The "Declaration Toward a Global Ethic" from the "Parliament of the World’s Religions (1993) proclaimed the Golden Rule ("We must treat others as we wish others to treat us") as the common principle for many religions. The Initial Declaration was signed by 143 leaders from all of the world's major faiths, including Baha'i Faith, Brahmanism, Brahma Kumaris, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Indigenous, Interfaith, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Native American, Neo-Pagan, Sikhism, Taoism, Theosophist, Unitarian Universalist and Zoroastrian. In the folklore of several cultures the Golden Rule is depicted by the "allegory of the long spoons.
Many different sources claim the Golden Rule as a humanist principle:
Trying to live according to the Golden Rule means trying to empathise with other people, including those who may be very different from us. Empathy is at the root of kindness, compassion, understanding and respect – qualities that we all appreciate being shown, whoever we are, whatever we think and wherever we come from. And although it isn’t possible to know what it really feels like to be a different person or live in different circumstances and have different life experiences, it isn’t difficult for most of us to imagine what would cause us suffering and to try to avoid causing suffering to others. For this reason many people find the Golden Rule’s corollary – "do not treat people in a way you would not wish to be treated yourself" – more pragmatic.— Maria MacLachlan, Think Humanism
Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you. [is] (…) the single greatest, simplest, and most important moral axiom humanity has ever invented, one which reappears in the writings of almost every culture and religion throughout history, the one we know as the Golden Rule. Moral directives do not need to be complex or obscure to be worthwhile, and in fact, it is precisely this rule's simplicity which makes it great. It is easy to come up with, easy to understand, and easy to apply, and these three things are the hallmarks of a strong and healthy moral system. The idea behind it is readily graspable: before performing an action which might harm another person, try to imagine yourself in their position, and consider whether you would want to be the recipient of that action. If you would not want to be in such a position, the other person probably would not either, and so you should not do it. It is the basic and fundamental human trait of empathy, the ability to vicariously experience how another is feeling, that makes this possible, and it is the principle of empathy by which we should live our lives.— Adam Lee, Ebon Musings, "A decalogue for the modern world"
In the view of "Greg M. Epstein, a "Humanist "chaplain at "Harvard University, " 'do unto others' ... is a concept that essentially no religion misses entirely. But not a single one of these versions of the golden rule requires a God". At least the Biblical accounts, however, portray the obligation to love one's neighbor as oneself as a corollary of a more basic obligation to love God with one's entire being.
When we say that man chooses for himself, we do mean that every one of us must choose himself; but by that we also mean that in choosing for himself he chooses for all men. For in effect, of all the actions a man may take in order to create himself as he wills to be, there is not one which is not creative, at the same time, of an image of man such as he believes he ought to be. To choose between this or that is at the same time to affirm the value of that which is chosen; for we are unable ever to choose the worse. What we choose is always the better; and nothing can be better for us unless it is better for all.
According to "Marc H. Bornstein, and William E. Paden, the Golden Rule is arguably the most essential basis for the modern concept of "human rights, in which each individual has a right to just treatment, and a reciprocal responsibility to ensure justice for others.
However "Leo Damrosch argued that the notion that the Golden Rule pertains to "rights" per se is a contemporary interpretation and has nothing to do with its origin. The development of human "rights" is a modern political ideal that began as a philosophical concept promulgated through the philosophy of "Jean Jacques Rousseau in 18th century France, among others. His writings influenced "Thomas Jefferson, who then incorporated Rousseau's reference to "inalienable rights" into the "United States Declaration of Independence in 1776. Damrosch argued that to confuse the Golden Rule with human rights is to apply contemporary thinking to ancient concepts.
Richard Swift, referring to ideas from "David Graeber, suggests that "without some kind of reciprocity society would no longer be able to exist." His article, Pathways & possibilities, has a subsection called "A reciprocal economy" which refers to Graeber's concept of ""baseline communism": Swift writes: "If we treated each other .... strictly on the basis of profit and loss, life would be intolerable. So why shouldn't we make the principle of generous reciprocity, so present in everyday interactions, the basis of economic life rather than the current model of competing egoism?"
