the day where this rule is formulated in a perfect, elegant way. I believe it can be done, although I realize I'm not quite there yet. I believe it was Einstein who said: "If you can't explain something in a way that's easy to understand, you don't understand it yourself." Guess I still have some thinking to do!

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Re: The Golden Rule, revised

Post by wanabe » July 3rd, 2012, 12:44 pm

Golden rule+universality principal+Promote benefits-harm+logical consistency=morality

In an attempt to make this more understandable to the masses.

1. Golden rule: do on to others as you would have them do on to you. IF you are a crazy sadist, move to step 2.

2. Universality principal: If everyone did this would it promote good outcomes or bad ones.

3. Obviously we want benefits.

4. so we don't do an action if it promotes harm.

5. Use this every time(logical consistency) you possibly can.

and you will be moral
Secret To Eternal Life: Live Life To The Fullest, Help All Others To Do So.Meaning of Life Is Choice. Increase choice through direct perception. Golden rule+universality principal+Promote benefits-harm+logical consistency=morality.BeTheChange.

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Re: The Golden Rule, revised

Post by Prismatic » July 3rd, 2012, 3:27 pm

Any fixed rule for morality—including the so-called Golden Rule—is capable of causing mistakes.

For example, I have a Do Not Resuscitate order filed with my primary care physician and my cardiologist. In the case of a severe heart attack or stroke, I would not want to be resuscitated outside of a hospital. In view of all the circumstances, at my age (77) it makes no sense because the odds against recovery are so steep. However, it would not do for me to make a decision not to resuscitate some one else on the basis of my own wishes.
Everywhere I have sought peace and never found it except in a corner with a book. —Thomas à Kempis

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Re: The Golden Rule, revised

Post by wanabe » July 3rd, 2012, 3:52 pm

Prismatic,

What about fixed a rule set as I have outlined above?

Everything you said in post #9 follows what I have outlined above in post #8.
Secret To Eternal Life: Live Life To The Fullest, Help All Others To Do So.Meaning of Life Is Choice. Increase choice through direct perception. Golden rule+universality principal+Promote benefits-harm+logical consistency=morality.BeTheChange.

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Re: The Golden Rule, revised

Post by Prismatic » July 3rd, 2012, 6:46 pm

wanabe wrote:Prismatic,

What about fixed a rule set as I have outlined above?

Everything you said in post #9 follows what I have outlined above in post #8.
It doesn't seem to be fixed—there is an escape clause in there.
Everywhere I have sought peace and never found it except in a corner with a book. —Thomas à Kempis

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Re: The Golden Rule, revised

Post by wanabe » July 3rd, 2012, 7:18 pm

It doesn't seem to be fixed—there is an escape clause in there.
And that is?
Secret To Eternal Life: Live Life To The Fullest, Help All Others To Do So.Meaning of Life Is Choice. Increase choice through direct perception. Golden rule+universality principal+Promote benefits-harm+logical consistency=morality.BeTheChange.

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Re: The Golden Rule, revised

Post by Prismatic » July 3rd, 2012, 9:50 pm

wanabe wrote:
It doesn't seem to be fixed—there is an escape clause in there.
And that is?
No. 4. We don't do an action if it is harmful.
Everywhere I have sought peace and never found it except in a corner with a book. —Thomas à Kempis

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Re: The Golden Rule, revised

Post by Spectrum » July 3rd, 2012, 11:56 pm

wanabe wrote:Golden rule+universality principal+Promote benefits-harm+logical consistency=morality

In an attempt to make this more understandable to the masses.

1. Golden rule: do on to others as you would have them do on to you. IF you are a crazy sadist, move to step 2.

2. Universality principal: If everyone did this would it promote good outcomes or bad ones.

3. Obviously we want benefits.

4. so we don't do an action if it promotes harm.

5. Use this every time(logical consistency) you possibly can.

and you will be moral


The above is too conditional, i.e. upon benefits and any conditions.

Note Kant's universal law that is driven by duty (i.e. unconditional spontaneous impulses).
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Re: The Golden Rule, revised

Post by wanabe » July 4th, 2012, 1:04 am

Prismatic,

Please explain how that(#4) is an escape clause from acting morally. Not doing harm is the negative way to say the positive "promote benefits". If I were to use the more ambiguous version without #4 what would be the problem?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Spectrum,
Spectrum wrote: The above is too conditional, i.e. upon benefits and any conditions.

Note Kant's universal law that is driven by duty (i.e. unconditional spontaneous impulses).
I understand that benefits and harm are both subjective and temporary, however I don't see how that condition would prevent us from following this system. We can only act based on what we perceive at the time, we can usually go back and remedy any moral mistakes made; or at least do something to make up for a temporary moral short coming.
Secret To Eternal Life: Live Life To The Fullest, Help All Others To Do So.Meaning of Life Is Choice. Increase choice through direct perception. Golden rule+universality principal+Promote benefits-harm+logical consistency=morality.BeTheChange.

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