Hi, Hiram. Nope, you don't know me. I apologize if my comments were a bit over-familiar. I've been lurking around here and on FB for a while, commenting occasionally when the mood strikes. I appreciate your efforts toward the practical application of Epicurean philosophy, even though I disagree with some of your methods and conclusions.
Anyway, regarding Hermarchus and the rabbits...first of all, that is a damn confusing example, because Hermarchus is talking about justice between humans and rabbits, when I thought we were talking about relations between humans.
To quote from your article:
But it is not only advantage, as Epicurus would have it, that explains the origins of justice when it comes to creatures that we can’t have agreements and contracts with, and in this Hermarchus departed slightly from the first Scholarch and we see the evolution of Epicurean doctrine as a result of exchanges with other schools.
So Hermarchus is departing from the teachings of Epicurus. I think that rather undermines the point you were trying to make with this example.
Nevertheless, it does seem likely that early Epicureans were trying to draw conclusions on practical matters, and possibly even make Epicurean policy pronouncements.
To the extent that they were merely giving advice with the aim of helping others to enjoy more pleasure, I have no objection, and in fact I think this is a valuable undertaking.
To the extent that they were insisting that their personal value judgments were or ought to be binding on other Epicureans, I think they were mistaken.