If the negative/prohibitive form of the Golden Rule would stand alone, it would simply serve as a proactive motivation against wrong action. But the Golden Rule in general actually serves as a motivation toward "proactive action. As Frank Crane put it, "The Golden Rule is of no use to you whatsoever unless you realize that it's your move!"
"Charles Kingsley's "The Water Babies (1863) includes a character named Mrs Do-As-You-Would-Be-Done-By (and another, Mrs Be-Done-By-As-You-Did).
Due to the widespread use of the golden rule, several derived terms have been created referencing it.
Since "silver traditionally follows gold in importance, many "silver rules" have been created, either as alternatives or complements to the Golden Rule.
- The silver rule sometimes refers to the negative form of the golden rule- "What you do not wish done to you, do not do to others."
- In "LaVeyan Satanism, the "Silver Rule" is used as an alternative to the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as they do unto you".
Philosophers, such as "Immanuel Kant and "Friedrich Nietzsche, have objected to the rule on a variety of grounds. The most serious among these is its application. How does one know how others want to be treated? The obvious way is to ask them, but this cannot be done if one assumes they have not reached a particular and relevant understanding.
Differences in values or interests
Shaw's comment about differing tastes suggests that if your values are not shared with others, the way you want to be treated will not be the way they want to be treated. Hence, the Golden Rule of "do unto others" is "dangerous in the wrong hands," according to philosopher "Iain King, because "some fanatics have no aversion to death: the Golden Rule might inspire them to kill others in suicide missions."
Differences in situations
"Immanuel Kant famously criticized the golden rule for not being sensitive to differences of situation, noting that a prisoner duly convicted of a crime could appeal to the golden rule while asking the judge to release him, pointing out that the judge would not want anyone else to send him to prison, so he should not do so to others. Kant's "Categorical Imperative, introduced in "Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals, is often "confused with the Golden Rule.
Cannot be a sole guide to action
In his book "How to Make Good Decisions and Be Right All the Time, philosopher "Iain King has argued that "(although) the idea of mirroring your treatment of others with their treatment of you is very widespread indeed… most ancient wisdoms express this negatively – advice on what you should not do, rather than what you should." He argues this creates a bias in favour of inertia which allows bad actions and states of affairs to persist. The positive formulation, meanwhile, can be "incendiary", since it "can lead to cycles of tit-for-tat reciprocity," unless it is accompanied by a corrective mechanism, such as a concept of forgiveness. Therefore, he concludes that there can be no viable formulation of the Golden Rule, unless it is heavily qualified by other maxims.
Responses to criticisms
"Walter Terence Stace, in The Concept of Morals (1937), wrote:
Mr. Bernard Shaw's remark "Do not do unto others as you would that they should do unto you. Their tastes may be different" is no doubt a smart saying. But it seems to overlook the fact that "doing as you would be done by" includes taking into account your neighbor's tastes as you would that he should take yours into account. Thus the "golden rule" might still express the essence of a universal morality even if no two men in the world had any needs or tastes in common.
"Marcus George Singer observed that there are two importantly different ways of looking at the golden rule: as requiring (1) that you perform specific actions that you want others to do to you or (2) that you guide your behavior in the same general ways that you want others to. Counter-examples to the golden rule typically are more forceful against the first than the second.
In his book on the golden rule, Jeffrey Wattles makes the similar observation that such objections typically arise while applying the golden rule in certain general ways (namely, ignoring differences in taste, in situation, and so forth). But if we apply the golden rule to our own method of using it, asking in effect if we would want other people to apply the golden rule in such ways, the answer would typically be no, since it is quite predictable that others' ignoring of such factors will lead to behavior which we object to. It follows that we should not do so ourselves—according to the golden rule. In this way, the golden rule may be self-correcting. An article by Jouni Reinikainen develops this suggestion in greater detail.
It is possible, then, that the golden rule can itself guide us in identifying which differences of situation are morally relevant. We would often want other people to ignore any prejudice against our race or nationality when deciding how to act towards us, but would also want them to not ignore our differing preferences in food, desire for aggressiveness, and so on. The platinum rule, and perhaps other variants, might also be self-correcting in this same manner.
