Abstract

Here a moral principle called the "Copper Rule" is developed and defended as an alternative to the Golden Rule. First, the article focuses on two problems with the Golden Rule's traditional formulation of "Do (or don't do) unto others what you would (or would not) have them do unto you": it assumes (1) the uniformity of human needs and preferences and (2) that whatever is universally desired is good. Second, it examines three attempts to reformulate the Golden Rule—Marcus Singer's general interpretation, Allan Gewirth's rationalization, and R. M. Hare's imaginative role reversal— to show why they all fail to save the Golden Rule from difficulty.Third, the rich resources of the Chinese Confucian-Daoist philosophical traditions are appropriated to develop a "Copper Rule" as an alternative moral principle: "Do (or don't do) unto others as they would (or would not) have us do unto them." This moral principle not only avoids the two problems, but also has additional advantages.Finally, the "Copper Rule" is defended against three objections or counterarguments: what if people ask you (forexample) (1) to kill someone else, (2) to kill them, or (3) to kill yourself? The appropriate response is merely to trace the implications of the "Copper Rule" rather than add any ad hoc arguments.

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