• 1) "This is why the Rule falls prey to the Masochism Objection, since, taking the Rule literally, a masochist would be obligated to treat others sadistically. Now I am pointing out that the objection runs deeper than that. Logically speaking, the Rule offers no general guidance regarding right and wrong behavior whatever. But there is a ‘save’: One can postulate a certain human nature. If it turns out that human beings have standard desires, then, while formally empty, the Rule would in fact have specific content." Source and further information: 2) "Problems With the Literal Form Literal Golden Rule: Treat others as you want to be treated The literal form of the Golden Rule can lead to absurd conclusions. It gives masochists permission to hurt other people since they want to be hurt. It tells someone who is hard of hearing to yell at others since he wants them to yell at him. And the literal Golden Rule tells parents that if they want to punish their misbehaving child, then they should allow their child to punish them. One way to fix this problem is to limit the Golden Rule to generalities - if you want others to treat you kindly then you should treat them kindly. But a more sophisticated formulation of the Golden Rule avoids these problems while still being able to rule on concrete moral issues. Caveat #1: In the Same Situation Improved Golden Rule: Treat others as you want to be treated in the same situation." "Masochists should not harm others because they would not want to be harmed if he were in the other person’s situation, and therefore weren’t a masochistic. But should non-masochists be ethically compelled to harm masochists because that is what they would want if they were in the masochist’s situation?" "Caveat #2: Present Understanding Sophisticated Golden Rule: Treat others as you - in your present understanding - would want to be treated in the same situation." "It gets a little tricky applying this to the masochist. You might be tempted to claim that his “present understanding” includes his masochism, so if he were in someone else’s situation he would still want to be harmed. But this is an incorrect application of the Golden Rule. His “present understanding” is more general, it includes his general ethical views, his capacity for rational thought, and his knowledge of the world. The masochist could only claim that he would want to be harmed in someone else’s situation (i.e. a non-masochist’s situation) if his general ethical views are that everyone should be harmed, including innocent people who are not masochists. Conversely, does the Sophisticated Golden Rule force non-masochists harm masochists? Not if their general ethical views (part of the “present understanding”) is that you should not harm innocent people, even if they want to be harmed." Source and further information: 3) ""What about animals? Do we need to treat animals the way we ourselves would like to be treated?" I think that there's actually a strong argument for vegetarianism, and veganism. If we don't want to be farmed by superintelligent aliens, I don't see how we can justify farming animals." "There is something to note, though: Even among meat eaters, cruelty to animals is not cool. People grimace when they hear about the conditions that animals are raised in. People also want to know that cows are killed quickly, rather than allowed to suffer for a long time. So in some limited sense, people apply ethics to animals even." ""What about masochists? What about people who prefer to be harmed? Doesn't the Golden Rule give a masochist carte blanc to injure others?" No, it doesn't, in my opinion. The application of the Golden Rule is complex, not simple- I'll talk about this more in a moment. Put briefly: The "problem" of the masochist is that the Golden Rule is based in symmetry, whereas the masochist is involved in an intentionally asymmetric role. Does the Golden Rule rule out all asymmetric relationships? I don't think so. I think the answer has something to do with respecting the chosen relationship itself. You really have to wear your whole brain, in order to apply the Golden Rule. You can't try to atomize it. It's about getting into somebody else's head, and envisioning life from their angle. It's not so much about just projecting your needs and desires out onto everybody else. Would you like people to consider your perspective, and taking it into account, before "treating" you? Then put yourself into THEIR perspective, before treating them. The masochist does this: The masochist asks him or herself: "Does this person in an ordinary frame of mind want to be poked and prodded with a stick? No? Do I want people doing to me things that I don't want them to? No. Then I won't do it to them." (Golden Rule.) The masochist actually tends to have pretty good ideas about how they want to be treated, (no matter what the cruelty is,) and don't want something outside of that treatment. But I imagine they have different rules for the public in general, and their separate BDSM lifestyle, whatever it may be. People want different things out of their relationships. But there is a general field- the "relationship with the stranger." We have to interact with people, all the time, who we are not in personal relationships with, after all. So we have a whole concept of how we want to treat and be treated, out in general- this is where we get things like "manners" and "public decency" and so on. And if we wanted to be treated one way out in the general public, then we need to treat others that same way. And there's probably a level beyond this, we could call it the "cosmopolitan," or "universal manners," or something like this. This is where I, with an American mindset, say, "I'm going to set aside my conventional ideas of right and wrong, when I go visit Saudi Arabia." And similarly, I expect that someone from Saudi Arabia says, "I'm going to set aside my conventional ideas of right and wrong, when I go visit America." And this works, in the vast majority of cases. This is "doing unto others as you would have them do unto you."" Source and further information: 4) Further information:
  • It wouldn't work. The Golden Rule is inherently flawed because it is a rule by desire majoratives. Don't try that "put yourself into their perspective" crap, the golden rule doesn't say ANYTHING about perspective, period. If you attempt to rewrite the rule in your own defense of it, you fail. If I was a masochist, the golden rule, once applied, would witness me torturing other people regardless of their protest. Communication is in fact the only basis upon which we defend action itself. If there was no way to know what a person wanted, the ethical response would be to leave them alone, preventing stimulation to the point of non perception. Remember the parable about the boy and the cocoon? If we have no way of determining whether we should help the butterfly out of the cocoon or not, we should leave it alone. Language is the cohesion of all morality, thus, do onto others what they request that you do unto them if you wish to do it as well.
  • Self torture is just plain unwise. Life preservation has always been a key factor in mental stability. In fact a driving force behind evolution, and some religions agree with this so-called rule; as an absolute (like math) it will happen.

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