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The Golden Rule as a basis for rights

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"I don't give a rat's ass about justice. Give me your car or I'll shoot you." This man is following the Golden Rule.

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That is an outrageous claim without support

 

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Sacrifice is a valid option for no one.

 

Then the very quote you used to support your argument earlier, "Within the sphere of your own rights, your freedom is absolute", is false.  A right to life that doesn't entitle one to dispose of their own life as they choose to is a dubious right.

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

The support can be found throughout this thread and even within the car thief example itself.

It appears we do not agree on a fundamental aspect of Objectivism if you think sacrifice is "valid" in any sense. Maybe you meant to write "possible" instead of "valid."

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The support can be found throughout this thread and even within the car thief example itself.

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The best I can make of the car thief example is, "Steal from others as you would have them steal from you."  If this is the kind of support you are claiming, then I'll come back to this after we settle the following issue...

 

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It appears we do not agree on a fundamental aspect of Objectivism if you think sacrifice is "valid" in any sense. Maybe you meant to write "possible" instead of "valid."

 

Can we agree that it is valid in the sense of the kind of absolute freedom an individual has to choose whether to live or not?

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It is indeed the support. Again, the Golden Rule lacks ethical content, and you have been assigning content to it throughout this thread, changing the literal statement, "Do as you wish done" to "Do *good* as you wish done." Do you not see yourself as doing this?

As for "valid," I think a different word is appropriate. Valid as an action is a value judgement, whereas it seems like you're talking about sacrifice as a possible choice, without yet discussing the ethics of that choice.

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It is indeed the support. Again, the Golden Rule lacks ethical content, and you have been assigning content to it throughout this thread, changing the literal statement, "Do as you wish done" to "Do *good* as you wish done." Do you not see yourself as doing this?

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I see myself as promoting use of the rule to point to justice which is a necessary precondition for securing rights.  The ethical content being evaluated by the rule is that of the moral agent, i.e., oneself, with the only good implied being that equitable support for what is mutually beneficial, and avoidance of what is mutually detrimental, is just. 

 

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As for "valid," I think a different word is appropriate. Valid as an action is a value judgement, whereas it seems like you're talking about sacrifice as a possible choice, without yet discussing the ethics of that choice.

 

A rose by any other name...  A right to life entitles one the liberty to choose to live, or one is sentenced to life.  Which is it??

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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Ok, we're just going around in circles. Justice is itself part of an ethical code, a code which is not explained or elaborated on by the command (and commanded by whom, and why, or why not, and under what circumstances, and for whom, etc.?), "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." You are presupposing justice. The Rule does not mention nor imply justice.

And again, "valid" isn't the same as "possible." It's possible to kill yourself, but it's not valid, if you want to live. It's possible to sacrifice yourself, but not valid if you want to live a good life.

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Ok, we're just going around in circles. Justice is itself part of an ethical code, a code which is not explained or elaborated on by the command (and commanded by whom, and why, or why not, and under what circumstances, and for whom, etc.?), "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." You are presupposing justice. The Rule does not mention nor imply justice.

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Let's be clear.  Do 'X' to others as you would have others do 'X' to you, where 'X' is the same action, is an ethical code of interaction.  You might argue that it represents a primitive form of ethics which promotes an eye for an eye and a tooth of a tooth, but the reciprocity expressed within the rule cannot by denied.  The rule also reflects the identity of man, which in terms of survival means that actions necessary for one mans survival are mutually beneficial to all men, and actions detrimental to one mans survival are mutually detrimental to all men.

 

As an aside, I recall a program about the construction of the pyramids which demonstrated that while the geometry of these structures incorproated Pi in the calculations, it is fairly certain that the early Egyptians didn't know what Pi was, but by using wheels to measure distances, Pi was incorporated without their knowledge of it.  My point is that use of the rule may presuppose justice simply because that is what the rule produces, and as a behavior, reciprocity was noticeable and desirable to early man.

