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Ethic of reciprocity

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The ethic of reciprocity or "The Golden Rule" is a fundamental moral principle found in virtually all major religions and cultures, which simply means "treat others as you would like to be treated." It is arguably the most essential basis for the modern concept of human rights. Principal philosophers and religious figures have stated it in different ways,

  • "Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the LORD." — Torah Leviticus 19:18
  • "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." — Jesus (c. 5 B.C.E. - C.E. 32 ) in the Gospels, Matthew 7:12, Matthew 22:39, Luke 6:31, Luke 10:27
  • "When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God." — Torah Leviticus 19:33-34
  • "This is the sum of duty; do naught unto others what you would not have them do unto you." — Mahabharata (5:15:17) (c. 500 B.C.E.)
  • "What you do not wish upon yourself, extend not to others." — Confucius (ca. 551 - 479 B.C.E.)
  • "What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man." — Hillel (ca. 50 B.C.E. - C.E. 10)
  • "None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself." — Muhammad (c. C.E. 571 - 632) in a Hadith.


[edit] Interpretation

The rule is meaningless without identifying the recipient and the situation. Otherwise, a depressed person who wishes to be killed would be morally obligated to kill others. It has to include an attempt to put yourself in the recipient's shoes and evaluate how you would wish to be treated if you were in their situation. Another way to rewrite the rule would be "treat others as you would like to be treated, if you were them."

The ethic of reciprocity, or Golden Rule of ethics can further be defined in terms of what it is not.

[edit] Not tit for tat

The ethic of reciprocity should not be confused with tit for tat, revenge, an eye for an eye or retributive justice. (This would be "Do to others as they did to you"). Mahatma Gandhi famously said, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind".

[edit] Not non-aggression

The ethics of reciprocity should not be confused with another major ethical principle, often known as harm principle, or Non-aggression principle which is an ethical prohibition against aggression. This rule is also an ethical rule of "licence" or "right", that is people can do anything they like as long as it does not harm others.

[edit] Not a "rule" in specifics

If one were to apply the Golden Rule as a mandate to force one's eccentricities on another, many unethical consequences would result. For example:

  • a masochist would be charged with harming all others, since a masochist enjoys having pain inflicted on him/her-self.
  • the perfectionist would be charged with critiquing everyone else's behavior.
  • a dieter would be charged with harassing others about their caloric intake.

The ethic of reciprocity or Golden Rule of ethics is not a "rule" that should be applied to specific personal preferences or eccentricities. It must always be applied first to the overarching desires that all people share, especially the desire to lead one's life without interruption by others.

[edit] Not majoritarianism

Another misinterpretation of the Golden Rule is majoritarianism, meaning that an individual must relinquish his/her background or belief system because it offends the sentiment of the majority. An example of this misinterpretation of the Golden Rule is a statement attributed to Adolf Hitler with reference to Otto Weininger: "There was only one decent Jew, and he killed himself."

[edit] The Principle of Tolerance

Ethical teaching interprets the Golden Rule as mutual respect for one's neighbour (rather than as a deontological or consequentialist rule.) Most of us know that different people have different faiths or ideological beliefs, different preferences concerning sex or other matters, and may belong to a different cultural heritage. George Bernard Shaw once said that "The golden rule is that there are no golden rules". Shaw also criticized the golden rule, "Do not do unto others as you would they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same." (Maxims for Revolutionists). "The golden rule is a good standard which is further improved by doing unto others, wherever possible, as they want to be done by." Karl Popper (The Open Society and Its Enemies, Vol. 2)

A key element of the ethic of reciprocity is that a person attempting to live by this rule treats all people, not just members of his or her in-group, with consideration.

[edit] Religion

[edit] Global ethic

Main article: Global ethic

The "Declaration Toward a Global Ethic" from Parliament of the World’s Religions proclaim the Golden Rule (both in negative and positive form) as the common principle for many religions. The Declaration was signed by more than 200 leaders from 40+ different faith traditions and spiritual communities.

