Living the Golden Rule/Working Through Common Misunderstandings

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Working Through Common Misunderstandings[edit]

Simplistic interpretations of the golden rule can lead to obviously incorrect conclusions. These fallacies often lead people to dismiss the golden rule as unhelpful, and discourage them from understanding it more deeply. Here are several common fallacies along with explanations of correct golden rule interpretations.

Literal GR Fallacy[edit]

It is a fallacy to assume that everyone has the same likes, dislikes, and needs that we have.

A simplistic interpretation, taking the words “as you want to be treated” literally and out of context can lead to absurd results in several situations. Consider this story of a monkey and a fish.[1]

There once lived a monkey and a fish. The monkey followed the golden rule, always trying to treat others as he wanted to be treated. But he sometimes applied the golden rule foolishly. Now one day a big flood came. As the threatening waters rose, the foolish monkey climbed a tree to safety. Then he looked down and saw a fish struggling in the water. He thought, "I wanted to be lifted from the water." So he reached down and grabbed the fish from the water, lifting him to safety on a high branch. Of course that didn't work. The fish died.[2]

The error was caused because the monkey applied the golden rule literally “treat others as you want to be treated” without considering the differences between monkeys and fish.

Here is another example:

Broccoli is Eileen’s favorite vegetable. Wanting to please her husband she serves him broccoli for dinner. Unfortunately broccoli tastes very bitter to her husband, and he will not eat the vegetable.

Again the error was caused because Eileen applied the golden rule literally “treat others as you want to be treated” without considering the differences between her and her husband. If instead she had thought about her husband’s situation and asked “what is my husband’s favorite dish” she would have been using the golden rule wisely.

In applying the golden rule, we need to know the other’s situation, which may differ from ours; the other person may have different likes, dislikes, and needs. We need to imagine ourselves in the other’s situation, and we need to ask “how do I desire that I be treated if I were in that situation?

Rephrasing the golden rule to consider being in the same-situation helps with many cases:

  • I ask a doctor to remove my infected appendix. Should I then remove the Doctor’s appendix? No, because the doctor has a healthy appendix in this situation and in no need for surgery.
  • I love broccoli, should I insist on serving to others? No, because although broccoli is my favorite vegetable, many others are in a situation where they do not like eating broccoli.
  • I love listening to music by Joe Cocker. Should I broadcast Joe Cocker songs loudly through my backyard speakers so that the neighbors can enjoy his music? No, they may have different musical tastes, and in their situation may prefer quiet at this time.
  • I am a real party animal. Should I assume my friends also love to party hardy and drop in unannounced to bring the revelry to them? No, many people, especially introverts, enjoy quiet time alone in many situations.

Harry Gensler introduces the mnemonic “KITA” to help us remember the steps in avoiding this fallacy.

  • KKnow—“How would my action affect others?”
  • I—Imagine—“What would it be like to have this done to me in this situation?” Accurate empathy or asking the other person what they prefer can help here.
  • T—Test for consistency—“Am I now willing that if I were in the same situation then this be done to me?”
  • A—Act toward others only as you’re willing to be treated in the same situation.

In choosing vegetables to serve for dinner, begin by seeking to know how being presented with a particular vegetable will affect your partner or guests. Imagine what it would be like to have a food you dislike served to you. Imagine what foods they may like. Test the consistency by asking “am I willing to be served a vegetable I dislike?” Act, by finding out your partner’s or guests’ food preferences, and then serving them dishes they prefer.

Soft Golden Rule Fallacy[edit]

It is a fallacy to conclude that living the golden rule requires we should never act against what others want. Consider these examples.

Four year old Maddie wanted to put her fingers into the electrical outlet. If her mother were also a curious toddler, she would also want to explore the electrical outlet. Does the golden rule suggest this is a good idea? No, the mother needs to ask about her present reaction to a hypothetical case: “Am I now willing that if I were in the toddler’s situation I be protected from harm by being stopped from putting my fingers into electrical outlets?” Of course the answer is yes.

In a second example:

The golden rule does not require police to ignore bank robberies.

A criminal has just robbed a bank. The police arrive. Does the golden rule require the police accommodate the criminal’s preference and let the criminal go free? No, the police need to ask about their present reaction to a hypothetical case: “Am I willing that the police put me in jail if I do the things that this criminal has done?” The answer is yes, and so the arrest proceeds.

Sometimes we need to act against what others want. We may need to stop a baby from doing unsafe things, refuse a salesperson who wants to sell us inferior, unwanted, or overpriced products; fail a student who has not done the coursework, defend ourselves against attacks, or restrain a dangerous criminal.

Doormat GR Fallacy[edit]

It is a fallacy to assume we should ignore our own interests. Consider these examples.

Helpful Harriet cannot say no when she is asked to help someone. Her brother asks to borrow $50,000 and she lends it, knowing it will never be repaid. A neighbor needs a ride to the airport early every Wednesday morning, and she agrees to drive him there. She never turns down a request for a favor and her life has been taken over by committee work she no longer enjoys, running errands for people who could take care of themselves, and rescuing adults from problems they should never have encountered.

In a second example:

Although Guilty Gladys does turn down requests for favors, she always feels guilty about not helping everyone who asks. This is almost as stressful as taking the time to do the favors.

The golden rule does not force us to do whatever others what. The golden rule lets us say no if we are willing to have others say no to us in similar situations. The golden rule lets us refuse another’s request if we are willing that others refuse us when we make such requests in similar situations. That is how you treat others as you would consent to being treated in a similar situation.

The golden rule is as much about your welfare as it is about the welfare of others. If you are a doormat, repeat to yourself, “As others have needs and rights that ought to be respected, so to do I.” Or more simply, “My needs are as important as any others.”

Third Parties GR Fallacy[edit]

It is a fallacy to assume we should consider only ourselves and the other person. Consider these examples.

A lazy student often skipped class, neglected to do the coursework, then at the end of the year pleaded with the teacher to give her an “A” in the course.

An impatient and inconsiderate driver attempts to cut into a long line of cars exiting the freeway. The driver expects you to be kind in the face of this selfishness, and let him pull into the line in front of you.

A mining company lobbied the government to allow them to continue with mountain top removal operations to gain an immediate economic benefit at the cost of forever destroying the landscape and impacting the environment.

These examples ignore the impact of their actions on (unnamed but very real) third parties. The lazy student is diminishing the reputation of the school and the value of good grades earned by the efforts of conscientious students—and she is encouraging a very harmful situation whereby grades depend on student persuasion rather than student achievement. The inconsiderate driver is delaying all the drivers waiting in line, and setting a dangerous example. The mining company is ignoring the legitimate claims others, such as people living in the region and future generations, who want to enjoy a wilderness environment that has not been destroyed by mining operations.

The generalized golden rule has us satisfy the golden rule when applied toward each affected party. “Act only as you’re willing for anyone to act in the same situation, regardless of where or when you imagine yourself or others.” The affected parties may include future generations. This leads to the carbon rule:

“Keep the earth livable for future generations, as we want past generations to have done for us.”

Easy GR Fallacy[edit]

The golden rule can be applied at different levels of sophistication, but a childlike understanding (as exemplified by the literal golden rule), while sufficient for children is not sufficient for adults. It is a fallacy to assume the golden rule gives an infallible test of right and wrong that can be applied in seconds. The decision is likely to be wrong if the beliefs or assumptions used to make the decision are wrong. Consider these examples.

Thinking it would prevent anoxia, it was common medical practice in the 1940s and 1950s to put premature babies in incubators and crank up the oxygen. An epidemic of blindness among some 10,000 premature babies in the 1940s and the early 1950s became one of the great medical mysteries of the postwar era. It was later determined that the extra oxygen, given with the intent of helping, was causing the blindness in premature babies. Acting on incorrect information, healthcare workers were doing harm when they believed they were treating their patients as they wanted to be treated.

In another tragic example:

Prior to the 1970s, Bangladesh had one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world. Ineffective water purification and sewage systems as well as periodic monsoons and flooding exacerbated these problems. As a solution, UNICEF and the World Bank advocated the use of wells to tap into deeper groundwater. Millions of wells were constructed as a result. Because of this action, infant mortality and diarrheal illness were reduced by fifty percent. However, with over 8 million wells constructed, approximately one in five of these wells is now contaminated with arsenic above the government's drinking water standard. Arsenic contamination of the groundwater in Bangladesh is a serious problem. People who contributed to the UNICEF fund and aid workers who worked to build wells were actually doing harm when they thought they were treating the people as they wanted to be treated.

In these examples, the “K” step of KITA, that requires gaining accurate knowledge of the situation, failed. The golden rule relies on accurate information to ensure good actions. Know how you know.

Assignments throughout this course will require increased sophistication in applying the golden rule as the course progresses.

Too Simple or too complex GR Fallacy.[edit]

It is a fallacy to believe that the golden rule is so simple that a kindergarten-level understanding is sufficient, or so complex that only philosophers can understand it. Instead we must work to understand the golden rule at a level corresponding to the real problems we face as we mature and our lives become more complex.

An important objective of this course is to provide practice in applying the golden rule at your present level of understanding and moral maturity. Learning to spot the fallacies described above, recall the incorrect and correct examples, and apply correct reasoning to problems you face will improve your moral decision making.

Consistency[edit]

Consistency—the virtue of fidelity—is at the core of the golden rule. The golden rule rests on two basic consistency requirements:

  1. We must be impartial; making similar evaluations about similar action, regardless of the individuals involved. When we are impartial the same moral beliefs apply regardless of who they apply to. Impartiality requires our willingness to exchange “self” for “other” in similar situations.
  2. We must also be conscientious; living in harmony with our moral beliefs. When we are conscientious we align our actions with our beliefs. Conscientiousness requires our willingness to exchange “does” for “believe” in similar situations.

These two consistency requirements ensure we follow the golden rule if we wish to be consistent. The golden rule is actually a theorem that can be proven as a logical consequence of these two consistency principles.[3]

Consider again how grandpa is treated in the story of “The Old Man and His Grandson.” If you are both conscientious and impartial, then you won’t make grandpa eat apart unless you are willing that you be made to eat apart in the same situation. This graphic illustrates the underlying logic in more detail:

You make grandpa eat apart. ⇨⇨⇨⇨⇨
If you are conscientious, then your beliefs align with your actions. (Substitute “believe” for “make”)
You believe it would be alright for you to make grandpa eat apart.
⇩⇩⇩⇩⇩
If you are impartial, then your beliefs remain consistent regardless of who they apply to. (Substitute “you” for “grandpa”)
You are willing that you be made to eat apart in the same situation. ⇦⇦⇦⇦⇦
If you are conscientious, then your actions align with your beliefs. (Substitute “be made to” for “believe”.)
You believe it would be alright for you to be made to eat apart in the same situation

Here is the same argument presented as a narrative:

  1. You make grandpa eat apart.
  2. If you are conscientious, that is, if your actions are congruent with your beliefs, then your beliefs are implied by your actions so:
  3. You believe it would be alright for you to make grandpa eat apart.
  4. If you are impartial, that is, if the beliefs you apply to others also apply to you, then:
  5. You believe it would be alright for you to be made to eat apart in the same situation.
  6. If you are conscientious, then you act based on your beliefs, so:
  7. You are willing that you be made to eat apart in the same situation.

The golden rule provides a shortcut from step 1 to step 7. If you have difficulty applying the golden rule directly, perhaps breaking it down into these component steps can be helpful in clarifying your thinking.

Assignment[edit]

Please select answers to each of the following questions: Press the "Submit" button after you have made your selections.

1

GR tells us to put ourselves in the place of the other person. But this is logically impossible, since if I were the other person then I wouldn't be me.

True.
False.

2

The golden rule is an invention of modern western culture.

True
False.

3

The literal form of the golden rule says: "If you want X to do A to you, then do A to X." To this one might object that then

if you were a little boy who loved to fight and who wanted your sister to fight with you, then you'd have to fight with her.
if you were a parent who wanted your child to refrain from punishing you, then you'd have to refrain from punishing your child.
both of the above.

4

Ima Robber has a friend X who asks for help in robbing Y. Ima desires that if he were in the place of (fellow robber) X then he be helped to rob Y. But Ima also desires that if he were in the place of (victim) Y then people not collaborate to rob him. What does GR tell Ima to do?

Ima is to help X to rob Y.
Ima is to refrain from helping X to rob Y.
Both are implied by GR
Neither is implied by GR.

5

Correct variations on the golden rule require that we treat others only in ways that we're willing to be treated.

in an imagined relevantly similar situation.
in actual situations that we regard as relevantly similar.
in an imagined exactly similar situation.
all of the above.


Please continue. Select answers to each of the following questions: Press the "Submit" button after you have made your selections.

1

The literal form of the golden rule says: "If you want X to do A to you, then do A to X." This literal GR

is a basic first principle of formal ethics.
is a clear principle with sensible consequences
both of the above.
none of the above.

2

Correct variations on the golden rule require that we treat others only in ways that we're willing in like circumstances

to have our son or daughter treated.
to be treated ourselves.
both of the above.

3

The golden rule gives

a sufficient condition for permissible action.
a necessary condition for permissible action.
neither.

4

The duty to follow the golden rule holds without exception.

True
False

5

Suppose that I want to steal Pat's computer. To apply the golden rule, I'd imagine myself in Pat's exact place. I'd ask myself, "Do I consent to the idea of someone stealing my computer in such a case?" If the answer is NO, then it follows that I ought not to steal Pat's computer.

True
False


Please continue. Select answers to each of the following questions: Press the "Submit" button after you have made your selections.

1

Suppose that you want to discipline your child. GR would have you ask:

"If I were in my child's exact place, would I then (as a child) consent to being disciplined?"
"Do I now (as an adult) consent to the idea that if I were in my child's exact place then I'd be disciplined?"
Both questions mean the same thing.

2

While we've formulated the golden rule as an imperative or an ought judgment, we could also formulate it in terms of

the virtue of fairness (which involves treating others only in ways that you're willing to be treated in the same situation).
hypothetical imperatives involving consistency ("If you want to be conscientious and impartial, then you ought to follow GR").
a description of what certain ideals involve ("If you're conscientious and impartial then you'll follow GR").
any of the above.

3

Ima Masochist desires that if she were in the place of X (a nonmasochist) then she be tortured.

GR entails that Ima ought to torture X.
Ima could torture X and yet satisfy GR.

4

The golden rule applies to how we act toward

other sentient beings.
other human beings
other members of our tribe or social group.

5

The literal golden rule says: "If you want X to do A to you, then do A to X." A good objection to this is that it implies

"To a patient: if you want the doctor to remove your appendix, then remove the doctor's appendix."
"To a masochist: if you want X to torture you, then torture X."
both are good objections.
neither is a good objection.


Please continue. Select answers to each of the following questions: Press the "Submit" button after you have made your selections.

1

The practical value of the golden rule is that

it concretely applies ideals like fairness, concern, and impartiality.
it doesn't assume any specific theoretical approach to ethics.
it motivates us.
it counteracts our limited sympathies.
it engages our reasoning, instead of imposing an answer.
it helps us to see the point behind specific moral rules.
all of the above.

2

Suppose that you're thinking about robbing a person who is asleep. GR would have you ask:

"Do I now (while awake) desire that if I were in this sleeping person's exact place then I be robbed?"
"If I were in this sleeping person's exact place, would I then (while asleep) desire to be robbed?"
Both questions mean the same thing.

3

One could satisfy GR and still act wrongly.

True
False

4

Suppose that you act to do A to another but are unwilling to have A done to you in the same situation; you violate GR and your action-desire combination is inconsistent. Which should you change -- your action or your desire?

You should change the action. Since you are unwilling to have A done to you, you shouldn't do A to another.
You should change your desire. Since you act to do A to another, you should consent to the idea of A being done to you.
Either may be defective.

