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Moral Science; A Compendium of Ethics by Alexander Bain

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designated the 'Real in morality,' He declares that Kant's notion of an
absolute moral law, binding by its inherent power over the mind, is a
mere fiction. The difference between inclination and the moral
imperative is merely a difference between lower and higher pleasure.
The moral law can have no authority unless imposed by a superior, as a
law emanating from a lawgiver. If man is not accountable to some higher
being, there is no distinction between duty and pleasure. The standard
of right and wrong is the moral _nature_ (not the arbitrary _will_) of
God.[25] Now, as we cannot know God--an infinite being,--so we have but
a relative conception of morality. We may have lower and higher ideas
of duty. Morality therefore admits of progress. But no advance in
morality contradicts the _principles_ previously acknowledged, however
it may vary the acts whereby those principles are carried out. And each
advance takes its place in the mind, not as a question to be supported
by argument, but as an axiom to be intuitively admitted. Each principle
appears true and irreversible so far as it goes, but it is liable to be
merged in a more comprehensive formula. It is an error of philosophers
to imagine that they have an absolute standard of morals, and thereupon
to set out _a priori_ the criterion of a possibly true revelation. Kant
said that the revealed commands of God could have no religious value,
unless approved by the moral reason; and Fichte held that no true
revelation could contain any intimation of future rewards and
punishments, or any moral rule not deducible from the principles of the
practical reason. But revelation has enlightened the practical reason,
as by the maxim--to love God with all thy heart, and thy neighbour as
thyself--a maxim, says Mr. Mansel, that philosophy in vain toiled
after, and subsequently borrowed without acknowledgment.


Mr. J.S. Mill examines the basis of Ethics in a small work entitled

After a chapter of General Remarks, he proposes (Chapter II.) to
enquire, What Utilitarianism is? This creed holds that actions are
right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they
tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended
pleasure, and the absence of pain; by unhappiness, pain, and the
privation of pleasure. The things included under pleasure and pain may
require farther explanation; but this does not affect the general
theory. To the accusation that pleasure is a mean and grovelling object
of pursuit, the answer is, that human beings are capable of pleasures
that are not grovelling. It is compatible with utility to recognize
some _kinds_ of pleasure as more valuable than others. There are
pleasures that, irrespective of amount, are held by all persons that
have experienced them to be preferable to others. Few human beings
would consent to become beasts, or fools, or base, in consideration of
a greater allowance of pleasure. Inseparable from the estimate of
pleasure is a _sense of dignity_, which determines a preference among

But this distinction in kind is not essential to the justification of
the standard of Utility. That standard is not the agent's own greatest
happiness, but the greatest amount of happiness altogether. However
little the higher virtues might contribute to one's own happiness,
there can be no doubt that the world in general gains by them.

Another objection to the doctrine is, that happiness is a thing
unattainable, and that no one has a _right_ to it. Not only can men do
without happiness, but renunciation is the first condition of all
nobleness of character.

In reply, the author remarks that, supposing happiness impossible, the
prevention of unhappiness might still be an object, which is a mode of
Utility. But the alleged impossibility of happiness is either a verbal
quibble or an exaggeration. No one contends for a life of sustained
rapture; occasional moments of such, in an existence of few and
transitory pains, many and various pleasures, with a predominance of
the active over the passive, and moderate expectations on the whole,
constitute a life worthy to be called happiness. Numbers of mankind
have been satisfied with much less. There are two great factors of
enjoyment--tranquillity and excitement. With the one, little pleasure
will suffice; with the other, considerable pain can be endured. It does
not appear impossible to secure both in alternation. The principal
defect in persons of fortunate lot is to care for nobody but
themselves; this curtails the excitements of life, and makes everything
dwindle as the end approaches. Another circumstance rendering life
unsatisfactory is the want of mental cultivation, by which men are
deprived of the inexhaustible pleasures of knowledge, not merely in the
shape of science, but as practice and fine art. It is not at all
difficult to indicate sources of happiness; the main stress of the
problem lies in the contest with the positive evils of life, the great
sources of physical and of mental suffering--indigence, disease, and
the unkindness, worthlessness, or premature loss of objects of
affection. Poverty and Disease may be contracted in dimensions; and
even vicissitudes of fortune are not wholly beyond control.

It is unquestionably possible to do without happiness. This is the lot
of the greater part of mankind, and is often voluntarily chosen by the
hero or the martyr. But self-sacrifice is not its own end; it must be
made to earn for others immunity from sacrifice. It must be a very
imperfect state of the world's arrangements that requires any one to
serve the happiness of others by the absolute sacrifice of their own;
yet undoubtedly while the world is in that imperfect state, the
readiness to make such a sacrifice is the highest virtue that can be
found in man. Nay, farther, the conscious ability to do without
happiness, in such a condition of the world, is the best prospect of
realizing such happiness as is attainable. Meanwhile, self-devotion
belongs as much to the Utilitarian as to the Stoic or the
Transcendentalist; with the reservation that a sacrifice not tending to
increase the sum of happiness is to be held as wasted. The golden rule,
do as you would be done by, is the ideal perfection of utilitarian
morality. The means of approaching this ideal are, first, that laws and
society should endeavour to place the interest of the individual in
harmony with the interest of the whole; and, secondly, that education
and opinion should establish in the mind of each individual an
indissoluble association between his own good and the good of the

The system of Utility is objected to, on another side, as being too
high for humanity; men cannot be perpetually acting with a view to the
general interests of society. But this is to mistake the meaning of a
standard, and to confound the rule of action with the motive. Ethics
tells us what are our duties, or by what test we are to know them; but
no system of ethics requires that the motive of every action should be
a feeling of duty; our actions are rightly done provided only duty does
not condemn them. The great majority of actions have nothing to do with
the good of the world--they end with the individual; it happens to few
persons, and that rarely, to be public benefactors. Private utility is
in the mass of cases all that we have to attend to. As regards
abstinences, indeed, it would be unworthy of an intelligent agent not
to be aware that the action is one that, if practised generally, would
be generally injurious, and to not feel a sense of obligation on that
ground; but such an amount of regard for the general interest is
required under every system of morals.

It is farther alleged against Utility, that it renders men cold and
unsympathizing, chills the moral feelings towards individuals, and
regards only the dry consequences of actions, without reference to the
moral qualities of the agent. The author replies that Utility, like any
other system, admits that a right action does not necessarily indicate
a virtuous character. Still, he contends, in the long run, the best
proof of a good character is good actions. If the objection means that
utilitarians do not lay sufficient stress on the beauties of character,
he replies that this is the accident of persons cultivating their moral
feelings more than their sympathies and artistic perceptions, and may
occur under every view of the foundation of morals.

The next objection considered is that Utility is a _godless_ doctrine.
The answer is, that whoever believes in the perfect goodness and wisdom
of God, necessarily believes that whatever he has thought fit to reveal
on the subject of morals must fulfil the requirements of utility in a
supreme degree.

Again, Utility is stigmatized as an immoral doctrine, by carrying out
Expediency in opposition to Principle. But the Expedient in this sense
means what is expedient for the agent himself, and, instead of being
the same thing with the useful, is a branch of the hurtful. It would
often be expedient to tell a lie, but so momentous and so widely
extended are the utilities of truth, that veracity is a rule of
transcendent expediency. Yet all moralists admit exceptions to it,
solely on account of the manifest inexpediency of observing it on
certain occasions.

The author does not omit to notice the usual charge that it is
impossible to make a calculation of consequences previous to every
action, which is as much as to say that no one can be under the
guidance of Christianity, because there is not time, on the occasion of
doing anything, to read through the Old and New Testaments. The real
answer is (substantially the same as Austin's) that there has been
ample time during the past duration of the species. Mankind have all
that time been learning by experience the consequences of actions; on
that experience they have founded both their prudence and their
morality. It is an inference from the principle of utility, which
regards morals as a practical art, that moral rules are improvable; but
there exists under the ultimate principle a number of intermediate
generalizations, applicable at once to the emergencies of human
conduct. Nobody argues that navigation is not founded on astronomy,
because sailors cannot wait to calculate the Nautical Almanack.

As to the stock argument, that people will pervert utility for their
private ends, Mr. Mill challenges the production of any ethical creed
where this may not happen. The fault is due, not to the origin of the
rules, but to the complicated nature of human affairs, and the
necessity of allowing a certain latitude, under the moral
responsibility of the agent, for accommodation to circumstances. And in
cases of conflict, utility is a better guide than anything found in
systems whose moral laws claim independent authority.


It is a proper question with regard to a supposed moral standard,--What
is its sanction? what is the source of its obligation? wherein lies its
binding force? The customary morality is consecrated by education and
opinion, and seems to be obligatory _in itself_; but to present, as the
source of obligation, some general principle, not surrounded by the
halo of consecration, seems a paradox; the superstructure seems to
stand better without such a foundation. This difficulty belongs to
every attempt to reduce morality to first principles, unless it should
happen that the principle chosen has as much sacredness as any of its

Utility has, or might have, all the sanctions attaching to any other
system of morals. Those sanctions are either External or Internal. The
External are the hope of favour and the fear of displeasure (1) from
our fellow-creatures, or (2) from the Ruler of the Universe, along with
any sympathy or affection for them, or love and awe of Him, inclining
us apart from selfish motives. There is no reason why these motives
should not attach themselves to utilitarian morality.

The Internal Sanction, under every standard of duty, is of one uniform
character--a feeling in our own mind; a pain, more or less intense,
attendant on violation of duty, which in properly cultivated moral
natures rises, in the more serious cases, into shrinking from it as an
impossibility. This feeling, when disinterested, and connecting itself
with the pure idea of duty, is _the essence of Conscience_; a complex
phenomenon, involving associations from sympathy, from love, and still
more from fear; from the recollections of childhood, and of all our
past life; from self-esteem, desire of the esteem of others, and
occasionally even self-abasement. This extreme complication is an
obstacle to our supposing that it can attach to other objects than what
are found at present to excite it. The binding force, however, is _the
mass of feeling to be broken through_ in order to violate our standard
of right, and which, if we do violate that standard, will have to be
afterwards encountered as remorse.

Thus, apart from external sanctions, the ultimate sanction, under
Utility, is the same as for other standards, namely, the conscientious
feelings of mankind. If there be anything innate in conscience, there
is nothing more likely than that it should be a regard to the pleasures
and pains of others. If so, the intuitive ethics would be the same as
the utilitarian; and it is admitted on all hands that a _large_
portion of morality turns upon what is due to the interests of

On the other hand, if, as the author believes, the moral feelings are
not innate, they are not for that reason less natural. It is natural to
man to speak, to reason, to cultivate the ground, to build cities,
though these are acquired faculties. So the moral faculty, if not a
part of our nature, is a natural outgrowth of it; capable, in a certain
small degree, of springing up spontaneously, and of being brought to a
high pitch by means of cultivation. It is also susceptible, by the use
of the external sanctions and the force of early impressions, of being
cultivated in almost any direction, and of being perverted to absurdity
and mischief.

The basis of natural sentiment capable of supporting the utilitarian
morality is to be found in the _social feelings of mankind_. The social
state is so natural, so necessary, and so habitual to man, that he can
hardly conceive himself otherwise than as a member of society; and as
civilization advances, this association becomes more firmly riveted.
All strengthening of social ties, and all healthy growth of society,
give to each individual a stronger personal interest in consulting the
welfare of others. Each comes, as though instinctively, to be conscious
of himself as a being that _of course_ pays regard to others. There is
the strongest motive in each person to manifest this sentiment, and,
even if he should not feel it strongly himself, to cherish it in
everybody else. The smallest germs of the feeling are thus laid hold
of, and nourished by the contagion of sympathy and the influences of
education; and by the powerful agency of the external sanctions there
is woven around it a complete web of corroborative association. In an
improving state of society, the influences are on the increase that
generate in each individual a feeling of unity with all the rest;
which, if perfect, would make him never think of anything for self, if
they also were not included. Suppose, now, that this feeling of unity
were taught as a religion, and that the whole force of education, of
institutions, and of opinion, were directed to make every person grow
up surrounded with the profession and the practice of it; can there be
any doubt as to the sufficiency of the ultimate sanction for the
Happiness morality?

