The Golden Rule, By Jeffrey Wattles

2135 WordsMar 18, 20179 Pages
The Golden Rule (GR) is a widely-known ethic of reciprocity that has survived many generations. It should be noted that it differs from the principle of reciprocity where one gives with the sole intention of receiving in return. Rather, the GR is accepted as an ethic of how one believes that people should aim to treat others as they themselves would like/consent to be treated in similar situations. Its universality, within religious circles as well as numerous ethical traditions (Blackburn 101), makes its use largely understandable. Over the years, the GR has been met with numerous critic—arguable some of it is too subtle to be convincing. One of the more convincing of the criticisms is that of Immanuel Kant. Jeffrey Wattles, in his book,…show more content…
Gensler contests the argument that the GR is defective because it does not contain a principle of duties that one ought to perform with regards to oneself and a principle of benevolence to others. With these, Kant raised the issue that because of the duty of obligation to others, it might give a criminal a basis for objecting to the punishment of a judge. To this, the response is that of the GR’s clause of consistency. Gensler writes that consistency norms require us not to combine, “I do A to another” and “I’m unwilling that if I were in the same situation then A be done to me (Gensler 16). To this, he adds that GR is about our present reaction to a hypothetical situation, it isn’t about how we’d react if we were in that situation. For clarity, let’s use one of Gensler’s examples: imagine you are a nurse about to give a baby who has been stung by a bee a shot. The baby is crying and refuses to take the shot, however, as a nurse, you know that without the shot the baby will have more pain or could even die. Appealing wrongly to the GR, one could conclude that the nurse should not give the baby the shot because if the nurse was the baby, the nurse wouldn’t want the shot. This follows, but is a wrong use of the GR. The question to ask is “am I now willing that if I were in the same situation then this be done to me?” and the answer would be yes since as nurse you know the dangers on a bee sting and the relevance

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