1. Openness and the Search for Wisdom
One natural reaction to the challenge of pluralism and uncertainty of Part I that is common in modern democratic and pluralist societies is the following. People may think to themselves that since it seems impossible to demonstrate that their view is right from their point of view (because of the circularity problem mentioned) and since everyone else is in the same condition, the only proper stance to take in the presence of pluralism and uncertainty is an attitude of “openness” or tolerance toward other points of view.
Judgments about good and evil, right and wrong, one may reason, are personal matters that should be made for oneself and not imposed on others against their will. Is it not true that much of the evil of human history has come from taking the opposite attitude, of assuming one has the correct view and the right to impose it on others? “Evil takes root,” as the late Russian poet Joseph Brodsky once remarked, “when one man begins to think he is superior to another.”
But this attitude of openness or tolerance, though it comes naturally to those who are reared in free and democratic societies, is disparaged by some theorists and social critics. One such critic, Allan Bloom, argues in The Closing of the American Mind, that such openness or tolerance to all points of view (an “openness of indifference” as he calls it) affects society, education and young people in perverse ways because it leads to a kind of relativism that supposes no view is any better than any other, and hence to an indifference to objective truth and absolute right.
“Make judgments only for yourself, not for others,” this openness of indifference says, “and don’t suppose your view is superior in truth or rightness to those of others.” But such an attitude, Bloom argues, is a short step away from supposing that no view is any better (or truer) than any other and that no one can take a universal point of view and say what is right or true for everyone.
Now relativism of the kind Bloom decries is a serious temptation in modern pluralist and democratic societies, for reasons discussed. But it is a mistake to think that relativistic conclusions of the kinds Bloom has in mind are the inevitable consequence of an attitude of openness toward other points of view. I now want to suggest that such an attitude of openness, when it is not conceived as a final stance, but rather as part of a search for wisdom, need not lead to relativism or indifference, as one might fear. Rather openness, when it is so conceived as part of a search for wisdom, may actually point the way to belief in some objective and universal values.
We can begin to see how this might be so by engaging in a series of thought experiments. Those people who naturally think in terms of openness toward other points of view in response to pluralism and uncertainty are on to something important, I believe, though it is easy to mistake what they are on to.
To see this, the first step is to note that openness need not be an invitation to indifference. It may be a way of expanding our minds beyond our own limited perspectives or points of view. It may be an effort to find out what is true from every perspective (universally true), not just what is true from our own perspective. Openness or tolerance to other points of view, so understood, would thus become a way of searching for the objective truth about values under conditions of pluralism and uncertainty rather than a denial of that objective truth.
“Openness” and “objectivity” operate this way in other areas of human inquiry where there are conflicting theories and points of view. In the natural sciences, for example, where such openness or objectivity functions well, it requires consideration and testing of theories and evidence opposed to one’s own theory. Such methods restrict undue bias in favor of one’s own point of view as well as mere authoritative appeals to one’s own point of view—all in the interests of limiting narrowness of vision and finding the objective truth about nature.
Why not think of openness in the search for objective values in the same way—as a way of expanding our minds beyond our own limited perspectives and thereby limiting narrowness of vision—in order to find the objective truth about values? This thought may seem strange at first because of obvious differences between fact and value and between theoretical and practical inquiry.
In the first place, systems of value, as great sages of the past, such as Confucius and the author of the Bhagavad-Gita remind us, are not merely abstract theories that can be tested or experimented with in a laboratory. Systems of value are guides to ways of life that can only be ultimately tested by being lived. So openness to systems of value other than one’s own (in the interests of finding out what is true about the good from every point of view) would mean initially being open to other ways of life in the sense of letting them be lived or experimented with or tested in a way that is appropriate for values, in action or practice.
2. The Moral Sphere
But once the matter is put this way, we can see why people may have shied away from this line of thought. Would it mean respecting or tolerating every way of life, allowing it to be lived or experimented with, which would mean tolerating (among others) the ways of life of the Hitlers, Stalins, ruthless dictators, exploiters and other evildoers of the world? Then openness would amount to relativism and indifference, as critics such as Bloom contend.
But the fact is that such openness does not imply tolerating every point of view or way of life whatever. To the contrary, it turns out that you cannot open your mind to every point of view in the sense of allowing it to be lived or experimented with, without hindrance or interference. There are many situations in life in which it is impossible to respect every point of view in this sense. So, while the initial attitude in the search for wisdom being suggested is to “open your mind to all other points of view in order to find the objective truth about value,” the truth you find when you do so is not that “you should open your mind to all points of view.” You cannot. Openness of mind is an initial attitude in the search for truth. But “openness of indifference” or relativism is not the final attitude.
Why is this so? Consider a situation in which you’re walking down the street and see a man being assaulted and robbed in an alley. Suppose you are the first to see this happening and the outcome will depend on what you do. If you stop to assist the victim by intervening or yelling to others for help, the assailant may see he has been found out and will run. But if you just walk by, as wary city dwellers sometimes do, the man will be beaten and robbed.
In such situations, where the outcome depends on your action, you cannot be open to both points of view of the assailant and the victim, in the sense of allowing both to carry out their purposes or realize their desires (and so pursue their ways of life) without hindrance or interference from others. If you do something to prevent the assault (by intervening or calling for help) you will not be respecting the point of view of the assailant. You will be acting in such a way that his desires and purposes are interfered with and not fulfilled. But if you “walk on by” when you could have done something to help, you will be acting in such a way that the desires and purposes of the man being assaulted will be interfered with and not fulfilled (not directly by you of course, but as a result of your acting in that way rather than otherwise).
In such situations, where the outcome depends on what you do, you cannot have it both ways. You cannot be open to or respect both points of view in the above sense, no matter what you do. When pirates under the command of William Kidd attacked Philadelphia in the eighteenth century, pillaging and raping, some of the resident men, because of their pacifist beliefs, would not protect their women. They were not thereby choosing a non-violent world in which everyone’s desires and purposes would be respected. They were choosing that it be the desires of the pirates that would be respected and not the desires of their own women. They had not chosen a world without violence, but a world in which the violence would be directed at their women and not the pirates.
So there are situations in life in which, when you are thrust into them, you cannot respect, in the sense of being open to, every point of view, no matter what you do. When such situations arise, let us say that the “moral sphere” has “broken down,” where the moral sphere is the sphere in which all persons can be treated with respect in this sense of openness by all others. That is to say, it is a sphere in which all persons can be treated in such manner by others that they are able to realize their desired ends or purposes (and hence pursue their ways of life) without interference or subordination. When such a moral sphere breaks down, we must treat some ways of life as less worthy of respect in this sense of openness. But which ones?
To find the answer we must return to the original idea of openness. Recall that openness was not assumed to be the final truth about value, but was to guide us in the search for that truth. The Renaissance essayist Michel de Montaigne once said that ideals are to us as the stars were to the ancient mariners: We never reach them, but we guide our path by them. Similarly, it is the persistent striving to maintain an ideal in which all persons can be treated with openness by all others (a moral sphere) to the extent possible in the face of obstacles that is to guide us in the search for what is good and valuable from all points of view (that is, what is objectively valuable). Such striving preserves us, to the degree that is within our power, from narrowness of vision that comes from viewing things only from our own points of view.
When the moral sphere breaks down, we cannot follow this ideal of openness to all to the letter (“cannot reach it”). But we can continue to follow it to the degree possible (“guide our path by it”) in adverse circumstances by trying to restore and preserve conditions in which the ideal of openness to all can be followed once again by all. That would mean, when the moral sphere breaks down, trying to restore and preserve it by stopping those who have broken it and made it impossible for others to follow the ideal. For, making such efforts to restore the sphere is as close as we can come to maintaining the ideal of openness to all in circumstances when we must depart from it to some degree, no matter what we do. And striving to maintain this ideal to the degree possible is our way of expanding our minds beyond our own limited points of view to find out what should be recognized as good and valuable from all points of view, not merely from our own.
In our examples, stopping those who have made it impossible for others to follow the ideal would mean stopping the assailant and the pirates. We thus arrive at an answer to the original question of who is to be treated as less worthy of respect in the sense of openness when the moral sphere breaks down and it is no longer possible to treat everyone with such respect, no matter what we do.
3. Two Ways of Searching
Needless to say, there are many complications and questions about this line of reasoning that have to be addressed. But lest we miss the forest for the trees, let’s stand back for a moment and consider what it all means. It means that the attitude of openness to all ways of life, when put to the test in practice, does not lead to relativism or indifference, as its critics fear. This attitude actually leads to the conclusion that some ways of life and plans of action are to be treated as less worthy of respect than others, when openness is treated, not as the final truth, but as a way of searching for wisdom about the objective good in this way.
