The Golden Rule

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The Golden Rule

What is meant by the Golden Rule? How is it a meaningful moral guidline? 

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

It appears to state one should attribute their desires to others and act accordingly, but this is frought with obvious problems. If one has a rape fantasy, for instance, it is obvious that this does not mean they should rape others. The statement removes the desires of others from the moral equation.

So we can't be that specific. We have to go to a more general statement and say that what we actually want others to do unto us is the general 'those things we want done unto us', so we can interpret it as saying do unto others as they want done unto them . So we get "Do unto others as they desire you to do unto them." But here we are simply adopting the moral code of others which leads us to other undesirable circumstances such as being morally obliged to harm people who might, for whatever reason, want to be harmed. This requires that we completely neglect any personal sense of right and wrong. 

I could perhaps see "Do not do unto others as they wish you not to do unto them" as an acceptable moral guidline, but this is a wholly different statement than the original Golden Rule.

Anyway, why is the Golden Rule, which is an obviously flawed moral statement, regarded by many as a sound moral philosophy?       

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


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It is a sound philosophy if

It is a sound philosophy if you don't try and turn it into an absolute. It's pretty straght forward. Treat people the way you wish to be treated. How hard is that? Pathological behaviors are a different question.


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Should be called the Golden

Should be called the Golden Truism.

It can't be treated as a computer command.  It has to be viewed as simply a platitude.

 

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wavefreak wrote: It is a

wavefreak wrote:
It is a sound philosophy if you don't try and turn it into an absolute. It's pretty straght forward. Treat people the way you wish to be treated. How hard is that? Pathological behaviors are a different question.

Its not hard, its just flawed. The original statement leads to this:

Vessel wrote:
The statement removes the desires of others from the moral equation.

and the more general to this: 

Vessel wrote:
This requires that we completely neglect any personal sense of right and wrong.

Wouldn't you say that both present serious problems? 

Where you say "treat people the way you wish to be treated" you are not addressing the flaws you are simply restating the original flawed statement. The way one wishes to be treated has no necessary relevance to the way others want to be treated. Unless, of course, you assume all people have the same wants.

I'm not sure what you mean by "as long as you don't try and turn it into an absolute", or how whether or not we take the statement as an absolute affects its status as an unsound moral philosophy. Whether you consider the statement as an absolute or some basic guideline it requires that we make unfounded assumptions about the wants of others or that we neglect our own moral sense. These seem to me to be serious problems with a moral philosophy.   

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


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It seems to me that this is

It seems to me that this is almost an axiom of successful social game theory. Given a roughly equal power dispersal, you almost have to do this, mathematically, or fail socially (and ultimately phycially if you are, as we are, social creatures).  Which makes it a perfectly rational basis for morality.

I don't think acting on a rape fantasy is a correct interpretation of the rule. If you have, as we humans have, a theory of mind, you can effectively place yourselves in someone else's shoes. You know, or should know, that the other person does not share your rape fantasy. So the question becomes "Would I want someone raping me if I didn't want to be raped?" Obviously, no, and the golden rule has steered you in the right direction.

The key is to bump the golden rule up to a more general level. The question is not specifically "Would I want someone to rape me?" It is "Would I want someone to do something to me that I don't like?" We can't cut the feelings of the object of your action out of the equation...they are rightly central to the whole inquiry.

So I think the reason people don't like the golden rule as moral philosophy is because they are using it in isolation without including empathy, another fundament of rational morality.

 

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Quote: "Do unto others as

Quote:
"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

This comes from the same ancient book that says, "Turn the other cheek," but then also says "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth." The authors of the Bible couldn't seem to make up their Biblical minds.

Besides, I would never use a Bible quote for any kind of moral guide. Any book written by a bunch of vicious old men who talk of a god who murders innocent children is anything but a moral guide.

I think a better moral quote would be, "If you act like an asshole, the chances are good that people will avoid you."

