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The Golden Rule as a basis for rights

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... how does one avoid it?

If something absolutely has to be some way, it is not immoral. You cannot look at some action and label it as immoral without the context of the actor. That's one essential difference between an Objectivist view of morality, and an "intrinsicist" approach (i.e. the type that is common in most religions).

So, I was not suggesting that one may never find oneself in a situation where one had to kill an innocent. I was simply saying that doing so in such a case could not be immoral by definition

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If urban warfare is coming home, it is because the lines are already blurred.   In a case like Ferguson, the reaction is fueled, not by careful consideration of the facts that culminated in the inci

Do any of these examples demonstrate that hardened resistance due to unprovoked attack ultimately led to victory?  Vietnam perhaps, and if one concludes that the Vietnamese prevailed in a practical te

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

If something absolutely has to be some way, it is not immoral. You cannot look at some action and label it as immoral without the context of the actor. That's one essential difference between an Objectivist view of morality, and an "intrinsicist" approach (i.e. the type that is common in most religions).

So, I was not suggesting that one may never find oneself in a situation where one had to kill an innocent. I was simply saying that doing so in such a case could not be immoral by definition

 

Thank you for that clarification.

 

I believe you would agree that nothing other than reality has to be some way.  One can for example, one can choose to accept some risk in order to act according to principle.  I think our primary disagreement has more to do with sanctioning an otherwise immoral act out of necessity, e.g., needing to eliminate the threat to ones life and being unable to isolate the target from the crowd.  I don't see how causing the death of innocent bystanders becomes moral due to their proximity to a threat they didn't cause.

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Vagaries and randomness produced by the Golden Rule result more from improper application than deficiency of the rule itself.

 

Don't you think the vagueness of application stems from the rule's lack of ethical content (as sNerd was saying) rather than an improper application?

 

 

The Golden Rule is a measurement of justice and therefore fundamental to justice, particularily in terms of the evaluation of ones right to life and the actions necessary to preserve it.  As a measurement of justice however, it remains subject to validation by a jury of ones peers.

 

The golden rule is most certainly not fundamental to justice but I don't really follow your reasoning here. What do you mean it's a measurement of justice?

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Don't you think the vagueness of application stems from the rule's lack of ethical content (as sNerd was saying) rather than an improper application?

...

 

No; a ruler lacks ethical content, but does identify scale.  softwareNerd has thus far only described individuals responding to threats with force, and the use of force to defend a right to life hardly lacks ethical content.  The rule simply identifies the degree to which ones actions are equitable.

 

...

 

The golden rule is most certainly not fundamental to justice but I don't really follow your reasoning here. What do you mean it's a measurement of justice?

 

Both are intended to evaluate equity.  How can the former not be fundamental to the latter?

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Both are intended to evaluate equity.  How can the former not be fundamental to the latter?

 

"Equity" of what?  "Equal" refers to a certain relationship between measurements.  Measurements do not exist on their own, in reality; every measurement is a measurement of something.  The golden rule can be useful and indeed moral to observe, in certain contexts, but not as a political starting point.  It cannot be the basis of politics specifically because it does not specify what we are treating "equally".

 

When Occupy Wall Street declares that its members deserve to have their bank accounts equal your own, you cannot formulate a refusal on the basis of "equity".  While your refusal may (and should) involve equality, something else must support it.

 

Justice is the recognition of the fact that you cannot fake the character of men as you cannot fake the character of nature, that you must judge all men as conscientiously as you judge inanimate objects, with the same respect for truth, with the same incorruptible vision, by as pure and as rational a process of identification. . .

-Galt's Speech

 

Since "equality" must be equality of something, it makes sense to ask what sort of "equality" could support Capitalism.  And if that question were asked then I would answer that, in my opinion, it must be equality of consent.  By "equality of consent" I mean that I will respect other men's decisions, and ask for their consent wherever and however I interact with them, so long as they allow the same for me (and ONLY so long as that).

 

In practice, I think that consensual equity has another name; it's called the non-initiation principle.

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"Equity" of what?  "Equal" refers to a certain relationship between measurements.  Measurements do not exist on their own, in reality; every measurement is a measurement of something.  The golden rule can be useful and indeed moral to observe, in certain contexts, but not as a political starting point.  It cannot be the basis of politics specifically because it does not specify what we are treating "equally".

