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The Golden Rule as a basis for rights

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Don't regress.

I'm not.  I'm addressing the root of the issue, instead of pretending that it's already solved.  If you wish to arrive at the proper conclusion then you must start with the proper premises.

 

And- I truly cannot stress this enough- you're not.

 

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.

 

We should also be agreed that water is composed of one Oxygen and two Hydrogen atoms, but this is a discussion of rights.

 

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.

Not even remotely close.  My last post was an attempt to illustrate absurdity by being absurd; specifically the absurdity of your conclusion (although I am sorry for my sideways approach to it; that wasn't necessary).

 

We should be agreed that the Church of Satan holds stupidity to be man's cardinal sin.  When you are able to realize why that's wrong- and how unbelievably close it is to being right- then we'll have something to work with.  Until then you should try to figure out what "Attila with a nuclear bomb" means.

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

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

 

For someone with such a profound (and admirable) dedication to principles, your cavalier treatment of ideas is truly astonishing.

 

Where do you think principles come from?

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Harrison Danneskjold, on 09 Sept 2014 - 1:36 PM, said:

I'm not. I'm addressing the root of the issue, instead of pretending that it's already solved. If you wish to arrive at the proper conclusion then you must start with the proper premises.

And- I truly cannot stress this enough- you're not.

...

Fair enough. With regard to this topic, my premise is that the right to life of one man implies the right to life of all men.

My understanding of the Objectivist position regarding the right to life, is that it is the source of all rights. Beyond that, I've noticed that opinions vary as to whether this right is inalienable, or even means the same thing from one individual to the next. My position is that it is inalienable and simply means that life, as a property, belongs to the person living it.

I consider the following statement to be supportive of my premise and that it reflects an application of the rule in its positive form:

"The only 'obligation' involved in individual rights is an obligation imposed, not by the state, but by the nature of reality (i.e., by the law of identity): consistency, which, in this case, means the obligation to respect the rights of others, if one wishes ones own rights to be recognized and protected." ~ ARL, Individual Rights

Typically when I cite this statement to support my view, I am assured by others that it doesn't mean what I think it does, and yet I cannot derive any other meaning from it; it's the wall I keep crashing into.

Enlighten me

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Also from the ARL:

The source of man’s rights is not divine law or congressional law, but the law of identity. A is A—and Man is Man. Rights are conditions of existence required by man’s nature for his proper survival. If man is to live on earth, it is right for him to use his mind, it is right to act on his own free judgment, it is right to work for his values and to keep the product of his work. If life on earth is his purpose, he has a right to live as a rational being: nature forbids him the irrational. Any group, any gang, any nation that attempts to negate man’s rights, is wrong, which means: is evil, which means: is anti-life.

Again, I see strong overtones of the Spanish proverb that I cited earlier.

 

From the 21 included passages under "Individual Rights" from the ARL you cherry pick the one that includes "obligation" (i.e., duty) while seemingly brushing aside examples such as:

“Rights” are a moral concept—the concept that provides a logical transition from the principles guiding an individual’s actions to the principles guiding his relationship with others—the concept that preserves and protects individual morality in a social context—the link between the moral code of a man and the legal code of a society, between ethics and politics. Individual rights are the means of subordinating society to moral law.

Is this "Do unto others, as you would have others do unto you", or "Exercise your moral code (your inalienable individual right), and let others exercise their moral codes (their inalienable individual rights)"?

 

Even when selecting your cherry picked example from "Aristotle on Slavery", you conveniently overlooked the contradiction Aristotle failed to see as such (a contradiction): "The trouble with this theory, as Aristotle quite explicitly states, is that the right kind of souls and bodies do not always go together!"

 

As Miss Rand states through John Galt:  

If I were to speak your kind of language, I would say that man's only moral commandment is: Thou shalt think. But a 'moral commandment' is a contradiction in terms. The moral is the chosen, not the forced; the understood, not the obeyed. The moral is the rational, and reason accepts no commandments.
 

My morality, the morality of reason, is contained in · single axiom: existence exists—and in a single choice: to live. The rest proceeds from these.

 

Ponder this if you decide try to reconcile 'moral commandment' with "obligation".

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"The only 'obligation' involved in individual rights is an obligation imposed, not by the state, but by the nature of reality (i.e., by the law of identity): consistency, which, in this case, means the obligation to respect the rights of others, if one wishes ones own rights to be recognized and protected." ~ ARL, Individual Rights

Typically when I cite this statement to support my view, I am assured by others that it doesn't mean what I think it does, and yet I cannot derive any other meaning from it; it's the wall I keep crashing into.

Enlighten me

 

The meaning of the obligation to "respect the rights of others, if one wishes ones own rights to be recognized and protected" can vary wildly, depending on what we mean by "rights".  Let's start with the right to life. 

 

If I said that I have a right to life, and by "life" I meant a virtual life on someone else's video game, then I would be wrong.  Even though I had used all of the right words in the right way, I would be using them to refer to something that isn't mine to claim.  If I said that I have the right to a life, and meant the right to party every day without consequences, then my 'right' would mean something that cannot be achieved in this universe (and I would once again be completely wrong).

If this "right to life" can be violated by the very absence of food and water (as life itself can be) then Rand's own principle would support Welfare Statism; it would mean "feed others unless you want to starve".  If this right extends to robbers and murderers then the forceful defense of rights could only be another violation of rights, by the same principle, and that results in a logical knot that buries the concept of "rights" altogether.

 

So while Rand's principle is true and moral if you understand it properly, there are a mind-boggling number of other ways it could be interpreted and almost all of them are false; a good portion would probably have disastrous results for anyone who attempted to practice them.  And it all depends on exactly what you mean by these pivotal "rights".

 

Does all of that make sense, so far?

 

---Edit: Inserted missing 'results' in second-to-last paragraph.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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...

Is this "Do unto others, as you would have others do unto you", or "Exercise your moral code (your inalienable individual right), and let others exercise their moral codes (their inalienable individual rights)"?

...

 

What's the difference?

 

If the morality of reason is, things are what they are, and I choose to live, how does the practice of the former not lead to the latter??

 

The only moral commandment I see is, consistency.

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The meaning of the obligation to "respect the rights of others, if one wishes ones own rights to be recognized and protected" can vary wildly, depending on what we mean by "rights".  Let's start with the right to life. 

....

 

Let's focus on a right to life; specifically on a right to the preservation of ones own life, without imposing any duty on others to assist.

 

Proceed

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Let's focus on a right to life; specifically on a right to the preservation of ones own life, without imposing any duty on others to assist.

Okay.  It's moral for me to defend, support and improve my own life, and immoral for anyone else to oppose it.  As with any other "should" the very first thing we should ask is "why"?

 

The first part is true because "good" is whatever is good for me; really and logically good.  So saying that it's "moral" to defend, support and improve my own life basically means that life is good.  Which it is.  :thumbsup:  More than being a generally pleasant thing, though, life has to be good if anything is good at all.  Death certainly can't be good; death is nothing and "good" is decidedly a thing, as opposed to the absence of anything else.

You could say that having sex or watching Star Trek or eating candy is "good", but all of those things depend first and foremost on being alive (and so does anything else that's "good" in the sense we mean).

 

Now, you could say that not being tired is "good" and not catching ebola is "good", in and of themselves, but neither of those things are actually pleasant in and of themselves; they're just the absence of pain.  If you were to define "good" that way then death could be a good thing, and life evil, but I personally consider it a repugnant gimmick- and, of course, the only way to consistently apply that morality would be to die as quickly as you could.

Consequently I won't be spending much more time on that possibility because it does seem obvious that death makes a poor goal (I hope you agree) and as far as dealing with such people in reality, the only polite treatment one can give them is also exceptionally simple; one gets out of their way.

 

So the very first thing we need to remember is that life is good because happiness is good, and corpses cannot enjoy anything at all.

 

It's going to get a bit more complicated from there.  Does everything still make sense?

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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...

 

So the very first thing we need to remember is that life is good because happiness is good, and corpses cannot enjoy anything at all.