5

Correct formulations of the golden rule involve

a don't-combine form.
a present attitude to a hypothetical situation.
a similar situation qualifier.
all of the above.

Please continue. Select answers to each of the following questions: Press the "Submit" button after you have made your selections.

1

In applying the golden rule to someone who is confused, senile, or in a coma, we should ask

what we now desire be done to us in a hypothetical or future case in which we picture ourselves as confused, senile, or in a coma.
what we'd desire if we were confused, senile, or in a coma.

2

The golden rule tells you to treat others

as they'd treat you if the situation were reversed.
as they wish to be treated.
as they treat you.
as they wish to treat you.
as they in turn treat others.
as you want to be treated.

3

The golden rule presumes religious beliefs -- especially the belief in a loving God who is the Creator and Father of us all.

True
False

4

It's difficult to satisfy the golden rule.

True
False

5

The defenders of the golden rule include

Confucius
Buddha
Jesus Christ
Rabbi Hillel
Baha'i, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Mormonism, Sikhism, Taoism, Urantianism, and Zoroastrianism
All of the above


Please continue. Select answers to each of the following questions: Press the "Submit" button after you have made your selections.

1

The three-party version of GR says "Don't act in a given way toward X and Y without consenting to the idea of this act being done when you imagine yourself in the place of X and also consenting to the idea of this act being done when you imagine yourself in the place of Y."

True
False

2

The positive GR says "If you want X to do A to you, then do A to X" -- while the negative GR says "If you want X not to do A to you, then don't do A to X." How do the two compare?

The positive form tells us to do good to others, while the negative form just tells us not to harm others.
The two forms are logically and historically equivalent.

3

About how many correctly formulated variations on the golden rule are there?

Two.
Ten
One hundred.
Over a thousand.

4

"If you don't consent to the idea of someone doing A to you in the reversed situation, then you ought not to do A to another"

is a GR theorem.
is a nontheorem.


Please continue. Select answers to each of the following questions: Press the "Submit" button after you have made your selections.

1

"Suppose that you're a parent who has so much concern for your children that you never think of your own needs. But you think that it would be wrong for your children to live in a similar way when they grow up. Are you consistent?"

Yes -- since you follow the golden rule toward your children.
No -- since you are acting in a way that you think it would be wrong for others to act in similar circumstances.

2

"President Kennedy appealed to the golden rule in arguing that "

Americans should vote for him instead of for Nixon.
racial segregation was wrong.
cutting taxes would promote the economy.
the Russians ought to withdraw their missiles from Cuba.

3

"The golden rule applies to our actions toward "

other members of our tribe or social group.
other human beings.
other sentient beings.

4

"The literal golden rule (LR) says: "If you want X to do something to you, then do this same thing to X." To this one might object that LR tells "

a patient: If you want the doctor to remove your appendix, then remove the doctor's appendix.
a violent little boy who loves to fight: If you want your sister to fight with you, then fight with her.
a masochist who wants to be tortured: If you want Jones to torture you, then torture Jones.
All of the above are objections.

5

"We follow GR because it accords with our feelings "

cultural-relativist justification
subjectivist justification
self-interest justification
supernatualist justification
intuitionist justification


Please continue. Select answers to each of the following questions: Press the "Submit" button after you have made your selections.

1

"GR is a self-evident truth "

cultural-relativist justification
intuitionist justification
self-interest justification
supernatualist justification
subjectivist justification

2

"We follow GR because it's God's law "

cultural-relativist justification
supernatualist justification
self-interest justification
intuitionist justification
subjectivist justification

3

"What is the best match? We follow GR because then people will treat us better, we'll avoid social penalties, and we'll feel better about ourselves "

cultural-relativist justification
self-interest justification
supernatualist justification
intuitionist justification
subjectivist justification

4

"What is the best match? We follow GR because because society demands this "

self-interest justification
cultural-relativist justification
supernatualist justification
intuitionist justification

5

"What is your answer? Suppose that you explain the golden rule to your child, and then ask, 'If someone hits you, what would the golden rule say to do?' Your child answers, 'Hit him back. Treat others as they treat you.'Does your child have a correct understanding of the golden rule? "

Yes -- and he'd probably get 100% on these exercises!
No -- he needs to read Gensler's ethics book!


