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Title: Ethical Relativity
Author: Edward Westermarck
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Language: English
Date first posted: April 2016
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Ethical Relativity









_First published in England, 1932_




Preface  xvii

I. The Supposed Objectivity of Moral Judgments   3

What is meant by the objectivity of moral judgments assumed by
"normative" ethics, p. 3--The diversity of opinion with regard to
the principles underlying the various normative systems, p. 3
_sq._--The hedonistic principle supposed to be an analytical
proposition, p. 4 _sq._--J. S. Mill's arguments in favour of
utilitarianism, pp. 6-9--H. Sidgwick's attempt to vindicate the
validity of utilitarianism pp. 8-15--His principle of "rational
benevolence," supposed to rest on a fundamental moral intuition,
pp. 9-15--His axioms of prudence and justice, p. 11 _sq._--The
general hedonistic principle also regarded by him as an object of
intuition, p. 15--"Theological utilitarianism," pp.
15-20--Egoistic hedonism and its relation to universalistic
hedonism or utilitarianism, pp. 17-20--Herbert Spencer's
evolutionary utilitarianism, pp. 20-24--Leslie Stephen's
evolutionary utilitarianism, p. 24 _sq._--F. Paulsen's energism,
p. 26-28--F. H. Bradley's theory of self-realization, pp.
28-30--H. Rashdall's teleological theory, p. 30 _sq._--L. T.
Hobhouse's **teleological theory, pp. 31-33--Unphilosophical
intuitionism, p, 34.

II. The Supposed Objectivity of Moral Judgments (concluded)   35

The supposed existence in the human mind of some "faculty" that
enables us to pronounce objectively valid moral judgments, pp.
35-41--Called "moral sense," pp. 35-37--Or "conscience," pp.
37-39--Or "practical" or "moral reason," or included under the
general terms "reason" or "understanding," pp. 39-41--The presumed
self-evidence of moral principles, pp. 41-44--The idea of
moralists that moral judgments possess objective validity, adopted
from the morality of common sense, p. 45 _sq._--The common sense
idea of the objective validity of moral judgments regarded as a
proof of their really possessing such validity, p. 46 _sq._--The
general tendency to assign objectivity to our subjective
experience, p. 48 _sq._--The appearance of objectivity in moral
judgments due to various circumstances, pp. 49-52--To the
comparatively uniform nature of the moral consciousness, p. 50--To
education, p. 50 _sq._--To the authority of public opinion,
custom, and law, p. 50 _sq._--To the influence of some great
teacher, p. {viii} 51--To the belief in an all-wise and all-powerful
God, p. 51--To the internal authority assigned to the moral law,
or conscience, p. 51 _sq._--The supposed supremacy of the moral
law, pp. 52-55--The theological argument in favour of the
objectivity of moral judgments, pp. 55-57--The belief that ethical
subjectivity is a dangerous doctrine, pp. 57-60--The supposed
objectivity of moral judgments not only unproved, but impossible
owing to their emotional origin, p. 60 _sq._--The object of
scientific ethics not to lay down rules for human conduct, but to
study the moral consciousness as a fact, p. 61.

III. The Moral Emotions   62

The moral emotions of two kinds: moral approval and moral
disapproval or indignation, p. 62 _sq._--The moral emotions
retributive emotions, approval, like gratitude, forming a
subspecies of retributive kindly emotion, and disapproval, like
anger and revenge, forming a subspecies of resentment, p.
63--Professor McDougall's criticism of this scheme both in point
of terminology and classification, p. 63 _sq._--His criticism of
the author's view of the relation between anger and revenge, pp.
64-68--Dr. Steinmetz's suggestion that revenge is essentially
rooted in the feeling of power and superiority and originally
undirected, pp. 65-67--Resentment a hostile attitude of mind
towards a living being, or something taken for a living being, as
a cause of pain, p. 68--Resentment, like reflex action, from which
it has gradually developed, a means of protection for the animal,
p. 68 _sq._--The close connection between moral disapproval and
non-moral resentment, pp. 69-71--The aggressiveness of moral
disapproval modified under the influence of the altruistic
sentiment, pp. 71-86--To take revenge on an enemy regarded as a
duty in early ethics, p. 71 _sq._--The rule of equivalence between
the injury and the suffering inflicted in return for it, p.
72 _sq._--The substitution of punishment for revenge, p. 73
_sq._--The doctrine of forgiveness, condemning not every kind of
resentment but non-moral resentment, not punishment but revenge,
pp. 74-76--The aggressive character of moral disapproval modified
not only by a more scrutinizing attitude towards resentment and
retaliation, but also by condemnation of causing suffering merely
for the sake of retribution, p. 76 _sq._--The proper end of
punishment considered to be, not retribution, but either to deter
from crime, or to reform the criminal, or to repress crime by
eliminating or secluding him p. 77 _sq._--The theorists who think
it possible to make punishment independent of moral resentment
victims of an illusion, pp. 78-80--Facts which lessen the gap
between the theory of retribution and the other theories of
punishment, pp. 80-83--The social usefulness of punishment, p.
84 _sq._--The modification of the aggressive element in moral
disapproval which is apparent in the attempt to narrow the channel
of its activity by the rule that we should hate not the sinner but
only the sin, p. 85 _sq._--The instinctive {ix} desire to inflict
counter-pain (not necessarily physical) the most important
characteristic of moral indignation, p. 85 _sq._--Retributive
kindly emotion a friendly attitude of mind towards a living being,
or something taken for a living being, as a cause of pleasure, p.
86--Gratitude, p. 86 _sq._--Retributive kindly emotion among the
lower animals, p. 87 _sq._--Its intrinsic object, p. 88--Moral
approval a kind of retributive kindly emotion, p. 88.

IV. The Moral Emotions (concluded)   89

Refutation of the opinion that moral emotions only arise after and
in consequence of an intellectual process through which the moral
quality of a certain course of conduct has been discerned, p. 89
_sq._0--At the same time moral judgments, being definite expressions
of moral emotions, can help us to discover the true nature of
these emotions, p. 90--Disinterestedness and impartiality, real or
apparent, characteristics by which moral approval and disapproval
are distinguished from other, non-moral, kinds of resentment or
retributive kindly emotion, pp. 91-94--The analysis of the moral
emotions attempted in this and the preceding chapter applies not
only to such emotions as we feel on account of the conduct of
others, but to such as we feel on account of our own conduct as
well, p. 94 _sq._--We may feel disinterested resentment, or
retributive kindly emotion, on account of an injury inflicted, or
a benefit conferred, upon another person with whose pain, or
pleasure, we sympathize, and in whose welfare we take a kindly
interest, pp. 95-105--Sympathetic feelings based on association,
p. 96--Only the co-operation of the altruistic sentiment with
sympathy induces us to take a kindly interest in the feelings of
our neighbours, and tends to produce disinterested retributive
emotions, p. 97 _sq._--Sympathetic resentment a much more frequent
emotion than sympathetic retributive kindliness, p. 98--Sympathetic
resentment among the lower animals, pp. 98-100--Maternal, paternal,
and conjugal affection, pp. 100-103--Gregariousness, p. 103
_sq._--The altruistic sentiment in all its forms characterized
by the same tendency to feel kindliness towards an individual
who is a cause of pleasure, p. 104--Sympathetic resentment among
savages, p. 104 _sq._--Disinterested resentment not only felt in
consequence of an injury inflicted upon another individual as a
reaction against sympathetic pain, but also directly produced by
the cognition of the signs of resentment, pp. 105-107--Disinterested
resentment springing from disinterested antipathies or sentimental
aversions, p. 107 _sq._--Disinterested retributive kindly emotion
produced by the signs of kindliness, p. 108--Springing from
disinterested likings, p. 108--Why disinterestedness and impartiality
have become characteristics of that particular kind of retributive
emotions that we call moral emotions, pp. 109-111--Customs not
only public habits but also rules of conduct, p. 109--In early
society the only moral rules, p. 109--The characteristics of moral
{x} disapproval to be sought for in its connection with custom, p.
100--Custom characterized by disinterestedness and at least
apparent impartiality, p. 110 _sq._--Custom a moral rule on
account of the public disapproval called forth by its
transgression, p. 111--As public disapproval is the prototype of
moral disapproval, so public approval, expressed in public praise,
is the prototype of moral approval, p. 111 _sq._--Moral
disapproval and approval have not always remained inseparably
connected with the feelings of any special society, p.
112--Refutation of the opinion that the original form of the moral
consciousness has been the individual conscience, p. 112 _sq._

