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 (goldenruleproject.org):
- Ancient Greece: “Do not do to others that which would anger you if others did it to you.”—Socrates.
- Bahá’í: “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.”—Udana-Varga, 5:18.
- Buddhism: “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.”—Udanavarga 5:18.
- Christianity: “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.”—Matthew 7:12 (http://biblehub.com/matthew/7-12.htm).
- Confucianism: “Try your best to treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself and you will find that this is the shortest way to benevolence.”—Mencius VII.A.4.
- Hinduism: This is the sum of duty; do naught unto others which if done to thee would cause thee pain.—Mahabharata, 5:1517.
- Islam: “Do unto all men as you would wish to have done unto you; and reject for others what you would reject for yourself.”—Hadith, Islam.
- Jainism: “In happiness and suffering, in joy and grief, we should regard all creatures as we regard our own self”—Lord Mahavir 24th Tirthankara.
- Judaism: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow.”—Shabbath folio:31a, Babylonian Talmud.
- Latter Day Saints: “And let every man esteem his brother as himself, and practice virtue and holiness before me.”—Doctrine and Covenants 38:24.
- Native American: “Whatever befalls the earth, befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”—Chief Seattle.
- Sikhism: “As thou deemest thyself, so deem others.”—Guru, Nanak Dev.
- Taoism: “Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.”—Tai Shang Kan Yin P’ien.
- Wicca: “An’ it harm no one, do what thou wilt”—The Wiccan Rede.
- Zoroastrian: “That nature alone is good which refrains from doing unto another whatsoever is not good for itself.”—Dadisten-I-dinik, 94,5.
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?Next Page: Ethical Orientations: Utilitarianism