When the Golden Rule Goes Wrong

In Dutch philosopher Floris Van Den Berg‘s new book Philosophy for a Better World (Prometheus Books, 2013), he “charges individuals to reimagine society from the position of one at the political and ethical control board.” In other words, it’s full of a lot of interesting thought experiments that involve you putting yourself in the shoes of others (including animals in a fascinating section on vegetarianism/veganism).

In the excerpt below, reprinted with permission of the publishers, Van Den Berg discusses “A New Golden Rule.” (Keep reading afterwards for your chance to win a copy of the book!)

In a number of religions the idea of the golden rule is an important ethical principle. This rule is: “Don’t do to others what you would not have them do to you.” So if you don’t want other people to steal from you, you yourself shouldn’t steal from others.

It is interesting to note that the golden rule, in the Christian version as in others, does not refer to a god. The golden rule puts the individual at the center. The subject, the central and fixed point of ethical action, is put into another person’s shoes. The golden rule is a subjectivist ethical theory. Very different from that other ethical theory that is central in the Abrahamic religions: the divine command theory in which God commands Abraham to sacrifice his oldest son Isaac:

And he said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I will show you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and set out and went to the place in the distance that God had shown him…

Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son. But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.”

At the moment that Abraham is about to kill his own son as a sacrifice, an angel comes between them to restrain Abraham. Instead of his son he is allowed to sacrifice a ram that god has supplied. If we apply the golden rule to Abraham’s action, we get this: “Don’t do to others what you would not have them do to you.” Suppose that the roles had been reversed and that Isaac would have to sacrifice Abraham, would Abraham have wanted this? It could be that Abraham would have had the kind of slave mentality that would have caused him to say: “If God asks my son to sacrifice me then I want it, too.” Although it is possible that people exist who have this extreme sadomasochistic tendency, the vast majority of people will not want to be sacrificed to a god.

The golden rule appears in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Confucianism. Well may you ask yourself why there is nevertheless so much discord in the world. The golden rule has a positive (GR+) and negative (GR–) version. The negative version is best. An example of the positive version is: I would like the people I meet to massage my neck and shoulders. So, my wish would be for all people, when they meet, to massage each other’s necks and shoulders. That is great so long as everyone likes it, but it becomes problematic when someone doesn’t like it. In Japan it is actually quite common for colleagues to massage each other’s necks, shoulders, and even hands. The positive version states: “Do to others what you would have others do to you.” Even more problematic examples can be imagined. Suppose a man says: “I want to have sex with every attractive woman I meet,” and he tries to have sex with attractive women. This fellow will be guilty of harassment if not outright rape. This is because he does not respect the wishes of others, and perhaps he cannot imagine that a woman may not want to have sex with men she doesn’t know. Applying the positive version of the golden rule means imposing your own will, wishes, and preferences on others. That is coercion.

A great many cultures and traditions take their departure from this positive formulation but apply it by the group against the individual: “We consider homosexuality to be depraved, so you’re not allowed to be gay.” Or: “We, your parents, consider religion to be very important, so you, our child, have to observe the rules of our faith.”

So, although the principle of the golden rule, including the negative version (i.e., the ethically sound version), has been known for centuries and even millennia in various cultures, the positive or paternalistic form often dominates. As well, the golden rule is generally applied to one’s own group and is not valid for outsiders. Believers are often not especially kind to those of other faiths or to nonbelievers, or to those who fall outside the prescribed pattern, such as homosexuals.

Yes, the story of the Good Samaritan, who is prepared to help a stranger in need, does indeed appear in the Bible. It is remarkable that this parable plays an important role in Christian ethics, because the Samaritan is not a Christian. A non-Christian thus serves as the preeminent example of Christian morality.

Not until the liberal tradition, beginning with the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century, and more particularly in the nineteenth century in the work of the philosopher John Stuart Mill (1806–1873), is the individual placed at the center, above the group. A morality that is not individualistic can easily repress individuals. Individualism is a necessary condition for true morality: it ought to proceed from the individual. Morality has to do with how people can live together in the best possible way. In the liberal tradition, in which the point of departure is individual freedom, morality means looking for rules that guarantee that all individuals who live together, or have to get along with each other, possess the largest possible measure of freedom. Some rules are essential given the logic of the situation: as I said, everyone needs to drive on a previously determined side of the road. This “denial of freedom,” namely, requiring all drivers to use the left or the right side, guarantees the freedom of all individuals. But a rule like “red automobiles are prohibited,” or “everyone must drive a Buick” unnecessarily limits that freedom. The first kind of rule, about which side to drive on, is an ethically relevant rule, just as rules and regulations about traffic safety are ethically relevant. The second kind of rule, about color and make of automobile, has no ethical relevance and is therefore unethical. Suppose I dislike red cars or have a financial stake in General Motors, do these reasons entitle me to force such rules on everyone? Yet that is what happens often, in fact too often. There are people who object to nudity, often basing this on religious grounds, and so there many countries that censure cultural expressions such as film and the visual arts with that objection in mind. The liberal position is totally different: as long as others are not interfered with in their freedom, everything is permitted, even things you yourself may not consider agreeable.

A Virtual Museum of Offending Arts and Censorship that illustrates this problem particularly clearly has been in existence since 2008. Displayed in this virtual museum are works of art that have met two criteria: (1) they have given rise to controversy because people have been angered by them or have felt wounded or insulted; (2) there have been demands that they be censored. The offended often call for censorship and, ever more often, they are being listened to. But not everyone needs to think that a piece of art is beautiful or pleasant. Art may be wounding, insulting, or ugly, as long as people have the freedom not to be confronted with it excessively. Museums are open to people who choose to enter them, and as a visitor to a museum you run the risk of being confronted with something you would rather not have seen. In public spaces the issue is a bit more difficult. An enormous poster of a woman in a sexy bikini was displayed in Utrecht’s city center a while ago. Some people, the members of a Christian student group in Utrecht, for example, found this offensive. It was difficult if not impossible to walk through the center of Utrecht without seeing the poster. You could just walk past it and shrug your shoulders, but some people got genuinely angry and did not wish to see such an “indecent” image, at least not in a public space. Are there limits to what may be shown in public? If it had been a really pornographic image, the protests would have been much stronger. In fact, the city would not have granted permission to display the poster. All the same, a right-thinking liberal would have said: so what? If you don’t like it, just look the other way. Yet there is a degree of consensus about what is and is not permitted. In much of the “Western world,” the opinions of religious people tend to deviate from what the majority considers acceptable.

Some liberals are of the opinion that just about anything should be tolerated in a public space. The only limit is that there must be no incitement to or threat of violence. That is absolutely not allowed. If this conception were to dominate, it would mean that in public spaces, on the streets, for example, you could be confronted with all kinds of images that you might find ugly, revolting, or offensive. As well, people might be able to do things in public that you would rather not see, public sexual intercourse, for instance. Most people, including a large number of liberals, would, after consulting each other, want to put some constraints on freedom of expression — but as little as possible.

One big difference of opinion has to do with places where gays can connect with each other. Religious people often consider these people to be depraved and are of the opinion that the authorities should prohibit them from interacting. Liberals are generally of the view that these persons should be able to decide for themselves if they want to have sex with each other in public places, but that the activity should not cause a nuisance to third parties. For example, it is inappropriate for such an area to be placed close to a children’s playground in a public park. Moralists who want to impose their personal views on others, often because of religious conviction, would just as soon limit the freedom of individuals. Liberals would like to expand that freedom as much as possible. In practice attempts are made to create facilities for as great a variety of people as possible, including minorities. In many countries there is a subculture of nudists. In the Netherlands the authorities have set aside areas for nudist recreation on many of the North Sea beaches. In this way people who have an aversion to nakedness are not confronted with it, and people who enjoy walking around in the altogether have the opportunity to do so. The degree to which public provision is made for naturists is, in fact, a simple indicator of the degree to which a country is liberal and feels strongly about promoting individual freedom. The same applies to women’s topless sunbathing. In many countries this is subject to social taboos or even legal prohibition. Liberals say: it’s up to women themselves to decide whether or not they want to wear a bikini top.

A large measure of individual freedom requires citizens to be able to deal with the freedom of others. People with a cultural background that pays little respect to individual freedom may sometimes have problems with the freedom of others. A distressing example is provided by physical attacks on gays by those — in the Netherlands they are often Moroccan youths — who disapprove of homosexuality. You’re free to dislike homosexuality and you’re free to state your opinion publicly, so long as you do not incite others to violence, but you’re not free to molest gays. Another example is the verbal abuse directed by Moroccan youths in the Netherlands against topless sunbathing women. In this way they seek to restrict the freedom of women to determine for themselves how they want to sunbathe.

Philosophy for a Better World is now available online and in bookstores.