V. The Moral Concepts   114

The theory of the emotional origin of moral judgments does not
imply that such a judgment affirms the existence of a moral
emotion in the mind of the person who utters it, p. 114--It
implies that the qualities assigned to the subjects of moral
judgments and expressed by moral concepts are generalizations of
tendencies to feel either moral approval or disapproval,
interpreted as dynamic tendencies in the phenomena which gave rise
to the emotion, pp. 114-117--Our analysis of moral concepts to be
concerned with such as are expressed in English terms, all of
which have equivalents in other European languages, pp. 118--Moral
concepts among the lower races, p. 118--Language a rough
generalizer, p. 118 _sq._--Competition between the concept of
"ought" or "duty" and that of "goodness," pp. 119-122--Analysis of
"ought" and "duty," pp. 122-126--Of "bad" and "wrong," p. 126--Of
"right," as an adjective, pp. 126-128--Of "right," as a
substantive, p. 128 _sq._--Of the relation between "rights" and
"duties," p. 129 _sq._--Of "injustice" and "justice," pp.
130-134--Of "good," pp. 134-137--Of the relation between "good"
and "right," pp. 135-137--Of "virtue," pp. 137-139--Of the
relation between "virtue" and "duty," p. 138 _sq._--Of "merit," p.
139--Of the relation between "merit" and "duty," p. 140--The
question of the "superobligatory," p. 140 _sq._--The moral ideal,
p. 141--Moral judgments which may be said to be true without
possessing objective validity, p. 141 _sq._--Objections raised to
my theory of the emotional origin of the moral concepts, pp.
142-147--By Professor Sorley, p. 142--By Professor Moore, pp.
142-146--By Dr. Ross, pp. 144-146--By Dr. Rashdall, p. 146 _sq._

VI. The Subjects of Moral Judgments   148

Analysis of the term "conduct," pp. 148-158--The meaning of the
word "act," p. 148--There can be only one intention in one act, p.
148 _sq._--The moral judgments pronounced on acts relate
intrinsically to the intention and not to the event, p.
149.--Deliberate wishes also objects of moral praise or blame, p.
147 _sq._--The meaning of the word "motive," p. 150--The motive of
an act may be an {xi} intention, though only an intention
belonging to another act, or a deliberate wish, and falls then
within the sphere of moral valuation, p. 150--But even motives
that are neither intentions or deliberate wishes may indirectly
exercise influence on moral judgments, pp. 150-152--Moral
judgments intrinsically passed not on intentions or deliberate
wishes in the abstract, but on the persons who have them, p.
152--Many moral judgments, particularly those the predicates of
which express no tendency to feel either approval or disapproval
if the act is performed, take notice only of the intention of an
act and say nothing about its motive, p. 152--There is in this
respect a difference between acts called "right" and those called
"wrong," p. 153 _sq._--Forbearances morally equivalent to acts, p.
154--Distinction between forbearances and omissions, p. 154--Moral
judgments refer not only to willing but to not-willing as well,
not only to acts and forbearances, but to omissions, p. 154
_sq._--Negligence, heedlessness, and rashness, p. 155--Moral blame
concerned with not-willing only in so far as it is attributed to a
defect of the "will," p. 155 _sq._--The distinction between
conscious omissions and forbearances, and between not-willing to
refrain from doing and willing to do, may be of little or no
significance from an ethical point of view, p. 156 _sq._--The
"known concomitants of acts," p. 157--Absence of volitions also
gives rise to moral praise, p. 157 _sq._--If by character is
understood a person's will regarded as a continuous entity, the
subject of a moral judgment is, strictly speaking, a person's
character conceived as the cause of his conduct, p. 158 _sq._
--Moral judgments said, to be passed on emotions, pp. 159-161--On
opinions, p. 161 _sq._--The light which early custom, law,
and belief may throw on the subject of moral valuation, p. 162
_sq._--Lack of discrimination between intentional and accidental
injuries, pp. 163-168--Does not imply any difference in principle
between the enlightened and unenlightened moral consciousness as
regards the subject of moral valuation, pp. 165-168--Agents under
intellectual disability: animals, little children, idiots, and
madmen, pp. 168-170--Animals exposed to regular punishment, p. 169
_sq._--Little notice taken of motives by early law and custom, p.
170 _sq._--Why in early moral codes so-called negative
commandments are much more prominent than positive commandments,
p. 171--Moral approval and disapproval from the beginning felt
with reference to persons on account of their conduct, their will
regarded as a continuous entity, p. 171 _sq._--Why moral judgments
are passed on conduct and character, pp. 172-177--Not only moral
emotions, but also non-moral retributive emotions when
sufficiently deliberate, felt towards objects that are exactly
similar in nature to those on which moral judgments are passed,
pp. 172-176--Deliberate non-moral resentment felt only towards a
living being or something which is taken for a living being, p.
173--Distinguishes between accidental and intentional injuries, p.
173--We feel hardly disposed to resent injuries inflicted upon us
by animals, little {xii} children, and madmen when we clearly
realize their inability to judge of the nature of their acts, p.
174--Deliberate non-moral resentment influenced by the motives of
acts, p. 174--What a person does in madness not an act committed
by him, p. 174 _sq._--When a hurt is attributed to lack of
foresight, non-moral resentment ceteris paribus proportionate to
the degree of carelessness laid to the offender's charge, p.
175--Non-moral resentment not indifferent to the character of the
injurer, p. 175--Similar resemblances between the facts that give
rise to gratitude and those which are objects of moral praise, p.
175 _sq._--Futility of other attempts to solve the problem why
moral judgments are passed on conduct and character, p. 176
_sq._--A detailed inquiry into the moral valuation of the
particular modes of conduct also shows its obvious connection with
the retributive character of the moral emotions, p.
177--Distinction made in moral judgments between the original and
the acquired character of a person, pp. 177-179--In the very
strictest sense of the term the proper subject of moral judgment
is the innate character, p. 179--The opinion that responsibility,
in the ordinary sense of the term, and moral judgments generally,
are inconsistent with determinism, p. 179 _sq._--As a matter of
fact, however, moral emotions are felt by determinists and
indeterminists alike, p. 180 _sq._--Explanation of the fallacy at
the bottom of the notion that moral valuation is inconsistent with
determinism, p. 181 _sq._--Causation confounded with compulsion,
determinism confounded with fatalism, p. 181 _sq._--The moral
emotions no more concerned with the origin of the innate character
than the aesthetic emotions are concerned with the origin of the
beautiful object, p. 182.

VII. The Variability of Moral Judgments   183

Whether the variety of moral judgments justifies the denial of
objective validity depends in the first place upon the causes to
which it is due, p. 183--Such denial not justified by cases where
the diversity of moral opinion depends on insufficient knowledge
of facts, or insufficient reflection, as regards the general
subjective conditions of the modes of conduct to which the moral
judgments refer, p. 183 _sq._--Or where it depends upon different
ideas relating to the objective nature of similar modes of conduct
and their consequences, arising from different situations and
external conditions of life, of which the customs of killing or
abandoning old parents and of killing or exposure of new-born
children serve as examples, pp. 184-187--Or where it originates in
different measures of knowledge, based on experience of the
consequences of conduct, or in different beliefs, pp. 187-196--The
beliefs in supernatural forces or beings and in a future state
have led to an extraordinary diversity of moral opinion, pp.
187-196--This is strikingly illustrated, for instance, by
different attitudes towards human sacrifice, pp. 187-189--Towards
suicide, pp. 189-192--Towards homosexual practices, pp. 192-196--On
{xiii} the other hand there are differences of moral opinion that
clash with that universality which is implied in the notion of the
objectivity of moral judgments, pp. 197-219--This is the case with
the gradual expansion of similar moral rules to larger and larger
circles of men, an immediate cause of which has been a widening of
the altruistic sentiment, pp. 197-208--The influence of religion
on this process, p. 202 _sq._--The influence of reason, pp.
203-207--The mistaken idea that the impartiality characteristic of
all moral judgments required a universalization of the moral
rules, which could only be accomplished by a process of reasoning,
pp. 205-207--The variations of the altruistic sentiment in range
and strength also responsible for the lack of unanimity as to the
dictates of duty in cases where a person's own interests collide
with those of his fellow-men, p. 208 _sq._--The variety of moral
opinion relating to men's conduct towards the lower animals, pp.
209-213--The notion of normative moralists that the changes of
moral opinion are on a par with the discoveries made in science,
p. 213-215--Their failure to see that the changes in moral opinion
and those in our theoretical knowledge are in a large measure due
to fundamentally different causes, pp. 215-217--The fallacious
argument that, with sufficient insight into facts, there would, be
no diversity of moral opinion if only the moral consciousness of
all men were "sufficiently developed," p. 217 _sq._--That moral
judgments cannot possess that universality which is characteristic
of truth also appears from the fact their predicates vary not only
in quality but in quantity, p. 218--The quantitative differences
of moral estimates due to the emotional origin of all moral
concepts, p. 218 _sq._

VIII. The Emotional Background of Normative Theories   220

The general recognition of moralists that there is some connection
between moral valuation and the production of pleasure or pain,
due to the retributive character of the moral emotions, p. 220
_sq._--Egoistic hedonism, pp. 221-223--Self-regarding duties and
virtues, pp. 223-227--From the point of view of common sense
utilitarianism has greatly exaggerated the duty of promoting one's
own happiness, and underrated the right to do so when some other
person's happiness is lessened thereby, p. 226
_sq._--Utilitarianism in the first place due to the nature of the
moral emotions, but its universalism not a mere expression of
their disinterestedness and impartiality: it is closely connected
with a corresponding expansion of the altruistic sentiment, pp.
227-229--Criticism to which utilitarianism has been subjected, p.
229--The commensurability of pleasures and pains assumed by it not
found in the general moral valuation of conduct, p. 230
_sq._--Utilitarianism insists on the necessity of acting according
to general rules, but admits that there are emergencies in which
they may be {xiv} transgressed, p. 231 _sq._--Certain duties which
have not an exclusively utilitarian foundation, pp.
232-258--Justice, p. 232--Veracity, which is required not merely
because untruthfulness is apt to cause harm, but also because it
is intrinsically antipathetic, pp. 232-235--Chastity, the moral
valuation of which partly rests on a utilitarian basis, partly is
influenced by specific religious ideas, and to a large extent
springs from sentimental likes and dislikes, pp. 235-258--Sexual
relations between men and women falling outside the recognized
marriage institution, pp. 235-244--Adultery, pp. 244-246--Incest,
pp. 246-250--Celibacy, pp. 251-257--Marriage regarded as a duty,
pp. 251-253--Religious celibacy, pp. 253-256--Homosexual
intercourse, p. 257--Sentimental preferences and aversions largely
responsible for that divergence which exists between actual moral
ideas and a consistently utilitarian code of morality, p.
258--When sufficiently discriminating, resentment is too much
concerned with the will of the agent to be felt towards a person
who obviously neither intends to offend any one nor is guilty of
culpable oversight, p. 258--Utilitarianism not inseparably joined
with psychological hedonism, which erroneously assumes that
volition is always determined by pleasure or pain, p. 259
_sq._--The distinction between the desire for pleasure and the
desire for something pleasant emphasized by theories which have
been included under names like energism, welfare theory, or
eudemonism, p. 260 _sq._--Since the fulfilment of a desire brings
pleasure while the frustration of it brings pain, whatever the
object of the desire may be, every ethical theory that regards any
course of conduct which promotes the attainment of a certain
desired end as good, and any course of conduct which obstructs it
as bad, is so far in agreement with the view that moral judgments
are ultimately based on emotional reactions against causes of
pleasure or pain, p. 261--Moral intuitions nowadays generally
referred to reason, or practical or moral reason, by which we
apprehend moral truths immediately without the drawing of
inferences, p. 261--Intuitionists attempts to explain the relation
between the intuitions and the emotions connected with them, p.
261 _sq._--In the author's opinion the only reasonable explanation
of the intimate connection between so-called intuitions and the
presence of emotional tendencies is that the intuitions actually
are these tendencies, formulated as judgments which are calculated
to give moral values an objectivity that they do not in reality
possess, p. 263.

IX. The Emotional Background of Normative Theories (concluded)  264

Kant founds his ethics on conceptions of pure reason without any
appeal to experience of any kind, p. 264--All moral laws must be
valid with absolute necessity for all rational creatures, "in so
far as they have a will, that is, {xv} a power to determine their
causality by the conception of rules"; and a law which must carry
with it absolute necessity cannot be explained by experience but
must be based on reason, pp. 264-266--Kant found the idea of the
validity of the moral law, which he shared with common sense, in
his moral consciousness in the form of a categorical imperative
preserving the mysterious awfulness of the old "Thou shalt," as an
echo from another world, p. 266 _sq._--This emotional response to
the notion of duty, together with some other factors, led him to
the theory that there is no moral worth in any act that is not
done simply for duty's sake, out of respect for the moral law, pp.
267-270--His view that all human inclinations are desire for
pleasure, p. 268 _sq._--His aversion to ethical hedonism and
eudemonism, p. 270--His notion that the doing of a dutiful action
necessarily involves a conscious resistance to inclination, p.
271--For Kant "duty" is an expression of admiration and reverence,
of the emotion of moral approval aroused by obedience to duty, not
merely by disapproval aroused by transgression; and we are
particularly apt to bestow moral praise on a person who has done
his duty in difficult circumstances when he had a strong interest
in acting differently, p. 271 _sq._--His notion of the sublimity
of duty implies that he can assign no superiority to any other
concept: good is what ought to be done, p. 272--His doctrine of
moral imperatives in agreement with the fact, recognized by common
sense, that duties are expressed in rules which command general
obedience; but he refused to allow any exceptions to these rules,
p. 272 _sq._--The formulas of the categorical imperative, pp.
273-278--"Act only on that maxim whereby thou canst at the same
time will that it should become a universal law," and, "Act so
that the maxim of thy will can always at the same time hold good
as a principle of universal legislation," pp. 273-277--The
character of universality thus ascribed to the moral law an
expression of the disinterestedness or impartiality of the moral
emotions, p. 276 _sq._--The formula, "So act as to treat humanity,
whether in thine own person or in that of any other, in every case
as an end withal, never as means only," an expression of a broad
humanitarian feeling, p. 277 _sq._--No command that every one
should try to make himself happy, except as a means of escaping
temptation to transgression of duty, p. 279 _sq._--But a duty to
promote the happiness of other men, p. 280--Differences between
Kant's hedonistic doctrine of duties and the theory which
generally goes under the name of utilitarianism, pp. 280-282--His
attempt to establish the duty of beneficence by alleging that the
egoistic maxim would contradict itself, p. 282--His duty of
beneficence not really an inference from the categorical
imperative, but a notion vaguely or distinctly found, though
greatly varying in comprehensiveness, in the moral consciousness
of all men, because it springs from emotions common to them all,
p. 282 _sq._--Kant's notion of the summum bonum, which is a
combination of morality and happiness, the {xvi} latter
conditioned by and proportioned to the former, pp. 283-285--An
accurate correspondence between happiness and moral worth to be
expected only if there is a moral and all-powerful Supreme Being
who establishes such correspondence, p. 283--The combination of
morality and happiness in the _summum bonum_ said to be recognized
_a priori_, as indispensably required by practical reason, but
obviously the outcome of the moral emotion of retributive
kindliness towards a virtuous person worthy of happiness, p. 284
_sq._--Kant's view that the sole object of punishment is
retribution in accordance with the principle of equivalence both
in quality and quantity (_jus talionis_), pp. 286-288--This
doctrine, regarded by him as a dictate of practical reason,
obviously an expression of the emotion of moral resentment, p.
288--The emotional background transparent throughout the ethics of
the greatest of all rational moralists an important fact in favour
of the main contentions in this book: that the moral consciousness
is ultimately based on emotions, that the moral judgment lacks
objective validity, that the moral values are not absolute but
relative to the emotions they express, p. 289.

