Are rules just for bad behaviours or are there also rules for the good ones?

Quora answer to "Are rules just for bad behaviours or are there also rules for the good ones?"

Thanks for the A2A. I think you began to answer the question yourself. For example, here are two aspects of a given rule:

1. If you consistently drive on the wrong side of the road, you will eventually cause an accident.

2. If you consistently drive on the designated side of the road for your travel direction, you will have a higher likelihood of arriving safely at your destination - as will everyone else driving on the same road.

Notice that I did not include law enforcement in those examples; there are simply natural consequences for either following or not following collectively agreed-upon rules (despite what folks like Sharan Gala (undefined) would like to believe). This isn't 100% true 100% of the time (because someone else may be violating a rule and putting you at risk), but civil society is constructed around such rules so that the probabilities of your continued life, liberty and pursuit of happiness are increased. This is why our collective agreement exists: so that everyone will have a similarly increased probability.

Does life always work out that way? Of course not. There are arbitrary events, there are privileged classes, the are rules that benefit one group over another, etc. But that doesn't mean that "rules" are ineffective, just that certain rules may need to be improved. And that is actually a major component of the history of modern society: improving the quality of rules. But this takes time and collective engagement, and because both our culture and technology are evolving so quickly, and because so many people are disconnected from the "rule-making" process, there can be inefficiencies, perverse incentives, moral hazards and unanticipated consequences of new and old rules. Which means we need to keep working at perfecting the rules that we all agree upon, and encouraging public discourse around them.

So understanding that rules are supposed to benefit everyone is really at the root of the question. If that benefit is real, then rules help create happiness for all. If that benefit is not real, then rules may only produce selective advantages or arbitrary punishments.

My 2 cents.


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