The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

A biological basis for the Golden Rule?

For years I've grappled with a dilemma which is really only relevant to people who want to argue with Objectivists. Basically once you claim to live by a selfish code of ethics, what prevents you from violating the rights of others for personal gain, in situations where you know you will not be at risk?

David Friedman calls this the Prudent Predator dilemma, and he's been twisting up Randroids with it for 40 years. He even got me with it, back in the day, when I was basically trying to re-write Objectivism into something that made sense.

Ethics, empathy, and primate brain holdovers

I wish I knew of this argument a decade ago when a few of my friends fell heavily into Objectivism. In trying to understand them, I even read all zillion pages of Atlas Shrugged (neat story, but she could have used an editor).

The entry also points out some recent research showing that there may be a biological component to society. Read, as they say, the whole thing.

Obligatory Picture

[It's the most wonderful time of the year!]

Obligatory Links

Obligatory Miscellaneous

You have my permission to link freely to any entry here. Go ahead, I won't bite. I promise.

The dates are the permanent links to that day's entries (or entry, if there is only one entry). The titles are the permanent links to that entry only. The format for the links are simple: Start with the base link for this site:, then add the date you are interested in, say 2000/08/01, so that would make the final URL:

You can also specify the entire month by leaving off the day portion. You can even select an arbitrary portion of time.

You may also note subtle shading of the links and that's intentional: the “closer” the link is (relative to the page) the “brighter” it appears. It's an experiment in using color shading to denote the distance a link is from here. If you don't notice it, don't worry; it's not all that important.

It is assumed that every brand name, slogan, corporate name, symbol, design element, et cetera mentioned in these pages is a protected and/or trademarked entity, the sole property of its owner(s), and acknowledgement of this status is implied.

Copyright © 1999-2019 by Sean Conner. All Rights Reserved.