July 12, 2008

A new set of moral principles

We all know the Golden Rule, the fundamental moral principle which says: "treat others as you would like to be treated." This ethic of reciprocity which roots in many in many of the world's cultures is seen by many as the most universal moral principle. Some have critized it, however, like George Bernard Shaw, Karl Popper and Immanuel Kant. Critics say you shouldn't treat people like you want to be treated because people are different and their tastes and needs differ, too. So maybe The Golden Rule is not so Golden and we need to keep on thinking about morality.
Michael Schermer (photo), author of The Mind of the Market: How Biology and Psychology Shape Our Economic Lives, suggests a new set of moral principles:
  1. The Happiness Principle: It is a higher moral principle to always seek happiness with someone else's happiness in mind, and never seek happiness when it leads to someone else's unhappiness.
  2. The Liberty Principle: It is a higher moral principle to always seek liberty with someone else's liberty in mind, and never seek liberty when it leads to someone else's loss of liberty.
  3. The Purpose Principle: It is a higher moral principle to always seek purpose with someone else's purpose in mind, and never pursue a purpose when it leads to someone else's loss of purpose.
    I think this is a beautiful set of principles. It reminds me a bit of How Full Is Your Bucket? Positive Strategies for Work and Life This principle which was formulated by Tom Rath and Donald O'Clifton suggests that we all have a bucket within us that needs to be filled with positive experiences, such as recognition and appreciation. When we're negative toward others, we use a dipper to remove from their buckets and diminish their positive outlook. This will unintendedly empty our own bucket too. When we treat others in a positive manner, we fill not only their buckets but ours as well. So you can only fill your own bucket by filling other people's bucket.
    Back to Michael Schermer: Find happiness, liberty and purpose by helping other people find theirs.

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