There has been research published arguing that some 'sense' of fair play and the Golden Rule may be stated and rooted in terms of "neuroscientific and "neuroethical principles.
- "Norm of reciprocity, social norm of in-kind responses to the behavior of others
- "Reciprocity (cultural anthropology), way of defining people's informal exchange of goods and labour
- "Reciprocity (evolution), mechanisms for the evolution of cooperation
- "Reciprocity (international relations), principle that favours, benefits, or penalties that are granted by one state to the citizens or legal entities of another, should be returned in kind
- "Reciprocity (social and political philosophy), concept of reciprocity as in-kind positive or negative responses for the actions of others; relation to justice; related ideas such as gratitude, mutuality, and the Golden Rule
- "Reciprocity (social psychology), in-kind positive or negative responses of individuals towards the actions of others
- "Serial reciprocity, where the benefactor of a gift or service will in turn provide benefits to a third party
- "Ubuntu (philosophy), an ethical philosophy originating from Southern Africa, which has been summarised as 'A person is a person through other people'
- "Antony Flew, ed. (1979). "golden rule". A Dictionary of Philosophy. London: "Pan Books in association with "The MacMillan Press. p. 134. "ISBN "0-330-48730-2. This dictionary of philosophy contains the following exact quote under the entry for "golden rule": "The maxim 'Treat others how you wish to be treated'. Various expressions of the rule are to be found in tenets of most religions and creeds through the ages, testifying to its universal applicability." (end quote).
- "Walter Terence Stace argued that the Golden Rule was much more than simply an "ethical code. Instead, he posits, it "express[es] the essence of a universal "morality." The rationale for this crucial distinction occupies much of his book The Concept of Morals (1937): – Stace, Walter T. (1937). The Concept of Morals. New York: The MacMillan Company (reprinted 1975 by permission of MacMillan Publishing Co. Inc.); (also reprinted by Peter Smith Publisher Inc, January 1990). p. 136. "ISBN "0-8446-2990-1. (above quote found p. 136, ch. 6)
- "The moral primacy of basic respect.".
- W.A. Spooner, "The Golden Rule," in James Hastings, ed. Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, Vol. 6 (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1914) pp. 310–12, quoted in Rushworth M. Kidder, How Good People Make Tough Choices: Resolving the Dilemmas of Ethical Living, Harper, New York, 2003. "ISBN 0-688-17590-2. p. 159. "Simon Blackburn also notes the connection between Confucius and the Golden Rule. Simon, Blackburn (2001). Ethics: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 101. "ISBN "978-0-19-280442-6.
- Epstein, Greg M. (2010). Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe. New York: HarperCollins. p. 115. "ISBN "978-0-06-167011-4.
- "Simon, Blackburn (2001). Ethics: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 101. "ISBN "978-0-19-280442-6.
- Wattles, Jeffrey (1996). The Golden Rule. Oxford University Press.
- Vogel, Gretchen. "The Evolution of the Golden Rule". Science. 303 (Feb 2004).
- Swift, Richard (July 2015). "Pathways & possibilites". New Internationalist. 484 (July/August 2015).
- "Thomas Jackson: First Sermon upon Matthew 7,12 (1615; Werke Band 3, S. 612); Benjamin Camfield: The Comprehensive Rule of Righteousness (1671); George Boraston: The Royal Law, or the Golden Rule of Justice and Charity (1683); John Goodman: The Golden Rule, or, the Royal Law of Equity explained (1688; Titelseite als Faksimile at "Google Books); dazu Olivier du Roy: The Golden Rule as the Law of Nature. In: Jacob Neusner, Bruce Chilton (Hrsg.): The Golden Rule – The Ethics of Reprocity in World Religions. London/New York 2008, S. 94.
- Gensler, Harry J. (2013). Ethics and the Golden Rule. Routledge. p. 84. "ISBN "978-0-415-80686-2.
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- Eloquent Peasant PDF "The peasant quotes a proverb that embodies the do ut des principle"
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- "Analects XV.24 (tr. David Hinton)
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Donaldson Dwight M. 1963. Studies in Muslim Ethics, p. 82. London: S.P.C.K.