 

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And again, "valid" isn't the same as "possible." It's possible to kill yourself, but it's not valid, if you want to live. It's possible to sacrifice yourself, but not valid if you want to live a good life.

 

Yes, but doesn't that move the goal post?  One wouldn't contemplate suicide if one wanted to live.  My question to you (again) is, within the sphere of absolute freedom an individual has, is the choice to live optional or mandatory?

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The journal entry by Ayn Rand was just added to the O.O. Wiki page on the Golden Rule.

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From the link: "As if out of 'The Ethics of Emergencies' which had not yet been written, she continues by pointing out: You may want to be helped in an emergency or a catastrophe—but only in such cases. You consider such cases a calamity—not your normal and proper state of existence."

 

What is the mortality of accepting charity as the result of a calamity?

1) moral

2) amoral

3) immoral

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I'm seeing this as analogous to the efforts put forth to regarding the word selfishness, with a difference.

 

"Why do you use the word 'selfishness' to denote virtuous qualities of character, when that word antagonizes so many people to whom it does not mean the things you mean?"

A few paragraphs later, the "why" is identified as it is the word that has the very precision of thought she is looking for. "[T]he exact meaning and dictionary definition of the word "selfishness" is: concern with one's own interests."

 

Why would you want to cling to a phrase that necessitates reiterating what you really mean instead of just resorting to more precise language?

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From the link: "As if out of 'The Ethics of Emergencies' which had not yet been written, she continues by pointing out: You may want to be helped in an emergency or a catastrophe—but only in such cases. You consider such cases a calamity—not your normal and proper state of existence."

 

What is the mortality of accepting charity as the result of a calamity?

1) moral

2) amoral

3) immoral

VOS:

In an emergency situation, men's primary goal is to combat the disaster, escape the danger and restore normal conditions (to reach dry !and, to put out the fire, etc.).

 

It would not be prudent to send others away that offer to help extinguish the fire, or deny a life-ring tossed from a sound vessel, or a body harness dangling from a helicopter there to offering assistance.

Edited by dream_weaver
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VOS:

In an emergency situation, men's primary goal is to combat the disaster, escape the danger and restore normal conditions (to reach dry !and, to put out the fire, etc.).

 

It would not be prudent to send others away that offer to help extinguish the fire, or deny a life-ring tossed from a sound vessel, or a body harness dangling from a helicopter there to offering assistance.

 

I'm gonna go out on a limb here and take your response as, "accepting charity is moral in a calamity", U.N.O.

 

I'm seeing this as analogous to the efforts put forth to regarding the word selfishness, with a difference.

 

"Why do you use the word 'selfishness' to denote virtuous qualities of character, when that word antagonizes so many people to whom it does not mean the things you mean?"

A few paragraphs later, the "why" is identified as it is the word that has the very precision of thought she is looking for. "[T]he exact meaning and dictionary definition of the word "selfishness" is: concern with one's own interests."

 

Why would you want to cling to a phrase that necessitates reiterating what you really mean instead of just resorting to more precise language?

 

If you are suggesting the POV of the rule isn't a selfish moral agent, then I'm not sure how else to describe it.

 

"Do unto others...", means you are the active agent.

"... as you would have them do unto you," pretty much confirms it's all about you.

 

Can you live with your own actions?

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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The point has been ceded to you that if you presuppose individual rights - such an interpretation of the golden rule can resonate with a degree of plausibility. The question is if it is left open ended, as the statement in and of itself is, what else can it bring about?

 

When a Christian, Buddhist or Muslim comes up to me with a desire to "share the good word" - they are doing to me what they would have wanted someone to do unto them. They consider such an act, one of benevolence (once they get past it's duty-bound nature). But it amounts to sacrifice the mind and transcend from the narrow flawed confines of reason, ascending and becoming privy to their "true source of goodness and mercy."

