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NeoNotes - Reciprocity

Pardon, but that’s not necessarily true. Aside from the obvious “Might makes right,” it’s also possible to build a moral system based on the Ethic of Reciprocity.


I'd argue that in peacetime, there are very few times that reciprocity doesn't apply, at least in the long term. You want to screw with the people around you, they will remember and be less likely to deal with you in the future. (There was a great Bill Whittle essay on this that I used to point people at, but it's not online anymore).

What is the origin of those rules?

That is a great question. The practical part of me would ask does it matter as long as the rules work?


Not just Christianity.

In our opinion, the greatest failure of many organized religions is their historical inability to convince their followers that the Ethic of Reciprocity applies to all humans, not merely to fellow believers like themselves. It is our group's belief that religions should stress that their members also use their Ethic of reciprocity when dealing with persons of other religions, other genders, other cultures, other sexual orientations, other gender identities, etc. Only when this is accomplished will religiously-related oppression, mass murder and genocide cease.

Crimes against humanity require that the victims first be viewed as subhuman and the as not worthy of life. If the Ethic of Reciprocity is applied to all humans, then no person or group of persons can be seen in this way.



The whole point of that quote was that many organized religions use an ethic of reciprocity but do not extend their definition of people to members of other religions. In other words, the "elect" have privileges (and implied Wisdom™) that "mere unbelievers" do not.

Reread the quote.

We have one race and that's human. If it's really about reciprocity, we're obligated to recognize the worth of others.


And if someone doesn't believe in your eternal judge, don't you face the exact same questions?

It's not my place to say if your God exists or if He may judge you or indeed if He cares what color shirt you will wear next Saturday. That's between you and Him.

Likewise, it's not your place to say the same thing about my gods.

Which means the only things we have to build a society and culture on are the things we have in common. If that's not going to be a shared belief in a specific aspect of Divinity, what's left?

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Or my preferred version "Be excellent to each other. And party on, Dudes!"


I'm asking about how, absent a transcendent signifier, anything means anything.

I can't answer that for you. I don't believe anyone can answer that for another person.

If you believe, there's no doubt that will shape your thoughts and actions. If you believe in a different Divine aspect, that will shape your thoughts and actions differently. If you don't believe, your actions will still be shaped by belief.

It's a question of faith. We may not share faith. Does that mean we can't share a culture or a society?


I was updating one of my blogs and I ran across an entry from this site that I made. I thought it was good so I quoted it on my site a few weeks back. The line also applies here.

When it comes to religion becoming the law of the land, the devout don't need it, the non-believers don't want it, and the politicos will corrupt it.


I think the mark of an adult is the ability to make the right choice without the threat of punishment. Or perhaps despite it.

We know that's possible. Under the right circumstances, we even revere the people who did that as saints and heroes.


One may also choose to honor it, cherish it, and nourish it.

It's a matter of choice.

So tell me, is morality stronger when one chooses it? Or is it stronger when one holds a gun to another's head and says "Do as I say or else!!!"

Isn't morality really about making a choice?

If it's made under duress, doesn't it cease to be moral?

If morality is really a choice, then people will make choices you do not like. The next question is what do you intend to do about them?


I'm not an atheist.

Again, if it's a choice made under duress, is it really moral?

If morality can only exist by force, what's the point?


I can see your point, if the rules are transcendent, then they are universal.

But if that guy over there doesn't believe the rules are transcendent, then for him they won't be. That's true regardless.

And then you get into the arguments over which particular Deity wrote the rules and what the "civilized people" are going to do with those folks who do not believe.

That's an incredibly dangerous path to take.


One thing I've learned is that when it comes to enforcing morality, it's almost never a god that does it. It's people who claim to to speak for the Divine.

Inevitably, that leads to arguments over which god is in charge. Funny how that leads to political power for a certain priesthood.

Religion is not the reason, it's the justification.


I disagree. I think the core of civilization is cooperation, not force. Positive not punishment.

Although I differ from most libertarians when it comes to the Zero Aggression Principle, I believe that relying on force alone will create disaster.

Is morality transcendent or man-made? That's ultimately unanswerable on anything except a personal level. Practically, it only matters if I can trust you and you can trust me.


A couple of years ago I asked on this site if someone could be a "good" man if they weren't Christian.

I don't think force is a foundation of civilization.

What do I base trust on? Past behavior if I have a history with you. The chance to make things a little better today if I don't.

It's an act of faith. *grins*

You know, we’ve had this discussion before. Somehow, I don’t think either of us has changed our views since then.


Hah! I found it. I misremembered what I wrote. Perhaps the question bears repeating here.

Is the only source of accepted morality Christian?


I'm talking about honoring, cherishing and nourishing a moral philosophy. There's not much subjective about it.

If I don't want to be killed, I shouldn't kill others.

If I don't want to be hurt, I should not hurt others.

If I want nice stuff, I shouldn't take or damage other people's stuff.

The best way I can protect myself is to stand up for others when I can.

This isn't because of some priest hiding behind a sacred text. This is because I live in the World with other people.


I agree with you.

My grandfather's funeral taught me that the measure of a man was how he touched the lives of others.

As a person of faith myself, I believe in the Divine and I do devotions. I believe that reaching beyond ourselves is how we become better and make our world better. It's the Manifestation.

I just don't think that's the only choice.

NeoNotes are the selected comments that I made on other boards, in email, or in response to articles where I could not respond directly.
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