Index   291

{xvii} PREFACE

In an earlier book, _The Origin and Development of the Moral
Ideas_, it was my object to study the moral consciousness as it
displays itself among mankind at large. In spite of its numerous
references to customs, laws, and institutions, my inquiry was
essentially concerned not with behaviour, but with opinions. I
arrived at the conclusion that moral judgments are ultimately
based on emotions, the moral concepts being generalizations of
emotional tendencies; although I recognized at the same time the
enormous influence that intellectual considerations exercise upon
those judgments, in the first place through the cognitions by
which the moral emotions are determined. In a short introductory
chapter I indicated that the emotional origin of moral judgments
consistently leads to a denial of the objective validity ascribed
to them both by common sense and by normative theories of ethics.
This idea will be further developed in the present treatise.

I shall examine the main arguments adduced in support of the
notion of moral objectivity, and try to show that they are
incompatible with facts on which ethical subjectivism establishes
its claims, nay, that the normative theories themselves have an
emotional foundation. In my analyses of the moral emotions, the
principal moral concepts, and the subjects of moral judgments, I
shall have to repeat much that I have said in my earlier book
(which I may do by kind permission of its publishers, Messrs.
Macmillan & Co.); but while my views on these topics have remained
substantially the same, they have undergone various modifications
in detail. For other reasons {xviii} also I am glad to have an
opportunity to deal with those subjects afresh. I shall be able to
discuss objections raised to my former treatment of them by other
writers in the course of the many years--about a quarter of a
century--which have elapsed since the first publication of my
_Moral Ideas_; to give a more precise formulation of my views by
corrections and additions; and to make them stand out more clearly
by detaching them from the mass of anthropological and historical
particulars, which seem to have disabled some of my earlier
readers from seeing the wood for the trees.

It appears to me that the present publication of a book in defence
of ethical subjectivism and relativity is the more timely, as the
large bulk of ethical literature which has been produced in this
country since the beginning of the century has championed the
opposite cause.

I beg to express my best thanks to Miss Agnes Dawson for valuable
suggestions of a formal character.

E. W.

Villa Tusculum,
outside Tangier,
19th August, 1931.

Ethical Relativity



Ethics is generally looked upon as a "normative" science, the
object of which is to find and formulate moral principles and
rules possessing objective validity. The supposed objectivity of
moral values, as understood in this treatise, implies that they
have a real existence apart from any reference to a human mind,
that what is said to be good or bad, right or wrong, cannot be
reduced merely to what people think to be good or bad, right or
wrong. It makes morality a matter of truth and falsity, and to say
that a judgment is true obviously means something different from
the statement that it is thought to be true. The objectivity of
moral judgments does not presuppose the infallibility of the
individual who pronounces such a judgment, nor even the accuracy
of a general consensus of opinion; but if a certain course of
conduct is objectively right, it must be thought to be right by
all rational beings who judge truly of the matter and cannot,
without error, be judged to be wrong.

In spite of the fervour with which the objectivity of moral
judgments has been advocated by the exponents of normative ethics
there is much diversity of opinion with regard to the principles
underlying the various systems. This discord is as old as ethics
itself. But while the evolution of other sciences has shown a
tendency to increasing agreement on points of fundamental
importance, the same can hardly be said to have been the case in
the history of {4} ethics, where the spirit of controversy has
been much more conspicuous than the endeavour to add new truths to
results already reached. Of course, if moral values are objective,
only one of the conflicting theories can possibly be true. Each
founder of a new theory hopes that it is he who has discovered the
unique jewel of moral truth, and is naturally anxious to show that
other theories are only false stones. But he must also by positive
reasons make good his claim to the precious find.

These reasons are of great importance in a discussion of the
question whether moral judgments really are objective or merely
are supposed to be so; for if any one of the theories of normative
ethics has been actually proved to be true, the objectivity of
those judgments has _eo ipso_ been established as an indisputable
fact. I shall therefore proceed to an examination of the main
evidence that has been produced in favour of the most typical of
these theories.

       *       *      *       *       *

I shall begin with hedonism, according to which actions are right
in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, and wrong in
proportion as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. And
by happiness is then meant "pleasure, and the absence of pain; by
unhappiness, pain, and the privation of pleasure."[1] What is the

[Footnote 1: J. S. Mill, _Utilitarianism_ (London, 1895), p. 10.]

It has been said that the hedonistic principle requires no proof,
because it is simply an analytic proposition, a mere definition.
Because acts that are called right generally produce pleasure and
acts that are called wrong generally produce pain, rightness and
wrongness have been actually identified with the tendencies of
acts to produce pleasure or pain. The following statement of Sir
James Stephen is a clearly expressed instance of such an
identification: {5} --"Speaking generally, the acts which are
called right do promote, or are supposed to promote general
happiness, and the acts which are called wrong do diminish, or are
supposed to diminish it. I say, therefore, that this is what the
words 'right' and 'wrong' mean, just as the words 'up' and 'down'
mean that which points from or towards the earth's centre of
gravity, though they are used by millions who have not the least
notion of the fact that such is their meaning, and though they
were used for centuries and millenniums before any one was or even
could be aware of it."[2] A similar view is expressed by Bentham
when he says that words like "ought," "right," and "wrong," have
no meaning unless interpreted in accordance with the principle of
utility.[3] Now the statement that a certain act has a tendency to
promote happiness, or to cause unhappiness, is either true or
false; and if rightness and wrongness are only other words for
these tendencies, it is therefore obvious that the moral judgments
also have objective validity. But it is impossible to doubt that
anybody who sees sufficiently carefully into the matter must admit
that the identification in question is due to a confusion between
the meaning of terms and the use made of them when applied to acts
on account of their tendencies to produce certain effects. Bentham
himself seems to have felt something of the kind. For although he
asserts that the rectitude of the principle of utility has been
contested only by those who have not known what they have been
meaning, he raises the question whether it is susceptible of any
direct proof. And his answer is as follows:--"It should seem not:
for that which is used to prove everything else, cannot itself be
{6} proved: a chain of proofs must have their commencement
somewhere."[4] The question and the answer suggest that Bentham,
after all, hardly looked upon the principle of utility or, as he
also calls it, the greatest happiness principle, as strictly
speaking a mere definition of rightness.

[Footnote 2: J. F. Stephen, _Liberty, Equality, Fraternity_
(London, 1873), p. 338.]