Or, putting the matter in another way, the above line of reasoning shows that a relativism of indifference—understood as the belief that every way of life is as good as any other—is an impossible ideal when put into practice in an imperfect world. For, what was said of the assailant in the alley and of the pirates, can also be said of all the Hitlers, Stalins, murderers, oppressors, and other evildoers of the world. We do not have to say their ways of life are just as good as everyone else’s. By their actions, they place themselves “outside the moral sphere” so to speak, and make their ways of life less worthy of respect by making it impossible for others to respect them, while respecting everyone else as well.
Here is yet another way of looking at the matter. In a pluralist world of conflicting points of view and ways of life, there are two distinct ways of searching for objective or universal values (those that hold for all persons and all points of view). An older way was to position yourself in one point of view—your own—and argue that it was right and every other view wrong. This is the way people have thought about establishing the objective truth and right for centuries.
But in a world of pluralism and uncertainty, this way founders over the finiteness of points of view and the problem of defending the absolute truth of our values and beliefs in terms of other values and beliefs we hold, but others may not. One could, of course, deny or ignore this problem—simply asserting the absolute or certain truth of one’s own point of view from one’s own point of view on authoritative or other grounds, as many people do. In the face of the terrifying prospects of pluralism and uncertainty, one may engage in a kind of fundamentalist retrenchment, reasserting the old ways in the old way. I think we can understand this reaction and see why it has become an increasingly common means of coping with moral uncertainty in the modern age—even as we fear the dogmatism and violence that may result from it.
But our question is a different one: What options are available to persons who, moved by the reflections about pluralism and uncertainty, can no longer go back to this older way of establishing absolute values—that is, merely defending the universal truth of their own points of view from their own points of view? Such persons can abandon the search for objective or universal values altogether or they can try something new. They may give in to subjectivism, relativism or skepticism, or look for a new way of searching.
When the matter is put this way, the preceding line of reasoning can be seen as suggesting an alternative way of searching: the way of openness. Instead of trying to prove your own point of view absolutely right from your own point of view, try this: Open your mind initially to all points of view and ways of life, allowing them to be pursued, but only to the degree that one can do so while maintaining a moral sphere in which all persons can be treated with such openness by all others. And make this a test of whether their ways of life are worthy of being treated with openness by all others, including oneself.
Try this as a thought experiment and see what happens. When you do so, you will find that some ways of life are more worthy of being treated with respect in this sense than others, and some less worthy; and this will be true for anyone who undertakes the experiment.
In this way, we lift from ourselves the burden of proving our view is absolutely right and every other wrong, and place the burden of proof on everyone equally to show that their ways of life are worthy of being allowed to be pursued by others by how they act toward others. If they break the moral sphere, they make their ways of life less worthy of respect by others (in this sense of openness) by making it impossible for others to treat them and everyone else with such respect. In this manner, one places on everyone equally the responsibility of showing by how they act in relation to others that they are worthy of being allowed to act as they do by those others.
4. Restoring and Preserving the Moral Sphere: Violence and Pacifism
What then is to be said about our own way of life, if we proceed in this way? It is to be treated no differently than the others. If we break the moral sphere, then we make our view less worthy of being treated with this sort of openness respect by others. So we are not entirely off the hook as a result of having distributed the burden of proof equally to everyone. We still have the burden of showing our own way is worthy of respect by others; and that is burden enough. For the “proof” (whether of our way of life or other ways) is not carried out merely by arguing in the abstract that one view is better than others, but in practical engagements with others, by how we live and act.
Do we then have to wait until some persons actually break the moral sphere and show themselves less worthy before intervening—which would be disastrous in many instances? The answer is no, for the reasons noted earlier: Respect for the ideal of a moral sphere in which all persons can be treated with openness by all others requires not only restoring that sphere when it has broken down, but also preserving it from breakdown in the future. The point is that it is by this persistent striving to maintain the ideal of openness to the degree possible in adverse circumstances—in the interests of limiting narrowness of vision—that we go about seeking the objective truth about value (what should be recognized as good from all perspectives). And we would not be respecting the ideal to the degree possible if we failed to take reasonable steps to forestall future breakdowns of the moral sphere when possible. For that sphere is the sphere in which the ideal can be followed by all.
Thus, we punish criminals not only to stop them here and now (to restore the sphere), but to deter them and others from committing similar acts in the future (to preserve the sphere). We do this because it is as close as we can come to preserving the ideal of respect for all when we must violate it for some, no matter what we do.
Similarly, in the interests of preserving the moral sphere in the future, we can act preemptively if we see it is about to be broken. Those who read Hitler’s Mein Kampf could see that his life-plan was a moral sphere-breaker and they had every right to intervene by force if they saw he was about to carry it out. Unfortunately, we know that too many of Hitler’s contemporaries could not believe he meant what he said.
