“Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself”. Discuss. (150 words)

 “Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself”. Discuss. (150 words)

Approach:

  • Introduce with the golden rule in ethics.
  • Explain the given quote by referring to Confucius.
  • Point out exceptions.
  • Conclude appropriately.
Model Answer :

The ethic of equality frames the essence of any morality and it can be found across various religious and philosophical texts. As per the golden rule of ethics, we must treat others as we wish others to treat us.

Confucius’ interpretation:

Confucius gave a negative explanation of the golden rule as per which one should not impose such ethical standards on others which he himself does not adhere to. He attempted to expose the hypocrisy of people who in public life portray the idealistic morals urging people to follow their example and in private life conveniently disregard such morals. Confucius maintained that the ethical standards should be universal and identical for all the individuals. An excellent example can be found in Mahatma Gandhi’s life who first himself followed the path of non-violence and truth then asked his followers to be a satyagrahi.

May not be always possible to adhere:

However, philosophers like Kant have argued that the golden rule overlooks the variances created by different situations. For e.g. as a judge would not want anyone to sentence him to death, he himself should not award such punishment to a convict. Similarly, the circumstances, needs, tastes and belief systems of different people vary, hence not all people may desire similar treatment as one would treat himself.

Despite the exceptions cited, the principle of equality in ethical standards is considered as the key to ethical behaviour and if people adopt the golden rule, they need not refer any elaborate moral codes.

Subjects : Ethics – Essence