...

 

Equity vs Equality

 

Summary:

1. Equality denotes that everyone is at the same level, whereas equity in business parlance denotes the ownership of the shares of a company.

2. Equity refers to the qualities of justness, fairness, impartiality and even handedness, while equality is about equal sharing and exact division.

3. Equality equals quantity, whereas equity equals quality.

 

http://www.differencebetween.net/language/difference-between-equity-and-equality/

 

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At the risk of beating a dead horse, and boring you with repetition...

I don't see how causing the death of innocent bystanders becomes moral due to their proximity to a threat they didn't cause.

But, that proximity is exactly what makes it moral ... if morality is about how I should act, after judging the current configuration of the world, and its relationship to me. If morality is objective (in Rand's sense of the term) it flows from an evaluation of reality from the context of the valuer. An Ethics that says something is moral or immoral regardless of the how it relates to the context of the valuer, is not objective (in Rand's sense), but intrinsic.

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...

But, that proximity is exactly what makes it moral ... if morality is about how I should act, after judging the current configuration of the world, and its relationship to me. If morality is objective (in Rand's sense of the term) it flows from an evaluation of reality from the context of the valuer. An Ethics that says something is moral or immoral regardless of the how it relates to the context of the valuer, is not objective (in Rand's sense), but intrinsic.

 

It's not my position that morality is fixed in any sense other than what is, by evaluation, morally bad, cannot be at the same time morally good, particularily as it relates to a right to life.  That is to say that missing an aggressive target and killing a non-aggressive individual, by any appreciation of the value of life, would be considered an immoral act; it would not be made moral by the evaluation that it was accidental, unavoidable or the lesser of two evils; it would not be a good thing.  To assert otherwise would be to remove any possible security for this right and transform justice to a crapshoot.

 

That is not to say that s**t doesn't happen in spite of ones best intentions to deal with a genuine threat, or that moral agents ought to be punished for missing immoral targets.  Those who enter a firefight to defend what is morally good remain fallible beings, albeit well trained, armed and willing to risk their lives to defend others.  Again, I think our primary disagreement has more to do with evaluating what would otherwise be considered an immoral act, in fact what one has likely entered the battlefield to defend against, as a lesser of two evils and therefore moral.

 

If I am wrong on this point, it is not because you have failed to adequately present your position as an Objectivist, and I appreciate your patient efforts to do so.

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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What? What does this have to do with my question? :huh:

 

Meaning a device of measurement doesn't contain the object being measured.  A courtroom, for example, doesn't contain justice, it is used to evaluate justice.  Similarily, the Golden Rule isn't moral per se, it is only useful to indicate what actions are ethically reciprocal, i.e. just, by using oneself as a moral benchmark.  The ethical content is within the individual making the moral evaluation.

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The ethical content is within the individual making the moral evaluation.

But, this is the very argument against this rule. There really shouldn't be any "rules" at all, there should only be your own life. If it's in your interest to kill "innocents" during wartime, then that is what you should do because it is in your interest. Your own, personal life is the "rule," not any and all lives of any and all people.
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But, this is the very argument against this rule. There really shouldn't be any "rules" at all, there should only be your own life. If it's in your interest to kill "innocents" during wartime, then that is what you should do because it is in your interest. Your own, personal life is the "rule," not any and all lives of any and all people.

Why "during wartime"? Couldn't you say with equal justice that "if it's in your interest to kill innocents, then that is what you should do" without further qualification? Also "if it's in your interest to install a Communist dictatorship, then that is what you should do." Right?

But the point is that Objectivism, by Rand's writings and with respect to Ethics and Politics, has identified certain things that are, by their nature, not in the interest of people who wish to live as human beings. Among these things are installing Communist dictatorships and killing other innocent human beings to secure your own ends.

Edited by DonAthos
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I used "wartime" because that is the scenario DA was using. But no, it doesn't have to be only in war time, though it is probably the most likely scenario.

"Killing other people to secure your own ends" is changing the context to an unknown. What are the ends?

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But, this is the very argument against this rule. There really shouldn't be any "rules" at all, there should only be your own life. If it's in your interest to kill "innocents" during wartime, then that is what you should do because it is in your interest. Your own, personal life is the "rule," not any and all lives of any and all people.