Consider pacifism. It may be the correct view within the moral sphere. But it fails when the moral sphere breaks down. Sometimes force is required to restore and preserve the very ideal that normally prohibits force. Saying this is consistent with the idea that one should try to maintain the ideal to the degree possible when it cannot be followed to the letter, no matter what one does. When the pirates raided Philadelphia, every point of view could not be respected. It was not a question of whether some view would not be respected, but whose view it would be (the pirates or their victims).
The point is nicely illustrated by a joke about pacifism common among members of the Society of Friends or Quakers with whom I taught for a time in the Philadelphia area. It was about the Quaker farmer who found a thief in his chicken coup. Aiming his shotgun at the thief, he exclaimed, “I do not want to hurt you, sir, but I advise you to run, because you are standing where I am about to shoot.”
The tensions that can arise in an extreme pacifist view are evident in tales of this kind. There are some situations in which every point of view (including your own) cannot be allowed to be pursued, no matter what you do. Yet even as we might question the universal truth of pacifism, it is worth recognizing that pacifism might be regarded in another sense as the “ideal” view on the above account. For pacifism would be the correct view within the moral sphere and the moral sphere is the ideal sphere. The problem is that the world is not always perfect or ideal (indeed it rarely is); and so we find ourselves constantly trying to realize the ideal to the degree possible in an imperfect world. In such a world, the ideal view is not always the right view.
5. Exceptions to Moral Rules: Lying
The above line of reasoning shows something else of importance for ethical reasoning. It shows why there are commonly recognized exceptions to many traditional moral commandments—thou shall not kill, lie, steal (exceptions, for example, such as self-defense and just wars in the case of rules against killing or engaging in violence.)
The existence of exceptions to traditional moral commandments is a controversial matter, to be sure. And the possibility of exceptions is, like relativism, also a persistent source of confusion about objective ethical values. For, a common worry is how, if moral rules or commandments have exceptions, they be universal or absolutely binding? Another fear is that once any exceptions are admitted, it will become problematic where the line on allowable exceptions is to be drawn. Disagreements will proliferate and the question of the woman on Perelandra will return: “If others can do it, why can’t I?”
So it is interesting to note that exceptions to moral rules can be dealt with by the above reasoning in the same way that relativism of indifference was dealt with. In the case of relativism, we start with openness to all ways of life as a thought experiment and find that, at the point of moral sphere breakdown, one cannot be open to all ways of life. But it is at just this point—where the moral sphere breaks down and relativism fails —that exceptions to moral rules also arise. Violence and force are not normally allowable (inside the moral sphere). But when the moral sphere breaks down (as in the case of assaults or warfare ), violence or force may be needed to restore it. In such cases, we continue to serve the ideal of openness to all to the degree possible by striving to restore conditions in which it can be followed once again by all.
Consider in this light another traditional moral rule or commandment: Thou shall not lie. Lying to others usually means interfering in some way with their unhindered pursuit of their own desired ends, often to one’s own advantage, which accounts for its usually being wrong within the moral sphere. But what happens when the moral sphere has broken down? Consider an example of a kind familiar in theoretical discussions of ethics.
In Nazi Germany, the secret police, the Gestapo, arrive at your door and ask whether you are hiding a Jewish family on your farm. You are in fact hiding a family; and the family is not likely to be found unless you reveal its presence. But should you lie? Here is a case where most people feel an exception to the rule against lying is called for. But if so, why?
Note that the case is structurally similar to the assault in the alley. The moral sphere has broken down because you (the farm owner) cannot treat all persons involved with respect for their purposes and desires in the situation. If you tell the truth to the Gestapo, you are choosing to favor their desires and purposes over the Jewish family’s. If you lie, you respect the Jewish family’s desires and purposes, but not the Gestapo’s.
Once again, you cannot have it both ways in this situation. The only question is whose purposes will be treated as less worthy of being respected and pursued, not whether someone’s will be so treated. And, as in the assailant and pirate examples, those who should be treated as less worthy are those whose purposes and plans of action have made it impossible for others to treat everyone in the situation with openness. That would be the Gestapo in the present case, whose plan it is to harm the Jewish family, as the assailant and pirates planned to harm their victims.