If you’d like to win a copy of the book, leave a comment and give us an example of how the Golden Rule could go wrong! Just leave the hashtag #GoldenFail at the end of your comment and I’ll contact one random winner next week!

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • OverlappingMagisteria

    I’ll go with the obvious one:

    “As a sado masochist, I enjoy when people cause me physical pain. Therefore, I will cause others physical pain.”

    #GoldenFail

    • Guest

      Sado masochism doesn’t actually work like that…they only want pain in the context of a sexual relationship and normally with carefully explained boundaries. The sado masochist who goes around punching people because he wants to be punched is a strawman.

      • OverlappingMagisteria

        Thanks for the clarification. I guess my Golden Rule Fail could still apply in a sexual context: “I enjoy pain during sex therefore I will inflict pain on my partner.”

        Of course responsible sado masochists would establish rules and expectations first, but as others have noted, the Golden Rule does seem to gloss over other peoples preferences.

        • Edmond

          I think it would work if you said “sadist” rather than “sado masochist”.

          • Natalie Wiseman

            I think “masochist” is the important one here. Likes getting pain, therefore the golden rule would say to give pain.

    • Tom

      Hate to play devil’s advocate, but that’s kind of a similar argument to that made by those bigots that gays have the same rights as straights: to marry someone of the opposite gender. Generalise it some more and it works: “I will do things to other people that they enjoy, as I would like them to do things that I enjoy.”

  • Kevin Kirkpatrick

    I’m always amazed at philosophers’ inability to derive the most obvious golden rule: “Do unto others as they’d have you do unto them.”, or, stripped of arcane Old English grammar: “Treat others they way they’d like to be treated.” (with the obvious corollary, “When in doubt, ask others how they’d like to be treated, and act accordingly.”). BOth the so-called positive and negative forms of the “One True(tm) Golden Rule” involve the assumption that we can substitute our own preferences for those of others. Which is crap…. reducing any deeper contemplation of these golden rules boil down to the principle of GIGO (Garbage In – Garbage Out).

    • swbarnes2

      Yes. “Treat people the way they want to be treated” is the goal. How do you know what they want? “Most people, most of the time, want to be treated the same way you want to be treated” is a pretty good heuristic that is highly likely to give you the right answer. It’s not perfect, but no cute phrase is going to be, and anyone who says otherwise is full of it.

      • Kevin Kirkpatrick

        Sorry, but that’s crap. Once you’ve moved past the basics of air to breathe, nourishment, and shelter, It’s highly UN-likely that any given other person’s desires, wants, and needs will bear any resemblance to your own. Treating others according to such an apathetic, self-centered heuristic is only a step above having no consideration for others whatsoever (see “Proselytizing” below).

        Did you miss the corollary, or do you consider things like that to be just too much effort to expend?

        • swbarnes2

          So you don’t start off by assuming that other people desire to be treated with basic human dignity? You know: not lied to, not coerced into things, being consulted about whether or not they consent to things? None of that is air, nourishment, or shelter, so you remain strictly agnostic about everyone’s desire to be treated with respect about those things?

          So if you saw a little child alone, crying in a mall, it would be “crap” to assume that she was scared and lost, and desired some help? If you heard a crash, and saw a co-worker with a broken mug and a puddle of coffee at her feet, it would be “self-centered” and “apathetic” to help her clean up?

          When someone asks you what time it is, how do you decide whether they desire the real time or not? You really don’t take it as a starting place, ever, that anyone ever wants to be answered honestly?

    • C Peterson

      “Do unto others as they’d have you do unto them.”

      Because it doesn’t work. It’s not a good rule. The reason the Golden Rule works so well as a moral tool (especially the negative version) is because it provides a metric that is built into everybody: their own perception of good and bad. And outside of sociopaths, that’s a pretty good test.

      In most cases, the only way I can figure out what somebody would want done to them (or not done) is to imagine that I am them. I am the reference.

      • Kevin Kirkpatrick

        So… what am I doing wrong then? Because personally, I’ve found it helpful to use my lifelong accumulation of countless interactions with hundreds (thousands?) of not-me’s to build an understanding of the myriad of varied ways not-me’s prefer to be treated. Having collected thousands of examples of what makes certain not-me’s happy and others not-me’s sad, I strive to apply that lifetime of experience, along with all the contextual information I can gather about people with whom I’m about to interact, to work out how they’d prefer to be treated. I’m also humble enough to know what I don’t or can’t know, and whenever possible I do my best to communicate with that person to clarify what their desires actually are, and adjust my treatment accordingly.