Even in our present low state of advancement, the deeply-rooted
conception that each individual has of himself as a social being tends
to make him wish to be in harmony with his fellow-creatures. The
feeling may be, in most persons, inferior in strength to the selfish
feelings, and may be altogether wanting; but to such as possess it, it
has all the characters of a natural feeling, and one that they would
not desire to be without.

susceptible. Questions about ends are questions as to what things are
desirable. According to the theory of Utility, happiness is desirable
as an end; all other things are desirable as means. What is the proof
of this doctrine?

As the proof, that the sun is visible, is that people actually see it,
so the proof that happiness is desirable, is that people do actually
desire it. No reason can be given why the general happiness is
desirable, beyond the fact that each one desires their own happiness.

But granting that people desire happiness as _one_ of their ends of
conduct, do they never desire anything else? To all appearance they do;
they desire virtue, and the absence of vice, no less surely than
pleasure and the absence of pain. Hence the opponents of utility
consider themselves entitled to infer that happiness is not the
standard of moral approbation and disapprobation.

But the utilitarians do not deny that virtue is a thing to be desired.
The very reverse. They maintain that it is to be desired, and that _for
itself_. Although considering that what makes virtue is the tendency to
promote happiness, yet they hold that the mind is not in a right state,
not in a state conformable to Utility, not in the state conducive to
the general happiness, unless it has adopted this essential
instrumentality so warmly as to love it for its own sake. It is
necessary to the carrying out of utility that certain things,
originally of the nature of means, should come by association to be a
part of the final end. Thus health is but a means, and yet we cherish
it as strongly as we do any of the ultimate pleasures and pains. So
virtue is not originally an end, but it is capable of becoming so; it
is to be desired and cherished not solely as a means to happiness, but
as a part of happiness.

The notorious instance of money exemplifies this operation. The same
may be said of power and fame; although these are ends as well as
means. We should be but ill provided with happiness, were it not for
this provision of nature, whereby, things, originally indifferent, but
conducive to the satisfaction of our primitive desires, become in
themselves sources of pleasure, of even greater value than the
primitive pleasures, both in permanency and in the extent of their
occupation of our life. Virtue is originally valuable as bringing
pleasure and avoiding pain; but by association it may be felt as a good
in itself, and be desired as intensely as any other good; with this
superiority over money, power, or fame, that it makes the individual a
blessing to society, while these others may make him a curse.

With the allowance thus made for the effect of association, the author
considers it proved that there is in reality nothing desired except
happiness. Whatever is desired otherwise than as a means to some end
beyond itself, and ultimately to happiness, is not desired for itself
till it has become such. Human nature is so constituted, he thinks,
that we desire nothing but what is either a part of happiness or a
means of happiness; and no other proof is required that these are the
only things desirable. Whether this psychological assertion be correct,
must be determined by the self-consciousness and observation of the
most practised observers of human nature.

It may be alleged that, although desire always tends to happiness, yet
Will, as shown by actual conduct, is different from desire. We persist
in a course of action long after the original desire has faded. But
this is merely an instance of that familiar fact, the power of habit,
and is nowise confined to the virtuous actions. Will is amenable to
habit; we may will from habit what we no longer desire for itself, or
desire only because we will it. But the will is the child of desire,
and passes out of the dominion of its parent only to come under the
sway of habit. What is the result of habit may not be intrinsically
good; we might think it better for virtue that habit did not come in,
were it not that the other influences are not sufficiently to be
depended on for unerring constancy, until they have acquired this
farther support.


The strongest obstacle to the doctrine of Utility has been drawn from
the Idea of Justice. The rapid perception and the powerful sentiment
connected with the Just, seem to show it as generically distinct from
every variety of the Expedient.

To see whether the sense of justice can be explained on grounds of
Utility, the author begins by surveying in the concrete the things
usually denominated just. In the first place, it is commonly considered
unjust to deprive any one of their personal liberty, or property, or
anything secured to them by law: in other words, it is unjust to
violate any one's legal rights. Secondly, The legal rights of a man may
be such as _ought_ not to have belonged to him; that is, the law
conferring those rights may be a bad law. When a law is bad, opinions
will differ as to the justice or injustice of infringing it; some think
that no law should be disobeyed by the individual citizen; others hold
that it is just to resist unjust laws. It is thus admitted by all that
there is such a thing as _moral right_, the refusal of which is
injustice. Thirdly, it is considered just that each person should
receive what he _deserves_ (whether good or evil). And a person is
understood to deserve good if he does right, evil if he does wrong; and
in particular to deserve good in return for good, and evil in return
for evil. Fourthly, it is unjust to _break faith_, to violate an
engagement, or disappoint expectations knowingly and voluntarily
raised. Like other obligations, this is not absolute, but may be
overruled by some still stronger demand of justice on the other side.
Fifthly, it is inconsistent with justice to be _partial_; to show
favour or preference in matters where favour does not apply. We are
expected in certain cases to prefer our friends to strangers; but a
tribunal is bound to the strictest impartiality; rewards and
punishments should be administered impartially; so likewise the
patronage of important public offices. Nearly allied to impartiality is
the idea of _equality_. The justice of giving equal protection to the
rights of all is maintained even when the rights themselves are very
unequal, as in slavery and in the system of ranks or castes. There are
the greatest differences as to what is equality in the distribution of
the produce of labour; some thinking that all should receive alike;
others that the neediest should receive most; others that the
distribution should be according to labour or services.

To get a clue to the common idea running through all these meanings,
the author refers to the etymology of the word, which, in most
languages, points to something ordained by _law_. Even although there
be many things considered just, that we do not usually enforce by law,
yet in these cases it would give us pleasure if law could be brought to
bear upon offenders. When we think a person bound in justice to do a
thing, we should like to see him punished for not doing it; we lament
the obstacles that may be in the way, and strive to make amends by a
strong expression of our own opinion. The idea of legal constraint is
thus the generating idea of justice throughout all its transformations.

The real turning point between morality and simple expediency is
contained in the penal sanction. Duty is what we may _exact_ of a
person; there may be reasons why we do not exact it, but the person
himself would not be entitled to complain if we did so. Expediency, on
the other hand, points to things that we may wish people to do, may
praise them for doing, and despise them for not doing, while we do not
consider it proper to bring in the aid of punishment.

There enters farther into the idea of Justice what has been expressed
by the ill-chosen phrase, 'perfect obligation,' meaning that the duty
involves a moral right on the part of some definite person, as in the
case of a debt; an imperfect obligation is exemplified by charity,
which gives no legal claim to any one recipient. Every such right is a
case of Justice, and not of Beneficence.

The Idea of Justice is thus shown to be grounded in Law; and the next
question is, does the strong feeling or sentiment of Justice grow out
of considerations of utility? Mr. Mill conceives that though the notion
of expediency or utility does not give birth to the sentiment, it gives
birth to what is _moral_ in it.

The two essentials of justice are (1) the desire to punish some one,
and (2) the notion or belief that harm has been done to some definite
individual or individuals. Now, it appears to the author that the
desire to punish is a spontaneous outgrowth of two sentiments, both
natural, and, it may be, instinctive; the impulse of _self-defence_,
and the feeling of _sympathy_. We naturally resent, repel, and
retaliate, any harm done to ourselves and to any one that engages our
sympathies. There is nothing moral in mere resentment; the moral part
is the subordination of it to our social regards. We are moral beings,
in proportion as we restrain our private resentment whenever it
conflicts with the interests of society. All moralists agree with Kant
in saying that no act is right that could not be adopted as a law by
all rational beings (that is, consistently with the well-being of

There is in Justice a rule of conduct, and a right on the part of some
one, which right ought to be enforced by society. If it is asked why
society _ought_ to enforce the right, there is no answer but the
general utility. If that expression seem feeble and inadequate to
account for the energy of retaliation inspired by injustice, the author
asks us to advert to the extraordinarily important and impressive kind
of utility that is concerned. The interest involved is _security_, to
every one's feelings the most vital of all interests. All other earthly
benefits needed by one person are not needed by another; and many of
them can, if necessary, be cheerfully foregone, or replaced by
something else; but security no human being can possibly do without; on
it we depend for all our immunity from evil, and for the whole value of
all and every good, beyond the passing moment. Now, this most
indispensable of all necessaries, after physical nutriment, cannot be
had unless the machinery for providing it is kept unintermittedly in
active play. Our notion, therefore, of the claim we have on our
fellow-creatures to join in making safe for us the very groundwork of
our existence, gathers feelings around it so much more intense than
those concerned in any of the more common cases of utility, that the
difference in degree (as is often the case in psychology) becomes a
real difference in kind. The claim assumes that character of
absoluteness, that apparent infinity, and incommensurability with all
other considerations, which constitute the distinction between the
feeling of right and wrong, and that of ordinary expediency and

Having presented his own analysis of the sentiment of Justice, the
author proceeds to examine the _intuitive_ theory. The charge is
constantly brought against Utility, that it is an uncertain standard,
differently interpreted by each person. The only safety, it is
pretended, is found in the immutable, ineffaceable, and unmistakeable
dictates of Justice, carrying their evidence in themselves, and
independent of the fluctuations of opinions. But so far is this from
being the fact, that there is as much difference of opinion, and as
much discussion, about what is just, as about what is useful to

To take a few instances. On the question of Punishment, some hold it
unjust to punish any one by way of example, or for any end but the good
of the sufferer. Others maintain that the good of the society is the
only admissible end of punishment. Robert Owen affirms that punishment
altogether is unjust, and that we should deal with crime only through
education. Now, without an appeal to expediency, it is impossible to
arbitrate among these conflicting views; each one has a maxim of
justice on its side. Then as to the apportioning of punishments to
offences. The rule that recommends itself to the primitive sentiment of
justice is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth; a rule formally
abandoned in European countries, although not without its hold upon the
popular mind. With many, the test of justice, in penal infliction, is
that it should be proportioned to the offence; while others maintain
that it is just to inflict only such an amount of punishment as will
deter from the commission of the offence.

Besides the differences of opinion already alluded to, as to the
payment of labour, how many, and irreconcileable, are the standards of
justice appealed to on the matter of taxation? One opinion is, that
taxes should be in proportion to pecuniary means; others think the
wealthy should pay a higher proportion. In point of natural justice, a
case might be made out for disregarding means, and taking the same sum
from each, as the privileges are equally bestowed: yet from feelings of
humanity and social expediency no one advocates that view. So that
there is no mode of extricating the question but the utilitarian.

To sum up. The great distinction between, the Just and the Expedient is
the distinction between the essentials of well-being--the moral rules
forbidding mankind to hurt one another--and the rules that only point
out the best mode of managing some department of human affairs. It is
in the higher moralities of protection from harm that each individual
has the greatest stake; and they are the moralities that compose the
obligations of justice. It is on account of these that punishment, or
retribution of evil for evil, is universally included in the idea. For
the carrying out of the process of retaliation, certain maxims are
necessary as instruments or as checks to abuse; as that involuntary
acts are not punishable; that no one shall be condemned unheard; that
punishment should be proportioned to the offence. Impartiality, the
first of judicial virtues, is necessary to the fulfilment of the other
conditions of justice: while from the highest form of doing to each
according to their deserts, it is the abstract standard of social and
distributive justice; and is in this sense a direct emanation from the
first principle of morals, the principle of the greatest Happiness. All
social inequalities that have ceased to be considered as expedient,
assume the character, not of simple inexpediency, but of injustice.

Besides the 'Utilitarianism,' Mr. Mill's chief Ethical dissertations
are his review of Whewell's Moral Treatises (_Dissertations and
Discussions_, Vol. II.), and parts of his Essay on _Liberty_. By
collecting his views generally under the usual heads, we shall find a
place for some points additional to what are given in the foregoing

I.--Enough has been stated as to his Ethical Standard, the Principle of

II.--We have seen his Psychological explanation of the Moral Faculty,
as a growth from certain elementary feelings of the mind.

He has also discussed extensively the Freedom of the Will, maintaining
the strict causation of human actions, and refuting the supposed
fatalistic tendency of the doctrine.

He believes, as we have seen, in Disinterested impulses, but traces
them to a purely self-regarding origin.

III.--He does not give any formal dissertation on Human Happiness, but
indicates many of its important conditions, as in the remarks cited
above, p. 702. In the chapter of the work on 'Liberty,' entitled
Individuality, he illustrates the great importance of special tastes,
and urges the full right of each person to the indulgence of these in
every case where they do not directly injure others. He reclaims
against the social tyranny prevailing on such points as dress, personal
habits, and eccentricities.

IV.--As regards the Moral Code, he would repeal the legal and moral
rule that makes marriage irrevocable. He would also abolish all
restraints on freedom of thought, and on Individuality of conduct,
qualified as above stated.

He would impose two new moral restraints. He considers that every
parent should be bound to provide a suitable education for his own
children. Farther, for any one to bring into the world human beings
without the means of supporting them, or, in an over-peopled country,
to produce children in such number as to depress the reward of labour
by competition, he regards as serious offences.


Mr. Samuel Bailey devotes the last four in his Third Series of 'Letters
on the Philosophy of the Human Mind,' to the subject of the Moral
Sentiments, or the feelings inspired in us by human conduct. He first
sets down five facts in the human constitution, in which moral
phenomena originate--

1. Man is susceptible of pleasure and pain of various kinds and

2. He likes and dislikes respectively the causes of them.

3. He desires to reciprocate pleasure and pain received, when
intentionally given by other sentient beings.

4. He himself expects such reciprocation from his fellows, coveting it
in the one case, and shunning it in the other.

5. He feels, under certain circumstances, more or less sympathy with
the pleasures and pains given to others, accompanied by a proportionate
desire that those affections should be reciprocated to the givers.

These rudimentary affections, states and operations of consciousness
[he is careful to note that, besides feelings, intellectual conditions
and processes are involved in them] are found more or less developed in
all, or nearly all the human race. In support of the limitation now
made, he adduces what are given as authentic accounts of savages devoid
of all gratitude and fellow-feeling; and then goes on to trace the
nature and development of moral sentiment from the rudimentary powers
and susceptibilities mentioned, in those that do possess them. In doing
so, he follows the convenient mode of speech that takes actions for the
objects that excite the susceptibilities, although, in reality, the
objects are no other than human beings acting in particular ways.

The feelings he supposes to be modified in manner or degree, according
as actions are (1) done by ourselves to others, or (2) done to others
by others, or (3) done to others by ourselves; _i.e._, according as we
ourselves are the subjects, the spectators, or doers of them.

First, then, he considers our feelings in regard to actions done to us
by others, and the more carefully, because these lie at the foundation
of the rest. When a fellow-creature intentionally contributes to our
pleasure, we feel the pleasure; we feel a liking to the person
intentionally conferring it, and we feel an inclination to give him
pleasure in return. The two last feelings--liking and inclination to
reciprocate, constitute the simplest form of moral approbation; in the
contrary case, dislike and resentment give the rudimentary form of
moral disapprobation. It is enough to excite the feelings, that the
actions are merely _thought_ to be done by the person. They are moral
sentiments, even although it could be supposed that there were no other
kinds of actions in the world except actions done to ourselves; but
they are moral sentiments in the purely selfish form. That, for moral
sentiment, mere liking and disliking must be combined with the desire
to reciprocate good and evil, appears on a comparison of our different
feelings towards animate and inanimate causes of pleasure and pain;
there being towards inanimate objects no desire of reciprocation. To a
first objection, that the violent sentiments, arising upon actions done
to ourselves, should not get the temperate designation of moral
approbation and disapprobation, he replies, that such extremes as the
passions of gratitude and resentment must yet be identified in their
origin with our cooler feelings, when we are mere spectators or actors.
A second objection, that the epithet _moral_ is inapplicable to
sentiments involving purely personal feeling, and destitute of
sympathy, he answers, by remarking that the word _moral_, in
philosophy, should not eulogistically be opposed to _immoral_, but
should be held as neutral, and to mean 'relating to conduct, whatever
that conduct may be.' He closes the first head with the observation,
that in savage life the violent desire of reciprocation is best seen;
generally, however, as he gives instances to show, in the form of
revenge and reciprocation of evil.

In the second place, he considers our feelings when we are spectators
of actions done to others by others. These form the largest class of
actions, but to us they have a meaning, for the most part at least,
only as they have an analogy to actions done to ourselves. The variety
of the resulting feelings, generally less intense than when we are the
subjects of the actions, is illustrated first by supposing the persons
affected to be those we love; in this case, the feelings are analogous
to those already mentioned, and they may be even more intense than when
we ourselves are personally affected. If those affected are indifferent
to us, our feelings are less intense, but we are still led to feel as
before, from a natural sympathy with other men's pains and
pleasures--always supposing the sympathy is not (as often happens)
otherwise counteracted or superseded; and also from the influence of
association, if that, too, happen not to be countervailed. Of sympathy
for human beings in general, he remarks that a certain measure of
civilization seems required to bring it properly out, and he cites
instances to prove how much it is wanting in savages. In a third case,
where the persons affected are supposed to be those we hate, we are
displeased when they are made to rejoice, and pleased when they suffer,
unless we are overcome by our habitual associations with good and evil
actions. Such associations weigh least with rude and savage peoples,
but even the most civilized nations disregard them in times of war.

He takes up, in the third place, actions done by ourselves to others.
Here, when the action is beneficent, the peculiarity is that an
expectation of receiving good in return from our neighbours takes the
place of a desire to reciprocate; we consider ourselves the proper
object of grateful thoughts, &c., on the part both of receiver and of
spectators. We are affected with the gratification of a benevolent
desire, with self-complacency, and with undefined hopes. When we have
inflicted injury, there is the expectation of evil, and a combination
of feelings summed up in the word Remorse. But Remorse, like other
sentiments, may fail in the absence of cultivation of mind or under
special circumstances.

Having considered the three different kinds of actions separately, he
next remarks that the sentiment prevailing in each case must be liable
to a reflex influence from the other cases, whereby it will be
strengthened or intensified; thus we come to associate certain
intensities of moral sentiment with certain kinds of action, by
whomsoever or to whomsoever performed. He also notes, that in the first
and third cases, as well as in the second, there is a variation of the
sentiment, according as the parties affected are friends, neutrals, or
enemies. Finally, a peculiar and important modification of the
sentiments results from the outward manifestations of them called forth
from the persons directly or indirectly affected by actions. Such are
looks, gestures, tones, words, or actions, being all efforts to gratify
the natural desire of reciprocating pleasure or pain. Of these the most
notable are the verbal manifestations, as they are mostly
irrepressible, and can alone always be resorted to. While relieving the
feelings, they can also become a most powerful, as they are often the
only, instrument of reward and punishment. Their power of giving to
moral sentiments greater precision, and of acting upon conduct like
authoritative precepts, is seen in greatest force when they proceed
from, bodies of men, whether they are regarded as signs of material
consequences or not. He ends this part of the subject by defending,
with Butler, the place of resentment in the moral constitution.

He proceeds to inquire how it is that not only the perfection of moral
sentiment that would apportion more approbation and disapprobation
according to the real tendencies of actions, is not attained, but men's
moral feelings are not seldom in extreme contrariety with the real
effects of human conduct. First, he finds that men, from partial views,
or momentarily, or from caprice, may bestow their sentiments altogether
at variance with the real consequences of actions. Next there is the
difficulty, or even impossibility, of calculating all the consequences
far and near; whence human conduct is liable to be appreciated on
whimsical grounds or on no discernible grounds at all, and errors in
moral sentiment arise, which it takes increased knowledge to get rid
of. In the third place, it is a fact that our moral sentiments are to a
very great extent derived from tradition, while the approbation and
disapprobation may have originally been wrongly applied. The force of
tradition he illustrates by supposing the case of a patriarchal family,
and he cannot too strongly represent its strength in overcoming or at
least struggling against natural feeling. The authoritative precept of
a superior may also make actions be approved or disapproved, not
because they are directly perceived or even traditionally held to be
beneficial or injurious, but solely because they are commanded or
prohibited. Lastly, he dwells upon the influence of superstition in
perverting moral sentiment, finding, however, that it operates most
strongly in the way of creating false virtues and false vices and

These circumstances, explaining the want of conformity in our moral
sentiments to the real tendencies of actions, he next employs to
account for discrepancies in moral sentiment between different
communities. Having given examples of such discrepancies, he supposes
the case of two families, endowed with the rudimentary qualities
mentioned at the beginning, but placed in different circumstances.
Under the influence of dissimilar physical conditions, and owing to the
dissimilar personal idiosyncracies of the families, and especially of
their chiefs, there will be left few points of complete analogy between
them in the first generation, and in course of time they will become
two races exceedingly unlike in moral sentiment, as in other respects.
He warns strongly against making moral generalizations except under
analogous circumstances of knowledge and civilization. Most men have
the rudimentary feelings, but there is no end to the variety of their
intensity and direction. As a highest instance of discrepant moral
sentiment, he cites the fact that, in our own country, a moral stigma
is still attached to intellectual error by many people, and even by men
of cultivation.

He now comes to the important question of the test or criterion that is
to determine which of these diverse sentiments are right and which
wrong, since they cannot all be right from the mere fact of their
existence, or because they are felt by the subjects of them to be
right, or believed to be in consonance with the injunctions of
superiors, or to be held also by other people. The foregoing review of
the _genesis_ of moral sentiments suggests a direct and simple answer.
As they arise from likings and dislikings of actions that cause, or
tend to cause, pleasure and pain, the first thing is to see that the
likings and dislikings are well founded. Where this does not at once
appear, examination of the real effects of actions must be resorted to;
and, in dubious cases, men in general, when unprejudiced, allow this to
be the natural test for applying moral approbation and disapprobation.
If, indeed, the end of moral sentiment is to promote or to prevent the
actions, there can be no better way of attaining that end. And, as a
fact, almost all moralists virtually adopt it on occasion, though often
unconsciously; the greatest happiness--principle is denounced by its
opponents as a _mischievous_ doctrine.

The objection that the criterion of consequences is difficult of
application, and thus devoid of practical utility, he rebuts by
asserting that the difficulty is not greater than in other cases. We
have simply to follow effects as far as we can; and it is by its
ascertainable, not by its unascertainable, consequences, that we
pronounce an action, as we pronounce an article of food or a statute,
to be good or bad. The main effects of most actions are already very
well ascertained, and the consequences to human happiness, when
unascertainable, are of no value. If the test were honestly applied,
ethical discrepancies would tend gradually to disappear.

He starts another objection:--The happiness-test is good as far as it
goes, but we also approve and disapprove of actions as they are just or
generous, or the contrary, and with no reference to happiness or
unhappiness. In answering this argument, he confines himself to the
case of Justice. To be morally approved, a just action must in itself
be peculiarly pleasant or agreeable, irrespective of its other effects,
which are left out: for on no theory can pleasantness or agreeableness
be dissociated from moral approbation. Now, as Happiness is but a
general appellation for all the agreeable affections of our nature, and
unable to exist except in the shape of some agreeable emotion or
combinations of agreeable emotions; the just action that is morally
commendable, as giving naturally and directly a peculiar kind of
pleasure independent of any other consequences, only produces one
species of those pleasant states of mind that are ranged under the
genus happiness. The test of justice therefore coincides with the
happiness-test. But he does not mean that we are actually affected
thus, in doing just actions, nor refuse to accept justice as a
criterion of actions; only in the one case he maintains that, whatever
association may have effected, the just act must originally have been
approved for the sake of its consequences, and, in the other, that
justice is a criterion, because proved over and over again to be a most
beneficial principle.

After remarking that the Moral Sentiments of praise and blame may enter
into accidental connection with, other feelings of a distinct
character, like pity, wonder, &c., he criticises the use of the word
_Utility_ in Morals. He avoids the term as objectionable, because the
_useful_ in common language does not mean what is directly productive
of happiness, but only what is instrumental in its production, and in
most cases customarily or recurrently instrumental. A blanket is of
continual utility to a poor wretch through a severe winter, but the
benevolent act of the donor is not termed useful, because it confers
the benefit and ceases. Utility is too narrow to comprehend all the
actions that deserve approbation. We want an uncompounded substantive
expressing the two attributes of _conferring_ and _conducing to_
happiness; as a descriptive phrase, _producing_ happiness is as
succinct as any. The term useful is, besides, associated with the
notion of what is serviceable in the affairs and objects of common
life, whence the philosophical doctrine that erects utility as its
banner is apt to be deemed, by the unthinking, low, mean, and
derogatory to human nature and aspirations, although its real import is
wholly free from such a reproach. Notwithstanding, therefore, the
convenience of the term, and because the associations connected with it
are not easily eradicated, whilst most of the trite objections to the
true doctrine of morals turn upon its narrow meanings, he thinks it
should be as much as possible disused.

Mr. Bailey ends by remarking of the common question, whether our moral
sentiments have their origin in Reason, or in a separate power called
the Moral Sense, that in his view of man's sensitive and intellectual
nature it is easily settled. He recognizes the feelings that have been
enumerated, and, in connexion with them, intellectual processes of
discerning and inferring; for which, if the Moral Sense and Reason are
meant as anything more than unnecessary general expressions, they are
merely fictitious entities. So, too, Conscience, whether as identified
with the moral sense, or put for sensibility in regard to the moral
qualities of one's own mind, is a mere personification of certain
mental states. The summary of Bailey's doctrine falls within the two
first heads.

I.--The Standard is the production of Happiness. [It should be
remarked, however, that happiness is a wider aim than morality;
although all virtue tends to produce happiness, very much that produces
happiness is not virtue.]

II.--The Moral Faculty, while involving processes of discernment and
inference, is mainly composed of certain sentiments, the chief being
Reciprocity and Sympathy. [These are undoubtedly the largest
ingredients in a mature, self-acting conscience; and the way that they
contribute to the production of moral sentiment deserved to be, as it
has been, well handled. The great omission in Mr. Bailey's account is
the absence of the element of _authority_, which is the main instrument
in imparting to us the sense of obligation.]


Mr. Spencer's ethical doctrines are, as yet, nowhere fully expressed.
They form part of the more general doctrine of Evolution which he is
engaged in working out; and they are at present to be gathered only
from scattered passages. It is true that, in his first work, _Social
Statics_ he presented what he then regarded as a tolerably complete
view of one division of Morals. But without abandoning this view, he
now regards it as inadequate--more especially in respect of its basis.

Mr. Spencer's conception of Morality as a science, is conveyed in the
following passages in a letter written by him to Mr. Mill; repudiating
the title anti-utilitarian, which Mr. Mill had applied to him:--

'The note in question greatly startled me by implicitly classing me
with Anti-utilitarians. I have never regarded myself as an
Anti-utilitarian. My dissent from the doctrine of Utility as commonly
understood, concerns not the object to be reached by men, but the
method of reaching it. While I admit that happiness is the ultimate end
to be contemplated, I do not admit that it should be the proximate end.
The Expediency-Philosophy having concluded that happiness is a thing to
be achieved, assumes that Morality has no other business than
empirically to generalize the results of conduct, and to supply for the
guidance of conduct nothing more than its empirical generalizations.

But the view for which I contend is, that Morality properly so
called--the science of right conduct--has for its object to determine
_how_ and _why_ certain modes of conduct are detrimental, and certain
other modes beneficial. These good and bad results cannot be
accidental, but must be necessary consequences of the constitution of
things; and I conceive it to be the business of Moral Science to
deduce, from the laws of life and the conditions of existence, what
kinds of action necessarily tend to produce happiness, and what kinds
to produce unhappiness. Having done this, its deductions are to be
recognized as laws of conduct; and are to be conformed to irrespective
of a direct estimation of happiness or misery.

'Perhaps an analogy will most clearly show my meaning. During its early
stages, planetary Astronomy consisted of nothing more than accumulated
observations respecting the positions and motions of the sun and
planets; from which accumulated observations it came by and by to be
empirically predicted, with an approach to truth, that certain of the
heavenly bodies would have certain positions at certain times. But the
modern science of planetary Astronomy consists of deductions from the
law of gravitation--deductions showing why the celestial bodies
_necessarily_ occupy certain places at certain times. Now, the kind of
relation which thus exists between ancient and modern Astronomy, is
analogous to the kind of relation which, I conceive, exists between the
Expediency-Morality, and Moral Science properly so-called. And the
objection which I have to the current Utilitarianism, is, that it
recognizes no more developed form of morality--does not see that it has
reached but the initial stage of Moral Science.

'To make my position fully understood, it seems needful to add that,
corresponding to the fundamental propositions of a developed Moral
Science, there have been, and still are, developing in the race,
certain fundamental moral intuitions; and that, though these moral
intuitions are the results of accumulated experiences of Utility,
gradually organized and inherited, they have come to be quite
independent of conscious experience. Just in the same way that I
believe the intuition of space, possessed by any living individual, to
have arisen from organized and consolidated experiences of all
antecedent individuals who bequeathed to him their slowly-developed
nervous organizations--just as I believe that this intuition, requiring
only to be made definite and complete by personal experiences, has
practically become a form of thought, apparently quite independent of
experience; so do I believe that the experiences of utility organised
and consolidated through all past generations of the human race, have
been producing corresponding nervous modifications, which, by continued
transmission and accumulation, have become in us certain faculties of
moral intuition--certain emotions responding to right and wrong
conduct, which have no apparent basis in the individual experiences of
utility. I also hold that just as the space-intuition responds to the
exact demonstrations of Geometry, and has its rough conclusions
interpreted and verified by them; so will moral intuitions respond to
the demonstrations of Moral Science, and will have their rough
conclusions interpreted and verified by them.'

The relations between the Expediency-Morality, and Moral Science,
conceived by Mr. Spencer to be, the one transitional, and the other
ultimate, are further explained in the following passage from his essay
on 'Prison-Ethics':--

'Progressing civilization, which is of necessity a succession of
compromises between old and new, requires a perpetual re-adjustment of
the compromise between the ideal and the practicable in social
arrangements: to which end both elements of the compromise must be kept
in view. If it is true that pure rectitude prescribes a system of
things far too good for men as they are; it is not less true that mere
expediency does not of itself tend to establish a system of things any
better than that which exists. While absolute morality owes to
expediency the checks which prevent it from rushing into utopian
absurdities; expediency is indebted to absolute morality for all
stimulus to improvement. Granted that we are chiefly interested in
ascertaining what is _relatively right_; it still follows that we must
first consider what is _absolutely right_; since the one conception
presupposes the other. That is to say, though we must ever aim to do
what is best for the present times, yet we must ever bear in mind what
is abstractedly best; so that the changes we make may be _towards_ it,
and not _away_ from it.'

By the word _absolute_ as thus applied, Mr. Spencer does not mean to
imply a right and wrong existing apart from Humanity and its relations.
Agreeing with Utilitarians in the belief that happiness is the end, and
that the conduct called moral is simply the best means of attaining it,
he of course does not assert that there is a morality which is absolute
in the sense of being true out of relation to human existence. By
absolute morality as distinguished from relative, he here means the
mode of conduct which, under the conditions arising from social union,
must be pursued to achieve the greatest welfare of each and all. He
holds, that the laws of Life, physiologically considered, being fixed,
it necessarily follows that when a number of individuals have to live
in social union, which necessarily involves fixity of conditions in the
shape of mutual interferences and limitations, there result certain
fixed principles by which conduct must be restricted, before the
greatest sum of happiness can be achieved. These principles constitute
what Mr. Spencer distinguishes as absolute Morality; and the absolutely
moral man is the man who conforms to these principles, not by external
coercion nor self-coercion, but who acts them out spontaneously.

To be fully understood, this conception must be taken along with the
general theory of Evolution. Mr. Spencer argues that all things
whatever are inevitably tending towards equilibrium; and that
consequently the progress of mankind cannot cease until there is
equilibrium between the human constitution and the conditions of human
existence. Or, as he argues in _First Principles_ (Second Edition, p.
512), 'The adaptation of man's nature to the conditions of his
existence cannot cease until the internal forces which we know as
feelings are in equilibrium with the external forces they encounter.
And the establishment of this equilibrium, is the arrival at a state of
human nature and social organization, such that the individual has no
desires but those which may be satisfied without exceeding his proper
sphere of action, while society maintains no restraints but those which
the individual voluntarily respects. The progressive extension of the
liberty of citizens, and the reciprocal removal of political
restrictions, are the steps by which we advance towards this state. And
the ultimate abolition of all limits to the freedom of each, save those
imposed by the like freedom of all, must, result from the complete
equilibration between man's desires and the conduct necessitated by
surrounding conditions.'

The conduct proper to such a state, which Mr. Spencer thus conceives to
be the subject-matter of Moral Science, truly so-called, he proposes,
in the Prospectus to his _System of Philosophy_, to treat under the
following heads.

PERSONAL MORALS.--The principles of private conduct--physical,
intellectual, moral, and religious--that follow from the conditions to
complete individual life; or, what is the same thing, those modes of
private action which must result from the eventual equilibration of
internal desires and external needs.

JUSTICE.--The mutual limitation of men's actions necessitated by their
co-existence as units of a society--limitations, the perfect observance
of which constitutes that state of equilibrium forming the goal of
political progress.

NEGATIVE BENEFICENCE.--Those secondary limitations, similarly
necessitated, which, though less important and not cognizable by law,
are yet requisite to prevent mutual destruction of happiness in various
indirect ways: in other words--those minor self-restraints dictated by
what may be called passive sympathy.

POSITIVE BENEFICENCE.--Comprehending all modes of conduct, dictated by
active sympathy, which imply pleasure in giving pleasure--modes of
conduct that social adaptation has induced and must render ever more
general; and which, in becoming universal, must fill to the full the
possible measure of human happiness.

* * * * *

This completes the long succession of British moralists during the
three last centuries. It has been possible, and even necessary, to
present them thus in an unbroken line, because the insular movement in
ethical philosophy has been hardly, if at all, affected by anything
done abroad. In the earlier part of the modern period, little of any
kind was done in ethics by the great continental thinkers. Descartes
has only a few allusions to the subject; the 'Ethica' of Spinoza is
chiefly a work of speculative philosophy; Leibnitz has no systematic
treatment of moral questions. The case is very different; in the new
German philosophy since the time of Kant; besides Kant himself, Fichte,
Hegel, Schleiermacher, and many later and contemporary thinkers having
devoted a large amount of attention to practical philosophy. But unless
it be Kant--and he not to any great extent--none of these has
influenced the later attempts at ethical speculation amongst ourselves:
nor, again with the exception of Kant, are we as yet in a position
properly to deal with them. One reason, for proceeding to expound the
ethical system of the founder of the later German philosophy, without
regard to his successors, lies in the fact that he stood, on the
practical side, in as definite a relation to the English moralists of
last century, as, in his speculative philosophy, to Locke and Hume.

IMMANUEL, KANT. [1724-1804.]

