Golden Rule

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Brian Whitworth and Alex P. Whitworth:

"While societies have enforced Social Synergy for thousands of years, people have also been encouraged to choose synergy by the “golden rule”, expressed in many different ways:

1. Rabbi Hillel’s sum of all rules: “If you don’t like it done to you, don’t do it to others.”

2. Buddhist Dhammapada: “One who, while himself seeking happiness, oppresses with violence other beings who also desire happiness, will not attain happiness hereafter.”

3. Hindu Mahabharata “One should never do that to another which one regards as injurious to one’s own self. This, in brief, is the rule of dharma.”

4. Socrates in Plato’s Crito: “One should never do wrong in return, nor mistreat any man, no matter how one has been mistreated by him.”

5. The Bible, in Matthew: “Do unto others as you would they do unto you.”

6. Kant’s proposal: “Act only on that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law.”

7. Pareto’s optimality principle: “Good actions benefit at least one other and do no harm.”

8. Rawls’ “veil of ignorance” requires state justice to be “blind” to individual needs.

9. Harsanyi’s ruling out of immoral or anti–social acts from consideration (Harsanyi, 1988).

The golden rule is not the ethical reciprocity of an eye–for–an–eye, but a statement of higher good beyond game theory economics. Kant distinguished his categorical imperative from hypothetical ones, so the rule is not “Do unto others so they will do likewise unto you”, as this is a tit–for–tat deal is a mere instrument to individual benefit. Kant’s imperative in contrast is to categorically do the right thing, regardless of personal outcome. The golden rule asks free individuals to hypothetically flip the social equation their act implies, to check it still works in reverse. It asks them to stand in the shoes of others in their community.


If without this call to “rightness” humanity could not have evolved socially, modern civilization was founded upon this early expression of the golden rule.

Anti–social acts fail all golden rule tests. Hillel rejects stealing as one does not wish to be stolen from, Kant finds it wrong as if everyone does it, it doesn’t work, and Pareto finds that it harms another. Rawls from behind his veil of ignorance cannot advocate it without knowing if he himself is being stolen from, and Harsanyi finds stealing an anti–social act. In this model, Rule 2 applies as well as Rule 1, so an individual gaining value should not do so at the expense of the social whole. A wallet stolen is not just a money transfer from victim to thief, which would for society be a net zero change, but a net loss due to disruptive costs like reordering credit cards." (