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- tasmād dharma-pradhānéna bhavitavyam yatātmanā | tathā cha sarva-bhūtéṣhu vartitavyam yathātmani ||
तस्माद्धर्मप्रधानेन भवितव्यं यतात्मना। तथा च सर्वभूतेषु वर्तितव्यं यथात्मनि॥|title = Mahābhārata Shānti-Parva 167:9)
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- Towards a Global Ethic (An Initial Declaration) ReligiousTolerance.org. - Under the subtitle, "We Declare," see third paragraph. The first line reads, "We must treat others as we wish others to treat us."
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- Matthew 22:35-40, Mark 12:28-34, Luke 10:25-37
- Sartre, Jean-Paul (2007). Existentialism Is a Humanism. Yale University Press. pp. 291–292. "ISBN "0-300-11546-6.
- Defined another way, it "refers to the balance in an interactive system such that each party has both rights and duties, and the subordinate norm of complementarity states that one's rights are the other's obligation."Bornstein, Marc H. (2002). Handbook of Parenting. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. p. 5. "ISBN "978-0-8058-3782-7. See also: Paden, William E. (2003). Interpreting the Sacred: Ways of Viewing Religion. Beacon Press. pp. 131–132. "ISBN "978-0-8070-7705-4.
- Damrosch, Leo (2008). Jean Jacques Russeau: Restless Genius. Houghton Mifflin Company. "ISBN "978-0-618-44696-4.
- Swift, Richard. "Pathways & possibilites". New Internationalist. 484 (July/August 2015).
- "and Robert D. Ramsey, ''School Leadership From A to Z: Practical Lessons from Successful Schools and Businesses'', Corwin Press, Inc., Thousand Oaks, CA, 2003. (ISBN 978-0-7619-3833-0) p. 45". Quakeranne.com. Retrieved 12 September 2013.
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- Kant, Immanuel Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, footnote 13. Cambridge University Press (28 April 1998). "ISBN 978-0-521-62695-8
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- Source: Page 76 of "How to Make Good Decisions and Be Right All the Time, "Iain King, 2008, Continuum, "ISBN 978-1-84706-347-2.
- Source: Page 76 of "How to Make Good Decisions and Be Right All the Time, Iain King, 2008, Continuum, "ISBN 978-1-84706-347-2.
- Source: Page 110 of "How to Make Good Decisions and Be Right All the Time, Iain King, Continuum, 2008, "ISBN 978-1-84706-347-2. Accessed 20 March 2014.
- Source: Page 112 of How to Make Good Decisions and Be Right All the Time, Iain King, Continuum, 2008, "ISBN 978-1-84706-347-2. Accessed 20 March 2014.
- Source: Page 114 of "How to Make Good Decisions and Be Right All the Time, Iain King, Continuum, 2008, "ISBN 978-1-84706-347-2. Accessed 20 March 2014.
- Stace, Walter T. (1937). The Concept of Morals. New York: The MacMillan Company; (reprinted 1975 by permission of MacMillan Publishing Co. Inc.); (also reprinted by Peter Smith Publisher Inc, January 1990). p. 136 (ch. 6). "ISBN "0-8446-2990-1.
- M. G. Singer, The Ideal of a Rational Morality, p. 270
- Wattles, p. 6
- Jouni Reinikainen, "The Golden Rule and the Requirement of Universalizability." Journal of Value Inquiry. 39(2): 155–168, 2005.
- "The golden rule is a good standard which can perhaps even be improved by doing unto others, wherever possible, as they would be done by..." — "Karl Popper, "The Open Society and Its Enemies, Vol. 2 (1966 ), p. 386. Dubbed "the platinum rule" in business books such as Charles J. Jacobus, Thomas E. Gillett, Georgia Real Estate: An Introduction to the Profession, Cengage Learning, 2007, p. 409 and Jeremy Comfort, Peter Franklin, The Mindful International Manager: How to Work Effectively Across Cultures, Kogan Page, p. 65.
- Pfaff, Donald W., "The Neuroscience of Fair Play: Why We (Usually) Follow the Golden Rule", Dana Press, The Dana Foundation, New York, 2007. "ISBN 978-1-932594-27-0