What do moral philosophy and the science of morality study?

I consider myself a pragmatist and not a philosopher, though in my latter years I seem to be getting dragged into it right and left. I say this my way of introduction, and to explain that the Golden Rule always made a lot of sense to me and I never really tried dissected it before.
You got me to do a little web-surfing and I started an article with a very cynical state of mine, but by the time I was halfway into, it was like, ‘well done’, excellent points, never quite look at it like that, …

Fair enough, but so far you’ve simply alluded to something, when are you going to share details?

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I probably misunderstand Sir, but Religious people believe in a god, how’s that hard to achieve? Simply tell (threaten) them that there’s going to be judgement day or that Law of karma will catch up, or tell them to be more like Jesus by living by his teachings so as to avoid hell or other forms of eternal condemnation. Seems like the easy part

Hi citizenschallengev4,

The platinum rule the article quotes is

“Do unto others as they have explicitly informed you that they want done unto themselves.”

I do not anticipate making a practice of asking everyone I might interact with to explicitly inform me what they want done to them. Except for some unusual circumstances, it is not a practical rule for guiding morality. But perhaps you would like to try it out on everyone you meet and see how it works? The Golden Rule is a practical rule because people commonly, but not always, want similar treatment.

But what irritates me most about the article is the way it is so carelessly factually wrong. If you knowingly treat someone the way they would like to not be treated, then you have violated the Golden Rule. Do you want to be treated the way you do not want to be treated? No, of course not.

The Golden rule is commonly said to summarize morality because it advocates initiating perhaps the most powerful cooperation strategy known, indirect reciprocity. But if you know how they want to be treated you should start with that (rather than how you would like to be treated) and the chances of cooperation ensuing will be increased.

Rest assured, no one who has thought about the issue will knowingly treat someone in a way that reduces the chances of future cooperation and think they have acted morally (except in unusual circumstances such as when dealing with criminals and in wartime).

Nicely summarized.

Yeah, that wasn’t making much sense.

I did find the article interesting and helpful in enunciating perspectives I’d never thought about, still I find your description much easier to swallow. Seemed to me by the time I got to the end that there was a hint of Ayn Rand.

Let me bring it back to the thread. But I gotta peel off for tonight, my wife wants some company.

Yes it is interesting.
I doubt anyone around here would be offended, big topic.

What moral guidance can science provide when it is immoral to follow the Golden Rule?


The reference to being offended was addressed to the religious commenter. I am sincerely trying to figure out how to present the science of morality to everyone, including religious people. There are a lot of them.

I’d like to provide some background first and discuss those in their own threads. The main reason I am posting here is to help figure out how to explain it in ways that make sense to people. The science is easy, the presentation is devilishly difficult.

The claim that we were set back 2 million years was a little weird. But, we do need an update. Mad magazine pointed out the problem when they defined a sadist, noting that if a masochist asks to be harmed, the sadist would say no. We don’t always know what’s best for us.

Paraphrasing Sam Harris from memory, we can view the moral landscape with hills and valleys and find some clear locations where improvements can be made. Some will require a little research and discussion.

Not all religious sects, not even all Xian sects, can agree with what you just said.

This was based on the fact that trichinosis is prevalent in domestic pigs and in days of old there was no treatment for trichinosis. Hence the taboo.

Trichinosis (trik-ih-NO-sis), sometimes called trichinellosis (trik-ih-nuh-LOW-sis), is a type of roundworm infection. These roundworm parasites (trichinella) use a host body to live and reproduce. These parasites infect animals such as bears, cougars, walruses, foxes, wild boars and domestic pigs. You get the infection by eating the immature form of the roundworm (larvae) in raw or undercooked meat.

When humans eat raw or undercooked meat containing trichinella larvae, the larvae grow into adult worms in the small intestine. This takes several weeks. The adult worms produce larvae that travel through the bloodstream to different parts of the body. They then bury themselves in muscle tissue. Trichinosis is most widespread in rural areas throughout the world.

Trichinosis - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic