Comparing Two Rules

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“ When thinking about the rightness or wrongness of a particular action or non-action, we should consider how we might evaluate the situation from the point of view of the other.” - Sam Crane. This very simple philosophical principle has been expressed in many ways throughout the years, but there are two ‘rules’ that I believe capture the essence of this idea best. The first of these rules is widely known as the Golden rule, which is “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. The second rule is the Confucian rule of reciprocity (i.e. the ‘Silver Rule’) which says simply “what you do not wish yourself, do not unto others.” The two rules both seem to convey the same message, but some philosophers say that there is a world of difference between the two. It is my belief that the differences in these rules are a result of our own interpretations of what is harmful and what is helpful to others. So why do people interpret these rules differently? The biggest contrast in belief that I have found is what people consider “harmful” to others. In my opinion, by not helping someone you are inherently harming them. If someone were hurt and you chose not to help them, as a direct consequence of your decision that person would remain injured, therefore you have harmed them. Other people argue that if you are not the person …show more content…

Obviously there is a difference in the terminology used, but does that affect the actual meaning behind the rules? Bill Puka, writer for the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy says that it does. In his words, “the gold in the rule asks more from us, treating people in fair, beneficial, even helpful ways.” He also states that “the silver component of the golden rule merely bids that we do no harm by mistreating others—treating them the way we would not wish to be treated.” Now, I mostly agree to this, but some part of me wants to dig further into the whole “not helping is harming” statement I made

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