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If we could rely on people to be honest, objective, intelligent, and reasonable, would we need any rules at all?

Expanding the idea that we should expect moral individuals to know when to break or expand the rule base, couldn't we also expect people to know what is right and fair based on their own sense of morality. Simply applying the 'golden rule' to know that if we were on the receiving end of our own actions that we would find them unfair, unsafe, or unreasonable. Ignoring whether this is possible or not, would such a hypothetical culture be able to resolve differences based only on the law of reason and fairness?


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    Feb 3 2013: Of course not. But it's not as easy as that - however reasonable Mr. Schwartz's talk was.

    Some years ago, my worldview CRASHED. In the twinkling of an eye, all that I had believed in was seen for the illusion that it was. It was all a lie - truth, justice, equality, freedom, and yes, even God. Not only was I devastated. I was crippled. Not knowing how to survive in the new world that I perceived, I didn't know what to do.

    Should I go to work? Or should I just sit home and starve to death? If I go to work, I will be paying taxes that go to things that are morally abhorrent. Whether I looked at never-ending wars and pseudo wars, pollution & wanton waste of earth's resources, economic policy where I could have abundance, but only if I deprived someone else of it, or if I looked at laws that encouraged discrimination against others while calling it equality, I couldn't find a way to live without harming others, whether directly or indirectly. In essence, that which I had been calling freedom was really slavery, and I had been supporting my own slavery. That which I had been calling logical, WASN'T

    Up to that point, my whole life had been spent suppressing that awareness. My entire culture is based on the people's willingness to hide from horrible truths about themselves and what they are doing to contribute to the horrors. The most successful are those who are most successful at hiding from awareness of consequences of their actions.

    This is the systemic illness that pervades ours lives. So I ask, how does one say, "I will do "this" because it is right, and I will do "that" because even though it is morally repugnant, my survival depends on it. As soon as you are forced, in the name of survival, to make that second choice, one's willingness to look at his/her role is squashed.

    When a society finds itself in that position - laws become necessary - to help people absolve themselves of responsibility for their own behaviors. People become sheeple.
    • Feb 4 2013: All true. My point is that one answer to all of this, that hacks at the root of the problem versus its branches, is self-honesty. We provide all of the self-deceptions you describe so that we can tell ourselves we are acting reasonably (fairly) and we use reality skewing techniques that mainly involve cherry-picking the whole picture to rearrage it in a way that appears to justify what we've done. Honesty and objectivity are the cure for this.
      I disagree that people who do what you describe are the most succesful in the long run. I have no desire to be Donald Trump, no matter how rich that would make me. False lives have to be maintained at great mental and emotional cost. Often, when allowed to see throught the facade of such lives, we can see that they are not at all what they've been made to appear.

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