[edit] Subsidiary to love for God

The Monotheistic Religions Judaism and Christianity teach that the Golden Rule and other moral commands on human relations are subsidiary to commands relating to God. e.g., Jesus explicitly identified the Great Commandment as supreme love for God, affirming the Torah. (Mark 12:30 Deuteronomy 6:5) (Jesus gave the supreme command - "Love one another as I have loved you" - equivalent to Moses' Great Commandment) (John 13:34) By categorizing "Love your neighbor as yourself" as the Second command, Jesus placed the Golden Rule and human relationships as subsidiary to one's relationship to God.

But this should also be considered: (Romans 13:8) "Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments [...] are summed up in this word, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law."

[edit] Equal to love for oneself

In Judaism and Christianity, the Golden Rule stipulates that one should love others as oneself. This clearly means "not less," but does not clearly include "and not more." So the Judeo-Christian Golden Rule may be considered silent on the subject of self-sacrifice; it neither mandates nor clearly forbids it.

[edit] Hinduism

The true rule of life is to guard and do by the things of others as they do by their own.

"This is the sum of the Dharma: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you" (Mahabharata 5:15:17)

"One should not behave towards others in a way which is disagreeable to oneself. This is the essence of morality. All other activities are due to selfish desire." - Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva, 18:113:8

"Wound not others, do no one injury by thought or deed, utter no word to pain thy fellow creatures." (The Ordinances of Manu)

The Golden Rule has many similarities to the Hindu doctrine of karma.

[edit] Jainism

In Jainism, the Ethic of reciprocity is implied rather than explicit. Jainism's cardinal focus is non-violence. Its tenets require that all creation, whether inert or animate be shown respect by not taking from them their right to exist. "Ahimsa Parmo Dharmaha" - The absence of violence is the necessary pre-requisite for all of existence to flourish in peace and for the genuine advance of values. Hence, by actively ensuring the peace of others / without, one allows for the peace of one's own self / within. Moreover, frequent liturgical references in the Jain tradition, hint at all creatures, not just humans as being capable of living up to the ethic of reciprocity in the most trying of circumstances.

Jainism does not ennunciate on a definite concept of divinity or deity. It has been likened to an atheistic religion. Thus morality and ethics are its primary domain. This construct has led Jain philosophers to concentrate on logical apparatus and arguments. In this respect, Jain and Buddhist thoughts share a common plane of Shraman thought whereby the justification for the Ethic of reciprocity has to be found in the human intellect and not from the fear of Karmic retribution.

[edit] Sikhism

"As you see yourself, see others as well; only then will you become a partner in heaven." Bhagat Kabir Guru Granth Sahib(GGS) 480

"Compassion-mercy and religion are the support of the entire world". Japji Sahib GGS

"Don't create enmity with anyone as God is within everyone." Guru Arjan Devji GGS 259

"No one is my enemy, none a stranger and everyone is my friend." Guru Arjan Dev GGS 1299

"We obtain salvation by loving our fellow man and God." (Granth Japji 21)

[edit] Buddhism

Ethics of reciprocity is fundamental to Buddhism. This is partly due to the fact that Buddhism, unlike theistic religions, does not rely on divine revelation. Therefore, in Buddhism, all aspects of teaching are regarded as wisdom rather than supernaturally derived and are to be undertaken voluntarily rather than as "commandments." For example, the first of the Five Precepts (Panca-sila) of Buddhism is to abstain from destruction of life. The justification of the precept is given in Chapter 10 of the Dhammapada, which states:

"Every being fears punishment; every being fears death, just as you do. Therefore do not kill or cause to kill."

According to the second of Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, egoism (desire, craving or attachment) is rooted in ignorance and is considered as the cause of all suffering. Consequently, kindness, compassion and equanimity is regarded as the untainted aspect of human nature.

"One should seek for others the happiness one desires for one's self."[citation needed]

"Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful." (Udana-Varga 5:18)

"I will act towards others exactly as I would act towards myself." (The Siglo-Vada Sutta, about 500 BCE)[citation needed]

"Comparing oneself to others in such terms as 'Just as I am so are they, just as they are so am I,' he should neither kill nor cause others to kill." (Sutta Nipata 705)

"In five ways should a clansman minister to his friends and familiars, .... by treating them as he treats himself." (Sigalovada Sutta 31)

"Is there a deed, Rahula, thou dost wish to do? Then bethink thee thus: Is this deed conducive to my own harm, or to others harm, or to that of both? Then is this a bad deed entailing suffering. Such a deed must thou surely not do." (Majjhima Nikaya 1.415)

"The Aryan disciple thus reflects, Here am I, fond of my life, not wanting to die, fond of pleasure and averse from pain. Suppose someone should rob me of my life... it would not be a thing pleasing and delightful to me. If I, in my turn, should rob of his life one fond of his life, not wanting to die, one fond of pleasure and averse from pain, it would not be a thing pleasing or delightful to him. For a state that is not pleasant or delightful to me must also be to him also; and a state that is not pleasing or delightful to me, how could I inflict that upon another? As a result of such reflection he himself abstains from taking the life of creatures and he encourages others so to abstain, and speaks in praise of so abstaining." (Samyutta Nikaya v.353)

[edit] Judaism

Here, the Golden Rule, as it became known to later Western tradition, finds its origin. The Hebrew Bible states:

"Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD." Leviticus 19:18.
"The stranger that soujourns with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God." Leviticus 19:34

While Leviticus 19:18 is explicitly restricted to fellow Jews, a reading in light of Leviticus 19:34 would imply that it is actually meant to be universal in scope, although, for whatever reason, the law is not explicitly extended to "strangers" until 16 lines later.

"Take heed to thyself, my child, in all thy works; and be discreet in all thy behavior. And what thou thyself hatest, do to no man." (Tobit 4:14-15)

Ben Sira says: Honour thy neighbour as thyself.[citation needed]

Another significant statement in Judaism concerning the Ethic of reciprocity is uttered by Hillel the Elder (Talmud, Shabbat 31a) as the essence of Judaism (literally worded "on one foot").

"A certain heathen came to Shammai and said to him, "Make me a proselyte, on condition that you teach me the whole Torah in the time I can stand on one foot." Thereupon he repulsed him with the rod which was in his hand. When he went to Hillel, Hillel said to him, 'What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor: that is the whole Torah; all the rest of it is commentary; go and learn." (Talmud, Shabbat 31a)
Further information: Hillel the Elder

[edit] Christianity

Part of the Lord's Prayer:
Forgive us our [debts], as we forgive our [debtors]. (Some translations of Matthew 6:12 have debts or trespasses, while Luke 11:4 has sins)
“Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 19:19; Matthew 22:39) (Mark 12:31) (Luke 10:27) (Romans 13:9) (James 2:8)
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)

"Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets." (Matthew 7:12)

"For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." (Galatians 5:14)

"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" Jesus said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets." (Matthew 22:36-40)

"Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise." (Luke 6:30-31)

"And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live." (Luke 10:25-28)

"Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." (Romans 13:8-10)

In his parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), Jesus expanded the concept of "neighbor" beyond its traditional meaning as "kinsman."

This ethic also appears in the Gospel of Thomas, an apocryphal, Gnostic gospel: "...and don't do what you hate...",

[edit] Islam

The Islamic prophet Muhammad is reported as having said

"Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you." — The Farewell Sermon.
"None of you is truly a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself." — 40 Hadith
"God helps His servant as long as His servant is helping his brother." — Hadith
The prophet also prayed as he left his home: "In the name of God, I put my trust in God and there is no strength and no power except with God. O God, I seek refuge with You lest I should stray or be led astray, lest I slip or be tripped, lest I oppress or be oppressed, lest I behave foolishly or be treated foolishly."

There are two types of brotherhood in Islam. The first is the brotherhood of humanity, as the Qur'an says

O humankind! Behold, We have created you all out of a male and a female and have made you into nations and tribes, so that you might come to know one another. — Qur'an 49:13

In emphasizing the common brotherhood of humanity, Muhammad preached

"You are all Adam’s offspring and Adam was made of clay." — [1]

The second type of brotherhood is based on commonality of religious belief. [2][3] [4]

"All Muslims are like a foundation, each strengthening the other; in such a way they do support each other." — Bukhari & Muslim

While Muhammad preached that Muslims should have a special care and concern for fellow Muslims, many examples from his life demonstrated he taught his followers to show altruistic concern for non-Muslims as well. He is reported to have said,

"Whoever is kind, God will be kind to him; therefore be kind to man on the earth. He Who is in heaven will show mercy on you." — Tirmidhi
"What actions are most excellent? To gladden the heart of human beings, to feed the hungry, to help the afflicted, to lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful, and to remove the sufferings of the injured." — Bukhari

[edit] Confucianism

"What you do not wish upon yourself, extend not to others."
-- Analects of Confucius, Chapter 15, Verse 23 [5], c. 500 B.C.E.

According to Wing-tsit Chan's A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy, the ethic of reciprocity appears in the Analects of Confucius, Chapter 4, in the discussion of i-kuan (pinyin: yi guan), the "one thread" that combines chung (altruism) and shu (conscientiousness):

Confucian teachings may be summed up in the phrase "one thread" (i-kuan), but Confucianists have not agreed on what it means. All agree, however on the meanings of chung and shu, which are best expressed by Chu Hsi, namely, chung means the full development of one's [originally good] mind and shu means the extension of that mind to others. As Ch'eng I put it, chung is the Way of Heaven, whereas shu is the way of man; the former is substance, while the latter is function. Liu Pao-nan is correct in equating chung with Confucius' saying, "Establish one's own character," and shu with "Also establish the character of others." Here is the positive version of the Confucian golden rule.

Liu Pao-nan is citing Analects 6:28, but according to Dr. Chan, the same principle appears in Analects 14:45: "To cultivate oneself so as to give all people security and peace, even Yao and Shun found it difficult to do."

"Tzu-kung asked, 'Is there one word that can serve as a principle of conduct for life?' Confucius replied, 'It is the word 'shu' -- reciprocity. Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire.'" (Analects 15.23)
"Try your best to treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself, and you will find that this is the shortest way to benevolence." (Mencius VII.A.4)
Surely it is the maxim of loving-kindess: Do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you. (Analects 15:23 about 500 BCE)
When one cultivates to the utmost the principles of his nature, and exercises them on the principle of reciprocity, he is not far from the path. What you do not like when done to yourself, do not do to others. Doctrine of the Mean 13.3 (Li Ki 28.1.32, SBE 38.305)
What a man dislikes in his superiors, let him not display in the treatment of his inferiors; what he dislikes in inferiors, let him not display in the service of his superiors; what he hates in those who are before him, let him not therewith precede those who are behind him; what he hates in those who are behind him, let him not therewith follow those who are before him; what he hates to receive on the right, let him not bestow on the left; what he hates to receive on the left, let him not bestow on the right : - this is what is called "The principle with which, as with a measuring-square, to regulate one's conduct." (The Great Learning 10.2)

[edit] Bahá'í

“Ascribe not to any soul that which thou wouldst not have ascribed to thee, and say not that which thou doest not.” Bahá'u'lláh, Hidden Words, Arabic #29
“Blessed is he who prefers his brother before himself” Baha’u’llah Tablets of Baha’u’llah 6.71
"And if thine eyes be turned towards justice, choose thou for thy neighbour that which thou choosest for thyself." (Epistle to the Son of the Wolf. Baha’u’llah Tablets of Baha’u’llah 6.64)
“Wish not for others what you wish not for yourselves” Baha’u’llah Aqdas 148.73
“The seeker should not wish for others that which he does not wish for himself, nor promise that which he does not fulfil” Baha’u’llah Kitab-i-Iqan 194, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah 125.266
“Lay not on any soul a load which ye would not wish to be laid upon you, and desire not for anyone the things ye would not desire for yourselves” Baha'u'llah, Summons of the Lord of Hosts 544 & Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah 66.128
"Wherefore must the loved ones of God associate in affectionate fellowship with stranger and friend alike, showing forth to all the utmost loving-kindness, disregarding the degree of their capacity, never asking whether they deserve to be loved. In every instance let the friends be considerate and infinitely kind. Let them never be defeated by the malice of the people, by their aggression and their hate, no matter how intense. If others hurl their darts against you, offer them milk and honey in return; if they poison your lives, sweeten their souls; if they injure you, teach them how to be comforted; if they inflict a wound upon you, be a balm to their sores; if they sting you, hold to their lips a refreshing cup."

[edit] Other examples

  • "Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live."
-Oscar Wilde
While this inverted formulation does not encompass the entire concept of the golden rule, it does have the advantage of emphasising respect for others' identity and ideals, which is included in most other forms but is easily ignored if the golden rule is considered exclusive to the physical elements of human interaction, rather than being inclusive of all elements of human interaction.
  • "Treat your inferiors as you would be treated by your superiors."
-Seneca the Younger, Epistulae morales ad Lucilium 47:11, 1st century
It was named the "Meta-Golden Rule" by Vernor Vinge.[1]
  • "All human morality is contained in these words: make others as happy as you yourself would be, and never serve them more ill than you would yourself be served."
-Marquis de Sade, Dialogue Between a Priest and a Dying Man
  • “It is not fair to ask of others what you are unwilling to do yourself.” (Anna Eleanor Roosevelt)
  • "We should bear ourselves toward others as we would desire they should bear themselves toward us." (Aristotle)
  • "What you would avoid suffering yourself, seek not to impose on others." (Epictetus, circa 100 CE)
  • "You should always ask yourself what would happen if everyone did what you are doing." (Jean-Paul Sartre)
  • "May I do to others as I would that they should do unto me." (Plato)
  • “Each man takes care that his neighbor shall not cheat him. But a day comes when he begins to care that he does not cheat his neighbor. Then all goes well - he has changed his market-cart into a chariot of the sun.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
  • “One of the most potent of the weapons of influence around us is the rule for reciprocation. The rule says that we should try to repay, in kind, what another person has provided us.” (Robert B Cialdini)
  • "Whatever is disagreeable to yourself do not do unto others." (Shayast)
  • "Do not do to others that which would anger you if others did it to you."[citation needed]
  • "What stirs your anger when done to you by others, that do not do to others." (Socrates)
  • Refraining from doing what we blame in others. (Thales, Diogenes Laertius, vol I, page 39)
  • One should be "contented with so much liberty against other men, as he would allow against himself." (Thomas Hobbes)

[edit] History

  • 1970 - 1640s BC "This is an ordinance: Act for the man who acts, to cause him to act. This is thanking him for what he does." - The Tale of the Eloquent Peasant In line B1 142 page 64 of The Tale of Sinuhe and Other Ancient Egyptian Poems, tr. R.B. Parkinson OUP.
  • ~1280 - 650 BC "You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your countrymen. Love your fellow as yourself: I am the LORD." - Moses, Tanakh, new JPS translation, Leviticus (Leviticus 19:18), Judaism.
  • ~700 BC "That nature only is good when it shall not do unto another whatever is not good for its own self." - Dadistan-i-Dinik 94:5, Zoroastrianism.
  • ? BCE "Whatever is disagreeable to yourself do not do unto others." - Shayast-na-Shayast 13:29, Zoroastrianism.
  • ~500 BC "Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful." - Udana-Varga 5:18, Buddhism.
  • ~500 BC "The Sage...makes the self of the people his self." Tao Te Ching Ch 49, tr. Ch'u Ta-Kao, Unwin Paperbacks, 1976. Daoism
  • ~500 BC "What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others." Analects of Confucius 15:24, Confucianism, tr. James Legge.[6]
  • ~500 BC "Now the man of perfect virtue, wishing to be established himself, seeks also to establish others; wishing to be enlarged himself, he seeks also to enlarge others. To be able to judge of others by what is near in ourselves; this may be called the art of virtue." Analects of Confucius 6:30, Confucianism, tr. James Legge. [7]
  • ~500 BC "One word that can serve as a principle of conduct for life [is] reciprocity. Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire." - Doctrine of the Mean 13.3, Confucianism.
  • ~500 BC "Therefore, neither does he cause violence to others nor does he make others do so." - Acarangasutra 5.101-2, Jainism.
  • ~300 BC "One should not behave towards others in a way which is disagreeable to oneself. This is the essence of morality. All other activities are due to selfish desire." - Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva 113.8, Hinduism [8]
  • ~300 BC "It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and well and justly (agreeing 'neither to harm nor be harmed'). And it is impossible to live wisely and well and justly without living a pleasant life." - Epicurus
  • ~180 BC "What you hate, do not do to anyone." - The Book of Tobit 4:15, NRSV translation, Judaism.
  • ~150 BC "This is the sum of duty: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you." - Mahabharata 5:1517, Hinduism.
  • ~100 AC "What you feel painful to yourself, do not do to others." - Tiruvalluvar, Tirukkural 316.
  • ~100 AC "What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. This is the law: all the rest is commentary." - Hillel the Elder; Talmud, Shabbat 31a, Judaism.
  • ~30 AC "So in everything, do unto others as you would have them do unto you, for this sums up the law and the prophets." Jesus- Sermon on the Mount, Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 7:12 NIV), Christianity
  • ~100 AC "What you would avoid suffering yourself, seek not to impose on others." - Epictetus.
  • ~600 CE "Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you." — Muhammad in The Farewell Sermon.
  • 1785: "Act as if the maxim of thy action were to become by thy will a universal law of nature." - Kant's categorical imperative.
  • ~1808 "Identity is the identity of identity and non-identity." - Hegel's reflexive, antisymmetric identity, X = not(X), at foundation of all moral systems.
  • ~1870 "He should not wish for others what he does not wish for himself." - Bahá'u'lláh, Kitab-i-Aqdas 148.73 Bahá'í Faith.
  • ~1890 "And if thine eyes be turned towards justice, choose thou for thy neighbour that which thou choosest for thyself." - Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, 30, Bahá'í Faith.
  • ~1940 "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." - Gandhi
  • 1945: "The golden rule ... is further improved by doing unto others, wherever possible, as they want to be done by." - Karl Popper (The Open Society and Its Enemies, Vol. 2)

