Saturday, October 30, 2010

Appendix E: Glossary of Answered Criticisms of the Golden Rule

Appendix E: Glossary of Answered Criticisms of the Golden Rule

Most of these answered criticisms are found throughout this paper. Some are extra.

Objection 1. No-God objection: A) There is no God, or if there is, there is no evidence that s/he or it is love [in fact, B) all the evil in the world is actually evidence that he is evil, if not lacking omnipotence], therefore, there is no being strong enough to love perfectly, to which the Golden Rule may correspond—or, C) there does not need to be (we can be good without God). D) Is the good right because God wills it (does God create moral truth?), or does God will what is good because it is right (does God discover moral truth?) (Euthyphro Dilemma, and see L2)—either
 way, isn’t moral truth created or discovered outside himself? And, E) wouldn’t a God of love be a weak, soft God, not an omnipotent God—and if he couldn’t choose other than Golden Rule love, wouldn’t that mean he is not omnipotent? Finally, F) how can he be our “virtue” if virtue must be developed?—a perfect being cannot develop virtue!

Rebuttal: A through F are not answered in order, but they are all answered. Watch closely. A) “There is no God” is a faith assumption, no more certain (89) than “There is a God”—both assumptions require faith in the strongest evidence (see Objection 5 if the lack of certainty sounds heretical to you). C) Though we are all capable of good (84) (but see Objection 24), B) if there is no God to which it corresponds, there is no real good (and so no real evil—which is the privation of good, but also what makes good a possible choice—if evil were not possible, free will, and thus Golden Rule love, would not be possible) (see the Privation Dialectic, as well as the Geisler Dialectic, in Appendix A). That we feel there is a real good (and its real privation, evil), is a clue [though, not proof, (89)] to there being F) a God to which a real standard of goodness always (69) corresponds, always describes (is true)—he is the virtue-pattern which in ourselves is the potential we hunger to actualize. A) That hunger (57), the Golden Rule being found in the creeds of every major culture in history (9 and 10) (see Objection 12), and that the Golden Rule is the only theory which fully answers the question of Ethics (83) and is not ruled out by the Moral Truth Litmus—all are good reasons to have faith that there is a being to which the Golden Rule corresponds, a satisfaction to our hunger. Still, love is not love without demonstration, so we must add to that Jesus’ demonstration of Golden Rule love on the cross, and the OT prophecies which foreshadowed it. When Jesus sacrificed himself for us on the cross, he avoided letting our sin get between us and him (Silver Rule), by actively taking it upon himself (Platinum Rule)—all of that fulfilling the Golden Rule, because when we treat the Other the same way, it is the same as treating him that way (Matthew 25:35-40). He was treating us how he wants us to treat him—how he wants us to treat the Other: full of his grace and truth. D) As for the Euthyphro Dilemma and virtue—moral truth is not created, and God did not have to discover it, as he wills in accordance with his eternally good nature. E) As for a God of love being weak or omnipotent—all power based on anything other than Golden Rule love is actually weakness, and all choices not based on Golden Rule love lead to slavery (see the Theodicy Dialectic in Appendix A).

Objection 2. Is-ought problem: If we cannot derive an ought from nature (is) (12), then why do you assume God exists and attempt to derive all valid oughts from God's nature (12)? The Golden Rule is not justified by the existence of the perfection (69) (especially the “assumed existent” perfection) which it describes, otherwise it commits the is-ought (12) fallacy of reification.

Rebuttal: Correct, we cannot derive an ought from nature, nor can we derive it from God’s nature. The ought is justified only if it answers the question of Ethics (83). It is illogical to assume God’s (the real ought’s) existence (to beg the question), and it is not done in this paper.

Objection 3. Ought-is problem: If a naturalist cannot arrive at objective moral truth by starting from a preexisting (50) norm (ought) (82), then why do you attempt to prove God exists just because the Golden Rule is the only justified theory in Ethics (the only theory that fully answers the question of Ethics) (83)? The Golden Rule is not true (there is no God to which it corresponds) merely because it is justified, otherwise it commits the ought-is fallacy (82) of reification (70).

Rebuttal: Correct, we cannot say that a being exists to which the Golden Rule or some preexisting ought corresponds, just because they ‘are’ oughts. “Wishing for a thing does not make it so.” Note that this paper does not attempt to prove anything with absolute subjective certainty (89)—only to offer reasons for faith (subjective certainty) (see Objection 5 if the lack of certainty sounds heretical to you).

Objection 4. Faith problem: You could just opt to reject the Golden Rule as objective moral truth. Just because it passes the litmus (or at least is not ruled out by it), does not guarantee its truth (82). Faith is required—don’t drink the kool-aid!

Rebuttal: True, faith is required, but not blind faith. No one has absolute subjective certainty (89)—all have varying degrees of subjective certainty (91)—and that is faith…so faith is fueled by reasons, with which this paper is full (see Objection 5 if the lack of certainty sounds heretical to you). Faith is the reason for scientific progress, as opposed to already knowing everything with absolute subjective certainty (omniscience). See the section “A Word on Faith and the Moral Truth Litmus” inside the section “Why Ethics?” at the beginning of this paper, and also see points 5 and 17 at the beginning of the section “The Sword and the Sacrifice Philosophy” in this paper.

Objection 5. Fideists: We should just trust in the revelation of the Bible. This paper goes through a lot of trouble to explain why the Golden Rule is the only viable theory of moral truth, when all we needed to do was search the Scriptures, and live out the great principle in our lives. Stop saying “IF there is moral truth” and “IF there is a real ought”—there most certainly (89) is, thou heretic!!!

Rebuttal: In order to filter true revelation from false, reason is required. Truth will always withstand the fire of reason. All else is idolatry. Was it heresy when (if) Job questioned God? Was it heresy when Paul "kicked against the goads"? Was it heresy when Moses couldn't speak alone? Was it heresy when (if) Jonah ran the other way? There are many more examples to use. Even if they didn't happen as recorded, 'how' they were recorded is worth noting. Did God cast them out? If it is heresy, perhaps it is not unforgivable. Perhaps God would rather have heresy and wrestling, than apathy and group-think. Our happiness is not found in certainty or proof (89) of God’s existence, but in trusting God—that is where faith comes in (42). See the section “A Word on Faith and the Moral Truth Litmus” inside the section “Why Ethics?” at the beginning of this paper, and also see points 5 and 17 at the beginning of the section “The Sword and the Sacrifice Philosophy” in this paper.

Objection 6. Kierkegaard: Having objective evidence of the real ought (God, described by the Golden Rule) is a mere shadow of actually living it out.

Rebuttal: You rock, Kierkegaard!!! (See also Objection 24.)

Objection 7. Kant: “If you don’t want to help others, just claim you don’t want or need help from them!” (4; 225).

Rebuttal: The Golden Rule (treat the Other how you would want to be treated; love Other as self) includes the Platinum Rule (treat the Other how they would want to be treated), considering we would want the Other to put themselves in our shoes in their interactions with us. So you should put yourself in the shoes of a person who genuinely needs help and help them even if, in the same situation, you would not ask for it (and seriously reconsider asking for it).

Objection 8. Granting negative and positive rights means helping people who should be helping themselves.


The Platinum-Golden Dialectic

Thesis: Give the Other what they want (over-simple Platinum Rule).
Antithesis: Give the Other what you want (over-simple Golden Rule).
Synthesis: Give the Other what a self in its right mind would want (essence of the Golden Rule, which includes the Platinum Rule).

A self in its right mind would not want to be helped (to take resources from the Other) when it should be helping itself. Also see L1.3, as this is a variation of it.

Objection 9. If over-emphasizing the “end” leads to justifying evil “means”—then making the Golden Rule the ultimate “end” justifies evil “means”. On the other hand—if over-emphasizing the “means” leads to justifying evil “ends”—then making all means conform to the Golden Rule can justify evil “ends”.

Rebuttal: A ‘how’ (external means) without a ‘why’ (internal end) is pointless; a ‘why’ (inward end) without a ‘how’ (outward means) is impossible to apply [Golden Rule is both ‘why’ (love) and how]. See L1.1. (Could Moore rightly object to this?)

Objection 10. There can be no moral truth apart from the minds (consciousnesses) of humans, therefore moral truth is mind-dependent, contradicting the second and third parts of the litmus.

Rebuttal: The only mind-dependent facts are facts “about” minds, however—their truth is still not justified by the existence of the mind(s) of which they are about, for that would commit the is-ought fallacy (12) of reification (70) (see Objection 2). In addition, if there is moral truth (see Objection 5 if “if” sounds heretical to you), it does not always correspond to the minds of humans, but to an eternally perfect mind.

Objection 11. There are too many cultural differences for there to be a universal moral code. Besides, there is no evidence of a universal moral code.

Rebuttal: Cultural disagreement does not rule out a universal moral code, much like student disagreement does not rule out right answers on a math quiz. The assertion that we haven’t discovered a universal moral code is countered by evidence of a universal moral code manifested in the similarity between ethical creeds from various civilizations (9), including how the Golden Rule has its “roots in a wide range of world cultures,” (10) (see objection 12). “The so-called Golden Rule is found in negative form in rabbinic Judaism and also in Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism. It occurred in various forms in Greek and Roman ethical teaching. Jesus stated it in positive form,” (15).

Objection 12. To say that the Golden Rule, or some version of it, is found in the creeds of every major culture throughout history (9 and 10) either reverts to relativism, or is intolerant of cultural diversity by suggesting that it transcends culture.

Rebuttal: Hm, in a bit of a catch-22**. However, truth is true for all or none (L3), and that the Golden Rule is found in the creeds of every major culture throughout history (9 and 10) is evidence that it transcends culture, rather than being a product of culture. The fact that it is immanent in the creeds of every major culture rules out the possibility that it is intolerant of cultural diversity.

Objection 13. The Golden Rule is created through our choosing it. As Sartre said, “existence precedes essence”—“in choosing myself, I choose man”. (Alternatively—it is bad faith to choose the Golden Rule—we should make stuff up.)

Rebuttal: Ah—another catch-22*. However, this creating, this choosing, is the only sort of creating and choosing which freely creates toward the eternal; responsibly chooses the eternal. See L1.2.

Objection 14. The Golden Rule is inherently selfish, follows the rules of game theory (78), especially if you consider that in following it, we find true satisfaction. It all boils down to getting something in return. Otherwise, it violates “ought implies can”.

Rebuttal: Selfishness is when we choose to get satisfaction out of something other than treating the Other as self. However, the sort of satisfaction that comes from that is cheap. On Wikipedia, the Golden Rule is (or was) presented as an ethic of reciprocity, distinguishable from deontological (conduct) and consequentialist ethical theories. Because this can be misleading, it must be pointed out that the Golden Rule is not a socially contracted bartering of “tit for tat”—it does not follow the rules of game theory (78). It is rational empathy (51), it is love. That is what made it possible for Jesus to say, “Love your enemy,” and put the onus of “neighborliness” on the one acting (parable of the Good Samaritan). One can smell the scents of the Garden of Eden just thinking about it. See the section “Weeding out Egoism” and Objection 24 (84).

Objection 15. There are different versions of the Golden Rule, and all of them are lacking in some way—for example, the Silver Rule is met by doing absolutely nothing. How do you know which one is true, if one of them is even true?

Rebuttal: If correctly applied, one will reach the same conclusion, whatever version of the Golden Rule one uses, be it the Platinum Rule, or the negative form (Silver Rule), because (in the case of the negative form) Sartre was right when he pointed out that even the choice to do nothing is still an act. Notice that if we “do no harm” it is less ‘active’ than doing good (at first glance)—however—consider that ‘not’ doing good, could be considered ‘doing harm’ (so that “doing no harm” would involve actively “doing good”) (62). To avoid treating the Other how you would not want them to treat you (silver version of Golden Rule), you must actively treat them as you would have them treat you (gold version)—this includes putting yourself in their shoes, as you would want the Other to do the same for you (platinum version). Every version is the same rule, so every version reaches the same conclusion. If one of them is true, all of them are true.

Objection 16. Describing the Golden Rule as love is misleading. Love is merely an emotion, usually associated with romantic love. The Golden Rule isn’t love.

Rebuttal: Golden Rule love that endures all circumstances is not mere emotion, is intentional and rational and can be chosen in the absence of emotion. The fulfillment and happiness it brings transcends and orders our changing emotions. It is not subjective, but also is not divorced from the real experiences of real people. See the section “A Natural Capacity for Discovering the Supernatural Standard” in this paper.

Objection 17. The Golden Rule is not a moral law. There is no moral law. I can do whatever I want, whenever I want—totally unlike not being able to break the law of gravity.

Rebuttal: Laws governing social interaction are relative to socially interacting beings, the way laws of physics are relative to the physical universe. If those laws cease to be, physical and social existence ceases to be, and vice versa. One doesn’t need to be struck by a divine lightning bolt to discover this—merely observe broken homes, bad neighborhoods, and prison populations—is there really no need for a Savior? Another similarity is that we know moral absolutes like we know the force holding us to the earth, though it is possible to increase our awareness of both by reading God’s revealed Word and a specialized science textbook, respectively. Right away we notice a difference between physical laws and moral laws. Though you can attempt to violate neither without consequence (46)—you can actually violate moral laws. They do not describe how humans “do” always behave. They do not describe nature. They go beyond nature (69). Whereas the formula for photosynthesis does not include choice, the formula for Golden Rule love requires it. Nature merely hosts the fact of morality—it cannot prescribe social existence or condemn social disintegration. Oughts are supernatural, either created by man (like all technology) or reflecting (71) God's nature (Golden Rule love), “How and why we should be or behave with the Other and self.

Objection 18. The Golden Rule is too general, it lacks definite context. It can’t really help me with my situation, or any other particular situation, for that matter.

Rebuttal: It applies in every particular situation in every context of human interaction—it is the similarity among all the differences. In moral conflicts, refer to the “Moral Conflicts: Contextual Absolutism: The Greater Good View” section in “The Sword and Sacrifice Philosophy” section of this paper.