[Footnote 3: J. Bentham, _An Introduction to the Principles of
Morals and Legislation_ (Oxford, 1879), p. 4.]

[Footnote 4: Bentham, _op. cit._, p. 4.]

Stuart Mill, also, admits that this principle, like all questions
of ultimate ends, is not amenable to direct proof, "in the
ordinary and popular meaning of the term." But he says that there
is a larger meaning of the word proof: considerations may be
presented capable of determining the intellect either to give or
withhold its assent to the doctrine, and this is equivalent to
proof.[5] Questions about ends are questions as to what things are
desirable. "The utilitarian doctrine is, that happiness is
desirable, and the only thing desirable, as an end; all other
things being only desirable as means to that end. What ought to be
required of this doctrine--what conditions is it requisite that
the doctrine should fulfil--to make good its claim to be believed?
The only proof capable of being given that an object is visible,
is that people actually see it. The only proof that a sound is
audible, is that people hear it; and so of the other sources of
our experience. In like manner, I apprehend, the sole evidence it
is possible to produce that anything is desirable, is that people
do actually desire it."[6] The fallacy of this argument has often
been exposed, and is indeed too obvious to be disputed. While the
visible means what can be seen and the audible what can be heard,
the desirable does not mean what can be desired; and Mill even
understands by it what ought to be desired, which gives to the
word a more specified meaning than is justified by the ordinary
use of it, {7} since something may be held desirable on other than
moral grounds. And yet he thinks the mere fact that a thing is
desired is a sufficient proof that it is desirable, just as if
people never could desire to do anything else than what they ought
to desire to do.

[Footnote 5: Mill, _op. cit._, p. 6 _sq._]

[Footnote 6: _Ibid._, p. 52 _sq._]

Now the utilitarian standard is not the agent's own greatest
happiness, but the greatest amount of happiness altogether. It may
be defined as the rules and precepts for human conduct by the
observance of which happiness might be, to the greatest extent
possible, secured to all mankind; "and not to them only, but, so
far as the nature of things admits, to the whole sentient
creation."[7] How can this be proved? Mill argues that "no reason
can be given why the general happiness is desirable, except that
each person, so far as he believes it to be attainable, desires
his own happiness. This, however, being a fact, we have not only
all the proof which the case admits of, but all which it is
possible to require, that happiness is a good: that each person's
happiness is a good to that person, and the general happiness,
therefore, a good to the aggregate of all persons."[8] But if a
person desires his own happiness, and if what he desires is
desirable in the sense that he ought to desire it, the standard of
general happiness can only mean that each person ought to desire
his own happiness. In other words, the premises in Mill's argument
would lead to egoistic hedonism, not to utilitarianism or
universalistic hedonism.

[Footnote 7: _Ibid._, p. 16 _sq._]

[Footnote 8: _Ibid._, p. 53.]

But Mill also produces another argument in favour of the
utilitarian doctrine: it has the support of the social feelings of
mankind. Men have a desire to be in unity with their
fellow-creatures, and this desire, which is already a powerful
principle in human nature, tends to become stronger from the
influences of advancing civilization. {8} The strengthening of
social ties gives to each individual a stronger personal interest
in consulting the welfare of others; and it also leads him to
identify his _feelings_ more and more with their good. In the
comparatively early state of human advancement in which we now
live, a person cannot indeed feel that entireness of sympathy with
all others, which would make any real discordance in the general
direction of their conduct in life impossible; this feeling is in
most individuals much inferior in strength to their selfish
feelings, and is often wanting altogether. But the deeply rooted
conception which every individual even now has of himself as a
social being, tends to make him feel it one of his natural wants
that there should be harmony between his feeling and aims and
those of his fellow-creatures. And "this conviction is the
ultimate sanction of the greatest-happiness morality."[9] In this
argument Mill has undoubtedly stated facts which go a long way to
explain the origin and wide acceptance of the utilitarian theory,
but he has by no means proved its objective validity. Nor has he
even, by far, been able to claim for it the support of a consensus
of moral opinion.

[Footnote 9: Mill, _op. cit._, p. 46 _sqq._]

Another attempt to vindicate the validity of utilitarianism was
made by Sidgwick. When examining the evidence presented by Mill,
"the most persuasive and probably the most influential among
English expositors of utilitarianism," he found it unsatisfactory.
Even if it were granted that what is actually desired may be
legitimately inferred to be desirable, in the sense that it ought
to be desired, the proposition that the general happiness is
desirable would not be established by Mill's reasoning because, so
far as this reasoning goes, there is no actual desire for the
general happiness. There is thus a gap in the argument, and {9}
this gap, according to Sidgwick, can only be filled by an
intuition: an axiom or principle of "rational benevolence" is
required as a basis for the utilitarian system.[10] This principle
is the maxim, "that each one is morally bound to regard the good
of any other individual as much as his own, except in so far as he
judges it to be less, when impartially viewed, or less certainly
knowable or attainable by him." The proposition, "I ought not to
prefer my own lesser good to the greater good of another,"
presents itself to Sidgwick as no less self-evident than the
mathematical axiom that "if equals be added to equals the wholes
are equal."[11] He also says, "I find that I undoubtedly seem to
perceive, as clearly and certainly as I see any axiom in
Arithmetic or Geometry, that it is 'right' and 'reasonable' for me
to . . . do what I believe to be ultimately conducive to universal
Good or Happiness."[12] Thus the utilitarian rule of aiming at the
general happiness is seen to "rest on a fundamental moral

[Footnote 10: H. Sidgwick, _The Methods of Ethics_ (London, 1913),
p. 387 _sq._]

[Footnote 11: _Ibid._, p. 382 _sq._]

[Footnote 12: _Ibid._, p. 507.]

Can this claim be justified? Sidgwick observes that "there seem to
be four conditions, the complete fulfilment of which would
establish a significant proposition, apparently self-evident, in
the highest degree of certainty attainable: and which must be
approximately realized by the premises of our reasoning in any
inquiry, if that reasoning is to lead us cogently to trustworthy
conclusions." These four conditions are:--1. "The terms of the
proposition must be clear and precise." 2. "The self-evidence of
the proposition must be ascertained by careful reflection." 3.
"The propositions accepted as self-evident must be mutually
consistent." 4. There must be an adequate consensus of opinion in
their favour.[13]--Let us see whether Sidgwick's {10} principle of
rational benevolence fulfils these conditions.

[Footnote 13: _Ibid._, p. 338 _sqq._]

The terms in which it is stated cannot be said to be "clear and
precise." Who is that other individual whose good I am morally
bound to regard as much as my own? I presume that Sidgwick means
every human individual, whether he be a relative or friend or not,
a compatriot or a foreigner, a civilized man or a savage. He says
it may be fairly urged that practically each man ought chiefly to
concern himself with promoting the good of a limited number of
human beings, and that generally in proportion to the closeness of
their connection with him; but he maintains that this may be done
"even with a view to universal Good."[14] But what about animals?
When examining the utilitarian principle, Sidgwick considers who
the "all" are whose happiness is to be taken into account. He
writes:--"Are we to extend our concern to all the beings capable
of pleasure and pain whose feelings are affected by our conduct?
Or are we to confine our view to human happiness? The former view
is the one adopted by Bentham and Mill, and (I believe) by the
Utilitarian school generally: and is obviously most in accordance
with the universality that is characteristic of their principle.
It is the good _Universal_, interpreted and defined as 'happiness'
or 'pleasure,' at which a Utilitarian considers it his duty to
aim: and it seems arbitrary and unreasonable to exclude from the
end, as so conceived, any pleasure of any sentient being."[15]
Yet, in spite of this definite statement, I cannot conceive that
Sidgwick would have regarded it as a self-evident proposition that
I ought not to prefer my own lesser good to the greater good of a
beast or bird or fish or insect, however "unreasonable" it might
be to exclude them from the principle of rational benevolence. I
venture {11} to believe that when he formulated this principle he
did not bestow on the question of animal happiness that "careful
reflection" which is the second condition he requires of a
self-evident proposition. And, as will be shown presently, it does
not seem to be the only instance in which he has failed to fulfil
this condition.

