Empathy and the Platinum Rule

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The Platinum Rule Delvin KWA A0072584Y Everyone knows the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This sounds like a sound starting point for an ethical approach. So sound that it has earned itself its golden title. Many philosophies and religions worldwide incorporate this rule, and it is not without surprise. The Golden Rule might not be all-encompassing, and hence its negative form, the Silver Rule, which states: “Do not do unto others as you would not have them do unto you”, was born for complementarity. Together, these rules are based upon the importance of empathy and this ethic of reciprocity has been what many different cultures have resolved conflicts with. However, the Golden Rule is no panacea. Think about it: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This is based upon the assumption that other people would like to be treated the same way that you would like to be treated. And we know instinctively that this cannot always be true, because everyone is different and has differing tastes and preferences. So now what? Could there be another rule that might tie up the loose ends? Enter the Platinum Rule: “Do unto everyone as they would have you do unto them.” This rule obliges us to respect and consider the needs and wants of people, and then act based on this understanding. It is what prevails in gift-giving, in earnest advice-giving, and so on. The focus of the relationship shifts from “this is what I want, so I'll give everyone the same thing" to "let me first understand what they want and then I'll give that to them." It is a more considerate and sensitive moral guideline than its predecessor which ignores the wishes of the recipients in favour of imposing the giver's preferences onto others in a misguided attempt at kindness. The Platinum Rule, or at least its name, might be unfamiliar to most, but
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