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The Golden Rule as a basis for rights

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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.  

 

If the actor is a masochist then it is more likely that he won't behave like a sadist.  It's been interesting to me that these kinds of improbable uses of the rule are most often suggested by opponents of the rule.  I think a more interesting concern would be regarding how legitimate use of the rule could lead to formation of communities that are ethically diverse from one another, e.g., a community of communists vs a community of capitalists.

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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.

Drop the "legitimate," and it might be marginally interesting to speculate how quickly such a society would collapse. Not that interesting, though, to members of a forum dedicated to a reason-based philosophy. The Golden Rule is a command with no reasoning to back it up -- it's a simple, unexplained sentence. There is no reasoning behind it, and for that reason alone we can dismiss it.

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Drop the "legitimate," and it might be marginally interesting to speculate how quickly such a society would collapse. Not that interesting, though, to members of a forum dedicated to a reason-based philosophy. The Golden Rule is a command with no reasoning to back it up -- it's a simple, unexplained sentence. There is no reasoning behind it, and for that reason alone we can dismiss it.

 

You have alternately described the rule as being "superfluous", i.e., unnecessarily duplicating some other reason for its use, and having "no reasoning behind it".  That pretty much covers all your bases :thumbsup:

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I'm not sure what you're suggesting (you think they are opposing bases?), but the Rule is both superfluous and devoid of reasoning.

Or maybe you were suggesting that you can repeatedly assert the same thing, but I can't repeatedly refute it?

Or maybe you were suggesting that an Objectivist forum should entertain the supposed merits of a "do unto others" society that leads to communism? By the way, if you believed that last statement of yours -- that the Rule could lead to "ethical diversity" -- that is demonstrating the point that the Rule lacks ethical content and can be applied to different ethical ideals.

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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.

 

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.

Do you mean something like "Tell the truth if you want the truth"? Because plenty of people can successfully lie and acquire the truth on some level. If you fear retaliation, just get bigger guns. It's pretty easy to do. "Mutually assured destruction" is about the only time the golden rule really works as intended, otherwise there is no reason to follow "treat others how you want to be treated". Or do you mean "Tell the truth if you want to tell the truth"? The first doesn't correspond to A is A.

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I'm not sure what you're suggesting (you think they are opposing bases?), but the Rule is both superfluous and devoid of reasoning.

...

 

superfluous: unnecessary, especially through being more than enough.

devoid: entirely lacking or free from.

 

In terms of reasoning, can it really be both meaningful and meaningless?

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Do you mean something like "Tell the truth if you want the truth"? Because plenty of people can successfully lie and acquire the truth on some level. If you fear retaliation, just get bigger guns. It's pretty easy to do. "Mutually assured destruction" is about the only time the golden rule really works as intended, otherwise there is no reason to follow "treat others how you want to be treated". Or do you mean "Tell the truth if you want to tell the truth"? The first doesn't correspond to A is A.

 

I mean act consistent to your principles, and I'm honestly baffled why this is apparently so difficult to accept at face value.

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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.

Would you consider this to be a valid application of the golden rule as you've outlined? Be as objective unto others as you would have them be objective unto you? 

How wide of a scope would it entail? Would the net cast encompass the entire scope of objectivity?

What about reciprocity? If you are engaging someone as objectively as you are able and they do not or can not reciprocate - then what?

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Superfluous, because it must be applied to an ethical code to gain meaning. And because it has no meaning, it must be applied to an existing ethical code, or it is superfluous to ethics!

 

Still not true.  The meaning of the rule is to promote reciprocity, and where did that come from?

 

"The Code of Hammurabi is a well-preserved Babylonian law code of ancient Mesopotania, dating back to about 1772 BC. It is one of the oldest deciphered writings of significant length in the world. The sixth Babylonian king, Hammurabi, enacted the code, and partial copies exist on a human-sized stone stele and various clay tablets. The Code consists of 282 laws, with scaled punishments, adjusting 'an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth' (lex talionis)..."

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

 

When you say repeatedly that "it must be applied to an existing ethical code", the truth is that ethical codes that developed in its wake have attempted to establish credibility by reference to the rule, and not the other way around.  Look, I get that you disagree; that you really-really disagree;  but the fact remains that the rule has meaning and predates pretty much every other ethical premise except might makes right.  I consider that to be an improvement, and why it has staying power to this day.

