Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

The golden rule and others

  1. May 24, 2010 #1
    I was thinking about the golden rule today ("do to others what you would like to be done to you"). This seems like a good rule at first but it only works for certain people. Consider a crazy person who wants somebody to murder them. They are in fact obligated by the golden rule to go out and murder someone. So that makes me think we need to find a better rule from which we derive our laws.

    Next I thought of the silver rule (which is the negative golden rule, "Do not do to others as you would not have them do to you"). This looks a little better. The crazy person is no longer obligated to murder others. However, they are not in violation of the silver rule if they do go murder someone.

    So then I thought about the platinum rule ("do to others as they want done to them"). This rule looks a lot better. Now the crazy person is not allowed to murder people who don't want to be murdered. The only problem with this rule is that it obligates people to satisfy others wants. This seems unreasonable. What if I want to do nothing? Either I need to go against my wants to satisfy others wants or they need to sacrifice their wants so I can keep doing nothing.

    I think the best rule would be the negative platinum rule (don't do to others what they don't want done to them). This rule still stops the crazy person and nobody has to fight about whose wants are more important. Is there an official metal name for this rule?

    I am an ethical relativist so I don't think that there is such a thing as the right rule. Perhaps just a rule that is better at making more people happy. What do you think?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 24, 2010 #2
  4. May 24, 2010 #3

    That is perhaps the most logical but I am talking about something else here.
  5. May 24, 2010 #4
    I set the rule: "If you want to do something to someone, do it to yourself first". Let's call it a mercury rule.
  6. May 24, 2010 #5
    lol, that would be fun to watch but you still run into the problem of crazy people hurting themselves and then others.
  7. May 24, 2010 #6
    There is also the Brown rule:

    "We are on Earth to make others happy"

    (Charlie Brown that is)

  8. May 24, 2010 #7
    All hurting would be non-fatal, though. There's always a chance that a freak would die before he hurted anyone. And he would not be able to harm too many people, since all his actions would accumulate on himself.
  9. May 24, 2010 #8
    I've never heard of that one. Sounds good to me. It doesn't require us to satisfy everybody's wants.
  10. May 24, 2010 #9
    Do to others what they want to do to you :P Preferably before they can act
  11. May 24, 2010 #10
    I like Kant's categorical imperitive: Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it become a universal law. In other words, act in such a way that if everyone else acted that way, you would like it.
  12. May 24, 2010 #11
    Game theory much?
  13. May 24, 2010 #12
    I have heard of this too. It seems to me to be very similar to the silver rule.
  14. May 24, 2010 #13
    I'll go with the 10 commandments.
  15. Jun 16, 2010 #14


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    It doesn't impel that crazy person to murder others, true. But what about the other crazy person who thinks that other people want to be murdered?
  16. Jun 16, 2010 #15
    [URL [Broken] golden rule[/url]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  17. Jun 18, 2010 #16


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2017 Award

    I like Benny Hill's version: http://thinkexist.com/quotation/do-unto-others-then-run/360860.html" [Broken] :wink:
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook