Café Wrap-Up: The Golden Rule

Is the “Golden Rule” sufficient when examining all questions of morality?

This question covered at the most recent Socrates Café led us to consider application of The Golden Rule toward the moral questions that we each encounter on a daily basis. Taken from The Bible, the well known Golden Rule is the idea that one should “In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you.”

Philosophy professor Clancy Martin in his lecture series Moral Decision Making: How to Approach Everyday Ethics said that this concept “appears not just in the New Testament but in slightly different formulations in a variety of ancient traditions.” He cites:

Book Cover Analects of Confucius

The Udanavarga of Buddhist tradition “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful,” and

The Analects of Confucius “Do not do to others what you would not like yourself, then there would be no resentment against you either in the family, or in the state.”

This whole concept seems simple to apply to everyday moral questions, but does applying The Golden Rule to any moral question stand up under further scrutiny?

Well, yes.

And no.

One café participant suggested that The Golden Rule is a form of reciprocity which proposes that if I treat you in a way which maximizes my happiness, then you ought to treat me similarly and by extension your happiness increases. The Wikipedia definition seems to agree. The participant elaborated further saying that it also follows that if I continue to treat you the way I want to be treated, but that you essentially use me to the point at which a reciprocal arrangement no longer exists, then I could choose to withdraw your access to my friendship.

This idea was rebutted with another person’s interpretation of The Golden Rule. Her belief is that it only states that the former treat others in a certain way, but that no reciprocity is implied or expected. Still, with respect to the concept of reciprocity, we pondered another’s suggestion to instead “do to others as they would like done to them.”

The one who proposed this idea further explained (and I’m paraphrasing here) the following. Suppose I am a person who prefers to be alone when I need de-stress. You on the other hand are one who just wants to be hugged or who prefers to enjoy time with friends in order to experience the same result. Using this interpretation I should, when you are stressed, be sure to invite you to my party, or give you a big hug.

However, there is a danger here. This presumes, as still another person pointed out, that I know best what you need for yourself, even more so than you do, and by acting accordingly I remove your autonomy.

Applying The Golden Rule to Everyday Situations

Is it okay to lie?

Apply the rule by asking, “Do I like being lied to?”

Sometimes (if it suits my best interest or helps me to learn), but not if it is used to manipulate me or is in any way hurtful.

What if you catch a co-worker taking home office supplies? Morally speaking, should you be the whistleblower or approach the co-worker about the issue?

If the roles were reversed, would you want to be talked to about this by me or by your boss and maybe lose your job as a result? Applied here, the principle seems to dictate that you should approach the co-worker to tell her, “Here’s what I saw you doing, and it’s wrong.” If after this, the co-worker continues to steal company supplies, she should at least not be surprised if you take the issue to management.

But is this really just being a tattletale or a whistleblower? If everyone steals the office supplies, will the company be able to sustain its business? What if it’s not office supplies, but the co-worker is writing checks to himself drawn from company funds? Do we have degrees to which we choose whether or when to apply The Golden Rule?

What about giving to the poor? Would I appreciate the help if I were down on my luck? If an opportunity to help someone in need presents itself and you apply The Golden Rule, then morally you would be obligated to assist.

While we may not have found the answer to our original question, we certainly came up with more questions and cause for thought about an important idea. This often happens, and that’s okay. That’s what a democracy is about.

At each meetup of the Socrates Café we choose a single question to examine from those submitted by our patrons. You’ll find it fun an engaging. You can register here.

Get on the List (11/16/2020)

Get on the List – 11/16/2020

We’ll share some books that are on order so you can get on the holds list early. Visit our My Account page to learn how to Place Holds Online. You can also visit our What’s Next page to see and search all our new books.

Fiction

The Russian by James Patterson and James O. Born

(Release Date: January 25, 2021) A series of gruesome murders in New York City has Michael Bennett angry — but when he identifies similar cases in Atlanta and San Francisco, his feelings escalate into all-out alarm. All of the victims are young women. And each one is killed in a horrifyingly distinct fashion. In the midst of such devastating loss of life, Bennett’s longtime love, Mary Catherine, is soon to become his bride. As Bennett toils to connect the cases, the killer strikes again, adding to his criminal signature an ability to evade detection. Just when New York’s top investigator should be donning his wedding finery, he may be stepping into a diabolical trap.

Head Wounds by Michael McGarrity

In Michael McGarrity’s final, propulsive Kevin Kerney novel, the nightmare of the Mexican drug wars spills across the border with the discovery of a couple in a Las Cruces hotel, scalped with their throats cut. Because of the unusual MO, Detective Clayton Istee suspects that the murders are drug related, but a lack of evidence stalls his investigation.

Morningside Heights by Joshua Henkin

(Release Date: June 15, 2021) When Ohio-born Pru Steiner arrives in New York in 1976 after graduating from Yale, she follows in a long tradition of young people determined to take the city by storm. But when she falls in love with Spence Robin, her hotshot young Shakespeare professor, her life takes a turn she couldn’t have anticipated.

Thirty years later, something is wrong with Spence. The Great Man can’t concentrate; he falls asleep reading The New York Review of Books. With their daughter Sarah away at medical school, Pru must struggle on her own. One day, feeling particularly isolated, Pru meets a man, and the possibility of new romance blooms. Meanwhile, Spence’s estranged son from his first marriage has come back into their lives. Arlo, a wealthy entrepreneur who invests in biotech, may be his father’s last, best hope.