[Footnote 14: Sidgwick, _op. cit._, p. 382.]

[Footnote 15: _Ibid._, p. 414.]

As to the third criterion, according to which the propositions
accepted as self-evident must be mutually consistent, we have to
consider the relations between the principle of rational
benevolence and the two other principles, likewise regarded as
self-evident, which are stated in connection with it. One is the
axiom of prudence, or the maxim that "one ought to aim at one's
own good on the whole."[16] Whatever else may be said of this
principle, it is obvious that it cannot be consistent with that of
rational benevolence without an important qualification, namely,
that one ought to aim at one's own good on the whole only where it
does not collide with the greater good of somebody else.[17] The
other principle, called the principle of justice, is the
proposition that "it cannot be right for _A_ to treat _B_ in a
manner in which it would be wrong for _B_ to treat _A_, merely on
the ground that they are two different individuals, and without
there being any difference between the natures or circumstances of
the two which can be stated as a reasonable ground for difference
of treatment."[18] This proposition is true, but for the simple
reason that it is tautological; and the truth expressed by it
applies not only to the rightness of acts, but to all moral
concepts. When I pronounce an act to be right or wrong, good or
bad, I mean that it is so quite independently of any reference it
may have to me personally {12} or to the particular relationship
in which I stand to him who is immediately affected by the act and
to him who performs it. This is implied in the very meaning of
those and all other moral predicates on account of the
disinterestedness and apparent impartiality that characterize the
moral emotions, from which all moral concepts are derived.[19] The
principle of rational benevolence is certainly not inconsistent
with the so-called principle of justice, but it derives absolutely
no support from it. According to the latter principle it might
very well be right for each person to prefer his own lesser good
to the greater good of another, although it could not be right for
me and wrong for another similar person in similar circumstances
to do so.

[Footnote 16: _Ibid._, p. 381.]

[Footnote 17: _Cf._ H. Rashdall, _The Theory of Good and Evil_, i.
(Oxford, 1924), p. 185.]

[Footnote 18: Sidgwick, _op. cit._, p. 380.]

[Footnote 19: See _infra_, p. 90 _sqq._]

The fourth criterion is stated in much less definite terms than
the previous ones. Sidgwick writes:--"Since it is implied in the
very notion of Truth that it is essentially the same for all
minds, the denial by another of a proposition that I have affirmed
has a tendency to impair my confidence in its validity. And in
fact 'universal' or 'general' consent has often been held to
constitute by itself a sufficient evidence of the truth of the
most important beliefs; and is practically the only evidence upon
which the greater part of mankind can rely. A proposition accepted
as true upon this ground alone has, of course, neither
self-evidence nor demonstrative evidence for the mind that so
accepts it; still, the secure acceptance that we commonly give to
the generalizations of the empirical sciences rests--even in the
case of experts--largely on the belief that other experts have
seen for themselves the evidence for these generalizations, and do
not materially disagree as to its adequacy. And it will be easily
seen that {13} the absence of such disagreement must remain an
indispensable negative condition of the certainty of our

[Footnote 20: Sidgwick, _op. cit._, p. 341 _sq._]

When examining the moral notions that present themselves with a
_prima facie_ claim to furnish independent and self-evident rules
of morality, Sidgwick has in each case found that from such
regulation of conduct as the common sense of mankind really
supports, "no proposition can be elicited which, when fairly
contemplated, even appears to have the characteristic of a
scientific axiom."[21] He expressly points out that the duty of
benevolence as recognized by common sense seems to fall somewhat
short of the principle of rational benevolence. Yet he thinks
"that a 'plain man' in a modern civilized society, if his
conscience were fairly brought to consider the hypothetical
question, whether it would be morally right for him to seek his
own happiness on any occasion if it involved a certain sacrifice
of the greater happiness of some other human being,--without any
counterbalancing gain to any one else,--would answer
unhesitatingly in the negative."[22] Well, in many cases he
undoubtedly would, but in other cases he most decidedly would not.
Suppose that I endeavour to obtain a good which another person
also tries to obtain, and that I do so in spite of my belief that
it will be a lesser good to me than it would be to him if he
succeeded in achieving it; would common sense condemn my action,
even though I could claim no counterbalancing gain to any one else
as an excuse for my behaviour? For example, would it require that
I, being a merchant, should abstain from some business if it is
likely that another competing merchant would make a larger profit
than I {14} could by engaging in the business?[23] Or, again,
would common sense agree that he who possesses some good is
morally bound to share it with others if their gain thereby
outweighs his own loss? Or if I, by sacrificing my own life, could
save another person's life, which is a greater good to him or to
others, than my life is to me or others, would it be my duty to
make such a sacrifice? Can anybody doubt that common sense,
without hesitation, would answer these questions in the negative?
It seems fairly obvious that Sidgwick has considerably exaggerated
even that limited support his principle of rational benevolence
could receive from the "plain man."[24] Hutcheson, in whose system
benevolence is the very essence of virtue and who was apparently
the author of the utilitarian formula that "that action is best
which procures the greatest happiness for the greatest
numbers,"[25] goes so far as to say that "we do not positively
condemn those as evil, who will not sacrifice their private
interest to the advancement of the positive good of others, unless
the private interest be very small, and the public good very

[Footnote 21: _Ibid._, p. 360.]

[Footnote 22: _Ibid._, p. 382.]

[Footnote 23: _Cf._ G. Cohn, _Etik og sociologi_ (Kjöbenhavn
& Kristiania, 1913), p. 62 _sqq._]

[Footnote 24: See also _infra_, pp. 208, 209, 227.]

[Footnote 25: F. Hutcheson, _An Inquiry into the Original of our
Ideas of Beauty and Virtue_ (London, 1753), p. 185.]

[Footnote 26: _Idem_, _An Essay on the Nature and Conduct of the
Passions and Affections. With Illustrations on the Moral Sense_
(London, 1756), p. 318.]

As to the question of experts, on whose consensus we are to rely,
Sidgwick does not discuss how we are to ascertain them.[27] In an
early letter he writes, "My difficulty is that I cannot give to
principles of conduct either the formal certainty that comes from
exact science or the practical certainty that comes from a real
Consensus {15} of Experts";[28] and he never succeeded in solving
this difficulty. Yet his principle of rational benevolence seemed
to him to be in substantial agreement with the doctrines of "those
moralists who have been most in earnest in seeking among commonly
received rules for genuine intuitions of the Practical Reason,"
particularly Clarke and Kant.[29] In a subsequent chapter I shall
show that he was hardly justified in claiming the authority of
Kant in support of it.[30] Among more recent writers on ethics
Sidgwick's principle of rational benevolence has been accepted by
some, but rejected by others.

[Footnote 27: _Cf._ Sidgwick, _op. cit._, p. 343 n. 1.]

[Footnote 28: _Henry Sidgwick_. A Memoir by A. S. and E. M. S.
(London, 1906), p. 259.]

[Footnote 29: Sidgwick, _op. cit._, p. 384 _sqq._]

[Footnote 30: _Infra_, p. 281 _sq._]

Altogether, then, it must be admitted that this supposed axiom
does not fulfil the conditions which in Sidgwick's own opinion
have to be approximately realized for the establishment of a
self-evident proposition. And thus the final attempt to vindicate
the objective validity of utilitarianism has proved to be a
failure. By itself alone that principle would in no case have
afforded a sufficient intuitional basis for utilitarianism, since
the "good" mentioned in it has been left undefined. But in
Sidgwick's eyes it did so when combined with the proposition that
"happiness (a term which he used as convertible with pleasure[31])
is the only rational ultimate end of action," which also appeared
to him as an object of intuition.[32]

[Footnote 31: Sidgwick, _op. cit._, p. 92.]

