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The Golden Rule as a basis for rights

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If you understand me then I would be happy to continue discussing the justification of the Golden Rule, with the knowledge that it does require some justification.  If not then live long and prosper.

 

I hear you, and essentially agree with your comments.  Moreover I sense that we share an appreciation for looking under the hood to see how philosophical engines work, rather than just kicking the tires and calling it good.  I would appreciate your thoughts on what the primary justification for the rule is, if not as a means of aligning oneself with actions that are mutually beneficial and avoidance of actions that are mutually detrimental.

 

Trek on :thumbsup:

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The evasion of reality it must've taken to get to this conclusion is mind blowing.

This is not the basis of objective morality. You are confusing ethics and politics here. Objective morality would still be required on a desert isle. The issue of politics, rights, and TGR would not be a factor on that isle.

 

I was going for objective morality in the broader sense as practiced in a courtroom, where a jury of ones peers isn't likely to be filled with Objectivists.  The rule still applies to lifeboats, which is part of my argument, and I could probably make a case for desert isles, e.g., is it hoped that others will come to the rescue which would have some impact on ones actions, but your point is taken.

 

Taking a break for the weekend.

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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@ dream_weaver & Eiuol,   let me see if I can clean this up a bit...

 

Given the standard by which one makes moral judgements is man's life, the simple answer to your question is, you can't avoid the rule.

 

1) Do you do unto others?  If so...

2) Is it reasonable to expect that others are observing and judging you by your actions?  If so...

3) Is this not how evidence in a courtroom is weighed to determine whether your actions are good or bad in terms of how they effect other lives?

 

The jury of your peers is other men, and they certainly will express some opinion as to whether or not you're playing nice, or need a time out, and the standard they will use is their lives.  Is this not the basis of objective morality, and in particular how rights are justified?

 

3) Is it reasonable to consider how ones actions might be judged by others to be mutually beneficial or detrimental, thereby effecting how they are likely to respond?

 

It seems to me that when you say, "I already don't use it and think it's bad to use it," that you are acknowledging some moral principle promoted by acting according to the rule; specifically a bad one. No??

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1) Do you do unto others?  If so...

2) Is it reasonable to expect that others are observing and judging you by your actions?  If so...

 

Yes and yes. The principle here is judge and prepared to be judged as you've aptly noted earlier.

 

Leonard Peikoff uses a nice example he brings out in his Induction in Physics and Philosophy Q & A at the end of the first session.

 

Ayn Rand points out that evil people are irrational.

Somewhere else, she pointed out that irrational people are illogical.

Now what makes a person illogical is they commit logical fallacies.

Therefore the conclusion must be that people who commit logical fallacies are evil.

 

There is something wrong with this reasoning. He addresses what is wrong in the second Q & A session, indicating how it is an example of

rationalism, rather than reasoning.

 

Do you know the difference between rule of law and rule of morality (even objective morality) a.k.a. rule of men, and why one might be preferred over the other?

Can you think of any regimes on this planet that use the rule of 'morality' as the guiding premise for administering the affairs of the people over whom they exercise force over? One specific that come to my mind would be Iran.

 

Man's rights as a moral principle used as a foundation establishing and guiding the rule of law is not the same as the law being some force or rule as a moral agency.

Edited by dream_weaver
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"Yes and yes. The principle here is judge and prepared to be judged as you've aptly noted earlier." ~ dream_weaver

 

Thank you.  We can agree then, that judgement is a significant part of the rule.  As you have not responded to my 3rd point, I'm guessing there remains some work left to be done with my argument...

 

I agree and appreciate the remainder of your comments.  I am not seeking to validate the rule as a catagorical imperative.  WHAT?!

 

I believe Kant overreaches with the rule to the degree that free-will is negated.  The rule is not a commandment in the form, "thou shalt".  The rule is an observation in the form, "be consistent".  Here's the distinction:

 

1) Thou shalt swim = commandment

2) If thou swim, prepare to get wet = observation

 

What say you?

