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If a person prescribed themselves a set of what is morally allowable, and that set was larger than what they prescribed to other people, I would call that person a "hypocrite".

  • For example, suppose Johnny chooses to eat ice cream, showing that eating ice cream is in his set of morally allowable actions, but then he tells others it is wrong to eat ice cream. So his set of morally allowable actions is larger than others, making him a hypocrite.

If a person prescribed themselves a set of what is morally allowable, and that set was exactly the same size as what they prescribed to other people, I would call that person "morally consistent" or something like that.

  • For example, Johnny has chosen to eat ice cream and he tells others it is fine to eat ice cream.

Finally, and this is my question, what if a person prescribes for themselves a set of what is morally allowable, and that set is smaller than what they prescribe for others?

  • For example, Johnny feels like it would be wrong for him to eat ice cream, but he tells others it is fine to eat ice cream.

What would I call this person?

  • Principled? But that won't highlight the imbalance here.
  • Inconsistent? Irrational? Self-loathing? Those seem to give a unneeded negative connotation.
  • Isolationist? Empathetic? Morally generous? Convicted?
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  • 1
    Isn't this humility? Oct 26 '20 at 18:23
  • 3
    This is not a problem of grammar or semantics. It is a question of ethics and I suggest you move it to Philosophy. There is no one answer to your question. The idea of hypocrisy (from the Greek word for an actor, hypokrites) is not about the size of someone's set of requirements, tempting as such a clear numerical definition may be. You could be a hypocrite on just one issue. Essentially, it is about criticising others for behaviour that you yourself commit, like Molière's Tartuffe. But we all do that every now and again.
    – Tuffy
    Oct 26 '20 at 18:40
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    @Tuffy This is very much a question of English expression, even if of ethical matters. This is one of the most subtle questions I have encountered here and deals with the issue of developing and identifying vocabulary within prescribed constraints on meaning. The use of set theory to specify areas of common, excluded and intersecting meanings is a powerful tool to understand how language is used and constructed. I commend this question cordially to all readers.
    – Anton
    Oct 26 '20 at 19:13
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    I don't get it...Simply put, a hypocrite is a person who does not practice what he preaches...isn't that what is happening in the first as well as the last example ? Johnny feels like it would be wrong for him to get circumcised (and therefore does not), but he tells others it is fine to get circumcised. That is still hypocrisy. Or am I misunderstanding something ?
    – user96551
    Oct 26 '20 at 20:54
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    You've chosen an unusual example. Is this an "asking for a friend" scenario?
    – nnnnnn
    Oct 26 '20 at 22:55
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You're describing

asceticism

1: the practice of strict self-denial as a measure of personal and especially spiritual discipline : the condition, practice, or mode of life of an ascetic : rigorous abstention from self-indulgence

[Merriam-Webster]

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I usually hear 'hypocrisy' used in reference to something that is bad but for whatever reason is difficult to avoid (as per the Wikipedia page, "engaging in the same behavior or activity for which one criticizes another").

Like not exercising:

  • Hypocrisy: Johnny doesn't exercise but he tells other people to exercise
  • Neutral,consistent: Johnny exercises and tells other people to exercise
  • Elitist(?): Johnny exercises but tells other people don't exercise

The problem I have with the third one is that Johnny is telling people to not do something that is good for them (unlike the first two). So maybe he is Condescending, because he believes the great unwashed out there can't be as good as him. Or maybe he is simply Evil, because he wants them to die of heart attacks.

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  • Hi, and welcome to ELU. Please take the tour and consider how you might improve your answer. As it stands, this sounds like opinion. Can you quote and link to references that show this is common useage?
    – Davo
    Oct 26 '20 at 20:54
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For the definition you've described oi'd say empathetic is closest with words like accommodating, understanding, or even just flat out kind fitting the bill as well.

but as for the actual antonym of hypocrisy -- try steadfastness, or steadfast for hypocritical.

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