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...

What about reciprocity? If you are engaging someone as objectively as you are able and they do not or can not reciprocate - then what?

 

Knowing that "they do not or can not reciprocate" enables you to align yourself with "others" who can.  If aggression is not an issue, then leven en laten leven.

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Consider all you want, and assert all you want, I guess. I actually don't really care about the rule, since we can understand it plainly and quickly by reading its very simple command. We have these 9 pages now because you keep making all these *assertions*... And then more ambiguous assertions... and then more dodging assertions...

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I mean act consistent to your principles, and I'm honestly baffled why this is apparently so difficult to accept at face value.

The question is, why should I care to act on those principles we're talking about? If treating others how you want to be treated is only about acting as you want others to act, I see no reason to say it is better than might makes right.

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Knowing that "they do not or can not reciprocate" enables you to align yourself with "others" who can.  If aggression is not an issue, then leven en laten leven.

Effectively advocating better living by bromides.

 

Given your familiarity with historical contexts of TGR, have you given any consideration to putting a book together - tracing the logical development of TGR step by step from its lowly origins in the Code of the Hammuraba culminating with its relevance and necessity as it relates to the founding father's application of the principle of individual rights encapsulated in the Constitution of the United States?

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The question is, why should I care to act on those principles we're talking about? If treating others how you want to be treated is only about acting as you want others to act, I see no reason to say it is better than might makes right.

 

You don't care about acting on your principles?  Now I know it's time to give up.  MAD is a credible representation of the rule though, and it's gratifying that you got that much out of it.

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...

Given your familiarity with historical contexts of TGR, have you given any consideration to putting a book together - tracing the logical development of TGR step by step from its lowly origins in the Code of the Hammuraba culminating with its relevance and necessity as it relates to the founding father's application of the principle of individual rights encapsulated in the Constitution of the United States?

 

No I hadn't but I appreciate the suggestion.  My interest in the rule is primarily based on its representation in various systems of thought, from an eye for an eye to respect for others rights if you'd have you own respected.  At any rate, I've had more that a fair hearing on this issue, so I'll try double hard to avoid returning to this flame.

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You don't care about acting on your principles?  Now I know it's time to give up.  MAD is a credible representation of the rule though, and it's gratifying that you got that much out of it.

I do. But I'm saying the "golden rule" isn't broad enough to be an ethical principle or a basis to rights, especially because other principles are better. It can't be a basis if it seems your reason to obey it is fear of what may happen to you.  

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You don't care about acting on your principles?

 

Which principles are "yours" and why?  Neither knowledge nor moral principles are their own rewards.  "Right" and "wrong" are not simply noises plucked from thin air, nor do their possible implementations (which are countless) justify themselves.  

 

Whenever you hear the word "should" you should ask its speaker "why", out of conceptual self-preservation.  With so much senseless misery in the world today, at the hands of malformed "should's", you should take an active interest in the validity of your own ideas (especially moral ones); which is an active interest in your own conceptual self-preservation, which your own happiness and longevity necessitate.

 

Essentially, you should ask these things if you care about yourself; if you don't then nothing matters at all.

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...  

Whenever you hear the word "should" you should ask its speaker "why", out of conceptual self-preservation.  With so much senseless misery in the world today, at the hands of malformed "should's", you >> should << take an active interest in the validity of your own ideas (especially moral ones); which is an active interest in your own conceptual self-preservation, which your own happiness and longevity necessitate.

...

 

OK, why?

 

Why should I go to the effort of determining a moral code if the moment I find myself in a difficult situation I jettison that code in favor of doing whatever it takes?  I don't need to know what "it" is in advance, because apparently that just gets in the way of defending myself.  No, obviously I should just take it day by day, doing whatever it takes so when the s**t hits the fan I won't have to waste time shifting gears into combat mode.

 

Or, perhaps I could try living with some integrity.  At the very least I might recognize that things like honesty, sincerity, courage and compassion aren't moral handicaps, but are in fact moral strengths, against which an aggressor is ill-equipped to deal.  An aggressor has only one weapon of consequence; your fear.  Which is why I last responded to Eiuol with, "Are you afraid of your own shadow?"  Because at the end of the day, that is what the rule is; your moral shadow, and it follows you everywhere you go.

 

Whether or not you are conscious of the rule, your actions demonstrate to others what your moral premises are.  And if you act like a jerk others will observe and respond accordingly.  It amuses me when someone says, "the rule has no content, or promotes vices as well as virtues," and then proceeds doing unto others, as indeed they must in order to interact with others.  Would they avoid the judgement of others by claiming the rule has nothing to do with them?  You'd have better luck trying to avoid your shadow on a sunny day.

 

You are the rule and your life is the content, so do unto others and be prepared to be judged by others.  That's the rule.

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OK, why?

 

Why should I go to the effort of determining a moral code if the moment I find myself in a difficult situation I jettison that code in favor of doing whatever it takes?  I don't need to know what "it" is in advance, because apparently that just gets in the way of defending myself.  No, obviously I should just take it day by day, doing whatever it takes so when the s**t hits the fan I won't have to waste time shifting gears into combat mode.

I asked a simple question: Why should I follow the golden rule? I mean, I already don't use it and think it's bad to use it. I didn't ask why be moral, I'm asking why the golden rule is a moral principle. I'm saying there is no reason to call it a moral rule; it is not a "moral shadow" in the first place. But you're suggesting there is a reason, so I'm asking what the reason is. The only reason I saw is that others would harm you if you harmed them. That's a morality of fear. If I were literally more powerful, whether it be brute force or political pull, I could harm someone and they'd be unable to harm me. That's why, as a moral principle, it isn't so good. As a strategy for specific circumstances, like MAD or when legal systems were primitive, it works alright, but I wouldn't go so wide to say it is a basis to rights.

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OK, why?

 

Because it is required in order to thrive as a human being.

 

Why should I go to the effort of determining a moral code if the moment I find myself in a difficult situation I jettison that code in favor of doing whatever it takes?

You shouldn't.  What purpose would be served by accepting a moral code which conflicts with your own survival?

 

But regarding that, firstly, the "jettison" of Objectivist ethics is not being advocated here, by anybody; the implication that it is amounts to a straw man.  Even those who have advocated the killing of innocent people in order to survive are not saying that morality is disposable.  Rather, they are saying that it cannot be applied in quite the same way to everyday life, as it is to life-or-death situations.

 

Secondly, if my own survival ever required someone else's death then I would say they're right; so would anyone else who is their own top priority. 

Let's concretize that.  If you were in a SAW movie, and had to retrieve an antidote from behind someone's jugular before some poison killed you in some horrible manner, not only would it be good for you to kill them; it would be evil for you not to.  That's a non-issue. 

The question of this thread is not whether that's moral in that situation (it is), but whether or not situations like that actually happen in real life.

 

Thirdly, as to whether or not such situations actually happen in real life, I would say no; I don't think there can be such a conflict of interests unless someone did something to deserve it (which makes them, by definition, not innocent); if that were the fundamental issue here then I would absolutely and emphatically agree with you.

 

That is not, however, the fundamental issue here.

 

Why should I go to the effort of determining a moral code

 

Because you alone will live with the consequences of whichever code you accept.  If that code allows you to pursue your own happiness proudly, with the purest sort of certainty man is capable of, or if that code suffocates you beneath unearned guilt and prideful self-immolation, or if it drives you to blow yourself up in a shopping mall; whatever the particular ways in which that code will shape your thoughts, feelings and actions, such influences will happen.

That is why anyone who cares about themselves should also care about the validity of their moral principles.

 

To accept a "should" at face-value is no better- in fact it is much worse- than eating whatever one may happen to find on the ground.  The effects of the latter, at least, are comparatively immediate and perceptually observable; the former may not kill you until decades later.

 

 

 

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.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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I asked a simple question: Why should I follow the golden rule? I mean, I already don't use it and think it's bad to use it. I didn't ask why be moral, I'm asking why the golden rule is a moral principle. I'm saying there is no reason to call it a moral rule; it is not a "moral shadow" in the first place. But you're suggesting there is a reason, so I'm asking what the reason is. The only reason I saw is that others would harm you if you harmed them. That's a morality of fear. If I were literally more powerful, whether it be brute force or political pull, I could harm someone and they'd be unable to harm me. That's why, as a moral principle, it isn't so good. As a strategy for specific circumstances, like MAD or when legal systems were primitive, it works alright, but I wouldn't go so wide to say it is a basis to rights.

 

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?

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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?

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.

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