        Maybe for some people, it’s just too much to ask to pay so much attention to not-me’s. In that case, I guess I could see such a person feeling like the only way to guess how others want to be treated is by just thinking of themselves.

        • C Peterson

          I see your “rule” as the goal; the Golden Rule is an effective method to achieve it.

          Of course, if you know somebody well, you might be able go directly to the goal. But the Golden Rule is for the general case.

      • Vision_From_Afar

        It may not work as a principle, but as a name for a BDSM club, it’d be fantastic.

    • NateW

      To play devils advocate though, say I have a friend who is a meth addict, and they come to me asking for money, desperate for their next fix. To treat them as they want to be treated is to do them harm. This “platinum rule” assumes that the other person a) desires to be treated in a way that does not cause themselves or other people harm, and b) are objectively aware of what it is that they actually desire.

      The traditional golden rule (positive version) forces me to take the burden of discerning moral behavior upon myself. The morality of my behavior depends on my own judgement rather than on the other persons. It is my moral obligation to a) plumb the depths of my own desires to uncover the root of what I desire most, and then b) recognize that this basic, root level desire is the same that they have, that every person has. The addict thnks he desires the drug, but what he really wants is the same thing as everyone else: peace, rest, happiness, and perhaps freedom from lonliness and pain. Ultimately he wants to truly and deeply matter to someone, to be known fully and yet loved unconditionally… Knowing this, is it not more moral to act in ways that will actually help give him these things even though he begins to hate me for not enabling him? Aren’t there times when “imposing our own values on others” is obviously the moral thing to do and something they will thank us for when they are able to see the situation objectively after the fact?

      Treat people the way they want to be treated seems like it can easily be a cop out, releasing us from the burden of examining our own desires and treating other people according to what is really best for them.

      Also, I don’t see how the traditional golden rule becomes problematic if others don’t like the things that we like. Is it really so difficult to think, “I want to be treated with respect and to have others take my preferences into considerstion, so maybe I shouldn’t rub other people’s backs, even though I enjoy that”? Is it so hard for the other to say “If I was trying to do something I mistakenly thought she would like, I would like her to kindly make me aware of my honest mistake. I would hope that she could understand that I was trying to treat her well, trying to do good, but I would like to be told the truth so that I could stop hurting her. I would like to be forgiven, so I will forgive her.”

  • David Gill

    Proselytizing,
    i.e., “I love to hear people talk about their personal relationship with Jesus
    Christ, so I am going to tell you all about mine.” #GoldenFail

    • http://fractalheretic.blogspot.com/ Fractal Heretic

      At the 35:08 mark in “Sophia Investigates the Good News Club” Reverend J. Brent Walker gives a different take on the golden rule as it applies to church-state separation:

      “I must not ask government to promote my religion if I don’t want government to promote somebody else’s religion. And I must not permit government to harm somebody else’s religion if I don’t want government to harm my religion.”

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aISnyA6k5Io

  • http://freethinkingjew.com/ Freethinking Jew

    I want to die and therefore it’s OK if someone kills me, so it’s OK for me to call you. #GoldenFail

    • Vision_From_Afar

      A message from beyond?

      • http://freethinkingjew.com/ Freethinking Jew

        I meant “kill” – not “call.” :) I just corrected it.

  • http://freethinkingjew.com/ Freethinking Jew

    I will say, though, that I don’t think the Jewish formulations of the Golden Rule contain these sorts of problems. The Jewish versions are:
    - Love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus)
    - What is hateful to you, do not unto your friend (Hillel, in the Talmud)
    But I may be biased, obviously. So does anyone see any scenarios where either of these formulations would fail?

    • RandomArguments

      I’ll go with a mild one for #2.

      I hate eating spinach, so I won’t get my friend to eat spinach (even though he/she might like it)

      • http://freethinkingjew.com/ Freethinking Jew

        :-D Love it! Very clever!

    • Len

      #1 is GR+
      #2 is GR-

  • Erik Wimberly

    How about racism, “I like to hear and tell racist jokes and they never upset me, so I’m going to tell them to anyone I please and expect them not to be upset by it.”

