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The Golden Rule is imperfect and, at times, too easy of a response, so I almost never directly reference it in this column.Beyond the most fundamental level, I don’t believe people want the same things.
HOME INVASIONRecently, my home was featured in a full-page advertisement in a national magazine. Your private residence is being used to promote a product that (I assume) you paid for, based on the assumption that you’ll robotically be flattered to see your house in a magazine.
The advertiser is a manufacturer of a building product that we installed in the house, and our house is the only one featured in the ad.
It’s a reasonable reaction to any axiom that’s supposed to work for all people, in all situations, all the time.
The problem, however, has little to do with diversity or modernity; the problem is with the core supposition that any two people (regardless of similarity) will want the same thing.
While highlighting the golden rule’s psychological functions, doubt is cast on the rule’s need for empathy and cognitive role-taking.
The rule can be followed through adherence to social reciprocity conventions and their approved norms.
The rule is distinguished from highly supererogatory rationales commonly confused with it—loving thy neighbor as thyself, turning the other cheek, and aiding the poor, homeless and afflicted.
Like or unconditional love, these precepts demand much more altruism of us, and are much more liable to utopianism.
Working “bottom-up” in this way builds on social experience with the rule and allows us to clear up its long-standing misinterpretations.
With those misconceptions go many of the rule’s criticisms.