[Footnote 32: _Ibid._, p. 201.]

In its earlier days utilitarianism was frequently supported by
theological considerations. It was widely held that the moral
agent could ultimately will only his own happiness, and the
question arose how this could lead him to act for the common good.
In the natural course {16} of things private and public happiness
by no means always coincide; hence a coincidence can be brought
about only by "the lively and active belief in an all-seeing and
all-powerful God," who will hereafter make men happy or miserable,
"according as they designedly promote or violate the happiness of
their fellow-creatures."[33] "The will of God is the immediate
criterion of virtue, and the happiness of mankind the criterion of
the will of God."[34] "God Almighty wills and wishes the happiness
of his creatures; and, consequently, . . . those actions which
promote that will and wish, must be agreeable to him; and the
contrary."[35] And the rewards he bestows on those who obey his
will and the punishments he inflicts on the disobedient, will
naturally suffice to make it always every one's interest to
promote universal happiness to the best of his knowledge; indeed,
the penalties and rewards became so tremendous that selfishness
was inevitable. These opinions, which were advocated by a section
of eighteenth century utilitarians, subsequently lost their
influence. Sidgwick admits that the existence of divine sanctions
to the code of social duty as constructed on a utilitarian basis
would secure the much needed reconciliation of duty and
self-interest and settle the relation of rational self-love to
rational benevolence, which he regards as "the profoundest problem
of Ethics."[36] But he cannot find, attainable by mere reflective
intuition, any cognition that there actually is a Supreme Being
who will adequately reward {17} men for obeying the rules of duty
or punish them for violating them.[37]

[Footnote 33: J. Brown, _Essays on the Characteristics of the Earl
of Shaftesbury_ (London, 1751), p. 210.]

[Footnote 34: J. Gay, _Preliminary Dissertation. Concerning the
Fundamental Principle of Virtue or Morality_, prefixed to E. Law's
translation of W. King's _Essay on the Origin of Evil_ (London,
1732), p. xxxxix.]

[Footnote 35: W. Paley, _The Principles of Moral and Political
Philosophy_, ii. 4 (_Works_ [Edinburgh, 1834], p. 14).]

[Footnote 36: Sidgwick, _op. cit._, pp. 387 n. 1, 506.]

[Footnote 37: _Ibid._, p. 507.]

It may be asked if the so-called "theological utilitarianism"
really is utilitarianism, or if it belongs to the doctrine of
egoistic hedonism. The answer, of course, depends on the meanings
given to these terms, and these meanings are by no means free from
ambiguities. Sidgwick uses the term egoistic hedonism to denote "a
system which prescribes actions as means to the end of the
individual's happiness or pleasure,"[38] and by utilitarianism he
means "the ethical theory, that the conduct which, under any given
circumstances, is objectively right, is that which will produce
the greatest amount of happiness on the whole; that is, taking
into account all whose happiness is affected by the conduct."[39]
Dr. Albee raises the question whether egoistic hedonism is a
method of ethics at all, even according to Sidgwick's "carefully
formulated definitions." There is indeed, he says, no question
that many English moralists, from the time of Hobbes down at least
to the time of J. S. Mill, held that the motive of the moral agent
was necessarily egoistic; and "if, then, all were to be classed as
Egoists who held this theory of the moral motive, we should
plainly have to include all the English Utilitarians before Mill,
with the exception of Cumberland, Hartley, and Hume (_i.e._, as
represented by the second form of his theory)." But he argues that
the egoistic theory of the moral motive cannot be what Sidgwick
means, when he speaks of egoistic hedonism as constituting a
separate method of ethics, that is, as one of "the different
methods of obtaining reasoned convictions as to what ought to be
done."[40] For "it may confidently be maintained that not one of
the many moralists {18} referred to above, as holding or seeming
to hold the egoistic theory of the moral motive, ever so much as
suggested that one could obtain 'reasoned convictions as to what
ought to be done' by merely computing what would bring the most
pleasure to one's self."[41] This statement I cannot accept.

[Footnote 38: _Ibid._, p. 89.]

[Footnote 39: _Ibid._, p. 411.]

[Footnote 40: _Ibid._, p. v.]

[Footnote 41: E. Albee, _A History of English Utilitarianism_
(London, 1902), p. 382 _sq._]

The "theological utilitarians" looked upon self-love as the ground
for accepting the will of God as our rule. Gay says:--"Obligation
is the necessity of doing or omitting any action in order to be
happy. . . . So that obligation is evidently founded upon the
prospect of happiness, and arises from the necessary influence
which any action has upon present or future happiness or misery. .
. . How can the good of mankind be any obligation to _me_, when
perhaps in particular cases, such as laying down my life, or the
like, it is contrary to my happiness?"[42] Paley defines virtue as
"the doing good to mankind, in obedience to the will of God, and
for the sake of everlasting happiness."[43] Are not these
"reasoned convictions as to what ought to be done," which fall
within the scope of Sidgwick's definition of egoistic hedonism?
Indeed, he speaks himself of Paley's egoistic hedonism as
something which seems to the latter self-evident as a fundamental
principle of rational conduct.[44] And what may be said of Dr.
Albee's indictment that Sidgwick "has unconsciously developed, in
what he terms Egoism, the conception of a form of hedonistic
theory which in reality has never existed in modern Ethics,"[45]
when we read the following reasoned argument in Waterland's
"Sermon on Self-Love"? {19} "The wisest course for any man to take
is to secure an interest in the life to come. . . . There can be
no excess of fondness, or self-indulgence, in respect of eternal
happiness. This is loving himself in the best manner, and to the
best purposes. All virtue and piety are thus resolvable into a
principle of self-love. . . . It is with reference to ourselves,
and for our own sakes, that we love even God himself."[46]

[Footnote 42: Gay, in _op. cit._, pp. xxxvii., lxi.]

[Footnote 43: Paley, _op. cit._, i. 7 (**_Works_, p. 9).]

[Footnote 44: Sidgwick, _op. cit._, p. 121 _sq._]

[Footnote 45: Albee, _op. cit._, p. 384.]

[Footnote 46: D. Waterland, "Sermon on Self-Love," in _The English
Preacher_, i. (London, 1773), p. 101 _sq._]

At the same time, while the so-called "theological utilitarianism"
perfectly agrees with the definition of egoistic hedonism, it also
agrees with the definition of utilitarianism, in which no
reference is made to motives or the ultimate end of acts. Sidgwick
expressly mentions Bentham's psychological doctrine, that every
human being always does aim at his own greatest apparent
happiness, and yet classifies him as a utilitarian.[47] He speaks
of the "obvious and glaring" difference between the egoistic
proposition that "each ought to seek his own happiness," and the
utilitarian proposition that "each ought to seek the happiness of
all";[48] but then he does not take account of the fact that a
person may aim at his own happiness as his ultimate end and at the
same time aim at the happiness of all as a means to that end. If
utilitarianism required the happiness of all as the ultimate end,
not only Bentham, but Mill and others would have to be excluded
from its followers. Mill observes that "utilitarian moralists have
gone beyond almost all others in affirming that the motive has
nothing to do with the morality of the action, though much with
the worth of the agent."[49] A utilitarian may consequently very
well seek the general happiness as a {20} means of securing his
own happiness. He may be an egoistic hedonist, and an egoistic
hedonist may be a utilitarian. Egoistic and universalistic
hedonism, as defined by the author of these terms, are different,
but not _eo ipso_ conflicting doctrines.