The ethical writings of Kant, in the order of their appearance,
are--_Foundation for the Metaphysic of Morals_ (1785); _Critique of the
Practical Reason_ (1788); _Metaphysic of Morals_ (1797, in two
parts--(1) _Doctrine of Right_ or Jurisprudence, (2) _Doctrine of
Virtue_ or Ethics proper). The third work contains the details of his
system; the general theory is presented in the two others. Of these we
select for analysis the earlier, containing, as it does, in less
artificial form, an ampler discussion of the fundamental questions of
morals; but towards the end it must be supplemented, in regard to
certain characteristic doctrines, from the second, in some respects
more developed, work.[26]

In the introduction to the Metaphysic of Morals, Kant distinguishes
between the empirical and the rational mode of treating Ethics. He
announces his intention to depart from the common plan of mixing up the
two together, and to attempt for once to set forth the _pure_ moral
philosophy that is implied even in the vulgar ideas of duty and moral
law. Because a moral law means an absolute necessity laid on all
rational beings whatever, its foundation is to be sought, not in human
nature or circumstances, but _a priori_ in the conception of pure
reason. The most universal precept founded on mere experience is only a
practical rule, and never a moral law. A purely rational moral
philosophy, or Metaphysic of Morals, will serve the double end of
meeting a speculative requirement, and of furnishing the only true norm
of practice. It investigates the idea and principles of a potentially
pure Will, instead of the acts and conditions of human volition as
known from psychology. Not a complete Metaphysic of Morals, however,
(which would be a Critique of the pure Practical Reason), but merely a
foundation for such will be given. The supreme principle of morality is
to be established, apart from detailed application. First, common
notions will be analyzed in order to get at this highest principle; and
then, when the principle has been sought out, they will be returned
upon by way of synthesis.

In the first of the three main sections of the work, he makes the
passage from Common Rational Knowledge of Morals to Philosophical.
Nothing in the world, he begins, can without qualification be called
good, except _Will_. Qualities of temperament, like courage, &c., gifts
of fortune, like wealth and power, are good only with reference to a
good will. As to a good will, when it is really such, the circumstance
that it can, or cannot, be executed does not matter; its value is
independent of the utility or fruitlessness of it.

This idea of the absolute worth of mere Will, though it is allowed even
by the vulgar understanding, he seeks to establish beyond dispute, by
an argument from the natural _subjection_ of Will to Reason. In a being
well-organized, if Conservation or Happiness were the grand aim, such
subjection would be a great mistake. When Instinct could do the work
far better and more surely, Reason should have been deprived of all
practical function. Discontent, in fact, rather than happiness comes of
pursuit of mere enjoyment by rational calculation; and to make light of
the part contributed by Reason to happiness, is really to make out that
it exists for a nobler purpose. But now, since Reason _is_ a practical
faculty and governs the will, its function can only be to produce a
Will good in itself. Such a Will, if not the only good, is certainly
the highest; and happiness, unattainable by Reason as a primary aim,
and subject in this life altogether to much limitation, is to be sought
only in the contentment that arises from the attainment by Reason of
its true aim, at the sacrifice often of many a natural inclination.

He proceeds to develop this conception of a Will in itself good and
estimable, by dealing with the commonly received ideas of Duty. Leaving
aside profitable actions that are plain violations of duty, and also
actions conformed to duty, but, while not prompted directly by nature,
done from some special inclination--in which case it is easy to
distinguish whether the action is done from duty or from self-interest;
he considers those more difficult cases where the same action is at
once duty, and prompted by direct natural inclination. In all such,
whether it be duty of self-preservation, of benevolence, of securing
one's own happiness (this last a duty, because discontent and the
pressure of care may easily lead to the transgression of other duties),
he lays it down that the action is not allowed to have true moral
value, unless done in the abeyance or absence of the natural
inclination prompting to it. A second position is, that the moral value
of an action done from duty lies not in the intention of it, but in the
maxim that determines it; not in the object, but in the _principle of
Volition_. That is to say, in action done out of regard to duty, the
will must be determined by its _formal a priori_ principle, not being
determined by any _material a posteriori_ motive. A third position
follows then from the other two; Duty is the necessity of an action out
of respect for Law. Towards an object there may be inclination, and
this inclination may be matter for approval or liking; but it is Law
only--the ground and not the effect of Volition, bearing down
inclination rather than serving it--that can inspire _Respect_. When
inclination and motives are both excluded, nothing remains to determine
Will, except Law objectively; and, subjectively, pure respect for a law
of practice--_i.e._, the maxim to follow such a law, even at the
sacrifice of every inclination. The conception of Law-in-itself alone
determining the will, is, then, the surpassing good that is called
moral, which exists already in a man before his action has any result.
Conformity to Law in general, all special motive to follow any single
law being excluded, remains as the one principle of Volition: I am
never to act otherwise, than so as to be able also to wish that my
maxim (_i.e._, my subjective principle of volition) should become a
universal law. This is what he finds implied in the common notions of

Having illustrated at length this reading, in regard to the duty of
keeping a promise, he contrasts, at the close of the section, the all
but infallibility of common human reason in practice with its
helplessness in speculation. Notwithstanding, it finds itself unable to
settle the contending claims of Reason and Inclination, and so is
driven to devise a practical philosophy, owing to the rise of a
'Natural Dialectic' or tendency to refine upon the strict laws of duty
in order to make them more pleasant. But, as in the speculative region,
the Dialectic cannot be properly got rid of without a complete Critique
of Reason.

In Section II. the passage is made from the popular moral philosophy
thus arising to the metaphysic of morals. He denies that the notion of
duty that has been taken above from common sage is empirical. It is
proved not to be such from the very assertions of philosophers that men
always act from more or less refined self-love; assertions that are
founded upon the difficulty of proving that acts most apparently
conformed to duty are really such. The fact is, no act _can_ be proved
by experience to be absolutely moral, _i.e._, done solely from regard
to duty, to the exclusion of all inclination; and therefore to concede
that morality and duty are ideas to be had from experience, is the
surest way to get rid of them altogether. Duty, and respect for its
law, are not to be preserved at all, unless Reason is allowed to lay
_absolute_ injunctions on the will, whatever experience says of their
non-execution. How, indeed, is experience to disclose a moral law,
that, in applying to all rational beings as well as men, and to men
only as rational, must originate _a priori_ in pure (practical) Reason?
Instead of yielding the principles of morality, empirical examples of
moral conduct have rather to be judged by these.

All supreme principles of morality, that are genuine, must rest on pure
Reason solely; and the mistake of the popular practical philosophies in
vogue, one and all--whether advancing as their principle a special
determination of human nature, or Perfection, or Happiness, or Moral
Feeling, or Fear of God, or a little of this and a little of that--is
that there has been no previous consideration whether the principles of
morality are to be sought for in our empirical knowledge of human
nature at all. Such consideration would have shown them to be
altogether _a priori_, and would have appeared as a _pure_ practical
philosophy or metaphysic of morals (upon the completion of which any
popularizing might have waited), kept free from admixture of
Anthropology, Theology, Physics, Hyperphysics, &c., and setting forth
the conception of Duty as purely rational, without the confusion of
empirical motives. To a metaphysic of this kind, Kant is now to ascend
from the popular philosophy, with its stock-in-trade of single
instances, following out the practical faculty of Reason from the
general rules determining it, to the point where the conception of Duty

While things in nature work according to laws, rational beings alone
can act according to a conceived idea of laws, _i.e._, to principles.
This is to have a Will, or, what is the same, Practical Reason, reason
being required in deducing actions from laws. If the Will follows
Reason exactly and without fail, actions objectively necessary are
necessary also subjectively; if, through subjective conditions
(inclinations, &c.), the Will does not follow Reason inevitably,
objectively necessary actions become subjectively contingent, and
towards the objective laws the attitude of the will is no longer
unfailing choice, but _constraint_. A constraining objective principle
mentally represented, is a _command_; its formula is called
_Imperative_, for which the expression is _Ought_. A will perfectly
good--_i.e._, subjectively determined to follow the objective laws of
good as soon as conceived--knows no Ought. Imperatives are only for an
imperfect, such as is the human, will. _Hypothetical_ Imperatives
represent the practical necessity of an action as a means to an end,
being _problematical_ or _assertory_ principles, according as the end
is possible or real. _Categorical_ Imperatives represent an action as
objectively necessary for itself, and count as _apodeictical_

To the endless number of possible aims of human action correspond as
many Imperatives, directing merely how they are to be attained, without
any question of their value; these are Imperatives of _Fitness_. To one
real aim, existing necessarily for all rational beings, viz.,
Happiness, corresponds the Imperative of _Prudence_ (in the narrow
sense), being assertory while hypothetical. The categorical Imperative,
enjoining a mode of action for itself, and concerned about the form and
principle of it, not its nature and result, is the Imperative of
_Morality_. These various kinds of Imperatives, as influencing the
will, may be distinguished as _Rules_ (of fitness), _Counsels_ (of
prudence), _Commands_ or _Laws_ (of morality); also as _technical,
pragmatical, moral_.

Now, as to the question of the possibility of these different
Imperatives--how they can be supposed able to influence or act upon the
Will--there is in the first case no difficulty; in wishing an end it is
necessarily implied that we wish the indispensable means, when this is
in our power. In like manner, the Imperatives of Prudence are also
_analytical_ in character (_i.e._, given by implication), if only it
were possible to have a definite idea of the end sought, viz.,
happiness. But, in fact, with the elements of happiness to be got from
experience at the same time that the idea requires an absolute whole,
or maximum, of satisfaction now and at every future moment, no finite
being can know precisely what he wants, or what may be the effect of
any of his wishes. Action, on fixed principles, with a view to
happiness, is, therefore, not possible; and one can only follow
empirical directions, about Diet, Frugality, Politeness, &c., seen on
the whole to promote it. Although, however, there is no certainty of
causing happiness, and the Imperatives with reference thereto are mere
counsels, they retain their character of analytical propositions, and
their action on the will is not less possible than in the former case.

To prove the possibility of the Imperative of morality is more
difficult. As categorical, it presupposes nothing else to rest its
necessity upon; while by way of experience, it can never be made out to
be more than a prudential precept--_i.e._, a pragmatic or hypothetic
principle. Its possibility must therefore be established _a priori_.
But the difficulty will then appear no matter of wonder, when it is
remembered (from the Critique of Pure Reason) how hard it is to
establish synthetic propositions _a priori_.

The question of the possibility, however, meanwhile postponed, the mere
conception of a categorical Imperative is found to yield the one
formula that can express it, from its not being dependent, like a
hypothetical Imperative, on any external condition. Besides the Law (or
objective principle of conduct), the only thing implied in the
Imperative being the necessity laid upon the _Maxim_ (or subjective
principle) to conform to the law--a law limited by no condition; there
is nothing for the maxim to be conformed to but the universality of a
law in general, and it is the conformity alone that properly
constitutes the Imperative necessary. The Imperative is thus single,
and runs: _Act according to that maxim only which you can wish at the
same time to become a_ _universal law_. Or, since universality of law
as determining effects is what we understand by nature: _Act as if the
maxim of your action ought by your will to become the universal law of

Taking cases of duties according to the common divisions of duties to
ourselves and to others, perfect and imperfect, he proceeds to show
that they may be all deduced from the single Imperative; the question
of the _reality_ of duty, which is the same as the establishment of the
possibility of the Imperative as a synthetic practical proposition _a
priori_, at present altogether apart. Suppose a man tempted to commit
suicide, with the view of bettering his evil condition; but it is
contradictory that the very principle of self-conservation should lead
to self-destruction, and such a maxim of conduct cannot therefore
become a universal law of nature. Next, the case of a man borrowing
without meaning to repay, has only to be turned into a universal law,
and the thing becomes impossible; nobody would lend. Again, to neglect
a talent that is generally useful for mere ease and self-gratification,
can indeed be supposed a universal practice, but can never be wished to
be. Finally, to refuse help to others universally might not ruin the
race, but can be wished by no one that knows how soon he must himself
need assistance. Now, the rule was, that a maxim of conduct should be
_wished_ to become the universal law. In the last two cases, it cannot
be wished; in the others, the maxim cannot even be conceived in
universal form. Thus, two grades of duty, one admitting of merit, the
other so strict as to be irremissible, are established on the general
principle. The principle is moreover confirmed in the case of
transgression of duty: the transgressor by no means wishes to have his
act turned into a general rule, but only seeks special and temporary
exemption from a law allowed by himself to be universal.