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3) Is it reasonable to consider how ones actions might be judged by others to be mutually beneficial or detrimental, thereby effecting how they are likely to respond?

 

Absolutely.  For example, a good reason to pay your taxes is because otherwise, various members of the IRS are likely to do some thoroughly unpleasant things to you.

However, as far as "doing unto others as you'd have them do to you," if I started demanding that everyone pay taxes to me I'd want anyone who could see the problems therein to inform me of them; teach me why that's wrong.

 

So yes, it's perfectly logical to base certain decisions on your beliefs about other people.  To do so in adherence to the Golden Rule, in that scenario, would mean calling up the IRS to explain in philosophical terms why you're simply refusing to pay your taxes.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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3) Is it reasonable to consider how ones actions might be judged by others to be mutually beneficial or detrimental, thereby effecting how they are likely to respond?

 

It seems to me that when you say, "I already don't use it and think it's bad to use it," that you are acknowledging some moral principle promoted by acting according to the rule; specifically a bad one. No??

In general, I do not take into consideration how my actions might be perceived by others. I like the Spanish Miss Rand cited in The Objectivist-July 1970 under Causality versus Duty:

"God said: Take what you want and pay for it."

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Absolutely.  For example, a good reason to pay your taxes is because otherwise, various members of the IRS are likely to do some thoroughly unpleasant things to you.

...

 

Thank you. Then we can agree that to a significant degree, a rational actor follows the rule as a matter of course.

 

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However, as far as "doing unto others as you'd have them do to you," if I started demanding that everyone pay taxes to me I'd want anyone who could see the problems therein to inform me of them; teach me why that's wrong.

...

 

Exactly, which is why judgment is necessary, but moreover why it remains necessary to defend an accurate representation of the rule. It is not, for example, an entitlement to bend others to your will.

 

...

So yes, it's perfectly logical to base certain decisions on your beliefs about other people.  To do so in adherence to the Golden Rule, in that scenario, would mean calling up the IRS to explain in philosophical terms why you're simply refusing to pay your taxes.

 

Yes, exactly. And it would be correct for you to do so, but it also requires the agreement of the IRS to the rightness of your terms and then to back down; thus doing as you would have them do unto you. Here I'm considering notable examples of the rule provided by likes of Gandhi and Martin Luther King.

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Yes, exactly. And it would be correct for you to do so, but it also requires the agreement of the IRS to the rightness of your terms and then to back down; thus doing as you would have them do unto you.

 

But if this dictates that I risk my own interests for the sake of those who may reciprocate such a gesture, but who may just as easily hang me by my own principles, then doesn't that make it in fact a handicap to actually living on Earth?

 

The treatment given to Gandhi and Martin Luther King was indeed remarkable, throughout all of those years they struggled for their ideals; right up until both of them were eventually murdered in cold blood.  That does not seem like a particularly desirable prospect to me.

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But if this dictates that I risk my own interests for the sake of those who may reciprocate such a gesture, but who may just as easily hang me by my own principles, then doesn't that make it in fact a handicap to actually living on Earth?

...

 

Hanged by your own principles?  Here I think you exaggerate.  If your principle is non-aggression, then those who hang you are aggressors not following your lead.  The only significant handicap is whether your principles are worth risking your life for.

 

..

The treatment given to Gandhi and Martin Luther King was indeed remarkable, throughout all of those years they struggled for their ideals; right up until both of them were eventually murdered in cold blood.  That does not seem like a particularly desirable prospect to me.

 

Neither were murdered by the "others" their actions were directed at, and that is what was remarkable; not that there remained still "others" who murder, which is to be expected.

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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In general, I do not take into consideration how my actions might be perceived by others. I like the Spanish Miss Rand cited in The Objectivist-July 1970 under Causality versus Duty:

"God said: Take what you want and pay for it."

 

And Nature said, "I'm willing to work with you, but have some respect." ~ Sir Francis Bacon, paraphrased

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Historical origin of the rule: (source: http://history.howstuffworks.com/historical-events/code-of-hammurabi2.htm )

 

"You've probably heard of the ancient law of "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." For a time, people thought this idea, called lex talionis (law of retribution), originated with Moses and Hebrew law."

 

"Historians were surprised to find the idea of lex talionis in a code that predated Mosaic Law (the laws of Moses and the Hebrews) by a couple hundred years. Many jumped to the conclusion that Mosaic Law evolved from the Code of Hammurabi. Scholars quickly dismissed this idea and have come to accept that both probably share a common origin;"  (emphasis mine)

 

As the Code of Hammurabi  is "one of the oldest deciphered writings of significant length in the world"

(source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_of_Hammurabi ), one can conclude that the rule predates historical records.  This implies reciprocity was a central theme in human thought going back to the origins of humanity.  If that's a streatch, it is fair to say it certainly predates most of what was later interesting enough to write about.  It was certainly well established by the time 'A=A' was penned, as reflected in Aristotle's observation about how one should behave toward their friends.

 

Doesn't this imply the rule is nearly self-evident, at least in terms of the kind of evidence the signers of the DoI considered persuasive?  In particular, that the presumption the rule makes has yet to be overturned by logical analysis??  It seems obvious that the rule currently is the basis of the rights we enjoy, and the question is, "what ought to replace it?"

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After 240+ posts of contention over TGR, how is a conclusion reached that it is nearly self-evident?

 

In a letter to John Hospers, Ayn Rand wrote:

In paragraphs 2 and 3, page 2 of your comments, you provide a full and unanswerable refutation of the Golden Rule and the Kantian imperative, when you give examples of how two opposite, arbitrary policies (of an altruistic and "egoistic" nature) could be pursued in strict compliance with either of those rules. Once you demonstrate it, it is sufficient ground to invalidate both rules as guiding principles of action.

 

Paragraphs 2 and 3 and page 2 of comments were not published in the Letters of Ayn Rand.

 

Clearly, though, Hospers included what Miss Rand considered to be a thorough refutation via logical analysis. After pointing out that TGR leads to ethical subjectivism she clarifies to Hospers that she doesn't base her ethics or politics on TGR.

 

Hospers wrote:

"Your insisting (rightly, I believe) that Mr. A, B and C have the same rights that you do, would seem to lead naturally to the Golden Rule... and to the Kantian categorical imperative .... "

Rand responded:

My answer is that I base men's equal rights on a much deeper premise and issue than either of these two rules [TGR and TKCI]—and, therefore, these two rules are irrelevant to my ethics. I do not regard them as necessarily antagonistic to my ethics, but as irrelevant and unimportant by reason of their ambiguity and superficiality.

 

From the phrasing in this exchange - Hospers may have been suggesting that Miss Rand's egoism somehow rested on it.

 

In another passage from the same letter:

If, however, these two rules [TGR and TKCI] are advocated as ethical primaries—then I am emphatically opposed to them. In their literal wording, both rules advocate ethical subjectivism, with one's wish as the standard of moral value; both declare, in effect, that one may do anything one wishes, provided one is willing to universalize one's wish.

 

Wikipedia has a fairly extensive page on TGR. Ethical subjectivism, on this matter, is a rather succinct summary.

Edited by dream_weaver
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...

In another passage from the same letter:

If, however, these two rules [TGR and TKCI] are advocated as ethical primaries—then I am emphatically opposed to them. In their literal wording, both rules advocate ethical subjectivism, with one's wish as the standard of moral value; both declare, in effect, that one may do anything one wishes, provided one is willing to universalize one's wish.

...

 

The only wish being universalized is consistency, is it not?  As in that which is derived from the law of identity?

 

A combined form of the law of identity and the rule: A=A and B yourself.

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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The only wish being universalized is consistency, is it not?  As in that which is derived from the law of identity?

 

A combined form of the law of identity and the rule: A=A and B yourself.

To derive it from the law of identity requires grasping the law of identity. 

 

A is A is unambibuous?  Hmm...  A duck is a duck, a person is a person, a book is a book, a philosophy is a philosophy...  I guess there's no difference between Huey, Dewey, and Louie; between Hitler and Ghandi; between the Bible and I.T.O.E; or between Altruism and Objectivism.  And we can easily combine the idea that "a thing is what it is" with "what will be will be", and produce a hit song about Objectivism called, Que sera sera.

Is this a proper grasp of the law of identity?

 

Huey, Dewey and Louie are three particular ducks. Huey is Huey, Dewey is Dewey, and Louie is Louie. A duck is a duck first requires you to form the concept of duck by dropping the measurements that distinguish Huey from Dewey and Louie and see the similarities that serve as the basis for integrating them into a new unit designated as duck thereafter. It is only then, that ducks are seen as ducks, with Huey, Dewey and Louie serving as three referents of the opened ended concept of duck that integrates and stands for every duck that ever was, is, or ever will be.

 

Before consistency can be universalized, one has to be able to universalize,

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Actually, I said what I meant, and I meant what I said, but to apply it on this deeper level - before consistency with regard to the application of the law of identity can be realized, one has to be willing to act consistently in the application of the law of identity; and I agree. In this case I did not have to guess, infer or interpret. I was told.

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Pfui.  This ammounts to claiming that before consistent application can be realized, consistent application must occur, i.e., one must act consistent to be consistent.  Is this being contested?

I'm a caveman who chooses to interact with other cavies.  The law of identity is sufficiently understood by me to identify others and myself as cavemen.  Because I'm a caveman I understand what is beneficial or detrimental to cavemen in general, e.g., I know what keeps us alive and I know what kills us.  This may represent a primitive form of knowledge, but reliable knowledge nonetheless.

Somewhere along the line, by observation or being told, I learn that treating others as a group that includes myself produces more stable, healthy relationships than acting unilaterally or going it alone.  I may choose to act on that knowledge or dismiss it, but I tend to be less secure when I treat other cavies unilaterally, or go it alone.  In any case, those patterns of behavior that promote mutual benefit and avoid mutual detriment are apparent even to me, a lowly, slope headed cavie.

I pass what I've found to be useful on to the next generation of cavies because it tends to be reliable, like knowing what kind of things are safe for us to eat and what kind of things make us sick, or what makes us happy and what pisses us off.  And somewhere down the line, someone else adds definition to the rule because they got bigger brains, but the efficacy of the rule remains pretty much the same in practice.

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Well, collectivism or tribalism (however you want to identify the political structure of the cavemen as) is another ideology which TGR does not explicitly (or implicitly) discourage. The method of non-contradictory identification had not yet been discovered - though even in its absence, many conclusions were reached, some of which moved them forward, while others postponed such progress. This would be in alignment, or consistent with your approach, or method of applying conclusions thus far.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_Satan

According to the Satanic Bible (written by Anton Szandor LeVay and published in 1969), you should be a "lion before your enemies" so that they learn not to irritate you.  Lions have been known to devour their own offspring.  Anton Szandor LeVay lived in California.  There no lions in California.  That's why cannibalism is moral in California.

 

"Historians were surprised to find the idea of lex talionis in a code that predated Mosaic Law (the laws of Moses and the Hebrews) by a couple hundred years. Many jumped to the conclusion that Mosaic Law evolved from the Code of Hammurabi. Scholars quickly dismissed this idea and have come to accept that both probably share a common origin;"  (emphasis mine)

 

Human sacrifice was routinely practiced in all of the most ancient societies.  Cannibalism predates man.  The Church of Satan, however, frowns upon human sacrifice (unless you're in an exceptionally foul mood).  Rape is another ancient tradition, from before the dawn of mankind, which is still practiced today.

 

Statistically speaking, your genes and mine probably share a common origin which somehow involves rape.

 

As the Code of Hammurabi  is "one of the oldest deciphered writings of significant length in the world"

(source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_of_Hammurabi ), one can conclude that the rule predates historical records.  This implies reciprocity was a central theme in human thought going back to the origins of humanity. 

 

Most ancient societies, including the Chinese, Nordic and Egyptian, ritualistically killed every woman once her husband died, because she was his property.  This idea of women as property was indisputably a central theme of the earliest philosophies and also continues today, by the reasoning that women are men's natural inferiors.  The Church of Satan rejects that, however, because not all women are weaklings.

 

In those societies which still consider women to be property, "rape" is almost unheard of; we can infer from this that it doesn't happen.  Anton Szandor LeVay drew many conclusions from the fact that history is written by the mighty.

 

It seems obvious that the rule currently is the basis of the rights we enjoy, and the question is, "what ought to replace it?"

 

Attila the Hun with a nuclear warhead, "why not"?  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aum_Shinrikyo  Everyone knows we should be more like Lions, anyway.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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Lions, cannibals and barbarians, oh my!

 

OK, lets review:

Scare others as you would have them scare you ~ the rule according to lions

Eat others as you would have them eat you ~ the rule according to cannibals

Conqure others as you would have them conqure you ~ the rule according to barbarians

 

...

However, as far as "doing unto others as you'd have them do to you," if I started demanding that everyone pay taxes to me I'd want anyone who could see the problems therein to inform me of them; teach me why that's wrong.

...

 

Sounds to me like a more consistent practice of the rule would be to identify aggression as being neither mutually beneficial nor detrimental, and to teach aggressors why their version of the rule is misapplied.

 

Don't regress.

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I thought of a new moral principle, upon which all rights have been derived:

"Breath."

That's it. Just... breath. It has been understood since the very dawn of humanity, indeed since the apes before us, that breathing is good, and understood to be good between all and for all. Implicit in everything was a kind of Knowledge that without breathing, men could not exist together. It might be argued that breathing has enforced the idea that without the breathing of other men, no rights may have ever been developed or secured. Has breathing shown men that without the breathing of all, none might have breathed in the first place? I would argue, yes.

It is apparent that The Breath has been the foundation of civilization -- without dispute nor question, I would argue.

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Well, collectivism or tribalism (however you want to identify the political structure of the cavemen as) is another ideology which TGR does not explicitly (or implicitly) discourage. The method of non-contradictory identification had not yet been discovered - though even in its absence, many conclusions were reached, some of which moved them forward, while others postponed such progress. This would be in alignment, or consistent with your approach, or method of applying conclusions thus far.

 

We are agreed (or should be by now) that history shows people doing unto others according to their judgement of normal human behavior as a matter of course, with the rule simply indicating the consistency of their actions.  The problem all along was that kings did what kings did, subjects did what subjects did, warriors did what warriors did, etc., with each group believing they represented a different kind of man.

Consider the logic of the author of A=A:

 

"But is there any one thus intended by nature to be a slave, and for whom such a condition is expedient and right, or rather is not all slavery a violation of nature?

 

There is no difficulty in answering this question, on grounds both of reason and of fact. For that some should rule and others be ruled is a thing not only necessary, but expedient; from the hour of their birth, some are marked out for subjection, others for rule."

 

"Aristole's theory of slavery is found in Book I, Chapters iii through vii of the Politics. and in Book VII of the Nicomachean Ethics"

http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl302/distance_arc/las_casas/Aristotle-slavery.html

 

The other "A", who Ayn Rand appreciated for bringing the philosophy of Aristotle back after the dark ages, had this to say about rulers and the ruled:

 

"The highest manifestation of life consists in this: that a being governs its own actions. A thing which is always subject to the direction of another is somewhat of a dead thing." ~ Thomas Aquinas, 13th Century.

 

It wasn't until recently, very recently in terms of history, that the identity of man was recognized with the degree of consistency necessary to cast away such contradictory distinctions that seemed so normal in the past, although we continue today to struggle with such contradictions under the cover of, "us vs them" in lieu of "man qua man".

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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