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Pursuit of Happiness (a Foundation)


The third of the unalienable rights that was claimed in the United States Declaration of Independence was Pursuit of Happiness. Today, many people think that this means that we claimed the right to try to do the things that we felt would make us happy, and not to be prevented from pursuing our happiness by an authority, like the English Crown. However, if that was the case, then our pursuit of happiness would have already been covered with our right to life and liberty, and my rule to "Allow all living things to live their lives their way".

Based on other writings around the time the Declaration of Independence was written, it seems that our pursuit of happiness really meant that we claimed the right to be able to practice and to experience happiness. This all means that the happiness being talked about was not the type of momentary happiness we may feel watching a sunset or smelling a rose, or even partying all night, but instead a deeper and extended happiness with life. That is the happiness that comes with being safe, secure and worry free.

This deeper and extended meaning of pursuit of happiness, would be covered by my first two rules, which are "Do No Undue Harm" and "Protect everything from undue harm". However, this pursuit of happiness would not include the condition that we individually would be required to protect ourselves and others. We would instead come together and do the protecting together. The main way of doing that would be through our governments.


The idea was that we would empower our governments to protect us, and that we would monitor our governments via our representatives to ensure that they did protect us. In this way, we would not be at the mercy of some authority like a king, but would instead guarantee our own safety, security and peace of mind via our representative democracy.

In fact, the number one role of our governments is to protect us. That protection would not only be for our safety, security and peace of mind, but also for our liberty and freedom. Of course, the trick is in the balance between each of these protections. For instance, if our governments went overboard with protecting our safety and security, then that could take away from their protections of our peace of mind, liberty and freedom.

As I have stated before, the key is in determining what is and is not undue harm. In this case, we are now talking about what things our governments could do or not do that would cause undue harm.

To keep us safe, secure and worry free, our governments could build up hefty military forces, install immense foreign and domestic intelligence agencies, close off our borders, create large police, fire and rescue squads, and numerous regulatory agencies to protect citizens, consumers and businesses from disease, unfair trade, scams and many other things. However, all that costs money, which would need to come from all of us in the form of taxes and fees. Then, we might be protected from most things, but not things like poverty, homelessness and starvation.

On the other hand, if our governments concentrated on protecting our liberty and freedom, then our safety, security and peace of mind would not be well protected. The problem is that without enough safety and security personnel, we would not be protected from individuals and groups who did not follow the rule of "Do no undue harm". Of course, governments would be smaller, so taxes and fees would be less, but it would cost us more to provide our own protection than it would be for our governments to do it.

Therefore, the trick is in finding the sweet spot where we have enough government protection to provide the needed safety, security and peace of mind without making us poor doing so. The problem with finding that sweet spot is that it would be different for different individuals and groups. Therefore, we would need to find a way to let us customize how much protection we want for our safety, security, peace of mind, liberty and freedom. However, there needs to be some minimum level of protection for everyone, otherwise no one will be protected. I will talk more about this in the upcoming section on Government.

Settings and Roles

We each live our lives in many different private and public settings. We may interact with people differently in each of these settings. In each setting, we need to follow some norms depending on the roles we play in each of these settings. Most of these norms have become well established over the years. These norms need to respect the rules of "Do no undue harm" and "Protect everything from undue harm" to ensure our safety, security and peace of mind, but they currently do not always do that.

In some private settings, the individuals in those settings do have the right to agree on some of their own rules. Even some rules that might otherwise do undue harm. The key factor would be whether these individuals felt that their rules would keep them safe, secure and worry free or not.


A private setting would be a location that may be physical or psychological, where a person considers encounters with others or oneself to be personal and not anyone else's business. In today's world, it can often be hard to find much privacy outside of our homes. However, we can consider any place to be private where we can reasonably expect to be safe from casual or hostile intrusion or surveillance, but not some place to which the public or some substantial part of the public has access.

In private, our roles might include wife, husband, mother, father, daughter, son, friend, lover, or member of some group. When we are talking about our private lives, we have the right to decide how we want to live our lives. However, we still do not have the right to do undue harm to others in our private lives. That is, unless everyone agrees to the rules that would allow for the specific acts that might cause undue harm.

First off, we get to decide who we want in our private lives, and others get to decide if they want to be in our private lives. Although we do not get to decide who is in our family, other than a spouse, we can still decide which members of our family we want to associate with. We also get to decide who we want to be our friends. We get to do that even if we discriminate against some individuals from being our friends due to some characteristic they have. Of course, if we do that, others may decide that that is reason enough not to be our friend.

Even when everyone in some private setting agrees to rules that would allow them to do things that could otherwise cause undue harm, they should not be allowed to make rules that would cause undue harm to anyone outside their private setting, In addition, the rules would not apply if anyone was coerced into agreeing to them, and anyone should be able to back out at any time.

