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Single Idea 19768

[catalogued under 23. Ethics / B. Contract Ethics / 2. Golden Rule]

Full Idea

Instead of the sublime maxim of reasoned justice 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you', pity inspires a less perfect but perhaps more useful one: 'Do what is good for you with as little harm as possible to others'.

Gist of Idea

The better Golden Rule is 'do good for yourself without harming others'


Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1754], Part I)

A Reaction

His revised maxim is like J.S. Mill's formula for liberalism. The first maxim seems more contractarian, the second more utilitarian.

Book Reference

Rousseau,Jean-Jacques: 'The Basic Political Writings', ed/tr. Cress,Donald A. [Hackett 1987], p.55