Please continue. Select answers to each of the following questions: Press the "Submit" button after you have made your selections.

1

"Defenders of the golden rule include "

Jesus Christ
Rabbi Hillel
Confucius
Baha'i, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Taoism
all of the above

2

"The literal golden rule says: 'If you want X to do something to you, then do this same thing to X.' This literal GR "

is a clear principle with sensible consequences
is a basic first principle of ethics.
both of the above.
none of the above.

3

"'Love your neighbor' and our golden rule "

are complementary.
sometimes conflict.
are equivalent in meaning.

4

The literal golden rule tells Ima Masochist, who wants X to torture him, to torture X. The book deals with the masochist problem by

seeing GR as only forbidding inconsistent action-desire combinations.
including some method to criticize irrational desires.
having Ima ask whether he's willing that he be tortured if he were in the exact place of X (who presumably is a nonmasochist).
all of the above.

5

I do something to another. To test whether I satisfy our GR, I should ask:

"If I were in the same situation, would I then be willing that this be done to me?"
"Am I now willing that this be done to me (in my present situation)?"
"Am I now willing that if I were in the same situation then this be done to me?"
All of these mean the same thing.


Please continue. Select answers to each of the following questions: Press the "Submit" button after you have made your selections.

1

The golden rule theorem says:

Don't combine these two: (a) I do something to another, and (b) I'm unwilling that this be done to me in the same situation.
Treat others only as you consent to being treated in the same situation.
both of the above
neither of the above

2

Suppose that your present drinking will cause yourself a future hangover. When you imagine yourself experiencing the hangover now, you don't consent to the idea of your having treated yourself that way. Are you consistent?

Yes -- since you aren't violating the golden rule toward others.
No -- since you are treating yourselves (in the future) as you aren't willing to have been treated by yourselves (in the past).

3

Correct formulations of the golden rule involve

a don't-combine form.
a present attitude toward a hypothetical situation.
a same-situation clause.
all of the above.

4

Suppose that you want to punish your child. Our GR would have you ask:

"Am I now willing that if I were in my child's place then I'd be punished?"
"If I were in my child's place, would I then be willing to be punished?"
Both questions mean the same thing.

5

The golden rule, understood properly, is

a description of human behavior.
an infallible guide to what is right or wrong.
a consistency principle.
all of the above.


Please continue. Select answers to each of the following questions: Press the "Submit" button after you have made your selections.

1

In applying GR to someone who is senile, we should ask:

"If I were senile, would I then be willing to be treated in such and such ways?"
"Am I now willing that if I were senile then I'd be treated in such and such ways?"
Both questions mean the same thing.

2

The practical value of the golden rule is that

it counteracts self-centeredness.
it concretely applies ideals like fairness and impartiality.
it helps us to see the point behind moral rules.
it engages our reasoning, instead of imposing an answer.
all of the above.

3

One could follow GR but still act wrongly.

True
False

4

The golden rule can be derived from the requirements to

be impartial and follow ends-means consistency.
be conscientious and follow ends-means consistency.
be conscientious and impartial.
none of the above -- the golden rule is a basic principle and can't be derived from other requirements.

5

The golden rule is an invention of modern western culture.

True
False


Please continue. Select answers to each of the following questions: Press the "Submit" button after you have made your selections.

1

Our GR ("We ought to treat others only as we consent to being treated in the same situation") is stronger than the GR of prescriptivism in that:

we can violate it even if we don't use "ought."
we can defend it using practically any approach to ethics.
views that accept moral truths could accept that our GR is an important moral truth about how we ought to live.
all of the above.

2

Suppose that you write a poor essay and your teacher gives you a low grade. You tell your teacher, "If you were in my place, you wouldn't want to be given a low grade; so, by the golden rule, you ought not to give me a low grade." What is wrong with this reasoning?