 

I've been there. I still struggle to extradite myself from aspects of it at times.

 

Edited: Added

Edited by dream_weaver
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The point has been ceded to you that if you presuppose individual rights - such an interpretation of the golden rule can resonate with a degree of plausibility. The question is if it is left open ended, as the statement in and of itself is, what else can it bring about?

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The rule, in terms of filling in the 'X', is subject to the same kind of nonsense that leaving the 'A' open ended in 'A=A' produces. 

 

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When a Christian, Buddhist or Muslim comes up to me with a desire to "share the good word" - they are doing to me what they would have wanted someone to do unto them. They consider such an act, one of benevolence (once they get past it's duty-bound nature). But it amounts to sacrifice the mind and transcend from the narrow flawed confines of reason, ascending and becoming privy to their "true source of goodness and mercy."

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I think the difference here is that "sharing the good word", or altruism, is actually doing as others would have you do, i.e., being directed by someone/thing other than oneself.  Perhaps the distinction between this form of, being better to give than receive, and the rule is subtle, but it's there nonetheless.

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A is A is a tautology. "As you would have others do unto you" is "As you would have others do unto you" would be tautological. "As you would have others do unto you" is open ended in the sense that "what is it that you would have others do unto you." It is this ambiguous (non-explicit) portion that the implicit importation is done under. 

 

A is A, a duck is a duck, a quack is a quack, a variable implicit importation is a variable implicit importation. The first three are quite unambiguous, while the latter is quite open ended.

 

As to a Jehovah's witnesses, or Mormon missionaries (both usually work in twos) coming to my door - are you saying that they are being directed by someone/thing other than themselves (guess who?) to be there? Are you claiming that they are not solely responsible for the actions they took to arrive at my doorstep, hence abdicating them from the personal responsibility of their own personal choices and actions?

 

May I offer you the use of a bigger shovel?

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I meant to ask about someone who likes Hitler's ideas, and voted for him on those terms, but did not do much concretely to support him other than the vote. Many libertarians would paint such a person as innocent if they have not done any physical action to support the enemy, other than agree with his ideology.

 

Morally inncoent? No. But once you get into people's intentions, you're getting into stuff which is pretty murky -- way too much to justify killing someone. There's people in America who may be morally complicit in heinous acts without having engaged in any crime themselves -- for instance, if some racist nitwit goes out and shoots a bunch of black people, and he was converted to racism after reading white supremacist literature, then whoever wrote that material shares moral responsibility for the consequences, but I would not consider them guilty of any wrongdoing which needs to be punished by force.

 

 

I , on the other hand, couldn't care a hoot if such a person died

 

I probably wouldn't either. But this person's friends and family likely would, and would be more likely to turn against the people who killed him.

 

Also, how do you feel about the person -- fairly typical in both Germany of WW-2 and the middle-east today -- who is not particularly radical nor particularly rational, but still has a bedrock of national loyalty? ... Are these average people -- who may not want war, but would like to see me defeated -- enemies in my eyes?

 

We can't know what any particular person would do in that situation without it actually happening. The best thing to do is try to organize a resistance within the enemy territory, convert as many people to the right side as possible, then civilians would be more likely to help a pilot who crash-landed in a field.

 

 

Should I value their lives over the lives of my neighbor's son who volunteers to defend my life with his body?

 

What you should value is for your son's death, if it is necessary, to accomplish a permanent victory, which will be more likely to be achieved if you don't alienate civilians on the other side.

 

 

If they had a country chock full of rational people, they would have seized the day.

 

They may have been misguided, but that doesn't mean that they couldn't have been persuaded to become rational.

 

 

The U.S. screw up came from Bremer and Bush's notion that the existing power-structure should be dismantled, and that the Iraqi people would somehow build rational institutions that fit their best interests. B & B ignored the lessons that were practiced in Japan and in Germany, post-WW2.