Or...."If you treat people with respect, the chances are better that people will also treat you with respect."

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Vessel wrote: Wouldn't you

Vessel wrote:

Wouldn't you say that both present serious problems?

Herein lies the weakness of philosophy. It over thinks simple things. The Golden Rule is a rule of thumb or a truism. Applying philisophical rigor to it is just plain silly. The meaining of The Golden Rule is plain. It doesn't need a treatise. And it doesn't work for every situation.

 

Quote:

I'm not sure what you mean by "as long as you don't try and turn it into an absolute", or how whether or not we take the statement as an absolute affects its status as an unsound moral philosophy.

But it's not a philosphy. It just a truism. Applying philisophical treatments to a rule of thumb is like killing weeds with a nuclear warhead.

Quote:

Whether you consider the statement as an absolute or some basic guideline it requires that we make unfounded assumptions about the wants of others or that we neglect our own moral sense. These seem to me to be serious problems with a moral philosophy.

It doesn't REQUIRE anything. All it means is it's a good idea to try and use some empathy in how you deal with other people. It's not like the Law of Gravity or the speed of light in a vacuum.


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Tilberian wrote: It seems

Tilberian wrote:

It seems to me that this is almost an axiom of successful social game theory. Given a roughly equal power dispersal, you almost have to do this, mathematically, or fail socially (and ultimately phycially if you are, as we are, social creatures). Which makes it a perfectly rational basis for morality.

I don't think acting on a rape fantasy is a correct interpretation of the rule. If you have, as we humans have, a theory of mind, you can effectively place yourselves in someone else's shoes. You know, or should know, that the other person does not share your rape fantasy. So the question becomes "Would I want someone raping me if I didn't want to be raped?" Obviously, no, and the golden rule has steered you in the right direction.

The key is to bump the golden rule up to a more general level. The question is not specifically "Would I want someone to rape me?" It is "Would I want someone to do something to me that I don't like?" We can't cut the feelings of the object of your action out of the equation...they are rightly central to the whole inquiry.

My problem may just be with the wording, or maybe with the endorsement of subjective morality the statement seems to make. I'm not sure yet. I can see the point in what you say here.

The rape fantasy scenario was probably a poor example. What I was trying to express was how the statement provides no criteria by which one could actually determine any correspondence between their desires and those of others. Empathy can help here, but I don't think it shores it up sufficiently.

From a more realistic perspective, say that an adherent to some religous doctrine sincerely desires to be saved. From their perspective they can not imagine that anybody would not want to be saved and thereby subject themselves to an eternity of torment. Are they then morally justified in attempting to save others, by whatever means. The problem is that this would be completely morally justified from their perspective due to their inability to accurately know your desires. They are adhering to even you interpretation of the Golden Rule and yet making flawed moral decisions. Something much more tangible than mere empathy and the Golden Rule seems to be needed to make morally sound decisions. In fact, the Golden Rule seems to be only superficially applicable, at best, to any sound moral philosophy.

The Golden Rule can grant moral justification to actions regardless of their moral worth. That is, I think you can fit almost any action into compliance with the Golden Rule, depending on your perspective.     

    

Quote:
So I think the reason people don't like the golden rule as moral philosophy is because they are using it in isolation without including empathy, another fundament of rational morality.

That may be. Being as that I think there is a real objective standard of morality, I guess I just find it superficially relevant to the question of morality at best. 

Anyway, your's was a good reply that made me realize I was looking at the rule fairly narrowly. Might be a sign of old age setting in. 

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


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RickRebel

Edited to correct typos. 

RickRebel wrote:

Quote:
"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

This comes from the same ancient book that says, "Turn the other cheek," but then also says "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth." The authors of the Bible couldn't seem to make up their Biblical minds.

I was having a discussion with deludedgod recently in which I was given a really quick lesson in how ignorant I am of physics and cosmology and yet I was arguing with strong conviction from that ignorance. Statements like yours about the "eye for an eye" contradiction remind me of that scenario. You have made no effort to study the Bible and yet you'll make assertions about the validity of the book with total conviction.

Look at Matthew 5, the sermon on the mount. In particular v 17, Jesus speaking: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. ". Following this Jesus goes on to list several laws and give instruction based on each. In v 38 Jesus talks about an eye for an eye and how you should turn the other cheek.

Do you believe that people have for mellenia read that verse and the one that follows directly after it and not seen the apparent contradiction? Do you really believe so many people are so much more idiotic than you are? Great minds, widely respected minds, have read those verses and have seen that there is no contradiction yet somehow so many feel they have found proof of the ignorance of Bible believers.

Jesus is the fulfillment of the law. God is merciful. Jesus took the punishment due to us when He was reviled, scourged and crucified. Now look at Romans 12:19 "Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' [ Deut. 32:35] says the Lord."

The Bible must be viewed holisticly. If you take verses out of context you can make it say anything. Take some time to read and understand the book before you embarras yourself like I did with deludedgod.

Quote:

Besides, I would never use a Bible quote for any kind of moral guide. Any book written by a bunch of vicious old men who talk of a god who murders innocent children is anything but a moral guide.

Once again you demonstrate a lack of understanding and make assertions from ignorance with total conviction. You sincerely believe what you are saying is correct but you are sincerely wrong. Who murdered innocent children? What's your definition of innocence?

Quote:

I think a better moral quote would be, "If you act like an asshole, the chances are good that people will avoid you."

Or...."If you treat people with respect, the chances are better that people will also treat you with respect."

These seem harmless enough. This last one about respect is particularly interesting, sounds a bit like "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."


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I might be missing the

I might be missing the point, but as the other gents have stated, the rule by itself is weak. I think that it is about a base for morality if you add individuality and empathy as stated above.

Individuality, for me, is almost axiomatic to morality. I believe it follows directly from consciousness. If you start there you can form a fluid line of logic from, Consciousness ---> Individual ---> A personal desire to live ---> Application of Empathy to realize generally every other individual has the same basic desires ---> A basic sense of morality given through social evolution to apply our empathetic realization (which we realized, I would like to think, with the inception of reason) ---> And most everything else dealing with morality follows from this.

And please critique this with complete lack of empathy lol. I have never tested my philosophy against people as well learned as you all.

 

Thats cute.


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wavefreak wrote: Vessel

wavefreak wrote:
Vessel wrote:

Wouldn't you say that both present serious problems?

Herein lies the weakness of philosophy. It over thinks simple things. The Golden Rule is a rule of thumb or a truism. Applying philisophical rigor to it is just plain silly. The meaining of The Golden Rule is plain. It doesn't need a treatise. And it doesn't work for every situation.

 

Quote:

I'm not sure what you mean by "as long as you don't try and turn it into an absolute", or how whether or not we take the statement as an absolute affects its status as an unsound moral philosophy.

But it's not a philosphy. It just a truism. Applying philisophical treatments to a rule of thumb is like killing weeds with a nuclear warhead.

Quote:

Whether you consider the statement as an absolute or some basic guideline it requires that we make unfounded assumptions about the wants of others or that we neglect our own moral sense. These seem to me to be serious problems with a moral philosophy.

It doesn't REQUIRE anything. All it means is it's a good idea to try and use some empathy in how you deal with other people. It's not like the Law of Gravity or the speed of light in a vacuum.

Chillax, Homeskillet. Truisms are true which I'm not sure applies to the Golden Rule, and all moral statements are worth investigation.

To tell people to use empathy in dealing with others, if that is the purpose of the Golden Rule, is fine. Its like telling them to breath, though. If they have the ability to use empathy (not sociopathic), they will whether they are told to or not. It is something we seem to do naturally. Makes it kind of a waste of words.

Anyway, this thread is discussing the philosophical worth of the Golden Rule because its what I wanted to do in this thread. If Ye think it silly, later, but thanks for playing anyway.  