    #GoldenFail

  • DebbieW999

    I believe we are in the end-times, so I am fine with polluting the air and water
    on our Earth; therefore, I will destroy the air you breathe and the water you
    drink. #GoldenFail

  • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

    I’d like to live in a world cleansed of the practice of corrupt religion, the praise of false gods, and the worldly wisdom of man, so I have chosen to forcibly convert or kill all blasphemers, heretics, and apostates. #GoldenFail

  • Smiles

    “If I were bound to suffer in hell, I hope some one would help me.”

    #GoldenFail

  • Lee Miller

    I like having sex with my dogs; therefore I will compel everyone to have sex with my dogs (or with their dogs, if they prefer). #GoldenFail
    LM

    • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

      I have a very low tolerance for domesticated canines, but since this is a religious idea, I’m going to interpret this in a way which suits me. Specifically, I intend to occasionally indulge in eating a good corn dog. Fair enough?

  • stop2wonder

    The Platinum Rule: Do onto others as they would have you do onto them.

    • JustinL

      Emery Emery of the Ardent Atheist Podcast. Always credit your quotes!

  • trj

    Frankly, I find it rather silly to analyze the Golden Rule to extremes. It’s a principle, a rule of thumb. Just like any other principle or decree it cannot be successfully applied to every imaginable situation. Be realistic.

    What the GR basically means is “treat other people decently”, which should be obvious to anyone who is not completely obtuse, but no doubt even this corollary version, if similarly over-analyzed, can be twisted to have negative implications.

    Yes, if you want to present contrived scenarios involving unrealistic sadomasochism, or sociopathic tendencies, or some such extreme, you can twist the GR to become hurtful. But it doesn’t reflect on the spirit of the principle.

    • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

      The only decent way to treat nonChristians is to harass them until they convert or leave town.

      Seriously though, you presented a valid point.

  • Buckley

    I want to live by puritanical religious rules, so I will pass laws that will accomplish this for the betterment of all humans. #GoldenFail

  • Eli

    Hmm, I’m surprised by all the negative comments here because never took the “golder rule” to apply to specific, individual preferences, but to just generalities that I can reasonably assume most other people, at least in my own society, share. For example, I can say I don’t want to be offended, so I will try not to offend others, but I also don’t want to be restricted in what I say, and I assume others don’t either, so that means I must find some kind of balance between not offending and not restricting, as well as find a balance between what offense and restrictions I will (or must, out of fairness) tolerate. This leads to paying attention to and learning about how others perceive offense or not. Or someone can say they don’t want a partner who doesn’t respect their specific sexual preferences and aversions, and therefore, they will respect others’ preferences and aversions. This leads to communication in relationships.

    I suspect someone’s going to say that this is too naive and general to be useful. Maybe it is; maybe it’s just a more complicated way of saying “you’re not the center of the universe.” But I guess all I can say is that I know I came to this interpretation of the golder rule precisely because of adults I met while in high school who couldn’t seem to grasp the meaning of concepts like equality, fairness, and respect. Rather than allow me to expect everyone to be as the same as me, it gives me a guide tp really consider others’ perspectives. I guess because that’s exactly what I want from them.

    • Eli

      Is it OK to reply to myself?

      Shorter version: If you try to apply the golder rule to your own specific preferences, it seems like you’re only going to end up NOT following it. When you treat your own preferences as superior to others’, you’re not treating others as you would like to be treated, since presumably you would like to not have your preferences ignored. So it’s not a failure of the golder rule, it’s a failure of your own application of it.

      Not many others seems to have come to this conclusion though, so am I missing something? Is my reasoning is flawed?

  • katiehippie

    I only like to eat pizza at restaurants, so therefore all restaurants must be pizza restaurants. #GoldenFail

    • Len

      Why is this a fail?

      • katiehippie

        Because I’m actually sick of pizza because my son loves it. Pizza burnout.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    This SMBC cartoon that I got from you is the best example of it going wrong that I know of: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2012/07/is-there-a-perfect-ethical-principle.html

    But the discussion sparked by my posting it actually seemed to rehabilitate the Golden Rule. Understood in a rigid legalistic manner – I like reading Patheos blogs and so I am going to try to make you like them too – it becomes seriously immoral. But a more sympathetic reading can understand it to be about empathy – in which case, you will not force what you appreciate on others, you will put yourself in the shoes of the person upon whom you are forcing something they dislike, and realize that you would not want to have something you dislike forced on you.

    So I may have disqualified this comment from being an example of #GoldenFail

  • Atheos

    Do not do unto other that which you would not want done unto thyself?

