The Golden Rule (do to others what you want them to do to you) is an invitation to interventionism, utopianism, and meddling into other people’s affairs, particularly poor nations, as represented by the people at the NGO clowns at TED conferences trying to “save the world”, and causing more harm with unseen side effects. Remember that Mao, Stalin, Lenin, and were following the positive Golden rule. At the personal level, I may feel good forcing a vegetarian to eat raw kebbeh (Lebanese steak tartare) because I like it myself.

The Silver rule (do NOT do to others what you don’t want them to do to you) leads to a systematic way to live “doing no harm” and gives rise to a liberating type of ethics: your obligation is to pursue your personal interests provided you do not hurt others, do not transfer risks to them. But, and here is the key, should there be a spillover, it will necessarily be positive. It is therefore convex. It separates the “self-interest” in Adam Smith from the “selfish” version. And if you want to help society, just try to benefit WHILE at least harming no one.

This distinction puts a lot of clarity behind the idea of free markets and morality. You should never have to prove that what you do is GOOD for society (hard to express in words and rationalistic framework), but you can certainly show you are NOT hurting others more than yourself via skin-in-the-game.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb