Sunday, May 08, 2011

On Treating Each Other Well

In a somewhat different context, William Easterly reformulates Kant's ethical formulation that one should act as though one's actions should become a univeral moral imperative by asking how you would like it if you were portrayed or treated in the same way as you portrayed or treated another:

If you don’t pass that test – if you say, ‘no I would hate that,’ then you shouldn’t do it. Reciprocity is really at the heart of equality.

This is another way of saying that one must empathize to be moral. Which I think makes it closer to true morals than Kent's rationalistic approach. It is a matter, too, of respect. You should treat others as you would want to be treated (both Easter;y and Kant are really both reformulating the Golden Rule). If you want respect, be respectful. If you want to be loved, love. If you want to be treated well, treat others well. This is the heart of morality -- and of equality.

You will note that all of the above are kinds of mutual exchange that benefit each party. There is nothing wrong with that. It is at the heart of reciprocity itself.
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