Notwithstanding this force and ease of application, a categorical
Imperative has not yet been proved _a priori_ actually existent; and it
was allowed that it could not be proved empirically, elements of
inclination, interest, &c., being inconsistent with morality. The real
question is this: Is it a necessary law that all rational beings should
act on maxims that they can wish, to become universal laws? If so, this
must be bound up with the very notion of the will of a rational being;
the relation of the will to itself being to be determined _a priori_ by
pure Reason. The Will is considered as a power of self-determination to
act according to certain laws as represented to the mind, existing only
in rational beings. And, if the objective ground of self-determination,
or _End_, is supplied by mere Reason, it must be the same for all
rational beings. _Ends_ may be divided into _Subjective_, resting upon
individual _Impulses_ or subjective grounds of desire; and _Objective_,
depending on _Motives_ or objective grounds of Volition valid for all
rational beings. The principles of action are, in the one case,
_Material_, and, in the other, _Formal, i.e._, abstracted from all
subjective ends. Material ends, as relative, beget only hypothetical
Imperatives. But, supposed some thing, the presence of which in itself
has an absolute value, and which, as End-in-self, can be a ground of
fixed laws; there, and there only, can be the ground of a possible
categorical Imperative, or Law of Practice.

Now, such an End-in-self (not a thing with merely conditional value,--a
means to be used arbitrarily) is Man and every rational being, as
_Person_. There is no other objective end with absolute value that can
supply to the Reason the supreme practical principle requisite for
turning subjective principles of action into objective principles of
volition. Rational Nature as End-in-self is a subjective principle to a
man having this conception of his own being, but becomes objective when
every rational being has the same from the same ground in Reason. Hence
a new form (the second) to the practical Imperative: _Act so as to use
Humanity (Human Nature) as well in your own person, as in the person of
another, ever as end also, and never merely as means_.

To this new formula, the old examples are easily squared. Suicide is
using one's person as a mere means to a tolerable existence; breaking
faith to others is using them as means, not as ends-in-self; neglect of
self-cultivation is the not furthering human nature as end-in-self in
one's own person; withholding help is refusing to further Humanity as
end-in-self through the medium of the aims of others. [In a note he
denies that 'the trivial, Do to others as you would,' &c., is a full
expression of the law of duty: it contains the ground, neither of
duties to self; nor of duties of benevolence to others, for many would
forego receiving good on conditions of not conferring it; nor of the
duty of retribution, for the malefactor could turn it against his
judge, &c.]

The universality of this principle of Human and Rational Nature as
End-in-self, as also its character of objective end limiting merely
subjective ends, prove that its source is in pure Reason. Objectively,
the ground of all practical legislation is Rule and the Form of
Universality that enables rule to be Law (of Nature), according to
principle first (in its double form); subjectively, it is End, the
subject of all ends being every rational being as End-in-self,
according to principle second. Hence follows the third practical
principle of the Will, as supreme condition of its agreement with
universal practical Reason--_the idea of the Will of every rational
being as a Will that legislates universally_. The Will, if subject to
law, has first itself imposed it.

This new idea--of the Will of every rational being as universally
legislative--is what, in the implication of the Categorical Imperative,
specifically marks it off from any Hypothetical: Interest is seen to be
quite incompatible with Duty, if Duty is Volition of this kind. A will
merely subject to laws can be bound to them by interest; not so a will
itself legislating supremely, for that would imply another law to keep
the interest of self-love from trenching upon the validity of the
universal law. Illustration is not needed to prove that a Categorical
Imperative, or law for the will of every rational being, if it exist at
all, cannot exclude Interest and be unconditional, except as enjoining
everything to be done from the maxim of a will that in legislating
universally can have itself for object. This is the point that has been
always missed, that the laws of duty shall be at once self-imposed and
yet universal. Subjection to a law not springing from one's own will
implies interest or constraint, and constitutes a certain necessity of
action, but never makes Duty. Be the interest one's own or another's,
the Imperative is conditional only. Kant's principle is the _Autonomy
of the Will_; every other its _Heteronomy_.

The new point of view opens up the very fruitful conception of an
_Empire_ or _Realm of Ends_. As a Realm is the systematic union of
rational beings by means of common laws, so the ends determined by the
laws may, abstractly viewed, be taken to form a systematic whole.
Rational beings, as subject to a law requiring them to treat themselves
and others as ends and never merely as means, enter into a systematic
union by means of common objective laws, _i.e._ into an (ideal) Empire
or Realm of Ends, from the laws being concerned about the mutual
relations of rational beings as Ends and Means. In this Realm, a
rational being is either Head or Member: Head, if legislating
universally and with complete independence; Member, if also
universally, but at the same time subject to the laws. When now the
maxim of the will does not by nature accord necessarily with the demand
of the objective principle--that the will through its maxim be able to
regard itself at the same time as legislating; universally--a practical
constraint is exerted by the principle, which is _Duty_, lying on every
Member in the Realm of Ends (not on the Head) alike. This necessity of
practice reposes, not on feeling, impulse, or inclination, but on the
relation between rational beings arising from the fact that each, as
End-in-self, legislates universally. The Reason gives a universal
application to every maxim of the Will; not from any motive of
interest, but from the idea of the _Dignity_ of a rational being that
follows no law that it does not itself at the same time give.

Everything in the Realm of Ends has either a _Price_ or a _Dignity_.
Skill, Diligence, &c., bearing on human likings and needs, have a
_Market-price_; Qualities like Wit, Fancy, &c., appealing to Taste or
Emotional Satisfaction, have an _Affection-price_. But Morality, the
only way of being End-in-self, and legislating member in the Realm of
Ends, has an intrinsic _Worth or Dignity_, calculable in nothing else.
Its worth is not in results, but in dispositions of Will; its actions
need neither recommendation from a subjective disposition or taste, nor
prompting from immediate tendency or feeling. Being laid on the Will by
Reason, they make the Will, in the execution, the object of an
immediate _Respect_, testifying to a Dignity beyond all price. The
grounds of these lofty claims in moral goodness and virtue are the
participation by a rational being in the universal legislation, fitness
to be a member in a possible Realm of Ends, subjection only to
self-imposed laws. Nothing having value but as the law confers it, an
unconditional, incomparable worth attaches to the giving of the law,
and _Respect_ is the only word that expresses a rational being's
appreciation of that. Autonomy is thus the foundation of the dignity of
human and of all rational nature.

The three different expressions that have been given to the one general
principle of morality imply each the others, and differ merely in their
mode of presenting one idea of the Reason to the mind. _Universal
application of the Maxim of Conduct, as if it were a law of nature_, is
the formula of the Will as absolutely good; _universal prohibition
against the use of rational beings ever as means only_, has reference
to the fact that a good will in a rational being is an altogether
independent and ultimate End, an End-in-self in all; _universal
legislation of each for all_ recognizes the prerogative or special
dignity of rational beings, that they necessarily take their maxims
from the point of view of all, and must regard themselves, being
Ends-in-self, as members in a Realm of Ends (analogous to the Realm, or
Kingdom of Nature), which, though merely an ideal and possible
conception, none the less really imposes an imperative upon action.
_Morality_, he concludes, is _the relation of actions to the Autonomy
of the Will_, _i.e._, to possible universal legislation through its
maxims. Actions that can co-exist with this autonomy are _allowed_; all
others are not. A will, whose maxims necessarily accord with the laws
of Autonomy, is holy, or absolutely good; the dependence of a will not
thus absolutely good is _Obligation_. The objective necessity of an
action from obligation is _Duty. Subjection to law_ is not the only
element in duty; the fact of the law being self-imposed gives

The Autonomy of the will is its being a law to itself, without respect
to the objects of volition; the principle of autonomy is to choose only
in such a way as that the maxims of choice are conceived at the same
time as a universal law. This rule cannot be proved analytically to be
an Imperative, absolutely binding on every will; as a synthetic
proposition it requires, besides a knowledge of the objects, a critique
of the subject, _i.e._, pure practical Reason, before, in its
apodeictic character, it can be proved completely _a priori_. Still the
mere analysis of moral conceptions has sufficed to prove it the sole
principle of morals, because this principle is seen to be a categorical
Imperative, and a categorical Imperative enjoins neither more nor less
than this Autonomy. If, then, Autonomy of Will is the supreme
principle, Heteronomy is the source of all ungenuine principles, of
Morality. Heteronomy is whenever the Will does not give itself laws,
but some object, in relation to the Will, gives them. There is then
never more than a hypothetical Imperative: I am to do something because
I wish something else.

There follows a division and criticism of the various possible
principles of morality that can be set up on the assumption of
Heteronomy, and that have been put forward by human Reason in default
of the required Critique of its pure use. Such, are either _Empirical_
or _Rational_. The Empirical, embodying the principle of _Happiness_,
are founded on (1) _physical_ or (2) _moral feeling_; the Rational,
embodying the principle of _perfection_, on (1) the rational conception
of it as a possible result, or (2) the conception of an independent
perfection (the Will of God), as the determining cause of the will. The
Empirical principles are altogether to be rejected, because they can
give no universal law for all rational beings; of the Rational
principles, the first, though setting up an empty and indefinite
conception, has the merit of at least making an appeal from sense to
pure reason. But the fatal objection to all four is their implying
Heteronomy; no imperative founded on them can utter moral, _i.e._,
categorical commands.

That the absolutely good Will must be autonomous--_i.e._, without any
kind of motive or interest, lay Commands on itself that are at the same
time fit to be laws for all rational beings, appears, then, from a
deeper consideration of even the popular conceptions of morality. But
now the question can no longer be put off: Is Morality, of which this
is the only conception, a reality or a phantom? All the different
expressions given to the Categorical Imperatives are synthetic
practical propositions _a priori_; they postulate a possible synthetic
use of the pure practical reason. Is there, and how is there, such a
possible synthetic use? This is the question (the same as the other)
that Kant proceeds to answer in the Third Section, by giving, in
default of a complete Critique of the faculty, as much as is necessary
for the purpose. But here, since he afterwards undertook the full
Critique, it is better to stop the analysis of the earlier work, and
summarily draw upon both for the remainder of the argument, and the
rather because some important points have to be added that occur only
in the later treatise. The foregoing is a sufficient example of his
method of treatment.

The synthetic use of the pure practical reason, in the Categorical
Imperative, is legitimized; Autonomy of the Will is explained; Duty is
shown to be no phantom--through the conception of Freedom of Will,
properly understood. Theoretically (speculatively), Freedom is
undemonstrable; being eternally met, in one of the (cosmological)
Antinomies of the Pure Reason, by the counter-assertion that everything
in the universe takes place according to unchanging laws of nature.
Even theoretically, however, Freedom is not inconceivable, and morally
we become certain of it; for we are conscious of the 'ought' of duty,
and with the 'ought' there must go a 'can.' It is not, however, as
Phenomenon or Sensible Ens that a man 'can,' is free, has an absolute
initiative; all phenomena or Sensible Entia, being in space and time,
are subject to the Natural Law of Causality. But man is also Noumenon,
Thing-in-self, Intelligible Ens; and as such, being free from
conditions of time and space, stands outside of the sequence of Nature.
Now, the Noumenon or Ens of the Reason (he assumes) stands higher than,
or has a value above, the Phenomenon or Sensible Ens (as much as Reason
stands higher than Sense and Inclination); accordingly, while it is
only man as Noumenon that 'can,' it is to man as Phenomenon that the
'ought' is properly addressed; it is upon man as Phenomenon that the
law of Duty, prescribed, with perfect freedom from motive, by Man as
Noumenon, is laid.