[edit] Effects of the Golden Rule on politics

The Golden Rule, as taught by Confucius, was also referred to in Capra's Why We Fight series. China was portrayed as a free nation of peaceful people fighting against Axis aggression and oppression. It is said that China, in its long history, did not concern itself much with the expansion of its national boundaries due to this devotion to the Golden Rule. The more accurate reason for this course of action throughout China's history is because China sees itself as one big family and every other nation outside of that. Since many things in Chinese culture depend on relations (at least, they used to), and since other nations are isolated from these relations, China didn't see other nations to be of interest. It would be seen as a full family getting another set of parents, and adopting several children when they already have enough.[citation needed]

[edit] Reciprocal altruism and tit for tat

In evolutionary biology, reciprocal altruism is a form of altruism in which one organism provides a benefit to another in the expectation of future reciprocation. This is equivalent to the Tit for tat strategy in game theory for the iterated prisoner's dilemma. Four main conditions of the strategy are

1. Unless provoked, the agent will always cooperate
2. If provoked, the agent will retaliate
3. The agent is quick to forgive
4. The agent must have a ⅔ chance of competing against the opponent more than once.

For several decades tit-for-tat was the most effective strategy for playing the game, winning in annual automated tournaments against (generally far more complex) strategies created by teams of computer scientists, economists, and psychologists. Moreover, tit-for-tat still is the most effective strategy if one compares the average performance of each competing team. Game theorists informally believed the strategy to be optimal (although no proof was presented).

This implies that ethics of reciprocity may be somewhat compatible with both reciprocal altruism and cooperative egoism providing philosophical middle ground between ethical altruism and ethical egoism. However, in the game of iterated prisoner's dilemma, each players are set as equal. If one player is dominant in the game from the outset, it may be advantageous for such a player to abandon the cooperation and betray other players, resulting in a suboptimal outcome from the collective point of view.

The ethics of reciprocity, on the other hand, presuppose from the outset that everyone is equal, no matter what. However, many actual articulations of ethics of reciprocity in history provide an exemption in the context of the violation of cooperation from the other party. This indicates that the golden rule may have had significant utilitarian justification as well as deontological justification.

[edit] Footnotes

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ Vinge, V. The Coming Technological Singularity: How to Survive in the Post-Human Era, 1993 (text here)

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] Practical applications of the golden rule to our real world problems

  1. Application to racism in the United States in 1963, 1964, partly described in the text and the above (footnote)[1c].
  2. Application to terrorism.
  3. UNESCO report on global ethics.
  4. A sample of applications to business. The golden rule is also in business books, e.g., the Blackwell book in the above (footnote)[2b].

[edit] The general application of the golden rule

  1. David Keating's Golden Rule Radical
  2. Bill McGinnis's Committee for the Golden Rule.
  3. How to conduct a workshop on the golden rule.
  4. Application to moral education.

[edit] Other external links

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