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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: There are some behaviors missing from your description of citizens in a perfect Anarchy. Let's say I tell you with honesty, intelligence, objectivity, and reasonableness that I am going to scratch your new car because it will relieve the feelings of jealousy and disappointment I have been experiencing since you were promoted instead of me. Then I do it! Without rules I have committed no wrong. I was being honest (I am going to do it), objective (you were promoted because you play golf with the boss), intelligent (such acts of retribution do offer immediate alleviation of angst), and reasonable (though less qualified than me you got the promotion) but I acted only after considering how my deed would affect me. Without compassion, empathy, and social awareness I require rules to delineate what is acceptable behavior.
    • Feb 3 2013: I do like your label of this situation as a perfect anarchy. Possibly taken as disparaging because of the normal perception of anarchy, but apt nonetheless.
      I disagree that you scratching my car could be honestly considered fair if you apply the golden rule though. If you say that you would feel honestly justified in the act, then you must also accept it as fair if you receive the same treatment from someone else. Compassion and empathy are critical elements in honest evaluation of an act if you truly with to avoid hypocrisy (ie honestly apply the golden rule). In honestly visualizing how we would receive the treatment we are considering giving to someone else, compassion and empathy should naturally and automatically come into consideration unless self-deception blocks them.
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        Feb 3 2013: My point is simply to point-out that your list of four behaviors is insufficient to allow a society to thrive with no rules whatsoever. Added to your list must be the characteristic of compassion, empathy, consideration, altruism, kindness, goodness, etc. whatever you choose to call it.
    • Feb 3 2013: In fact, after more thought, I realize that empathy is the foundation on which the golden rule is based. Thanks for the thoughts.
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        Feb 3 2013: Precisely, so add Empathy to your list.
        • Feb 4 2013: I think that empathy, as contained in the golden rule, grows naturally from honest reason. When honestly deciding, we have to choose whether we will act in a way that would be acceptable from both the giving and receiving or not. Most often, as in your example, false justification is created using skewed facts and perspectives as I've described, so that when we tell the story to ourselves or others, we can appear empathetic even when we haven't been. The effort to appear so is made, at least in large part, so that we are not ostracized.
          We could honestly choose to act in a way that we know we would not appreciate receiving, but then reason would warn us that, in a society in which we could honestly get away with such an act, we must expect it ourselves. I don't believe that reasonable people would choose the resulting chaotic culture.
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        Feb 4 2013: All rightey then. With only the four behaviors listed in your headline I must answer "YES" to your question because there would be a need for a rule to control wrongdoing based on failure to consider others. I understand, but disagree with, your belief that selfish behavior is controlled by your four basic behaviors. Empathy is not subsumed in any of your four stated behaviors. Thank you for a provocative contribution. Be well sir!
        • Feb 8 2013: Same to you Edward. Very thought provoking, enjoyable, and hopeful to discuss such things with people like you. (Got this in the wrong place the first time.)

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