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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I think the golden rule is irrational and here's why. First of all, the golden rule presupposes that other people share your preferences. Secondly, I believe that an action is moral only if it minimizes suffering or increases happiness (hedonistic consequentialism). The golden rule sometimes increases suffering and minimizes happiness. If you followed the golden rule consistently and you found a 7 year old who wanted to experiment with heroin, you wouldn't be justified in preventing them from doing so. If you wouldn't want anyone violating your autonomy and telling you what to do with your body, are you justified in violating someone's elses? I would say 'yes' because although we should generally respect the autonomy of other people, we're justified in violating someone's autonomy if it prevents more distress than it causes.

Another example. If you knew that your best friend's wife was cheating on him but it could be absolutely guaranteed that he would never find out, she was a loving partner and they had a happy relationship together, would you be justified in telling him? I would argue 'no' because as long as his wife's infidelity is not causing him to suffer or depriving him of happiness (I say this because killing someone in their sleep would deprive them of happiness even if it could be done painlessly), there's nothing morally wrong with it. You can argue that he has a right to know but I believe happiness is more important than knowledge, it's the only thing in the universe that is intrinsically valuable and distress is the only thing that is intrinsically disvaluable, everything else is only instrumentally valuable or disvaluable to the extent that they increase pleasure or pain. He might appreciate your having told him and think he was better off for it but it wouldn't make him any happier and feeling happiness/not suffering is all that matters. Telling him on the basis that he'd want to know the truth is nonsensical because in order to want to know something, you would have to know it.

I could go on but you get the idea. I believe that empathy (which I define as imagining another person's emotional state of mind and adopting it out of identification with them) is the only valid basis for a moral framework and if you based all of your moral decisions on empathy and empathy alone (concern and the desire to help others is not necessarily empathetic), you would naturally adopt a hedonistic/consequentialist world view. What do you think?
 

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ok. so you saying in these two examples, that if you were - the 7 year old kid, or the man with the cheating wife -that you would not want someone to interfere? right?

wouldnt that mean though, that anybody living by the 'treat others as you would want them to treat you' moto, would leace you alone? becasue they would put themselves in your shoes, and realise you wanted to be left alone?

or did i interpret the first part wrongly?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
ok. so you saying in these two examples, that if you were - the 7 year old kid, or the man with the cheating wife -that you would not want someone to interfere? right?

wouldnt that mean though, that anybody living by the 'treat others as you would want them to treat you' moto, would leace you alone? becasue they would put themselves in your shoes, and realise you wanted to be left alone?

or did i interpret the first part wrongly?
The 7 year old might not want you to interfere, the man whose wife is cheating on him probably would. Preventing the 7 year old from doing heroin would prevent more distress than it may cause, even if it violates the golden rule, not telling the man that his wife is cheating on him would prevent him from suffering, even if it violates the golden rule.
 

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First of all, the golden rule presupposes that other people share your preferences.
Not really. You can treat others well even if they don't treat you well in return. This can even benefit you, since there's a natural high from doing good.

If you followed the golden rule consistently and you found a 7 year old who wanted to experiment with heroin, you wouldn't be justified in preventing them from doing so. If you wouldn't want anyone violating your autonomy and telling you what to do with your body, are you justified in violating someone's elses?

I would certainly want someone to have stopped my 7 year old self from doing heroin. There are situations in which any of us would want someone to violate our autonomy, like when we're about to do something incredibly stupid that will damage us but we don't know any better because we don't have all the information and understanding that the interfering observer has. If you're about to eat poison or fall into a mine, you want someone to stop you. If you're in a delirious state where you're not mentally competent, you want someone to stop you... and childhood is a sort of a state of diminished mental competence.

As with most moral frameworks, you can get whatever result you want out of it by changing how you frame the issue, getting more or less specific.
 

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Kantianism and Utilatarianism are completely different trains for thought, so I don't think you should use the increasing happiness rule to explain Kant.

I do think Kant has it's problems though, what if the person reading this is a psychopath? That means they don't care how they are treated because they have no fear or feelings(and obviously no empathy) , whereas everyone else does. The psychopath's treatment of others would be the cause of problems in all of society. Yet one could argue they are following Kant because their values are different.

I think Kant can only be followed in the mind of a rational person (that has empathy, as a normal person would). I forget whether this was a rule of Kant or not, but it probaly is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Kantianism and Utilatarianism are completely different trains for thought, so I don't think you should use the increasing happiness rule to explain Kant.

I do think Kant has it's problems though, what if the person reading this is a psychopath? That means they don't care how they are treated because they have no fear or feelings(and obviously no empathy) , whereas everyone else does. The psychopath's treatment of others would be the cause of problems in all of society. Yet one could argue they are following Kant because their values are different.

I think Kant can only be followed in the mind of a rational person (that has empathy, as a normal person would). I forget whether this was a rule of Kant or not, but it probaly is.
Kantianism is deontology. Deontology is the view that the moral worth of an action is determined by the actor's adherence to rules and laws. Consequentialism (utilitarianism is a branch of consequentialism) is the view that the moral worth of an action is determined only by it's consequences (consequentialists aren't necessarily hedonists like I am, they may think an action is appropriate if it results in increased knowledge, autonomy, and other things besides more happiness/less suffering). A deontologist would argue that lying is wrong because it is wrong, a (hedonistic) consequentialist would argue that lying is morally wrong only if it causes distress (whether or not it's of bad character is another matter).

Psychopaths might not be capable of empathy but they have feelings. They're capable of pleasure and stress. I don't see what incentive a psychopath would have to behave morally (besides avoiding punishment or the benefits of reciprocal altruism).

Hoth,

The golden rule doesn't say we should do unto others as we, in retrospect, would have wanted done to us in the past, it says we should do unto others what we want (now, in the present) done unto us. Nor does it say do unto others under certain circumstances only. Deontology is flawed because rules don't accurately apply to every scenario. Following a rule consistently can sometimes be counter productive to the general objective of that rule. It's only wrong to steal because stealing causes distress to the person you steal from. It's not sensible to follow that rule consistently if stealing sometimes prevents more distress than it causes (ie. a father stealing to feed his starving family). Stealing isn't wrong just because, it's the consequences that are bad so it's the consequences we should be concerned with.

I could have given more detailed replies but I'm feeling kind of lazy.
 

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If i was a drug user, would i want you to take my drugs away? - probably not. - so the rule works. you realise i want my drugs, so you don't take them away.

But are you saying, that this is not the best thing for me? to be (hypothetically) using drugs? if you are, then aren't you really questioning what is good, and what is bad? this is a very difficult question to answer. the beauty of the rule, in my opinion, is that it lets everybody choose for themselves what is good or bad for them, ie, freedom of choice, not being forced to do something.

If your wife was cheating on you, would you want to know?? if I knew you, and I knew you would want to know - i would tell you, living by the rule (or by my interpretation of the concept of the rule). Again, weather it actually would cause you more pain from knowing, ie, it would be worse, is a choice that, in effect, you make. If i live by the rule.

But i think this is only my interpretation of the rule. You could possibly argue, for example, using the man and cheating wife scenario, that it may not be possible for me to know if you would prefer i tell you about your wife or not. In this case, living by the rule, i would have to do what i would want in your position, and this may be different to what you would want. But in my opinion this communication type problem will always exist between people, and is unavoidable. I think the concept of 'putting youself in someone elses shoes' so to speak, may not be perfect, but if people actually did it, it might reduce some suffering.

When it becomes a problem, is in competition. 'you can't make an omlet without breaking a few egss' is the idea of the problem that arises. Sometimes, its either, i win, and you lose, or you win and i lose. A game of ches for example. Therefore i think the rule has limitations.
 

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I think you're over complicating the golden rule. I don't think it applies to extremely specific circumstances, but rather generalities. I don't want to be betrayed, therefor I shouldn't betray. I don't want to be physically hurt, therefor I should not physically hurt. Obviously there are exceptions to be made, however, generally speaking, it is a good moral compass. I would also disagree with your argument for protecting your friend's feelings if your friend would have expected you to tell him even terrible news and you understood this. The trust in a friendship has a value of it's own, and is more valuable in certain friendships than temporary happiness.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
If i was a drug user, would i want you to take my drugs away? - probably not. - so the rule works. you realise i want my drugs, so you don't take them away.

But are you saying, that this is not the best thing for me? to be (hypothetically) using drugs? if you are, then aren't you really questioning what is good, and what is bad? this is a very difficult question to answer. the beauty of the rule, in my opinion, is that it lets everybody choose for themselves what is good or bad for them, ie, freedom of choice, not being forced to do something.

If your wife was cheating on you, would you want to know?? if I knew you, and I knew you would want to know - i would tell you, living by the rule (or by my interpretation of the concept of the rule). Again, weather it actually would cause you more pain from knowing, ie, it would be worse, is a choice that, in effect, you make. If i live by the rule.

But i think this is only my interpretation of the rule. You could possibly argue, for example, using the man and cheating wife scenario, that it may not be possible for me to know if you would prefer i tell you about your wife or not. In this case, living by the rule, i would have to do what i would want in your position, and this may be different to what you would want. But in my opinion this communication type problem will always exist between people, and is unavoidable. I think the concept of 'putting youself in someone elses shoes' so to speak, may not be perfect, but if people actually did it, it might reduce some suffering.

When it becomes a problem, is in competition. 'you can't make an omlet without breaking a few egss' is the idea of the problem that arises. Sometimes, its either, i win, and you lose, or you win and i lose. A game of ches for example. Therefore i think the rule has limitations.
bolded - If you put yourself in someone else's shoes, you wouldn't necessarily treat them the way you wanted to be treated.

second paragraph- people think that they want knowledge, autonomy, ipads, sex etc. but they don't, they want the pleasure these things cause. That might sound arrogant, to assume that I know what other people 'really' want but I think it's true. We're hardwired to associate the objects of our emotions with our emotions so we fail to realize that the object is only instrumentally valuable/disvaluable in causing the emotion. Nobody wants to be forced to do something but it's not being forced to do something that is bad, it's the way being forced to do something makes you feel. It's necessary to violate someone's autonomy if it prevents them from feeling even worse. This is why I no longer consider myself to be an anarchist, because violating someone's autonomy is instrumentally disvaluable, not intrinsically disvaluable, I guess that's another topic.

last paragraph-I'm not sure I understand

I think you're over complicating the golden rule. I don't think it applies to extremely specific circumstances, but rather generalities. I don't want to be betrayed, therefor I shouldn't betray. I don't want to be physically hurt, therefor I should not physically hurt. Obviously there are exceptions to be made, however, generally speaking, it is a good moral compass. I would also disagree with your argument for protecting your friend's feelings if your friend would have expected you to tell him even terrible news and you understood this. The trust in a friendship has a value of it's own, and is more valuable in certain friendships than temporary happiness.
The golden rule works in many scenarios but it's not necessary, empathy does a good enough job. An empathetic person wouldn't betray or physically hurt someone because when other people are sad, they feel sad for them. In most scenarios, I see the connection between empathy and the golden rule but practicing the golden rule isn't always empathetic.

I agree that trust is important in a relationship but in that hypothetical scenario, your friend's happiness wasn't temporary, it was guaranteed he'd never find out so he wouldn't lose the trust he has for you.
 

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'It's necessary to violate someone's autonomy if it prevents them from feeling even worse'

Haha, I can't say i agree with this, but i can see how if you hold this opinion it affects you initial argument.

'bolded - If you put yourself in someone else's shoes, you wouldn't necessarily treat them the way you wanted to be treated.'

so you don't think it's neccessary to 'put yourself in somoeone elses shoes' in order to treat them the way you want to be treated. ??

So how do you treat someone the way you (in your 'own shoes') want them to treat you? If your feeling hot for example - you would make it cold for someobdy else? what if they are cold already??. I've never interpreted it that way before. I would have thought trying to understand what it is like for somebody else was a fundamental process in implementing of the rule. - 'how you would want them to treat you' - ie, how you would want to be treated if it were you in their situation.

This is just my interpretation though
 
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