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a thing is wrong. Why? 'because my moral sense tells me it is.?” Now that Bentham should have no other authority for his own maxim, is somewhat unfortunate for him. Yet, on putting that maxim into critical hands, we shall soon discover such to be the fact. Let us do this.

“And so you think,” says the patrician, " that the object of our rule should be the greatest happiness of the greatest number?"

“Such is our opinion,” answers the petitioning plebeian.

“Well now, let us see what your principle involves. Suppose men to be, as they commonly are, at variance in their desires on some point; and suppose that those forming the larger party will receive a certain amount of happiness each, from the adoption of one course, whilst those forming the smaller party will receive the same amount of happiness each, from the adoption of the opposite course; then if 'greatest happiness' is to be our guide, it must follow, must it not, that the larger party ought to have their way ?”


“That is to say, if those who want what you do are a hundred, whilst those who want what I do are ninety-nine, your happiness must be preferred, should the individual amounts of gratification at stake on the two sides be equal."

“ Exactly; our axiom involves that.”

“So then it seems that as, in such a case, you decide between the two parties by numerical majority, you assume that the happiness of a member of the one party, is equally important with that of a member of the other.”

“Of course."

“Wherefore, if reduced to its simplest form, your doctrine turns out to be the assertion, that all men have equal claims to happiness; or, applying it personally—that you have as good a right to happiness as I have."

“No doubt I have."


"And pray, sir, who told you that you have as good a right to happiness as I have ?"

“Who told me ?-I am sure of it; it is a manifest truth; I-" “Nay, nay, that will not do. Give me your authority.”

. Whereupon, our petitioner is forced to confess, that he has no other authority but his own feeling—that he has simply an innate perception of the fact; or, in other words, that “his moral sense tells him so."

Whether it rightly tells him so, need not now be considered. All that demands present notice is the fact that, when cross-examined, even the disciples of Bentham have no alternative but to fall back on an intuition of this derided "moral sense,” for the foundation of their own system.

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But how, it may be asked, can a sentiment have a perception ? how can an emotion give rise to a moral sense ?

The objection seems a serious one; and were the term sense to be understood in its strict acceptation, would be fatal. But the word is in this case, as in many others, used to express that liking or aversion with which an emotional faculty comes to regard the deeds and objects it is related to; or rather that judgment which it causes the intellect to form of them. To elucidate this we must take an example.

Joined with the impulse to acquire property, there is what we call a sense of the value of property; and we find the vividness of this sense to vary with the strength of the impulse. Contrast the miser and the spendthrift. Accompanying his desire to heap up, the miser has a peculiar belief in the worth of money. The most stringent economy he thinks virtuous ; and anything like ordinary liberality vicious ; while of extravagance he has an absolute horror. Whatever adds to his store seems to him good : whatever takes from it, bad. And should a passing gleam of generosity lead him to open his purse, he is pretty sure afterwards to reproach himself with having done wrong. Conversely, while the spendthrift is deficient in the instinct of acquisition, he also fails to realize the value of property; he has little sense of it. Hence, under the influence of other feelings, he regards saving habits as mean; and holds that there is something noble in profuseness. Now it is clear that these opposite perceptions of the propriety or impropriety of certain lines of conduct, do not originate with the intellect, but with the emotional faculties. The intellect, unintluenced by desire, would show both miser and spendthrift that their habits were unwise; whereas the intellect, influenced by desire, makes each think the other a fool, but does not enable him to see his own folly.

This connexion is general. Every feeling is accompanied by a sense of the rightness of those actions which give it gratification-tends to generate convictions that things are good or bad, according as they bring to it pleasure or pain; and would always generate such convictions, were it unopposed. As, however, there are conflicts among the feelings, there results a proportionate incongruity in the beliefs-a similar conflict amongst these also. So that it is only where a desire is very predominant, or where no adverse desire exists, that this connexion between the instincts and the opinions they dictate, becomes distinctly visible.

Applied to the elucidation of the case in hand, these facts explain how from an impulse to behave in the way we call equitable, there will arise a perception that such behaviour is proper--a conviction that it is good. This instinct or sentiment, being gratified by a just action and distressed by an unjust action, produces in us an approbation of the one and a disgust towards the other; and these readily beget beliefs that the one is virtuous and the other vicious. Or, referring again to the illustration, we may say that as the desire to accumulate property is accompanied by a sense of the value


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of property, so the desire to act fairly is accompanied by a sense of what is fair.

It will perhaps be needful here to meet the objection that whereas, according to the foregoing statement, each feeling tends to generate notions of the rightness or wrongness of actions towards which it is related ; and whereas morality should determine what is right throughout conduct at large, it is improper to confine the term “moral sense” to that which can afford directions in only one department. This is true. Nevertheless, seeing that our behaviour towards one another is the most important part of our behaviour, and that in which we are most prone to err; seeing, also, that this same faculty is so purely and immediately moral in its function ; we may with some show of reason continue to employ that term with this restricted meaning.

Still it may be again urged that the alleged monitor is a worthless guide, because its dictates are unlike in different times and places.

To this the reply is, as before, that if such a guide is unfit, because its dictates are variable, then must Expediency also be rejected for the same reason. If Bentham is right in condemning Moral Sense, as an “anarchical and capricious principle, founded solely upon internal and peculiar feelings," then is his own maxim doubly fallacious. Is not the idea "greatest happiness," a capricious one? Is not that also “ founded solely upon internal and peculiar feelings?” (See page 7.) And even were the idea“ greatest happiness” alike in all, would not his principle be still “anarchical,” in virtue of the countless disagreements as to the means of achieving this "greatest happiness ?” All utilitarian philosophies are liable to this charge of indefiniteness, for there ever recurs the same unsettled question—what is utility ?—a question which, as every newspaper shows us, gives rise to endless disputes, both as to the goodness of each desired end and the efficiency of every proposed means. At the worst, therefore, in so far as want of scientific precision is concerned, a philosophy founded on Moral Sense, simply stands in the same category with all other known systems.

But happily there is an alternative. The force of the objection above set forth may be fully admitted, without in any degree invalidating the theory.

The error pointed out is not one of doctrine but of application. Those who committed it did not start from a wrong principle, but rather missed the right way from that principle to the sought-for conclusions. It was not in the oracle to which they appealed, but in their method of interpretation, that the writers of the Shaftesbury school erred. Confounding the functions of feeling and reason, they required a sentiment to do that which should have been left to the intellect. They were right in believing that there exists some governing instinct generating in us an approval of certain actions we call good, and a repugnance to certain others we call bad. But they were not right in assuming such instinct to be capable of intuitively solving every ethical problem submitted to it.

For the better explanation of this point, let us take an analogy from mathematics. The human mind takes cognizance of measurable quantity by a faculty which, to carry out the analogy, let us term a geometric sense. By the help of this we estimate the linear dimensions, surfaces, and bulks of surrounding objects, and form ideas of their relations to one another. But, in many cases, we find that little reliance can be placed on the unaided decisions of this geometric sense : its dicta are variable. On comparing notes, however, we discover that there are certain simple propositions upon which we all think alike, such as—“ Things which are equal to the same thing are equal to one another; —“The whole is greater than its part;” and, agreeing upon these axioms, as we call them, we find it possible by successive deductions to settle all disputed points, and to solve

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