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


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I was trying to get the

I was trying to get the point across that it is a very worth while rule, as long as it is attached to other more specific and verifiable rules or laws.

Thats cute.


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Vessel wrote: "Do unto

Vessel wrote:

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

I like adding to that...

 

"Don't do unto others that you wouldn't want someone to do unto you."

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LOL Sapient, I guess thats

LOL BSapient, I guess thats the easy way to fill in the gaps. But nobody here likes such simple answers to such simple problems. We are attempting to be philosophers for gods sake.

Thats cute.


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daretoknow wrote: I might

daretoknow wrote:

I might be missing the point, but as the other gents have stated, the rule by itself is weak. I think that it is about a base for morality if you add individuality and empathy as stated above.

Individuality, for me, is almost axiomatic to morality. I believe it follows directly from consciousness. If you start there you can form a fluid line of logic from, Consciousness ---> Individual ---> A personal desire to live ---> Application of Empathy to realize generally every other individual has the same basic desires ---> A basic sense of morality given through social evolution to apply our empathetic realization (which we realized, I would like to think, with the inception of reason) ---> And most everything else dealing with morality follows from this.

And please critique this with complete lack of empathy lol. I have never tested my philosophy against people as well learned as you all.

My original point, and maybe still my point, is that the Golden Rule seems less than a weak base for morality. I think it is, for the most part, either a vacuous statement or a flawed statement depending on how one interprets it. I have a serious problem with trying to get from "this is what I desire" or "this is what I think you desire" or "this is what I think I would desire were I you" to "this is a moral action".

As for your morality progression, I tend to agree with it as long as we realize that we can not divorce our nature as biological organisms with evolutionarilly (?) instilled natural tendencies from the picture. I think they are implied in what you wrote (survival, socialization), they just aren't explicitly referenced. 

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


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Sapient wrote: Vessel

Sapient wrote:
Vessel wrote:

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

I like adding to that...

 

"Don't do unto others that you wouldn't want someone to do unto you."

And don't forget 

"don't do unto other's what you wouldn't done unto to you unless others want done unto them what you wouldn't want done unto you" Smiling

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


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Vessel wrote: Anyway, this

Vessel wrote:

Anyway, this thread is discussing the philosophical worth of the Golden Rule because its what I wanted to do in this thread. If Ye think it silly, later, but thanks for playing anyway.

 

Okay. But any philisophical position has a few basic ideas to start from. What you are pointing out is that the golden rule in isolation leads to all sorts of weird outcomes. So to build a good basis for moral behavior, the golden rule must be qualified to eliminate these problems.  Treating others as I would like to be treated is a good starting place for me. But it is not sufficient even if it works in a great many cases.

Morally ambigous concepts are common. Wht's the difference between murder and killing in self defense? Each has the same biological outcome - an organism dies. To deal with this we easily separate the two actions into different moral categories. I don't find it surprising that The Golden Rule has ambiguities as a moral position.


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wzedi wrote: Take some time

wzedi wrote:
Take some time to read and understand the book before you embarras yourself like I did with deludedgod.

You assume that I'm embarrassed. Nope. Not embarrassed at all.

However, what would be embarrassing is if I admitted that I took advice from a 20 century old book that says a donkey talked, a baby was born of a virgin, a zombie flew up into the sky, a snake and a burning bush gave advice, a man walked on water, the earth was created in six days, the Nile River turned into blood, a stick turned into a snake, the sun stood still, a star gave directions, demons were casts into pigs, a woman turned into salt, all the animals in the world rode in one boat, food rained from the sky, women came from a man's rib, and that if you don't believe all this bullshit that God will torture you forever.

That, I would be embarrassed about.

I do not have to have memorized every word of the Bible to know that the above is pure bullshit. I don't have to have read every word to come to the conclusion that animals don't talk or that people don't magically turn into salt. If a book tells me that these things actually happened then I can logically conclude that the book is bullshit.

No rational thinking person will use a book as a guide for their life that says that animals can talk a human language. And the reason for that is simple. Animals can't talk.

And as far as God killing innocent children, the first one that comes to mind is the story where God flooded the entire earth killing everyone except Noah's family. If this story were true, I think the chances are very good that children would be among those that died.

But don't worry. God didn't really kill any children. Like talking donkeys and flying zombies....it's only ancient bullshit.

 

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I think it would be pretty

I think it would be pretty clumsy of me to try and divorce myself with the idea that evolution has an impact on humans and their tendencies. On the other hand I think I would be even more of a fool to use them as a basis for my morality.

Even Richard Dawkins himself notes that human will overcomes things as fundamental to our behavior as genes. From what little I know, genes and memes are are the true evolutionary mechanisms (someone correct me on this if I am wrong.) Based on this I don't think it philosophically honest to base morals on them, or use them as an excuse to behave in certain ways. Thats why we use reason, which seems to transcend more animalistic tendencies, to form the basis of "treat others as you wish to be treated."

The worst tragedies can come from the best intentions, thats why we must use reason when applying anything. Even the Golden Rule. Basically all ideas can be lacking or dangerous being applied by a passionate person without proper reasoning.

I know I'm preachy as hell.

Thats cute.


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wavefreak wrote: Vessel

wavefreak wrote:
Vessel wrote:

Anyway, this thread is discussing the philosophical worth of the Golden Rule because its what I wanted to do in this thread. If Ye think it silly, later, but thanks for playing anyway.

 

Okay. But any philisophical position has a few basic ideas to start from.

I'm not sure that's always true as it would seem to lead to an infinite regress of philosophical ideas, but I basically agree. 

Quote:
What you are pointing out is that the golden rule in isolation leads to all sorts of weird outcomes. So to build a good basis for moral behavior, the golden rule must be qualified to eliminate these problems.

And I'm not sure that it can be qualified sufficiently to lead to a sound moral philosophy. Obviously by itself it can't, but I'm also not sure there are any supporting ideas that can overcome its dependence on an assumption we have no solid reason to consider accurate. It always leaves me guessing as to other's wishes or constructing their wishes from my perspective of what they might want no matter how it is qualified.  

Quote:
Treating others as I would like to be treated is a good starting place for me. But it is not sufficient even if it works in a great many cases.

I agree it is not sufficient and I'm not sure it can be made so even with supporting ideas.   

   

Quote:
Morally ambigous concepts are common. Wht's the difference between murder and killing in self defense? Each has the same biological outcome - an organism dies. To deal with this we easily separate the two actions into different moral categories. I don't find it surprising that The Golden Rule has ambiguities as a moral position.

But the Golden Rule is not an act such as murder or self defense. It is supposed to be a criteria by which to determine the moral value of the act. 

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


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Vessel wrote: It always

Vessel wrote:

It always leaves me guessing as to other's wishes or constructing their wishes from my perspective of what they might want no matter how it is qualified.

This doesn't seem right. It doesn't matter what somebody else wishes, it only matters that I treat them as  *I* wish to be treated. I don't have to figure out if they would be annoyed if I stole from them. I know that I would be annoyed if somebody stole from me. And so I should not steal from others. 


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It's empathy for dummies.

It's empathy for dummies.


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Vessel wrote: From a more

Vessel wrote:

From a more realistic perspective, say that an adherent to some religous doctrine sincerely desires to be saved. From their perspective they can not imagine that anybody would not want to be saved and thereby subject themselves to an eternity of torment. Are they then morally justified in attempting to save others, by whatever means. The problem is that this would be completely morally justified from their perspective due to their inability to accurately know your desires. They are adhering to even you interpretation of the Golden Rule and yet making flawed moral decisions. Something much more tangible than mere empathy and the Golden Rule seems to be needed to make morally sound decisions. In fact, the Golden Rule seems to be only superficially applicable, at best, to any sound moral philosophy.

Actually, I think the Golden Rule serves us well here, too. The religious person doesn't know or understand my desire to not be saved, true. Therefore, it behooves him to ask. A nice side effect of the Golden Rule is that it acts as a call to discourse and mutual understanding. If the theist acts without taking care to understand my desires, then he is doing something that he would not want done to him and has failed the Golden test.

Vessel wrote:

The Golden Rule can grant moral justification to actions regardless of their moral worth. That is, I think you can fit almost any action into compliance with the Golden Rule, depending on your perspective.

I'm not disagreeing with you that it may be possible to justify a number of possibly immoral actions using the Golden Rule. It's just that I've never seen it done. Take that as a challenge, if you like.

Vessel wrote:

That may be. Being as that I think there is a real objective standard of morality, I guess I just find it superficially relevant to the question of morality at best.

But the real objective standard of morality lies within us and our shared heritage in the human species. Morality is not an external code, floating around out there on a celestial tablet (as some would argue). It springs from our empathy and our evolved codes of social behaviour. Therefore, consulting our desires is not a weak or irrelevant inquiry - it goes to the very fundaments of our morality. 

Remember, God didn't give us morality. There is no Great and Terrible Should out there in the universe. There's only us, and our model for how we should treat ourselves and each other. 

Of course, fundamentals must be built on using reason (as has been pointed out) if we want to claim an advanced morality that addresses our modern condition. I agree that a lonely reference to one's own desires doesn't constitute any kind of moral authority at all. But I think what the Golden Rule is pointing to is my desires in the context of other people's desires. That, to me, is one of the very fundaments of society and therefore the root of all human morality.

Lazy is a word we use when someone isn't doing what we want them to do.
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I don't think the golden

I don't think the golden rule works if you try and use it as a strict moral code or as the basis for all morality. It's more like a rule of thumb. Of course it doesn't cover every moral quandry a person could ever find themselves in, but it covers much more ground than your standard specific rule (i.e. don't kill people).

 I think thou dost philosophize too much.

 

As for the side dispute that has sprung up, I'm pretty sure that the Golden Rule DIDN'T originate in the bible. I seem to recall the Egyptians having something similar, and I doubt they were the first either.

Like magilum said: It's empathy for dummies. 

A place common to all will be maintained by none. A religion common to all is perhaps not much different.


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wavefreak wrote: Vessel

wavefreak wrote:
Vessel wrote:

It always leaves me guessing as to other's wishes or constructing their wishes from my perspective of what they might want no matter how it is qualified.

This doesn't seem right. It doesn't matter what somebody else wishes, it only matters that I treat them as *I* wish to be treated. I don't have to figure out if they would be annoyed if I stole from them. I know that I would be annoyed if somebody stole from me. And so I should not steal from others.

So, you don't care whether or not they would be annoyed? That deosn't sound like a good moral guideline. You, again, remove other people's desires from the equation.

 

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


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magilum wrote: It's empathy

magilum wrote:
It's empathy for dummies.

Perhaps. Though empathy is not about doing what you would want done to you. It is about assuming the role of another, putting yourself in their place, especially in regards to emotion. What one would want for themself is not a component of empathy. It is what empathy attempts to remove. So, if the Golden Rule is empathy for dummies, it is probably worded in the worst possible way by calling one to focus on their perspective, as it does. 

 

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


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Tilberian wrote: Vessel

Tilberian wrote:
Vessel wrote:

From a more realistic perspective, say that an adherent to some religous doctrine sincerely desires to be saved. From their perspective they can not imagine that anybody would not want to be saved and thereby subject themselves to an eternity of torment. Are they then morally justified in attempting to save others, by whatever means. The problem is that this would be completely morally justified from their perspective due to their inability to accurately know your desires. They are adhering to even you interpretation of the Golden Rule and yet making flawed moral decisions. Something much more tangible than mere empathy and the Golden Rule seems to be needed to make morally sound decisions. In fact, the Golden Rule seems to be only superficially applicable, at best, to any sound moral philosophy.

