Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A step more nuanced than "Do onto others"

The golden rule, "Treat others as you would like to be treated" is a great first approximation. The drawback, as Robin Abrahams has noted, is that not everyone wants to be treated in the same way. In the realm of etiquette, she suggests this formulation:

"Avoid giving offense or alarm; avoid taking offense or alarm."

or: "Be liberal in what you accept, and conservative in what you send."

More generous than "do unto others", its like the strategy that beats competitors for Axelrod's cooperation/defection game, "tit for tat plus forgiveness (pdf)"

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