GR doesn't tell what specific act to do. Instead, it forbids an inconsistent action-desire combination.
GR is about your present attitude toward a hypothetical situation.
Both of the above are defects in the reasoning.
Nothing is wrong with this reasoning.

3

Our GR can tell a masochist who wants to be tortured to torture another.

True
False

4

What is the best match? Keep your means in harmony with your ends

Impartiality
Golden rule
Universal law
Ends-means consistency
Self-regard

5

What is the best match? Make similar evaluations about similar actions, regardless of the individuals involved

Ends-means consistency
Golden rule
Universal law
Impartiality
Self-regard


Please continue. Select answers to each of the following questions: Press the "Submit" button after you have made your selections.

1

What is the best match? Our GR (Treat others only as you consent to being treated in the same situation

Ends-means consistency
Impartiality
Universal law
Golden rule
Self-regard

2

What is the best match? Act only in ways that you find acceptable, regardless of where or when you imagine yourself in the situation

Ends-means consistency
Impartiality
Golden rule
Universal law
Self-regard

3

What is the best match? Treat yourself only as you're willing to have others treat themselves in the same situation

Ends-means consistency
Impartiality
Golden rule
Self-regard

4

What is the best match? Act only as you're willing for anyone to act in the same situation -- regardless of imagined variations of time or person

Ends-means consistency
Impartiality
Golden rule
Universal law

5

What is the best match? Keep your actions, resolutions, and desires in harmony with your moral beliefs

Self-regard
Universal law
Logicality
Ends-means consistency
Conscientiousness


Please continue. Select answers to each of the following questions: Press the "Submit" button after you have made your selections.

1

What is the best match? Avoid inconsistent beliefs

Self-regard
Universal law
Conscientiousness
Ends-means consistency
Logicality

2

What is the best match? Treat yourself (in the future) only as you're willing to have been treated by yourself (in the past)

Self-regard
Universal law
Conscientiousness
Ends-means consistency
Future-regard

3

What is your answer? The formula of universal law theorem says:

Follow the rules that would be most useful for society to adopt.
Act only as you're willing for anyone to act in the same situation -- regardless of imagined variations of time or person.
Perform an act of sort A (e.g., an act of lying) only if you want everyone to perform acts of sort A.
Act according to your conscience.

4

What is your answer? If you're conscientious and impartial, then:

You won't act to steal Detra's bicycle unless you believe that it would be all right for you to steal her bicycle.
You won't believe that it would be all right for you to steal her bicycle unless you believe that it would be all right for your bicycle to be stolen in the same situation.
You won't believe that it would be all right for your bicycle to be stolen in the same situation unless you're willing that your bicycle be stolen in the same situation.
all of the above.

5

What is your answer? To apply the golden rule adequately, we need

imagination.
knowledge.
both of the above.
none of the above -- the golden rule doesn't need anything else!


Please continue. Select answers to each of the following questions: Press the "Submit" button after you have made your selections.

1

What is your answer? The formula of universal law says that we are to act only as we're willing for anyone to act in similar circumstances -- regardless of imagined variations of time or person. This formula includes the insights of

the future-regard principle (where we ask whether we consent to this act being done when we imagine ourselves experiencing its future consequences).
the golden rule (where we ask whether we consent to others acting this way toward us).
the self-regard principle (where we ask whether we consent to others, especially those we care about, doing as we do).
all of the above.

2

What is your answer? Our GR is the same as "Treat others as they want to be treated" (the platinum rule).

True
False

Please continue the course with the topic on Moral Reasoning.

References[edit]

  1. From http://harryhiker.com/stories.htm
  2. This story may have originated as a traditional Tanzanian folktale and was adapted by Gensler for use in teaching the golden rule. See: http://www.afriprov.org/index.php/african-stories-by-season/14-animal-stories/67-how-the-monkeys-saved-the-fish.html
  3. Gensler, Harry J. (March 21, 2013). Ethics and the Golden Rule. Routledge. p. 256. ISBN 978-0415806879. section 2.1d