For instance, two individuals might agree to a duel where one or both could be harmed or even killed. Although the harm they do to each other may have been agreed upon, their being hurt or killed would affect a lot of other people. For this to work, the duelers would need to get agreement from all the other individuals and groups that could be unduly harmed. Given the large number of individuals and groups who could be unduly harmed, I doubt that all of them would ever agree in this specific case.

Let us look at a married couple. By virtue of being married, the couple has theoretically agreed upon certain rules. However, if one partner was coerced into marrying the other, or into living by other marriage rules, then there really is no agreement. Not only should the person doing the coercing be held accountable for the undue harm caused by the coercion, but for any other undue harm that was done. In this case, we should make it as easy and quick as possible for the coerced partner to dissolve the marriage.

Now, let us look at some individuals who are into kinky sex and bondage. I am not into that myself, but I have heard that the individuals involved can get hurt. Given the potential for otherwise undue harm, all those involved must agree. The key thing here is that those who have agreed to be involved have usually also agreed upon a safe word or signal that will end things immediately. That is, anyone involved can pull out of the agreed upon acts at any time. The same should apply to any other privately agreed upon rules that could cause undue harm.

A private group would be an assembly of individuals gathered for a designated social or business occasion, present by reservation or invitation, and that is not open to the public. A private group might be a wedding or birthday party, a company Christmas party, a corporate board meeting, or a book club.

However, a private group should not be considered private when its purpose affects the public, especially if it would do undue harm to any member of the public. I will talk more about this in the next subsection on public settings.


A public setting would be an indoor or outdoor area, whether privately or publicly owned, to which the public has access by right or by invitation, expressed or implied, whether by payment of money or not, but not a place when it is used exclusively by one or more individuals for a private gathering or other personal purpose.

In public, our roles might be customer, pedestrian, police officer, judge, store clerk, wait staff, teller, protester or bystander. When we are talking about our public life, we should only be allowed to do what we want when that does not do any undue harm. Unlike with our private lives, there should never be a case where we could get agreement on rules that would allow for undue harm, since everyone who could ever possibility be in that public setting would need to agree.

Even when we might consider ourselves in a private setting or in a private group, it may not be considered private. If our actions or the group's actions would cause any undue harm that was not agreed to, or that affected anyone in the public, then those actions are not private.

For instance, any criminal organization should not get any protection by claiming to be a private group, even if they had a lawyer present. This is an easy case to see, since the group's actual purpose is to do undue harm, then its meetings and discussions should not be considered private. In fact, I do not believe any criminal act should ever be considered private, even if the people harmed had signed a nondisclosure agreement, since a criminal act should always be considered a crime against everyone.

In some cases, a private group set up for some otherwise legal purpose may still do undue harm by virtue of what its purpose is and who can and cannot join, and therefore should not be considered private.

In general, any group that was set up for just family, friends or anyone in some geographic location or member of some legitimately recognized group should be able to be private. For instance, the members of the group might be John Smiths family or friends, the individuals who live in his neighborhood, or were firefighters like he was.

However, if some individuals are not allowed to join due to some irrelevant reason, then that could cause undue harm to those excluded individuals. For instance, I would consider including or excluding someone due to their skin color, to always cause undue harm. Even if there was a support group for people with green skin disease, the group would not really be about skin color, it would be about the disease, which would be a relevant reason.

On the other hand, a men's or women's social group would be fine to include only men or women, if the group was truly social or was about men's or women's issues. Only including one sex would not be okay if the purpose of the group was for political or business purposes, since someone's sex would not be relevant in those cases.


A religious group would be a set of individuals whose identity as such is distinctive in terms of common religious creed, beliefs, doctrines, practices, or rituals. When individuals have freedom of religion, as guaranteed in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, a religious group can give its parishioners a sense of comfort and peace of mind.

A religious group may be limited to those of the given faith, or it may be open to the public. Some religious groups might be private groups, but the actions of most religious groups put them squarely in the public setting.

If a religious group only takes in the faithful who agree to their norms, does not do any undue harm to others, and allows members to leave at any time, then it should have the right to remain private. Otherwise, it would be in the public purview, and its actions controlled as needed to prevent the group from doing undue harm.

One way in which a religious group becomes public is when it gets involved in politics, since advocating for specific policies could affect everyone. In addition, the policy being advocated for could in some cases cause undue harm. First, if the policy being advocated for is based on a religious belief, then that violates our right to religious freedom. Second, unless all the religious group's members agreed with the policy, then that violates their free speech rights.

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Philosophy - A Philosophy that provides a Foundation for a better Future.

Last Updated:
Saturday, December 16, 2023
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