Ethical Orientations: Reciprocal Favoritism or “The Golden Rule”

The golden rule is a philosophy for leading one’s life that suggests that other people should be treated fairly and with respect. Essentially, people act for the good of others, because they would like to be treated in the same way. As Lopreato explains: “Reciprocal favoritism comprises acts of beneficence between unrelated individuals who have a written or unwritten rule that one good deed deserves another."

Examples illustrating the ubiquity of the golden rule can be found in virtually every culture and religious tradition in the world (


Given the ubiquity of the golden rule and the fact that the golden rule perhaps comes closest to being a universal principle, striving to do what is considered good and right by virtually everyone, it is an outstanding model of ethical behavior.

Q: Why, given the fact that the golden rule is so universally known and accepted do people still persist in ignoring it and oppressing and harming others who have different beliefs?

Q: Can the golden rule be used by organizations in their everyday interactions with stakeholders and publics?

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