Objection 19. How do you determine who to include in “self” and who to include in “Other”? I am not like the Other, and the Other is not like me. I’m totally different, or the Other is totally different. I’m superior/inferior, or the Other is superior/inferior. I am the only self—all other humans are completely Other.

Rebuttal: If that were true, you wouldn’t bother communicating it. If you bother communicating it, you must recognize some sort of similarity. Communication can only occur when there is a similarity in ‘being’ between sender and receiver, while communicating ‘love’ (the Golden Rule) can only occur when such recognition is followed up by consciously, actively acknowledging that sameness in being between self and the Other. To actively deny that sameness will result in communication break-down. Any being with characteristics with which we can identify, even if we can't identify with all of their characteristics, is a being we should treat as self. The more characteristics they have with which we can identify, the more like "self" they will feel, whereas the more characteristics they have with which we cannot identify, the more like "Other" they will feel—but, if they have "any" characteristics with which we identify—they are to be treated with the Golden Rule. That isn't to say that our feeling determines self/Other—it is only to say that we are not obligated to the impossible [ought implies can (see note 84 and Objection 24)]—we can only do the best with what we are able to do, as far as figuring out self/Other. If we recognize self-characteristics, but do not acknowledge them in Golden Rule behavior—that is bad faith. See also Objection 1, and note 65.

Objection 20. The Golden Rule either leads to me being a placater or a slave, and it lets all the bad guys go free, or it justifies harsh penalties and war, which I strongly oppose.

Rebuttal: Another catch-22*. Holding someone (or a group of people, family-size up to global-community) responsible for their violation of and adherence to (just) laws respects their moral sense, as well as the moral sense of all affected by their violation or adherence, ultimately God. Moral indignation is a logical emotional reaction to an offense against moral sense; doing nothing to correct such an offense is morally wrong and leads to social deterioration of varying degrees. On holding violators accountable, Tim Keller writes, “There are many good reasons that we should want to confront wrongdoers. Wrongdoers have inflicted damage and … it costs something to fix the damage. We should confront wrongdoers—to wake them up to their real character, to move them to repair their relationships, or to at least constrain them and protect others from being harmed by them in the future. Notice, however, that all those reasons for confrontation are reasons of Golden Rule love. The best way to love them and the other potential victims around them is to confront them in the hope that they will repent, change, and make things right,” (2; 189-190). One could consider being held accountable for one’s actions a sort of right, but not a very fun one. If those in your life who were supposed to care about you, never cared how you acted—would you feel loved? That is why the strength of a society is the Godly family unit, and why its disintegration predicts the downfall of society.

Objection 21. All the theories in Ethics are attempts to solve problems left unsolved by the Golden Rule. Going back to the Golden Rule is going back to the old unsolved problems.

Rebuttal: The Golden Rule was compared to every theory in my first Ethics textbook (4), indicating there is something very basic going on with it. Every theory had problems. Only the Golden Rule, correctly understood, solves those problems.

Objection 22. Seph: "‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,’ …of course means that if you are a masochist you would like others to treat you poorly, and will thus treat them poorly as well...probably not the best social program.”

Rebuttal: A masochist is not following the Golden Rule when s/he treats him/herself poorly, and s/he knows it, or else s/he would have no idea of what "treat poorly" means in order to put it into action. It is like a twisted game of “opposite day”. See also: for similar answered objection. In applying the Platinum version of the Golden Rule, we would not adopt an Other’s value if it does not apply the Golden Rule to self or Other.

Objection 23. The Golden Rule is too simple. (Alternative: The Golden Rule is too complicated—is-ought, ought-is, reification—whaaa???)

Rebuttal: Another catch-22*. I refer you to William of Occam’s razor, which might also make you say “whaaa???” unless you’re already familiar with it. Have you never heard a kid say, “How would you like it if someone did that to you?” or “Why?”

Objection 24. I’m doomed. God hates me. I always break the Golden Rule—I have no motivation or willpower to change that, and this all seems to violate “ought implies can” (84). I’ll never measure up. Who cares—who needs a God who would send me to hell for not being him? At least I don’t smite people to hell who don’t know me or don’t want to hang out with me.

Rebuttal: God loves you no matter what you do or don’t do, but he won’t force you into a relationship with him like some dictator—no one goes to hell who doesn’t choose it. Be motivated ‘by’ God’s love to express instances of Golden Rule love (that is possible—it does not violate “ought implies can”), rather than being motivated to earn it—it is impossible to earn something that is free.


*Every catch-22 is a thesis and anti-thesis, and every rebuttal is its synthesis. Every thesis and antithesis in this paper could be taken as objections, and every synthesis could be taken as rebuttals—see the Dialectics Glossary in Appendix A. Some of them are mentioned in the above answered objections, but this is not an exhaustive list.

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