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extract from Mr. Mill's Utilitarianism (p. 91), the idea of inequality here entirely disappears.
The Greatest-Happiness Principle is a mere form of words without rational signification, unless one person's happiness, supposed equal in degree (with the proper allowance made for kind), is counted for exactly as much as another's. Those conditions being supplied, Bentham's dictum, "everybody to count for one, nobody for more than one,” might be written under the principle of utility as an explanatory commentary.
Now though Bentham ridicules the taking of justice as our guide, saying that while happiness is an end intelligible to all, justice is a relatively unintelligible end, yet he tacitly asserts that his principle—"everybody to count for one, nobody for more than one,” is just; since, otherwise, he would be obliged to admit that it is unjust, and we may not suppose he would do so. Hence the implication of his doctrine is that justice means an equal apportionment of the benefits, material and immaterial, which men's activities bring. There is no recognition of the propriety of inequalities in men's shares of happiness, consequent on inequalities in their faculties or characters.
This is the theory which Communism would reduce to practice. From one who knows him, I learn that Prince Krapotkin blames the English socialists because they do not propose to act out the rule popularly worded as "share and share alike.” In a recent periodical, M. de Laveleye summed up the communistic principle as being “ that the individual works for the profit of the State, to which he hands over the produce of his labour for equal division among all.” In the communistic Utopia described in Mr. Bellamy's Looking Backward, it is held that each “shall make the same effort,” and that if by the same effort, bodily or mental, one produces twice as much as another, he is not to be advantaged by the difference. The intellectually or physically feeble are to be quite as well off as others: the assertion being that the existing régime is one of “robbing the incapable class of their plain right in leaving them unprovided for.”
The principle of inequality is thus denied absolutely. It
is assumed to be unjust that superiority of nature shall bring superiority of results, or, at any rate, superiority of material results; and as no distinction appears to be made in respect either of physical qualities or intellectual qualities or moral qualities, the implication is not only that strong and weak shall fare alike, but that foolish and wise, worthy and unworthy, mean and noble, shall do the same. according to this conception of justice, defects of nature, physical or intellectual, ought not to count, neither ought moral defects, since they are all primarily inherited.
And here, too, we have a deliberate abolition of that cardinal distinction between the ethics of the family and the ethics of the State, emphasized at the outset: an abolition which, as we saw, must eventuate in decay and disappearance of the species or variety in which it takes place.
§ 25. After contemplating these divergent conceptions of justice, in which the ideas of inequality and equality almost or quite exclude one another, we are now prepared for framing a true conception of justice.
In other fields of thought it has fallen to my lot to show that the right view is obtained by co-ordinating the antagonistic wrong views. Thus, the association-theory of intellect is harmonized with the transcendental theory on perceiving that when, to the effects of individual experiences, are added the inherited effects of experiences received by all ancestors, the two views become one. So, too, when the moulding of feelings into harmony with requirements, generation after generation, is recognized as causing an adapted moral nature, there results a reconciliation of the expediencytheory of morals with the intuitional theory. And here we see that a like mutual correction occurs with this more special component of ethics now before us.
For if each of these opposite conceptions of justice is accepted as true in part, and then supplemented by the other, there results that conception of justice which arises on contemplating the laws of life is carried on in the social state. The equality concerns the mutually-limited spheres of action which must be maintained if associated men are to co-operate harmoniously. The inequality concerns the results which each may achieve by carrying on his actions within the implied limits. No incongruity exists when the ideas of equality and inequality are applied the one to the bounds and the other to the benefits. Contrariwise, the two may be, and must be, simultaneously asserted.
Other injunctions which ethics has to utter do not here concern us. There are the self-imposed requirements and limitations of private conduct, forming that large division of ethics treated of in Part III.; and there are the demands and restraints included under Negative Beneficence and Positive Beneficence, to be hereafter treated of, which are at once self-imposed and in a measure imposed by public opinion. But here we have to do only with those claims and those limits which have to be maintained as conditions to harmonious co-operation, and which alone are to be enforced by society in its corporate capacity.
§ 26. Any considerable acceptance of so definite an idea of justice is not to be expected. It is an idea appropriate to an ultimate state, and can be but partially entertained during transitional states; for the prevailing ideas must, on the average, be congruous with existing institutions and activities.
The two essentially-different types of social organization, militant and industrial, based respectively on status and on contract, have, as we have above seen, feelings and beliefs severally adjusted to them; and the mixed feelings and beliefs appropriate to intermediate types, have continually to change according to the ratio between the one and the other. As I have elsewhere shown,* during the thirty-or rather forty-years' peace, and consequent weakening of the militant organization, the idea of justice became clearer: Principles of Sociology, $8 266-7; Political Institutions, $$ 573-4 and 559.
coercive regulations were relaxed and each man left more free to make the best of himself. But since then, the re-development of militancy has caused reversal of these changes; and, along with nominal increases of freedom, actual diminutions of freedom have resulted from multiplied restrictions and exactions. The spirit of regimentation proper to the militant type, has been spreading throughout the administration of civil life. An army of workers with appointed tasks and apportioned shares of products, which socialism, knowingly or unknowingly, aims at, shows in civil life the same characters as an army of soldiers with prescribed duties and fixed rations shows in military life; and every act of parliament which takes money from the individual for public purposes and gives him public benefits, tends to assimilate the two. Germany best shows this kinship. There, where militancy is most pronounced, and where the regulation of citizens is most elaborate, socialism is most highly developed ; and from the head of the German military system has now come the proposal of regimental regulations for the working classes throughout Europe.
Sympathy which, a generation ago, was taking the shape of justice, is relapsing into the shape of generosity; and the generosity is exercised by inflicting injustice. Daily legislation betrays little anxiety that each shall have that which belongs to him, but great anxiety that he shall have that which belongs to somebody else. For while no energy is expended in so reforming our judicial administration that everyone may obtain and enjoy all he has earned, great energy is shown in providing for him and others benefits which they have not earned. Along with that miserable laissez-faire which calmly looks on while men ruin themselves in trying to enforce by law their equitable claims, there goes activity in supplying them, at other men's cost, with gratis novel-reading!
THE FORMULA OF JUSTICE.
$ 27. After tracing up the evolution of justice in its simple form, considered objectively as a condition to the maintenance of life; after seeing how justice as so considered becomes qualified by a new factor when the life is gregarious, more especially in the human race; and after observing the corresponding subjective products—the sentiment of justice and the idea of justice-arising from converse with this condition; we are now prepared for giving to the conclusion reached a definite form. We have simply to find a precise expression for the compromise described in the last chapter.
The formula has to unite a positive element with a negative element. It must be positive in so far as it asserts for each that, since he is to receive and suffer the good and evil results of his actions, he must be allowed to act. And it must be negative in so far as, by asserting this of everyone, it implies that each can be allowed to act only under the restraint imposed by the presence of others having like claims to act. Evidently the positive element is that which expresses a pre-requisite to life in general, and the negative element is that which qualifies this prerequisite in the way required when, instead of one life carried on alone, there are many lives carried on together.
Hence, that which we have to express in a precise way,