Misapplying the Golden Rule

Posted by Brian Sun, 14 Feb 2010 05:11:27 GMT

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

I have learned that the Golden Rule as stated above is worthless to me. The reason is simply that what I would have others do unto me is very different than what others want done unto them. For example, in debates I prefer people to simply tell me that my idea is stupid and logically list out all of the reasons why it is stupid. Once both sides have listed out their opening reasons a healthy debate can ensue much more quickly. In a debate I feel that my feelings are irrelevant to the goal of reaching the correct conclusion. Unfortunately, others do not feel this way. If I apply the Golden Rule in a such a scenario the other side will probably view it as a combative personal attack. While it may be combative, it most certainly is not a personal attack as long as the debate stays focused on the ideas. While the reasons may imply that the person presenting the idea is stupid, that is immaterial to the debate itself.

Of course, my application of the Golden Rule is naive. A extension of this is the so-called Platinum Rule advanced by Karl Popper, “The golden rule is a good standard which is further improved by doing unto others, wherever reasonable, as they want to be done by”. This seems closer to to societal expectation of how the Golden Rule is to be applied. Given this it seems that my role in life is to be subservient to the social norms of others, even though I would rather not be treated that way.

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