_Freedom of Will_ in Man as Rational End or Thing-in-self is thus the
great Postulate of the pure Practical Reason; we can be sure of the
fact (although it must always remain speculatively undemonstrable),
because else there could be no explanation of the Categorical
Imperative of Duty. But inasmuch as the Practical Reason, besides
enjoining a law of Duty, must provide also a final end of action in the
idea of an unconditioned Supreme Good, it contains also two other
Postulates: Man being a sentient as well as a rational being, Happiness
as well as Perfect Virtue or Moral Perfection must enter into the
Summum Bonum (not, one of them to the exclusion of the other, as the
Stoics and Epicureans, in different senses, declared). Now, since there
is no such necessary conjunction of the two in nature, it must be
sought otherwise. It is found in postulating _Immortality_ and _God_.

_Immortality_ is required to render possible the attainment of moral
perfection. Virtue out of _respect_ for law, with a constant tendency
to fall away, is all that is attainable in life. The _Holiness_, or
complete accommodation of the will to the Moral Law, implied in the
Summum Bonum, can be attained to only in the course of an infinite
progression; which means personal Immortality. [As in the former case,
the _speculative_ impossibility of proving the immateriality, &c., of
the supernatural soul is not here overcome; but Immortality is
_morally_ certain, being demanded by the Practical Reason.]

Moral perfection thus provided for, _God_ must be postulated in order
to find the ground of the required conjunction of Felicity. Happiness
is the condition of the rational being in whose whole existence
everything goes according to wish and will; and this is not the
condition of man, for in him observance of the moral law is not
conjoined with power of disposal over the laws of nature. But, as
Practical Reason demands the conjunction, it is to be found only in a
being who is the author at once of Nature and of the Moral Law; and
this is God. [The same remark once more applies, that here what is
obtained is a _moral_ certainty of the existence of the Deity: the
negative result of the Critique of the Pure _(speculative)_ Reason
abides what it was.]

We may now attempt to summarize this abstruse Ethical theory of Kant.

I---The STANDARD of morally good action (or rather Will), as expressed
in the different forms of the Categorical Imperative, is the
possibility of its being universally extended as a law for all rational
beings. His meaning comes out still better in the obverse statement:
The action is bad that _cannot be_, or at least _cannot be wished to
lie_, turned unto a universal law.

II.--Kant would expressly demur to being questioned as to his
PSYCHOLOGY of Ethics; since he puts his own theory in express
opposition to every other founded upon any empirical view of the mental
constitution. Nevertheless, we may extract some kind of answers to the
usual queries.

The Faculty is the (pure Practical) Reason. The apprehension of what is
morally right is entirely an affair of Reason; the only element of
Feeling is an added Sentiment of Awe or Respect for the law that Reason
imposes, this being a law, not only for me who impose it on myself, but
at the same time for every rational agent. The Pure Reason, which means
with Kant the Faculty of Principles, is _Speculative_ or _Practical_.
As _Speculative_, it _requires_ us to bring our knowledge (of the
understanding) to certain higher unconditioned unities (Soul, Cosmos,
God); but there is error if these are themselves regarded as facts of
knowledge. As _Practical_, it sets up an unconditional law of Duty in
Action (unconditioned by motives); and in this and in the related
conception of the Summum Bonum is contained a moral certainty of the
Immortality (of the soul), Freedom (in the midst of Natural Necessity),
and of God as existent.

As to the point of Free-will, nothing more need be said.

Disinterested Sentiment, as _sentiment_, is very little regarded:
disinterested _action_ is required with such rigour that every act or
disposition is made to lose its character as moral, according as any
element of interested feeling of any kind enters into it. Kant
obliterates the line between Duty and Virtue, by making a duty of every
virtue; at least he conceives clearly that there is no Virtue in doing
what we are strongly prompted to by inclination--that virtue must
involve self-sacrifice.

III.--His position with respect to Happiness is peculiar. Happiness is
not the end of action: the end of action is rather the self-assertion
of the rational faculty over the lower man.

If the constituents of Happiness could be known--and they cannot
be--there would be no _morality_, but only _prudence_ in the pursuit of
them. To promote our own happiness is indeed a duty, but in order to
keep us from neglecting our other duties.

Nevertheless, he conceives it necessary that there should be an
ultimate equation of Virtue and Happiness; and the need of Happiness he
then expressly connects with the sensuous side of our being.

IV.--His MORAL CODE may here be shortly presented from the second part
of his latest work, where it is fully given. Distinguishing _Moral_
Duties or (as he calls them) '_Virtue-duties,'_ left to be enforced
internally by Conscience, from _Legal_ Duties _(Rechtspflichten)_,
externally enforced, he divides them into two classes--(A) Duties to
_Self_; (B) Duties to _Others_.

(A) Duties to _Self_. These have regard to the one _private_ Aim or End
that a man can make a duty of, viz., his own _Perfection_; for his own
_Happiness_, being provided for by a natural propensity or inclination,
is to himself no duty. They are (a) _perfect_ (negative or restrictive)
as directed to mere Self-Conservation; (b) _imperfect_ (positive or
extensive) as directed to the Advancement or Perfecting of one's being.
The _perfect_ are concerned about Self (a), as an _Animal_ creature,
and then are directed against--(1) _Self-destruction_, (2) _Sexual
Excess_, (3) _Intemperance in Eating and Drinking_; (B) as a _Moral_
creature, and then are directed against--(1) _Lying_, (2) _Avarice_,
(3) _Servility_. The _imperfect_ have reference to (a) _physical_, (B)
_moral_ advancement or perfection (subjectively. _Purity_ or

(B) Duties to _Others_. These have regard to the only Aim or End of
others that a man can make a duty of, viz., their _Happiness_; for
their _Perfection_ can be promoted only by themselves. Duties to others
_as men_ are metaphysically deducible; and application to _special
conditions_ of men is to be made empirically. They include (a) Duties
of LOVE, involving _Merit_ or _Desert (i.e._, return from the objects
of them) in the performance: (1) _Beneficence_, (2) _Gratitude_, (3)
_Fellow-feeling_; (b) Duties of RESPECT, absolutely _due_ to others as
men; the opposites are the _vices_: (1) _Haughtiness_, (2) _Slander_,
(3) _Scornfulness_. In _Friendship_, Love and Respect are combined in
the highest degree. Lastly, he notes _Social_ duties in human
intercourse _(Affability_, &c.)--these being _outworks_ of morality.

He allows no special Duties to God, or Inferior Creatures, beyond what
is contained in Moral Perfection as Duty to Self.

V.--The conception of Law enters largely into Kant's theory of morals,
but in a sense purely transcendental, and not as subjecting or
assimilating morality to positive political institution. The _Legality_
of external _actions_, as well as the _Morality_ of internal
_dispositions_, is determined by reference to the one universal moral
Imperative. The principle underlying all _legal_ or _jural_ (as opposed
to moral or ethical) provisions, is the necessity of uniting in a
universal law of freedom the spontaneity of each with the spontaneity
of all the others: individual freedom and freedom of all must be made
to subsist together in a universal law.

VI.--With Kant, Religion and Morality are very closely connected, or,
in a sense, even identified; but the alliance is not at the expense of
Morality. So far from making this dependent on Religion, he can find
nothing but the moral conviction whereon to establish the religious
doctrines of Immortality and the Existence of God; while, in a special
work, he declares further that Religion consists merely in the practice
of Morality as a system of divine commands, and claims to judge of all
religious institutions and dogmas by the moral consciousness. Besides,
the Postulates themselves, in which the passage to Religion is made,
are not all equally imperative,--Freedom, as the ground of the fact of
Duty, being more urgently demanded than others; and he even goes so far
as to make the allowance, that whoever has sufficient moral strength to
fulfil the Law of Reason without them, is not required to subscribe to

The modern French school, that has arisen in this century under the
combined influence of the Scotch and the German philosophy, has
bestowed some attention on Ethics. We end by noticing under it Cousin
and Jouffroy.

VICTOR COUSIN. [1792-1867.]

The analysis of Cousin's ethical views is made upon his historical
lectures _Sur les Idees du Vrai, du Beau et du Bien_, as delivered in
1817-18. They contain a dogmatic exposition of his own opinions,
beginning at the 20th lecture; the three preceding lectures, in the
section of the whole course devoted to the Good, being taken up with
the preliminary review of other opinions required for his eclectical

He determines to consider, by way of psychological analysis, the ideas
and sentiments of every kind called up by the spectacle of human
actions; and first he notes actions that please and displease the
senses, or in some way affect our interest: those that are agreeable
and useful we naturally choose, avoiding the opposites, and in this we
are _prudent_. But there is another set of actions, having no reference
to our own personal interest, which yet we qualify as good or bad. When
an armed robber kills and spoils a defenceless man, we, though
beholding the sight in safety, are at once stirred up to disinterested
horror and indignation. This is no mere passing sentiment, but includes
a two-fold judgment, pronounced then and ever after; that the action is
in itself bad, and that it ought not to be committed. Still farther,
our anger implies that the object of it is conscious of the evil and
the obligation, and is therefore responsible; wherein again is implied
that he is a free agent. And, finally, demanding as we do that he
should be punished, we pass what has been called a judgment of merit
and demerit, which is built upon an idea in our minds of a supreme law,
joining happiness to virtue and misfortune to crime.

The analysis thus far he claims to be strictly scientific; he now
proceeds to vary the case, taking actions of our own. I am supposed
entrusted by a dying friend with a deposit for another, and a struggle
ensues between interest and probity as to whether I should pay it. If
interest conquers, remorse ensues. He paints the state of remorse, and
analyzes it into the same elements as before, the idea of _good_ and
_evil_, of an _obligatory law_, of _liberty_, of _merit_ and _demerit_;
it thus includes the whole phenomenon of morality. The exactly opposite
state that follows upon the victory of probity, is proved to imply the
same facts.

The Moral Sentiment, so striking in its character, has by some been
supposed the foundation of all morality, but in point of fact it is
itself constituted by these various judgments. Now that they are known
to stand as its elements, he goes on to subject each to a stricter
analysis, taking first the judgment of _good_ and _evil_, which is at
the bottom of all the rest. It lies in the original constitution of
human nature, being simple and indecomposable, like the judgment of the
True and the Beautiful. It is absolute, and cannot be withheld in
presence of certain acts; but it only declares, and does not
constitute, good and evil, these being real and independent qualities
of actions. Applied at first to special cases, the judgment of good
gives birth to general principles that become rules for judging other
actions. Like other sciences, morality has its axioms, justly called
moral truths; if it is good to keep an oath, it is also true, the oath
being made with no other purpose than to be kept. Faithful guarding as
much belongs to the idea of a deposit, as the equality between its
three angles and two right angles to the idea of a triangle. By no
caprice or effort of will can a moral verity be made in the smallest
degree other than it is.

But, he goes on, a moral verity is not simply to be believed; it must
also be practised, and this is _obligation_, the second of the elements
of moral sentiment. Obligation, like moral truth, on which it rests, is
absolute, immutable, universal. Kant even went so far as to make it the
principle of our morality; but this was subjectivizing good, as he had
subjectivized truth. Before there is an obligation to act, there must
be an intrinsic goodness in the action; the real first truth of
morality is justics, _i.e._, the essential distinction of good and
evil. It is justice, therefore, and not duty, that strictly deserves
the name of a principle.

The next element is _liberty_. Obligation implies the faculty of
resisting desire, passion, &c., else there would be a contradiction in
human nature. But the truest proof of liberty is to be sought in the
constant testimony of consciousness, that, in wishing this or that, I
am equally able to will the contrary. He distinguishes between the
power of willing and the power of executing; also between will and
desire, or passion. In the conflict between will and the tyranny of
desire lies liberty; and the aim of the conflict is the fulfilment of
duty. For the will is never so free, never so much itself, as when
yielding to the law of duty. Persons are distinguished from Things in
having responsibility, dignity, intrinsic value. Because there is in me
a being worthy of respect, I am bound in duty to respect myself, and I
have the _right_ to be respected by you. My duty (he means, of course,
what I owe to self) is the exact measure of my right. The character of
being a _person_ is inviolable, is the foundation of property, is
inalienable by self or others, and so forth.