If the Gestapo are the ones whose purposes and plans are to be treated with less respect, then you should lie. It is not that lying would merely be permissible in this case. It would be the right thing to do, just as the right thing to do would be to stop the assailant or the pirates, if you could. The same ideal that tells you lying is usually wrong—inside the moral sphere—tells you that it can be the right thing to do when the moral sphere breaks down and you are no longer “inside” it. So it would be also, if someone forced you to play a game of cards threatening to kill your children if you lost. Cheating is usually wrong (inside the moral sphere) but in such a case, where the moral sphere has badly broken down, it would be right to cheat in any way you could.
6. Traditional Commandments, the Golden Rule and Universal Human Rights
One can thus see how this line of reasoning, if successful, would support many traditional ethical commandments endorsed by major world religions (thou shall not kill, lie, steal, etc.). And it would support commonly recognized exceptions to these commandments as well. Moreover, the exceptions would not be arbitrary or ad hoc; they would follow naturally from the line of reasoning that leads to the rules themselves, once one understands the limitations imposed by moral sphere breakdown.
In addition, the above line of reasoning leads to another traditional and widely acknowledged moral principle, the Golden Rule (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”) in one of its traditional readings: Respect the ways of life of others, allowing them to be pursued without harm, as you would want your own way of life to be respected—up to the point of course where the moral sphere breaks down.
And from the same reasoning, one could also derive certain universal human rights, to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, that lie at the foundations of modern free and democratic societies and of a just international order. To respect others’ ways of life in this sense of openness is to respect their right to live and pursue happiness as they choose—up to the point again where they break the moral sphere.
These are interesting results. Starting with an attitude of “openness” to all points of view or ways of life—an attitude that might seem to lead to relativism or indifference—one arrives instead at the result that some ways of life are less worthy and others more worthy of respect by anyone who starts with such an attitude and strives to adhere to it to the degree possible under adverse circumstances. One arrives in this way at ethical commandments (such as the Mosaic commandments not to kill, steal, lie or cheat) embedded in most of the major world religions and at commonly recognized exceptions to these commandments. One also arrives at a version of the Golden Rule and at ideas of universal human rights that lie at the foundations of modern free and democratic societies.
What is suprising is that all this comes from a starting point (openness to all points of view) that seems decidedly “modern” and may appear to be subversive of traditional beliefs about objective or universal rights and wrongs because it may seem to lead to relativism and indifference.
What makes things otherwise is that openness is conceived not as the final truth about the good and the right, but as a method of searching for that truth (searching for wisdom about the good) under conditions of pluralism and uncertainty. The traditional way of searching for what is good or right from every point of view —i.e., positioning oneself in one point of view and trying to prove it absolutely right and every other view wrong—is thwarted by pluralism and uncertainty. One can either give up the search in response or try something new.
The way of openness suggests itself as an alternative for two reasons. First, it takes seriously the conditions of pluralism and uncertainty that thwart other attempts to find objective or universal value. Second, the way of openness focuses attention on the fact that it is objective or universal value—what is good or right from every point of view—that one is looking for. If you want to find out what should be recognized as good or right from every point of view, open your mind to other points of view as a thought experiment and see what happens. When you do so, you find that you cannot open your mind to all points of view and that some ways of living and acting are less worthy of such respect than others because they make it impossible for you to respect them and other ways of life as well.
But paradoxically, you find this out by initially being willing to open your mind to other points of view and ways of life and trying to sustain such an attitude to the degree possible in an imperfect world. It is the persistent striving to maintain the ideal in the face of obstacles that leads to wisdom about the objective good.
In his classic treatise, On Liberty, John Stuart Mill expressed the belief that by maintaining a condition of openness and allowing all points of view to be heard, the truth would emerge. This claim was, of course, a part of Mill’s classic defense of freedom of speech. But the above argument gives it a new twist: By being initially open to all points of view, the “ethical” truth emerges that all points of view and ways of life cannot be equally respected.
7. World Parliament of Religions: A Useful Lesson
An interesting and revealing perspective on this argument is provided by the following historical event. In 1993, in the city of Chicago, a convention was held of leading representatives of 139 of the world’s religions—a World Parliament of Religions it was called—to see if they could discern a common ethic in their diverse beliefs. A number of leading religious figures in the world were instrumental in organizing this meeting, including the Dalai Lama, who was then as now in exile from his native Tibet.
Prior to the gathering, a committee of thinkers from major religious traditions of the world, chaired by the noted Swiss Catholic theologian, Hans Kung, was commissioned to present to the convention for discussion a candidate set of ethical principles that seemed to be common to many of the world’s religions gathered there. The full convention engaged in heated discussion of these and other principles, but did finally come up with a mutually agreed upon basic set of principles shared by their differing traditions.
And what were these principles? They were the four central Mosaic commandments—thou shalt not kill, lie, steal or cheat (the latter including adultery) and the Golden Rule—just the principles arrived at by the reasoning of this section from our modern premises of openness, with the exceptions thrown in. As one might guess, there were disagreements about how to interpret the principles in different circumstances. But there was general agreement that these principles were central. The first four of these commandments are not only common to Judaic and Christian traditions, but to Islamic, Hindu, Confucian and other religious traditions. They also appear for example as fundamental requirements of the middle steps of the Buddhist Eightfold Way.
Turning to the Golden Rule, some version of it was common to the religious traditions as well; and in many religions it is said to be the sum of duty and of the law.
Christianity: “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do you even so to them: for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7: 12)
Judaism: “What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow men. This is the entire law: all the rest is commentary.” (Talmud, Shabbat 31a)
Hinduism: “This is the sum of duty: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you.” (Mahabharata 5: 1517)
Buddhism: “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” (Udana-Varga, 5: 18)
Islam: “No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.” (Sunnah)
Confucianism: “Surely it is a maxim of loving kindness: Do not unto others that you would not have them do unto you.” (Analects, 15:23)
Taoism: “Regard your neighbors gain as your own gain and your neighbors loss as your own loss.” (T’ai Shang Kan Ying P’ien)
Zoroastrianism: “That nature alone is good which refrains from doing unto another whatsoever is not good for itself.” (Dadistan-i-dinik, 94:5)
The negative formulation of this rule stated by Confucius (“Do not do unto others…”) is sometimes called the Silver Rule. As with the other commandments, there were significant disagreements in the traditions about how this rule is to be interpreted in all circumstances, but there was agreement that it is a central principle.
It may seem strange that these five common principles of the religious and wisdom traditions of human history might be arrived at from modern premises about pluralism and uncertainty—premises that might be thought to lead to relativism and skepticism about common ethical principles. But it should be noted that in order to arrive at these principles from modern premises about pluralism and uncertainty, the modern premises cannot do it alone. They must be coupled with an ancient imperative—the search for objective wisdom about the good and the true. This search requires that one limit narrowness of vision, by opening one’s mind to other points of view beyond one’s own.
I call this opening of the mind and limiting narrowness of vision “aspiration.” The image of this word, from the Latin “aspirare” (breathing, spirare, forth, ab) is of the spirit “going outward” from its narrow and limited perspective or point of view to try to see things from a broader perspective. It is the persistent striving for such a broader vision—such an expanding of the spirit—that leads to ethical insight and wisdom.
What is crucial, in other words, is that despite pluralism and uncertainty, persons in modernity do not give up on the idea that there is an objective truth and good out there to be found, even if they disagree about it and cannot be certain what it is: and they are willing to continue to search for it. It is this search or quest for wisdom about the objective good under conditions of pluralism and uncertainty that leads to these common ethical principles that were recognized in one form or another in many of the religious and wisdom traditions of the past.
 I believe I am fairly crediting this quote to Brodsky since I recorded it from his writings some years ago; but I have not since been able to retrace its origins.
 Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987: p. 26.
 Bloom himself admits (ibid., p. 41) that there is another more positive attitude of openness we can take (being open to learning the truth) that does not necessarily lead to indifference. But he does not pursue this suggestion in the way that I do here.
 Huang (ed.) The Analects of Confucius. New York: Penguin Books, 1997, Book 1; Malhotra, Transcreation of the Bhagavad-Gita New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1999, Book 3.
 This preliminary account of “respecting another’s point of view” needs to be refined in various ways to meet various objections, something I do in later chapters of my book.
 This is not meant to be the final word on the notion of moral sphere breakdown and questions about who broke the moral sphere when it has broken down. Further complications about these matters and a more precise criterion for identifying the guilty party in cases of moral sphere breakdown are discussed in my book, Ethics and the Quest for Wisdom, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010, Chapter 4.
 The most comprehensive historical and systematic book-length discussion of the Golden Rule is Jeffrey Wattles, The Golden Rule. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. Wattles confirms that the interpretation stated here is a widely accepted interpretation historically (though it is surely not the only one). The addition of “up to the point of moral sphere breakdown” is of course my own and is not a part of traditional formulations. A modern version of the Golden Rule is presented in Amitai Etzioni, The New Golden Rule. New York: Basic Books, 1996.
 Mill On Liberty. Indianapolis IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1956, chapter 3.