Tom Palven wrote:
. . . But, in perusing various Christian ethics forums, legal ethics forums, and other political and relgious forums in recent years, I have not seen the Golden Rule of reciprocity advanced as an argument regarding any ethical question, be it political nepotism, immigration, abortion, "shock and awe on Iraq", gays in the military, or whatever, by ministers, politicians, or whomever.Tom
, I’d dispute the suggestion that the Golden Rule isn’t widely invoked, or widely relied upon, to address real-life moral questions. I think it is.
You talk about “any ethical question”, but the instances you give are all drawn from politics/public affairs. “Any ethical question” is a much wider category.
Take business/economics where, of course, ethical questions arise all the time. The modern western economy rests fundamentally on a rule of reciprocity. The market works by people freely entering into transactions. Each party to a transaction is expected to abide by what he has undertaken to do, and is entitled to expect, and asked to trust, that the other party will do likewise. On this basis parties enter into transactions from which both parties expect to benefit. The fundamental expectation of reciprocity is obvious here.
Even in politics, the rule of reciprocity plays a major role. The moral underpinning for a modern democracy is that I cannot expect to have any degree of control or influence over government unless I accord others the same degree of control and influence – hence, universal adult suffrage. I cannot expect to be allowed to campaign or lobby unless I accord you the same right – hence, universal rights of free speech. Indeed, the whole culture of rights, the freedom from arbitrary arrest, etc, operates on the basis that the freedoms I want myself I must accord to others as well.
I find your analysis of taxation not very convincing. I think the problem is that you are looking at the individual citizen versus the state. But the state is not a person; the Golden Rule does not operate as between the citizen and the state, but as between the citizen and other citizens. As a citizen, I would prefer to pay no tax, but I also want the community to provide road, hospitals, a police force, etc, which I am perfectly well aware cannot be done unless other
citizens pay tax. I therefore pay tax to support services for them (including many services that I don’t want myself, and don’t avail of), in return for which they pay tax to support services for me; reciprocity.
Where we have something like Guantanamo, the Golden Rule is not being followed. I expect to be free from arbitrary arrest and imprisonment without trial, but I do not accord the same rights to “terrorists”. But the Golden Rule would
be followed if citizens demanded it, and allowed that demand to influence their votes.