The Problem with the Golden Rule

The Problem with the Golden Rule

The Golden Rule states that you should treat others as you would like to be treated. There are emotional, cultural and moral problems with this ‘rule of thumbs’.

Firstly, the golden rule does not take into account differences of how people feel about a certain situation. One person might want someone to console them after a death of a loved one; another person might look at someone trying to console them as being nosey and rude. So the one who would rather be consoled will console the one that doesn’t and vice versa. This is just one example of this confliction.

Secondly, similar to the emotional problem the cultural problem can also be clashing, one cultures sees the symbol of thumbs up as a good gesture while another culture sees it as a bad gesture.

Lastly, the moral problem with The Golden Rule which is that it goes further than not treated every situation differently. It is also encouraging people not to treat others differently. Different people need to be handled differently in different situations. Some people need a bit more help; others need less help in the exact same situation.

In conclusion, The Golden Rule may have been created in the effort for the greater good but it may actually cause people not to think about how the other person is dealing or what the other person would rather. I think we should look at situations not from the perceptive of if it was me what would I want but rather the perceptive of how does this person cope with things, what would this person like and how can I be the most helpful to them taking who they are as a person into consideration.


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What Guys Said 3

  • The real Golden Rule: Nod your head in agreement, then do whatever it was that you were gonna do anyway.

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  • I don't think it was ever intended literally...

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  • I think you're taking it too literally. I'm not going to console a complete stranger just because I would like to be consoled if in a similar situation. I'm not going to give a thumbs up in Italy and not going to blow my nose in Japan. And if people from other cultures were in mine, I would hope they give the same consideration that I would give. Mistakes are inevitable, but forgiveness of them also a part of the golden rule. However, I notice you left out the biggest criticism of the golden rule, which is the lying to protect an innocent analogy. It goes that if you were hiding Jews from Nazis, and Nazis came to your door to ask if you were hiding Jews, would you lie and say no? Well, we hope so, but doesn't that violate the golden rule that you are essentially saying you want to be lied to in return? Not really. Because for some reason we never include the second part of the golden rule, which is people must always be the ends of a means, and never the other way around. In other words, if you chose to tell the truth in the analogy instead of lying, merely for the sake of following the golden rule, then you have violated the second part, sacrificing innocent people for your own pursuit of moral behavior. Which, is very immoral, ironically. The second part of the golden rule is essential to the first, allowing it to work much better and in every conceivable situation. It takes the guess-work out of being good really. So you could say to be good, you need only follow those 2 rules. It can get tricky if you have to choose between 2 innocent parties, but usually only leaders and politicians and war-time soldiers have to do that, which is why I don't want to be either of those. But those are positions you would really want good people in, right?

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    • Oh yeah I know I'm taking it very literally but this was my thoughts on it when I first heard it.
      I didn't realise the golden rule had criticisms. That criticism is a very good point but I never heard of it before and I didn't think of it myself.
      Although good people tend not to be in powerful positions, ideally I would want that, it's just not the case.

    • The Golden Rule kinda operates under the assumption that you wouldn't be a part of a political party persecuting and murdering millions of people. I think that's a more clear violation of the rule.

What Girls Said 3

  • I think it's taken out of context. How you want to be treated is how you should treat others it's really simple

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  • The bottom line is that you aren't to treat someone badly intentionally.

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  • I prefer the law of Thelema as a mantra for life:

    "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Love is the law, love under will."

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