 

I agree with DonAthos's reply to your comment, but...

 

It's important to understand that ones own life is the benchmark of all ethical evaluations using the Golden Rule, so the fact is, your own, personal life is the "rule".  I doubt that a murderer would find this very comforting, since wanting to be murdered by others is an unlikely goal for anyone.  But in terms of promoting selfishness, the "rule" is absolutely consistent with Objectivism in this respect.

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As you have just identified it, the rule has no meaning. It's the same thing as saying, "Each person lives by his own ethics. Ethics are his rule to live by."

 

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that consistent with the Objectivist view that each person is only responsible for their own life, and to act according to that value?  I doubt that you are suggesting that every person's ethics are unique or incompatible, so I'm not seeing the distinction you are trying to make.

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The Objectivist view says that what is demonstrably, objectively good for a man's life is what is actually good for him. The point that has been raised a couple times in this thread is that people can claim any old thing to be good for them. So, the Golden Rule could easily demand opposite actions of its adopters based on, yes, competing or incompatible ethics.

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The Objectivist view says that what is demonstrably, objectively good for a man's life is what is actually good for him. The point that has been raised a couple times in this thread is that people can claim any old thing to be good for them. So, the Golden Rule could easily demand opposite actions of its adopters based on, yes, competing or incompatible ethics.

 

What is demonstrably, objectively good for a man's life is being honest with himself, without which neither the Objectivist view nor the Golden Rule has any application.  To suggest that someone opposed to stealing would adopt stealing because others do is about as credible an action as an Objectivist adopting mooching because others do.  The bottom line is neither action reflects being selfish, or using ones life as a benchmark for interaction with others.

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But, mooching and stealing can both be a part of someone's code of ethics. If he were to use the Golden Rule, the rule would require opposite actions from an Objectivist who also uses the rule. The point remains that the rule is meaningless without explaining why the actions are moral or not... whereupon the rule becomes superfluous.

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... There really shouldn't be any "rules" at all, there should only be your own life. If it's in your interest to kill "innocents" during wartime, then that is what you should do because it is in your interest. Your own, personal life is the "rule," not any and all lives of any and all people.

 

So you, as an Objectivist, you are OK with killing innocents if that is in your interest, but have a problem with someone else mooching and stealing if that is in their interest?  I honestly don't know what to make of that...  Is this why you favor "doing whatever it takes", with whatever being undefined, over a rule that promotes actions that are consistent with ones principles?

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"As an Objectivist," it's in my interest to act in my interest, in the full sense of the term, rationally, within a context. I've only got my life, and I don't give a damn about innocents or anything else if it means my life is going to end. And that's exactly the context you proposed: wartime. Wartime means deathtime. So in this abnormal, limited context, "innocents" aren't a concern over the concern of my own safety and wellbeing.

 

We could think up countless scenarios where an "innocent" dies, and that death was necessary and good for another person, within the fullest context of his life (ie. he's a productive individual living in a complex society, etc.). You haven't come right out and said it, but the way you talk suggests that you think life is intrinsically good, just for being alive.

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And yet, as an Objectivist, it is in your interest to recognize and respect the rights of others if you choose to have your own rights recognized and respected; that's the ethically reciprocal part.  Your position seems to me to withhold moral considerations for peaceful moments when it is needed least, as opposed to moments of conflict when it is needed most.  As on an island, morality matters whether you are alone, or defending yourself against an immoral enemy.

 

And I haven't come out and said life is intrinsically good because I don't believe it.  Please refer back to post #108 where I expressed my position on this issue in greater detail with softwareNerd.

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Your position seems to me to withhold moral considerations for peaceful moments when it is needed least, as opposed to moments of conflict when it is needed most.

Did anyone here ever say that one should target innocents during war, when one is not doing so to protect other innocents?

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Did anyone here ever say that one should target innocents during war, when one is not doing so to protect other innocents?

 

No, in fact it has been my presumption that this is the calculation that is being used; what I've referred to as choosing the lesser of two evils.  What remains to be justified is how writing off one group of innocents is morally preferable to acting consistently towards all innocents, particularly when neither group poses any credible threat to each other.

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