  • Mitch

    I agree with the idea that the GR boils down to the idea that we should treat each other decently, but people will always be able to twist the wording used in the book based on what they would want others to do for them. Sadomasochism stands out to me as a fine example of possible #GoldenFail

  • Mario Strada

    I love to smoke crack and would love to give free crack to everyone #GoldenFail

    (and if my crack is religion, you see where this is going)

  • Ryan

    I enjoy having my beliefs challenged and the ensuing discussions. Therefore, I constantly question others on their assertions, asking how they know what they know and offering alternatives. #GoldenFail

  • Chakolate

    The Golden Rule fails spectacularly if you state it as, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I might be a masochist, but I can’t assume everyone likes to be beaten before sex.

    It works much better as “Do not do unto others as you would not have them do unto you.”

    #GoldenFail

  • Vision_From_Afar

    I only want to work 2 hours a day, so people should only have to work 2 hours a day. #GoldenFail

    • Anymouse

      The Golden Monday Rule

  • Tom

    I don’t agree with the notion that the victim could theoretically be willing in the Abraham test, making the whole thing OK, because that defeats the point – going through with the sacrifice has to be a bad thing, otherwise it’s not a test. No matter which way you try to slice it, in the test as depicted in the bible, God is asking Abraham to do something abhorrent, and wants a follower willing to do abhorrent things in his name.

    What I find interesting is that almost the exact same test seems to crop up in other cultures, places and times, only with the opposite (and, to any sane person, the right) answer – you’re supposed to *refuse* to obey.

  • http://thebigreason.com/ Mark Eagleton

    The golden rule fails because it attempts to make empathy into a cute catch phrase. Concepts as important as empathy are worth understanding thoroughly. Glossing over them with a clever saying can easily distract us from seeking deeper meaning. #GoldenFail

  • Natalie Wiseman

    Kidnapped for Christ! Parents send their kids off to rekindle their faith by hard work, because the parents believe strongly enough that if they were having a crisis of faith, they’d like the help. The kids, however, do NOT appreciate the gesture.

    #GoldenFail

  • Cheryl in Tucson

    Do as I say, not as I do.

    The Golden Rule does make me think of Ms. Manners explaining once that good manners are all about making other people feel comfortable in social situations. It was not good manners, then, when I was in line at the bank and some “helpful” woman came running and nearly screaming that my shirt tag was out. Boy, wasn’t she a hero and saved my day! /so

    #GoldenFail

  • GubbaBumpkin

    In other words, it’s full of a lot of interesting thought experiments
    that involve you putting yourself in the shoes of others (including
    animals in a fascinating section on vegetarianism/veganism).

    Well that’s a nice start. Does he then have you put yourself in the shoes of plants? After all, plants are people too.

  • Jake

    “Treat others the way you’d like to be treated” doesn’t really account for the way they would like to be treated, what do you know!

    “We think that an all-powerful being manifested into his son and then killed him(self), therefore we’ll let a bunch of pedophiles get off easy, because we want to be let off easy when people find out we’ve been f***ing ‘em.”

    #GoldenFail

  • Bdole

    If this conception were to dominate, it would mean that in public spaces, on the streets, for example, you could be confronted with all kinds of images that you might find ugly, revolting, or offensive.

    35 second mark:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctj7bMUACoE

  • Bdole

    Do unto others before they can do it unto you. Always strike first, strike hard, and and strike fast.
    Wait, what were we talking about?

  • hotshoe

    Don’t do unto others what you would not have them do unto you? Oh, what could possibly go wrong with that? Well, something that you don’t mind at all, but which would actually be harmful to someone else … say, call me “bitch” and I won’t fee hurt, because I’m impervious to that, but if I were to call someone else “bitch” it might do more than just insult them, it could make them feel like they have no safe place in the community, feel like they can’t speak out for themselves without being slammed … We need better morals than that.

    #GoldenFail

  • SK

    As a teacher, “I learn best by reading and writing, so I’ll assume that my students learn the same way.” #GoldenFail

    In the world, “I love my country and have a great life here, that means everybody wants to be an American, right?” #GoldenFail

  • Mark O’Leary

    I will not be trying to win a free copy of this book, and I certainly won’t be buying it. Just look at the obvious error in this sentence:

    ‘The positive version states: “Do to others what you would have others do to you.”’

    No. No, it doesn’t, and the error poisons the argument. The GR+ says, “Do to others AS you would have other do to you.” “As.” Not “what.” The difference is crucial, and the author’s failure to recognize it indicates a fatal inattention to detail.


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