 

This may be true, but the course which a country takes is ultimately determined by the will of its people. If the people had come out of the war with a friendly attitude toward the US, then they would have been much more willing to work with us to build a rational society, and less likely to divide into Islamists loyal to Iran and Islamists loyal to murderous savages from Syria. It was in our self-interest (Assuming the war itself was in our self-interest) to foster goodwill with the civilian population during the war.

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The rule, in terms of filling in the 'X', is subject to the same kind of nonsense that leaving the 'A' open ended in 'A=A' produces. 

 

 

 

 

Can you make the case for what 'x' is in the formulation?  How do you know what it is or what it should be by reference to the golden rule and only the golden rule?

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Can you make the case for what 'x' is in the formulation?  How do you know what it is or what it should be by reference to the golden rule and only the golden rule?

 

'X' is the action of the individual making the evaluation.  I know it is his action because of the phrase, "do unto others".  In one respect, the reference to "others" isn't necessary since his action will be whatever he thinks it ought to be, and is implied to be the same as what he would do for himself.  However, to the degree that he might treat himself better or worse than others, the rule narrows all possible actions to only those that are mutually beneficial or detrimental.

 

Compared with other "rules" of behavior, the promotion of actions that are mutually beneficial/detrimental may not be unique, but the rule's form is the cleanest representation of reciprocity that I'm aware of.

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A is A is a tautology. "As you would have others do unto you" is "As you would have others do unto you" would be tautological. "As you would have others do unto you" is open ended in the sense that "what is it that you would have others do unto you." It is this ambiguous (non-explicit) portion that the implicit importation is done under. 

 

A is A, a duck is a duck, a quack is a quack, a variable implicit importation is a variable implicit importation. The first three are quite unambiguous, while the latter is quite open ended.

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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.

 

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As to a Jehovah's witnesses, or Mormon missionaries (both usually work in twos) coming to my door - are you saying that they are being directed by someone/thing other than themselves (guess who?) to be there? Are you claiming that they are not solely responsible for the actions they took to arrive at my doorstep, hence abdicating them from the personal responsibility of their own personal choices and actions?

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I am suggesting that they are doing as others would have them do, and you can substitute "others" for anyone but themselves; that they are intentionally acting selfless and not selfish, i.e., not acting according to the rule.

 

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May I offer you the use of a bigger shovel?

 

Would that be an act of charity?

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I can fix that for you by defining 'A' as 'good'

 

No, you can't fix it for me. Good=Good merely means that the good is something specific with an identity. That does not turn the statement into a moral precept. Similarly, the golden rule is devoid of ethical content, as has been stated a bazillion trillion times. It merely says to apply your ethics consistently, which is a logical consideration. Why is this thread going on and on and on?

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Yes but what is the action?  How do you know what the action of that individual will be??

 

The action is a variable, and I know that the action will be beneficial or detrimental to the actor if reciprocated, i.e., I know what the goal of the action is.

 

With, "A=A", I don't know what "A" is; only that it is the same thing.  With, "act X if you want X," I don't know what "X" is; only that it is the same action.

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No, you can't fix it for me. Good=Good merely means that the good is something specific with an identity. That does not turn the statement into a moral precept. Similarly, the golden rule is devoid of ethical content, as has been stated a bazillion trillion times. It merely says to apply your ethics consistently, which is a logical consideration. Why is this thread going on and on and on?

 

That's good enough for me (the portion highlighted).  I'll continue to respond to questions directed at me as time allows, but we needn't discuss our agreement any further.

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The action is a variable, and I know that the action will be beneficial or detrimental to the actor if reciprocated, i.e., I know what the goal of the action is.

 

 

The goal of the action is to obey the command "Do unto others" which is the actionable portion of  the rule.  What the action will be is whatever the actor would wish done to or for him by others.  If the actor is a masochist then he will inflict pain on others if he is following the golden rule literally.  It's a poor substitute for rational thinking.  

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