Easy COVID-19 Resource Guide for Patrons

Great Expectations at Allentown Public Library

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November 2020

The library has social distancing measures in place. For the safety of both staff and other patrons, all people entering are required to wear a mask covering their nose and mouth at all times. We ask all to respect designated distancing measures and approach staff as they are behind protective shields. Public computers and the ability to print your documents are available. Please limit your library visit to one hour. Click HERE for details about checking out materials.

Dentro de la biblioteca, pedimos que nuestros clientes sigan las recomendaciones de distanciamiento social y mantener una distancia de 6 pies de otras personas.  También, es necesario usar una mascarilla que cubre tu nariz y boca y hablar con el personal que están trabajando detrás de paneles divisores. Tenemos disponibles computadoras para el público y la capacidad de imprimir sus documentos. Por favor, limita tu visita a una hora. Haga clic aquí para detalles sobre el préstamo de materiales.

PA Dept. of Health

Lehigh County

Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Please take advantage of Allentown Public Library’s online resources!

Book Flight- A Dog’s Purpose

Book Flight- A Dog’s Purpose

You gave us a book you’ve read recently. We prove three books based off of a related theme

A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

This is the remarkable story of one endearing dog’s search for his purpose over the course of several lives. More than just another charming dog story, this touches on the universal quest for an answer to life’s most basic question: Why are we here?

Books about man’s best friend

Click book cover to see it in the library’s Catalog

Get on the List (11/02/2020)

Get on the List – 11/02/2020

Each Monday we’ll share some books that are on order so you can get on the holds list early. Visit our My Account page to learn how to Place Holds Online. You can also visit our What’s Next page to see and search all our new books.

Fiction

Tower of Babel by Michael Sears

(Release date: April 6, 2021) Queens, New York—the most diverse place on earth. Native son Ted Malloy knows these streets like the back of his hand. Ted was once a high-powered Manhattan lawyer, but after a spectacular fall from grace, he has found himself back on his home turf, scraping by as a foreclosure profiteer. It’s a grubby business, but a safe one—until Ted’s case sourcer, a mostly-reformed small-time conman named Richie Rubiano, turns up murdered shortly after tipping Ted off to an improbably lucrative lead. With Richie’s widow on his back and shadows of the past popping up at every turn, Ted realizes he’s gotten himself embroiled in a murder investigation. His quest for the truth—and to protect his own tucchus—will take him all over Queens, plunging him into the machinations of greedy developers, mobsters, enraged activists, old litigator foes and old-fashioned New York City operators. (from Goodreads.com)

Summer on the Bluffs by Sunny Hostin

(Release date: May 4, 2021) Welcome to Oak Bluffs, the most exclusive black beach community in the country. Known for its gingerbread Victorian-style houses and modern architectural marvels, this picturesque town hugging the sea is a mecca for the crème de la crème of black society—where Michelle and Barack Obama vacation and Meghan Markle has shopped for a house for her mom. Black people have lived in this pretty slip of the Vineyard since the 1600s and began buying property in the 1800s, making this posh town the embodiment of “old money.”

Every summer, Esperenza “Perry” Soto, a beautiful and talented Afro-Latina lawyer, escapes the fetid heat of New York City for the gorgeous weather, cool water, and stunning views Oak Bluffs offers. Sharing a cottage on the beach, owned by her “Ama”, with her husband and two god sisters, Perry is looking forward to trading meetings and clients for days of languor and fun.

When Memorial Day arrives and the season begins, some of the nation’s wealthiest, most powerful, and famous from the worlds of politics, art, and entertainment meet to swim, dance, party, and chill. While a few can’t leave work behind, others indulge in a different kind of business affair. 

But this summer on the Bluffs is different. Ama is moving to the south of France to reunite with her college sweetheart. She is going to give the house to one of her goddaughters and she has invited all three of them to spend the summer with her the way they did when they were kids. Each of the women want the house desperately. Each is grappling with a secret that they fear will make them lose Ama’s approval and the house. . . .(from Goodreads.com)


Nonfiction

Every Breath You Take : exploring the science of our changing atmosphere by Mark Broomfield

(Release Date: October 6, 2020) With seven million early deaths a year linked to air pollution, air quality is headline news around the world. But even though we breathe in and out every few seconds, few of us really know what’s in the air all around us. In Every Breath You Take, air quality specialist—and full-time breather—Dr. Mark Broomfield connects the dots from the atmosphere on distant planets to the holes in the ozone layer to the particles in our lungs. (from Goodreads.com

The Meaning of Mariah Carey by Mariah Carey

(Release Date: September 29, 2020) It took me a lifetime to have the courage and the clarity to write my memoir. I want to tell the story of the moments – the ups and downs, the triumphs and traumas, the debacles and the dreams, that contributed to the person I am today. Though there have been countless stories about me throughout my career and very public personal life, it’s been impossible to communicate the complexities and depths of my experience in any single magazine article or a ten-minute television interview. And even then, my words were filtered through someone else’s lens, largely satisfying someone else’s assignment to define me. (from Goodreads.com)

Allentown in Quarantine

Allentown in Quarantine

Fill out the form below to get more information about sharing your story about your experiences during the Coronavirus quarantine and ongoing reopening. Everyone’s story is important.

Book Flights – 10% Human

Book Flights – 10% Human

You gave us a book you’ve read recently. We prove three books based off of a related theme

10% Human: How Your Body’s Microbes Hold the Key to Health and Happiness
by Alanna Collen

You are just 10% human. For every one of the cells that make up the vessel that you call your body, there are nine impostor cells hitching a ride. You are not just flesh and blood, muscle and bone, brain and skin, but also bacteria and fungi. Over your lifetime, you will carry the equivalent weight of five African elephants in microbes. You are not an individual but a colony.

Book on the tiny organisms in our body