 

It's going to get a bit more complicated from there.  Does everything still make sense?

 

Wouldn't it be more correct to say, life becomes good by choosing to continue living, i.e., that choice initiates what is good (or bad)?

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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For clarity, when you say:

 

..."Exercise your moral code (your inalienable individual right), and let others exercise their moral codes (their inalienable individual rights)"?

...

 

Is this not equivalent to:  "let others exercise their moral codes, as you would have them let you exercise your moral code" ?

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Not really. I don't have to ask them permission to exercise mine, i.e., they don't have to let me exercise mine.

 

Neither do they have to have your permission to exercise theirs, correct?

 

"Exercise your moral code (your inalienable individual right)," vs "as you would have them let you exercise your moral code (because it is your inalienable individual right)"

 

The bottom line here is that you would have them allow you to exercise your moral code, i.e., you would not have them interfere with your exercise.  In both cases you are going to exercise your moral code with or without their permission, correct?

 

"and let others exercise their moral codes (their inalienable individual rights)" vs "let others exercise their moral codes (because it is their inalienable individual rights)"

 

Same-same, correct?

 

Who is asking for permission??

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What's the difference?

 

If the morality of reason is, things are what they are, and I choose to live, how does the practice of the former not lead to the latter??

 

The only moral commandment I see is, consistency.

[A] 'moral commandment' is a contradiction in terms. The moral is the chosen, not the forced; the understood, not the obeyed. The moral is the rational, and reason accepts no commandments.

 

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OK, so now that we're agreed that permission isn't required to apply the rule, (edit: but more importantly, that the rule doesn't contradict your exercise of your moral code, by letting others exercise their moral codes).

 

[A] 'moral commandment' is a contradiction in terms. The moral is the chosen, not the forced; the understood, not the obeyed. The moral is the rational, and reason accepts no commandments.
 

 

The only one here continuously asserting that the rule is a moral commandment are those opposed to it.  Again (and again, and again) for clarity:

 

Thou shalt do unto others... is a misrepresentation of the rule.  It is logically inconsistent, and morally absurd in the context of free-will, to praise or condemn those who have NO CHOICE.

 

Kant didn't invent the damn thing; he spun it to appeal to an authority that didn't exist at the time of its first appearence in the historical record.  It would be less absurd to claim that the rule was invented as a means of subordinating God (or Marduk, or Zeus, or the sun) to moral law; at least the sun was around back then and has remained fairly consistent in its interactions with man.

 

Let's review the growing list of things the rule isn't:

 

1) Thou shalt do good unto others, or else!

2) Only do unto others that which is premissible to others.

 

Words have meaning, and the meaning of the words, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is, BE CONSISTENT; which is a prerequisite for rational interaction with other members of the SAME SPECIES.

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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Who is trying to make the case for TGR?

Who is not accepting the arguments previously laid for why TGR as posited, absent a rational moral code, leads to ethical subjectivism?

Who continues to try to smuggle into TGR moral qualifiers and disclaimers to try and make it something other than what it has been pointed out to be?

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Who is trying to make the case for TGR?

Who is not accepting the arguments previously laid for why TGR as posited, absent a rational moral code, leads to ethical subjectivism?

Who continues to try to smuggle into TGR moral qualifiers and disclaimers to try and make it something other than what it has been pointed out to be?

 

1) Me

2) Again me, because there is no apparent distinction (as we have just proved) between practicing the rule and practicing, "Exercise your moral code (your inalienable individual right), and let others exercise their moral codes (their inalienable individual rights)".  If the former is an example of ethical subjectivism, then so is the latter.

3) Moral qualifiers and disclaimers?!  Is "act consistently with other members of the same species" a moral qualifier?  Is pointing out misrepresentations of the rule according to the literal meaning of the words a disclaimer?

 

Yes, I'm the heretic here.  I'm the one looking for an honest answer to the question, if Objectivists KANT do the rule, then why does it appear so prominently as an obligation to respect the rights of others, if one wishes one’s own rights to be recognized and protected?  Could this be any more of a direct reflection of the rule, and in particular the reason the rule appears throughout history in support of consistency in personal interactions, and the application of just law??