He passes to the last element of the phenomenon of morality, the
judgement of _merit_ and _demerit_. The judgement follows, as the agent
is supposed free, and it is not affected by lapse of time. It depends
also essentially on the idea that the agent knows good from evil. Upon
itself follow the notions of reward and punishment. Merit is the
natural right to be rewarded; demerit, paradox as it may appear, is the
_right_ to be punished. A criminal would claim to be punished, if he
could comprehend the absolute necessity of expiation; and are there not
real cases of such criminals? But as there can be merit without actual
reward, so to be rewarded does not constitute merit.

If good, he continues, is good in itself, and ought to be done without
regard to consequences, it is no less true that the consequences of
good cannot fail to be happy. Virtue without happiness and crime
without misfortune are a contradiction, a disorder; which are hardly
met with in the world, even as it is, or, where in a few cases they are
found, are sure to be righted in the end by eternal justice. The
sacrifice supposed in virtue, if generously accepted and courageously
undergone, has to be recompensed in respect of the amount of happiness

Once more, he takes up the _Sentiment_, which is the general echo of
all the elements of the phenomenon. Its end is to make the mind
sensible of the bond between virtue and happiness; it is the direct and
vivid application of the law of merit. Again, he touches the states of
moral satisfaction and remorse, speaks of our sympathy with the moral
goodness of others and our benevolent feeling that arises towards
them--emotions all, but covering up judgments; and this is the end of
his detailed analysis of the actual facts of the case. But he still
goes on to sum up in exact expressions the foregoing results, and he
claims especially to have overlooked neither the part played by Reason,
nor the function of Sentiment. The rational character of the idea of
good gives morality its firm foundation; the lively sentiment helps to
lighten the often heavy burden of duty, and stirs up to the most heroic
deeds. Self-interest too is not denied its place. In this connexion,
led again to allude to the happiness appointed to virtue here or at
least hereafter, he allows that God may be regarded as the fountain of
morality, but only in the sense that his will is the expression of his
eternal wisdom and justice. Religion crowns morality, but morality is
based upon itself. The rest of the lecture is in praise of Eclecticism,
and advocates consideration of all the facts involved in morality, as
against exclusive theories founded upon only some of the facts.

Lectures 21st and 22nd, compressed into one (Ed. 1846) contain the
application of the foregoing principles, and the answer to the
question, what our duties are. Duty being absolute, truth becomes
obligatory, and absolute truth being known by the reason only, to obey
the law of duty is to obey reason. But what actions are conformable to
reason? The characteristic of reason he takes to be Universality, and
this will appear in the motives of actions, since it is these that
confer on actions their morality. Accordingly, the sign whereby to
discover whether an action is duty, is, if its motive when generalized
appear to the reason to be a maxim of universal legislation for all
free and intelligent beings. This, the norm set up by Kant, as
certainly discovers what is and is not duty, as the syllogism detects
the error and truth of an argument.

To obey reason is, then, the first duty, at the root of all others, and
itself resting directly upon the relation between liberty and reason;
in a sense, to remain reasonable is the sole duty. But it assumes
special forms amid the diversity of human relations. He first considers
the relations wherein we stand to ourselves and the corresponding
duties. That there should be any such duties is at first sight strange,
seeing we belong to ourselves; but this is not the same as having
complete power over ourselves. Possessing liberty, we must not abdicate
it by yielding to passions, and treat ourselves as if there were
nothing in us that merits respect. We are to distinguish between what
is peculiar to each of us, and what we share with humanity. Individual
peculiarities are things indifferent, but the liberty and intelligence
that constitute us persons, rather than individuals, demand to be
respected even by ourselves. There is an obligation of self-respect
imposed upon us as moral persons that was not established, and is not
to be destroyed, by us. As special cases of this respect of the moral
person in us, he cites (1) the duty of _self-control_ against anger or
melancholy, not for their pernicious consequences, but as trenching
upon the moral dignity of liberty and intelligence; (2) the duty of
_prudence_, meaning providence in all things, which regulates courage,
enjoins temperance, is, as the ancients said, the mother of all the
virtues,--in short, the government of liberty by reason; (3)
_veracity_; (4) duty towards the _body_; (5) duty of _perfecting_ (and
not merely keeping intact) the intelligence, liberty, and sensibility
that constitute us moral beings.

But the same liberty and intelligence that constitute me a moral
person, and need thus to be respected even by myself, exist also in
others, conferring rights on them, and imposing new duties of respect
on me relatively to them. To their intelligence I owe _Truth_; their
liberty I am bound to respect, sometimes even to the extent of not
hindering them from making a wrong use of it. I must respect also their
affections (family, &c.) which form part of themselves; their bodies;
their goods, whether acquired by labour or heritage. All these duties
are summed up in the one great duty of _Justice_ or respect for the
rights of others; of which the greatest violation is slavery.

The whole of duty towards others is not however comprehended in
justice. Conscience complains, if we have only not done injustice to
one in suffering. There is a new class of duties--_consolation,
charity, sacrifice_--to which indeed correspond no rights, and which
therefore are not so obligatory as justice, but which cannot be said
not to be obligatory. From their nature, they cannot be reduced to an
exact formula; their beauty lies in liberty. But in charity, he adds,
there is also a danger, from its effacing, to a certain extent, the
moral personality of the object of it. In acting upon others, we risk
interfering with their natural rights; charity is therefore to be
proportioned to the liberty and reason of the person benefited, and is
never to be made the means of usurping power over another.

Justice and Charity are the two elements composing social morality. But
what is social? and on what is Society founded, existing as it does
everywhere, and making man to be what he is? Into the hopeless question
of its origin he refuses to enter; its present state is to be studied
by the light of the knowledge of human nature. Its invariable
foundations are (1) the need we have of each other, and our social
instincts, (2) the lasting and indestructible idea and sentiment of
right and justice. The need and instinct, of which he finds many
proofs, begin society; justice crowns the work. The least consideration
of the relations of man to man, suggest the essential principles of
Society--justice, liberty, equality, government, punishment. Into each
of these he enters. Liberty is made out to be assured and developed in
society, instead of diminished. Equality is established upon the
character of moral personality, which admits of no degree. The need of
some repression upon liberty, where the liberty of others is trenched
upon, conducts to the idea of Government--a disinterested third party
armed with the necessary power to assure and defend the liberty of all.
To government is to be ascribed, first its inseparable function of
protecting the common liberty (without unnecessary repression), and
next, beneficent action, corresponding to the duty of charity. It
requires, for its guidance, a rule superior to itself, i.e., law, the
expression of universal and absolute justice. Here follows the usual
distinction of positive and natural law. The sanction of law is
punishment; the right of punishing, as was seen, depending on the idea
of demerit. Punishment is not mere vengeance, but the expiation by the
criminal of violated justice; it is to be measured therefore chiefly by
the demerit and not by the injury only. Whether, in punishing,
allowance should be made for correction and amelioration, is to put the
same case over again of charity coming in after justice.

Here the philosopher stops on the threshold of the special science of
politics. But already the fixed and invariable principles of society
and government have been given, and, even in the relative sphere of
politics, the rule still holds that all forms and institutions are to
be moulded as far as possible on the eternal principles supplied by
philosophy. The following is a summary of Cousin's views:--

I.--The Standard is the judgment of good or evil in actions. Cousin
holds that good and evil are qualities of actions independent of our
judgment, and having a sort of objective existence.

II.--The Moral Faculty he analyzes into four judgments: (1) good and
evil; (2) obligation; (3) freedom of the will; and (4) merit and
demerit. The moral sentiment is the emotions connected with those
judgments, and chiefly the feeling connected with the idea of merit.
[This analysis is obviously redundant. 'Good' and 'evil' apply to many
things outside ethics, and to be at all appropriate, they must be
qualified as _moral_ (i.e., _obligatory_) good and evil. The connexion
between obligation and demerit has been previously explained.]

III.--In regard to the Summum Bonum, Cousin considers that virtue must
bring happiness here or hereafter, and vice, misery.

IV.--He accepts the criterion of duties set forth by Kant. He argues
for the existence of duties towards ourselves.

V. and VI. require no remark.


In the Second Lecture of his unfinished _Cours de Droit Naturel_,
Jouffroy gives a condensed exposition of the Moral Facts of human
nature from his own point of view.

What distinguishes, he says, one being from another, is its
Organization; and as having a special nature, every creature has a
special end. Its end or destination is its good, or its good consists
in the accomplishment of its end. Further, to have an end implies the
possession of faculties wherewith to attain it; and all this is
applicable also to man. In man, as in other creatures, from the very
first, his nature tends to its end, by means of purely instinctive
movements, which may be called primitive and instinctive tendencies of
human nature; later they are called passions. Along with these
tendencies, and under their influence, the intellectual faculties also
awake and seek to procure for them satisfaction. The faculties work,
however, at first, in an indeterminate fashion, and only by meeting
obstacles are driven to the concentration necessary to attain the ends.
He illustrates this by the case of the intellectual faculty seeking to
satisfy the desire of knowledge, and not succeeding until it
concentrates on a single point its scattered energies. This spontaneous
concentration is the first manifestation of Will, but is proved to be
not natural from the feeling of constraint always experienced, and the
glad rebound, after effort, to tho indeterminate condition. One fact,
too, remains even after every thing possible has been done, viz., that
the satisfaction of the primitive tendencies is never quite complete.

When, however, such satisfaction as may be, has been attained, there
arises pleasure; and pain, when our faculties fail to attain the good
or end they sought. There could be action, successful and unsuccessful,
and so good and evil, without any sensibility, wherefore good and evil
are not to be confounded with pain and pleasure; but constituted as we
are, there is a sensible echo that varies according as the result of
action is attained or not. Pleasure is, then, the consequence, and, as
it were, the sign of the realization of good, and pain of its

He next distinguishes Secondary passions from the great primary
tendencies and passions. These arise _apropos_ of external objects, as
they are found to further or oppose the satisfaction of the fundamental
tendencies. Such objects are then called _useful_ or _pernicious_.
Finally, he completes his account of the infantile or primitive
condition of man, by remarking that some of our natural tendencies,
like Sympathy, are entirely disinterested in seeking the good of
others. The main feature of the whole primitive state is the exclusive
domination of passion. The will already exists, but there is no
liberty; the present passion triumphs over the future, the stronger
over the weaker.

He now passes to consider the double transformation of this original
state, that takes place when reason appears. Reason is the faculty of
_comprehending_, which is different from knowing, and is peculiar to
man. As soon as it awakes in man, it comprehends, and penetrates to the
meaning of, the whole spectacle of human activity. It first forms the
general idea of _Good_ as the resultant of the satisfaction of all the
primary tendencies, and as the true End of man. Then, comprehending the
actual situation of man, it resolves this idea into the idea of the
_greatest possible_ good. All that conduces to the attainment of this
good, it includes under the general idea of the _Useful_; and finally,
it constructs the general idea of _Happiness_ out of all that is common
to the agreeable sensations that follow upon the satisfaction of the
primary tendencies.

But besides forming these three perfectly distinct ideas, and exploring
the secret of what has been passing within, the reason also comprehends
the necessity of subjecting to control the faculties and forces that
are the condition of the greatest satisfaction of human nature. In the
place of the merely mechanical impulsion of passion, which is coupled
with grave disadvantages, it puts forward, as a new principle of
action, the rational calculation of interest. The faculties are brought
into the service of this idea of the reason, by the same process of
concentration as was needful in satisfying the passions; only now
voluntarily instead of spontaneously. Being an idea instead of a
passion, the new principle supplies a real _motive_, under whose
guidance our natural power over our faculties is developed and
strengthened. All partial ends are merged in the one great End of
Interest, to which the means is self-control. The first great change
thus wrought by reason is, that it takes the direction of the human
forces into its own hand, and although, even when by a natural
transformation the new system of conduct acquires all the force of a
passion, it is not able steadily to procure for the idea of interest
the victory over the single passions, the change nevertheless abides.
To the state of Passion has succeeded the state of Egoism.

Reason must, however, he thinks, make another discovery before there is

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