Category Archives: Golden Rule

Less of the sermon

Part of a series which began with Fake news and the ethics of belief.

The two previous instalments (Would you Adam and Eve it? and I just can’t help believing – or can I?) quoted for authenticity a number of passages from Clifford’s The Ethics of Belief.

At times he comes across like a Victorian sermon though, which can be a tad off-putting.

But if we dial down the rhetoric I think we can make a fairly strong case for much of what he has in mind, particularly in relation to belief in its social context.

So here is my own version.

Clifford expressed his evidence principle (which we are calling ’CP’) in universal, absolute terms:

[CP] …it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.1

Staffordshire figure of Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon
Staffordshire figure depicting Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon, circa 1860 [photo: David Madelena]
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More equal than others?

Pigs graffitiWhy should we follow the principle that, when applying the Golden Rule, we should act so as to preserve, protect and promote the Golden Rule itself?

Well, if you subscribed to the Rule would you want others to preserve, protect and promote the Rule? Yes? Then you should preserve, protect and promote the Rule yourself.

This follows Publish and be damned as number 16 in a series of posts on the Golden Rule. The first was Any fool can make a rule.

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Publish and be damned

International newspapers Rome 2005

© Stefano Corso 2005

Last time we suggested that someone following the Golden Rule would be faced with the impossible task of trying to please everyone. If so that would seem like a fatal objection to the Rule, whatever Confucius or Jesus might say.

This follows The miller, his son and the donkey as number 15 in a series of posts on the Golden Rule. The first was Any fool can make a rule. Next is More equal than others?

But perhaps again we are interpreting the Rule in a narrower way than the Rule itself would require.

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The miller, his son and the donkey

Arrested French Resistance fighters, 1944

Arrested French Resistance fighters, 1944

Last time we suggested that value pluralism1 should only pose a problem for the Golden Rule if we apply the Rule simplistically, which the Rule itself should steer us away from. We will now consider another aspect which, ironically, could imply the Golden Rule might often be impossible to obey in practice, and particularly when we need it most.

This follows Value pluralism and the Golden Rule as number 14 in a series of posts on the Golden Rule. The first was Any fool can make a rule. Next is Publish and be damned.

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Value pluralism and the Golden Rule

Symbols of nine world religions

How does the Golden Rule fare in an interconnected world made up of multicultural communities?

This follows Two big ideas as number 13 in a series of posts on the Golden Rule. The first was Any fool can make a rule. Next one is The miller, his son and the donkey.

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Ifs and buts

Mourning angel, Florence

Mourning angel, Florence

This follows Payback time as number 11 in a series of posts on the Golden Rule. The first was Any fool can make a rule. Next one is Two big ideas.

What is ‘categorical’ about Kant‘s categorical imperative? This is to distinguish it from a hypothetical imperative, for example:

(i) If you want to (or have to) achieve y, then do x.

A categorical imperative would be simply:

(ii) Do x.

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Payback time

Immanuel Kant

Immanuel Kant

This follows Once more without feeling as number 10 in a series of posts on the Golden Rule. The first was Any fool can make a rule. Next one is Ifs and buts.

It is now time to get to grips with Kant’s categorical imperative.

This will not be an exhaustive or comprehensive account. The focus will be on what kind of thing the categorical imperative is – its logical status, if you like.

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Once more without feeling

Rabbits

Rabbits

This follows Conflict and compassion as number 9 in a series of posts on the Golden Rule. The first was Any fool can make a rule. Next one is Payback time.

We said last time that Kant did not want his readers to think his notion of duty – formulated as the categorical imperative – was just a rewrite of the Silver Rule (the Golden Rule in its negative formulation). He saw the Silver Rule as both banal and flawed.

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Conflict and compassion

Et tu, Brute? Vincenzo Camuccini: Death of Caesar

Et tu, Brute? Vincenzo Camuccini: Death of Caesar

This follows Crime and punishment as number 8 in a series of posts on the Golden Rule. The first was Any fool can make a rule. Next one is Once more without feeling.

Last time we asked the question: what if two or more duties to different people conflict? How can the Golden Rule or the Silver Rule be used to choose between them?

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