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2) Again me, because there is no apparent distinction (as we have just proved) between practicing the rule and practicing, "Exercise your moral code (your inalienable individual right), and let others exercise their moral codes (their inalienable individual rights)".  If the former is an example of ethical subjectivism, then so is the latter.

Take a closer look at Miss Rand's passage regarding TGR.

Actually, the golden rule can work only in application to my morality:

 

While I can advocate adopting a policy of rational selfishness, I accept that others have to choose the moral for themselves, by the nature of morality. I do not need to think in terms of "what would I have others do unto me," in order to determine my courses of actions. Any resemblance to TGR, past or future, is purely coincidental. Correlation in this regard, does not imply causation. Given the nature of morality, where does that leave altruism, or hedonism and other forms of ethical subjectivism? Most folk I would categorize as amoral - they've given little thought to the matter, and just try to get by applying what remains of common sense today the best they can.

 

Now I can only live this way, provided the freedom to do so is upheld and enforced politically. In this sense, the threat to it are the folk that legislate without a firm grasp of the importance individual rights serve in making rule of law viable. Without an objective moral foundation, individuals will continue to struggle in the identification of what are the right things to do, and politicians will continue to wet their finger and put it up in the air to feel which way the political winds are blowing at the moment.

 

3) Moral qualifiers and disclaimers?!  Is "act consistently with other members of the same species" a moral qualifier?  Is pointing out misrepresentations of the rule according to the literal meaning of the words a disclaimer?

It is my contention that if clarity is reached on the former point, this one goes away on its own.

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"... I do not need to think in terms of 'what would I have others do unto me,' in order to determine my courses of actions. Any resemblance to TGR, past or future, is purely coincidental..." ~ from post #271

 

You do not need to think in those terms because that is not what the rule promotes.  Who is the actor and final recipient? You only need to think in one term: consistency.  And as an Objectivist, you only need to apply the rule in the form, respect the rights of others if you'd have others respect your rights; a very useful coincidence if it suits your goal, non-binding if it doesn't.

 

Judge and prepare to get judged

Push and prepare to get shoved

Swim and prepare to get wet

Act and there will be a reaction

 

Reciprocity

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Well, you've struck on two areas that do bear a resemblance to TGR, one, the passage on rights where she uses "obligation", and the other about judging and prepare to be judged. In the latter, it refers to the specific act of judging, rather than a catch-all of action, do. In the case of "obligation" she sets it in quotes. And while things can get separated mentally for careful consideration or analyzing, it would still need to be integrated back in with the rest of our knowledge to be consistent,  i.e., non-contradictory. Her notes on TGR do not appear in the works she specifically published,

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Yes, that's the wall I keep running into; trying to reconcile reflections of the rule in Objectivism as being coincidental, or simplistic, or any of the other dismissals thrown up in this forum, with the literal meaning of the words being used.  And it doesn't help that I recall her admonishing members of an audience that they must practice their premises consistently, and to accept the literal meaning of statements made by others; or Peikoff responding to criticisms about being too simplistic with words to the effect that an idea need only express that which is necessary to make its meaning clear.  Clearly these are points in the rule's favor, and go a long way towards accounting for its persistent reappearance throughout history to promote just interactions with others.

 

I suppose I'll have to leave it at that, for now.

 

<edit>  Tamen planum est, reciprocationis

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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In the Induction in Physics and Philosophy course, during one of the Q & A's, the question of slavery was brought up. While Aristotle was wrong on slavery, the observational evidence seemed to support it. The barbarous nations around Greece did not have the same educational approach as the Greeks leaving the less educated better suited for taking orders than giving them. On this matter, it would have been a contextual issue. From our knowledge since added, that we now have today,, it is easier to look back at then and say they were wrong, than to delimit the context to the knowledge available of the time being evaluated.

 

Interesting aside, I've listened to the lecture before and didn't really notice that particular question. After you framed it here, when I heard that part again, that part of the Q & A really stood out this time.

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