Actually, I think the Golden Rule serves us well here, too. The religious person doesn't know or understand my desire to not be saved, true. Therefore, it behooves him to ask. A nice side effect of the Golden Rule is that it acts as a call to discourse and mutual understanding. If the theist acts without taking care to understand my desires, then he is doing something that he would not want done to him and has failed the Golden test.

But if we are to ask then the Golden Rule becomes irrellevant since we then have no need to consider what we would want done. I'm not sure it has the side effect of being a call to discourse. That seems to me to be stretching it.   

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Vessel wrote:

The Golden Rule can grant moral justification to actions regardless of their moral worth. That is, I think you can fit almost any action into compliance with the Golden Rule, depending on your perspective.

I'm not disagreeing with you that it may be possible to justify a number of possibly immoral actions using the Golden Rule. It's just that I've never seen it done. Take that as a challenge, if you like.

Well, that's going to depend, isn't it? It would be very easy for one to say "That is not justified because I would not want that done to me" no matter the scenario presented. Take the religious scenario I presented above. The person, even after asking, may think that though your mouth says no, you really would want to be saved, because he knows he would. He can not possibly imagine that you would prefer eternal torment, no matter your response to his query.

I'll think on this a bit later as my morning coffee hasn't kicked started the brain cells yet.  


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But the real objective standard of morality lies within us and our shared heritage in the human species.

Yes, it does. Well, it lies within 'us' as a species, not 'us' as individuals.  

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Morality is not an external code, floating around out there on a celestial tablet (as some would argue).

Of course not. It is a reference to what is beneficial/detrimental for the 'organism' (if I can use the term in a higher collective sense) at the species level.    

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It springs from our empathy and our evolved codes of social behaviour. Therefore, consulting our desires is not a weak or irrelevant inquiry - it goes to the very fundaments of our morality.

Maybe. I mean, on one hand, sure, we have to use our own perspective to view anything and to make any decision, but I don't think this is what the Golden Rule references. It is, as you say, endorsing our consulting our own desires in moral decisions. If we agree that there is an objective moral good, then our personal desires are irrelevant. They may or may not coincide with moral good. A society does not necessarilly function best, or a species flourish, by meeting everyone's desires. 

 

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Remember, God didn't give us morality. There is no Great and Terrible Should out there in the universe. There's only us, and our model for how we should treat ourselves and each other.

But I think there are 'shoulds'. An objective morality states that there are shoulds. If there is no should, then morality is not objective. 

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Of course, fundamentals must be built on using reason (as has been pointed out) if we want to claim an advanced morality that addresses our modern condition. I agree that a lonely reference to one's own desires doesn't constitute any kind of moral authority at all. But I think what the Golden Rule is pointing to is my desires in the context of other people's desires. That, to me, is one of the very fundaments of society and therefore the root of all human morality.

So,you are basically saying that you read the Golden Rule as saying "Try to get along with people"?   

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


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Archeopteryx wrote:   I

Archeopteryx wrote:

 

I think thou dost philosophize too much.

Possibly, though calling this philosophizing may be granting it undue status. Anyway, this is what boredom does to a person. I know its not pretty.

 


“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


magilum
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Vessel wrote: magilum

Vessel wrote:

magilum wrote:
It's empathy for dummies.

Perhaps. Though empathy is not about doing what you would want done to you. It is about assuming the role of another, putting yourself in their place, especially in regards to emotion. What one would want for themself is not a component of empathy. It is what empathy attempts to remove. So, if the Golden Rule is empathy for dummies, it is probably worded in the worst possible way by calling one to focus on their perspective, as it does.

OK, empathy for solipsists and sociopaths, then. For people who can't imagine concerns other than their own, and must play games with themselves to stop treating people like furniture.