[Footnote 47: Sidgwick, _op. cit._, pp. 84, 87 _sq._]

[Footnote 48: _Ibid._, p. 411 _sq._]

[Footnote 49: Mill, _op. cit._, p. 26.]

If egoistic hedonism is taken to imply that each _ought_ to seek
his own happiness as the end of his actions, I doubt whether it is
really found in its genuineness anywhere outside the scope of
theological hedonism,[50] and there, of course, only on the
understanding that by happiness is meant everlasting happiness. As
to its objective validity I have therefore nothing more to say
than what will be found in the discussion of the claim to validity
made by theological ethics in general.

[Footnote 50: See _infra_, p. 221 _sqq._]

       *       *      *       *       *

Nearly related to utilitarianism is the evolutionary theory of
Herbert Spencer. In a well-known letter to Stuart Mill he
repudiated the title anti-utilitarian, which had been applied to
him, and endeavoured to make clear their difference of opinion. He
wrote:--"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 {21}
happiness or misery."[51] Hence "the utilitarianism which
recognizes only the principles of conduct reached by induction, is
but preparatory to the utilitarianism which deduces these
principles from the processes of life as carried on under
established conditions of existence."[52] Acts are called good or
bad, according as they are well or ill adjusted to ends, and as
conduct evolves there is a greater adjustment of acts to ends.
"Ethics has for its subject-matter that form which universal
conduct assumes during the last stages of its evolution"; and
under its ethical aspects conduct is considered good or right if
its acts are conducive to life in self or others, and bad or wrong
if they directly or indirectly tend towards death, special or
general. But an extremely important assumption underlies all such
moral estimates, namely, the belief that life brings more
happiness than misery. Our ideas of the moral goodness and badness
of acts really originate from our consciousness of the certainty
or probability that their aggregate results will be pleasurable or
painful to self or others or both;[53] and the reason for this is
that "there exists a primordial connection between pleasure-giving
acts and continuance or increase of life, and, by implication,
between pain-giving acts and decrease or loss of life." It thus
lies in the very nature of sentient existence that it is "no more
possible to frame ethical conceptions from which the consciousness
of pleasure, of some kind, at some time, to some being, is absent,
than it is possible to frame the conception of an object from
which the consciousness of space is absent."[54]

[Footnote 51: H. Spencer, _The Principles of Ethics_, i. (London,
1897), p. 57.]

[Footnote 52: _Ibid._, i. 61.]

[Footnote 53: _Ibid._, i. ch. ii. _sq._]

[Footnote 54: _Ibid._, i. 82 _sq._]

It is obvious that Spencer, like the utilitarians, attributes to
the moral concept objective validity. When he {22} regards that
conduct as good which "conduces to life in each and all" he
maintains that he has the support of "the true moral
consciousness," or "moral consciousness proper," which, whether in
harmony or in conflict with the "pro-ethical" sentiment, is
vaguely or distinctly recognized as the rightful ruler.[55] He
started as a believer in a moral sense, but subsequently changed
his view. He writes, "Though, as shown in my first work, _Social
Statics_, I once espoused the doctrine of the intuitive moralists
(at the outset in full, and in later chapters with some implied
qualifications), yet it has gradually become clear to me that the
qualifications required practically obliterate the doctrine as
enunciated by them."[56] He still, however, speaks of moral
intuitions. Thus, when saying that pleasure is an inexpugnable
element of the conception of the ultimate moral aim, he adds, "It
is as much a necessary form of moral intuition as space is a
necessary form of intellectual intuition."[57] While rejecting the
doctrine that "moral perceptions are innate in the original
sense," he believes in the existence of "moral intuitions"
acquired by racial experience. He quotes the following passage
from the previously mentioned letter to Mill:--"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 . . . , 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 {23}
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 organized 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."[58]

[Footnote 55: Spencer, _op. cit._, i. 337 _sq._]

[Footnote 56: _Ibid._, i. 470.]

[Footnote 57: _Ibid._, i. 46. In a footnote he remarks that he
ought to have said "that happiness is _more_ truly a form of moral
intuition than space is a form of intellectual intuition: being,
as we see, a universal form of it."]

[Footnote 58: _Ibid._, i. 123.]

This theory of the development of "moral intuitions" through the
inheritance of the effects of the accumulated experiences of the
race is based upon a huge assumption, which Spencer regarded as a
scientifically demonstrated truth, namely, the belief that
acquired characters may be transmitted from parent to offspring.
But the heredity of "acquired characters" is nowadays emphatically
disputed by a large school of biologists, and can certainly not be
taken for granted. Yet even if Spencer's theory were correct, it
would only explain the origin of certain instincts through earlier
generations' continued experience. What he calls "moral
intuitions" is, to use his own {24} words, simply "certain
emotions responding to right and wrong conduct," or "preferences
and aversions . . . rendered organic by inheritance of the effects
of pleasurable and painful experiences in progenitors."[59] And an
emotion "corresponding to," or caused by, a certain course of
conduct cannot possibly make that course of conduct objectively
right or wrong. Spencer's theory might at most be a contribution
to the history of the growth of moral ideas, but could have no
bearing whatever on the question of their validity.

[Footnote 59: Spencer, _op. cit._, i. 123 _sq._]

Another representative of what has been called evolutionary
hedonism or utilitarianism is Leslie Stephen. He criticizes the
utilitarian conception of society as a mere aggregate of
individuals. The true unit is not the individual but society,
which may be regarded as an aggregate organism; and morality is
"the sum of the preservative instincts of a society."[60] "The
moral law is a statement of certain essential conditions of the
vitality of the society";[61] healthy development implies an
efficient moral code and social degeneration implies the
reverse.[62] There is this difference between the utilitarian and
the evolutionist criterion of morality--that the former is
happiness and the latter the health of the society.[63] But at the
same time the two criteria "are not really divergent; on the
contrary, they necessarily tend to coincide." There is a
correlation between the pernicious and the painful on the one
hand, and on the other between the beneficial and the agreeable;
the "useful," in the sense of pleasure-giving, must approximately
coincide with the "useful" in the sense of life-preserving.[64]

[Footnote 60: L. Stephen, _The Science of Ethics_ (London, 1882),
p. 217.]

[Footnote 61: _Ibid._, p. 219.]

[Footnote 62: _Ibid._, p. 397.]

[Footnote 63: _Ibid._, p. 366.]

[Footnote 64: _Ibid._, p. 353 _sqq._]

{25} But why is the health of the society the criterion of
morality? Stephen writes, "Our moral judgment must condemn
instincts and modes of conduct which are pernicious to the social
vitality, and must approve the opposite; but it does not
necessarily follow that it must condemn or approve them because
they are perceived to be pernicious or beneficial."[65] And in
another place:--"Moral approval is the name of the sentiment
developed through the social medium which modifies a man's
character in such a way as to fit him to be an efficient member of
the social 'tissue.' It is the spiritual pressure which generates
and maintains morality."[66] These statements, however, can only
be answers to the question why we have moral sentiments and
pronounce moral judgments, but tell us nothing about that
objective validity which Stephen evidently attributes to his
criterion of morality. He says that it is "a simple 'objective'
fact that a man acts rightly or wrongly in a given case, and a
fact which may be proved to him. . . . If I can prove drunkenness
to be socially mischievous, I shall certainly prove it to be
wicked."[67] But surely he cannot prove it to be wicked simply by
proving that it is socially mischievous. Of the validity of his
fundamental proposition Stephen has given us no proof at all.

[Footnote 65: _Ibid._, p. 148.]

[Footnote 66: _Ibid._, p. 271 _sq._]

[Footnote 67: _Ibid._, pp. 443, 453.]

       *       *      *       *       *

Many ethical writers agree with the hedonists in regarding
pleasure as a good, but disagree with the contention that pleasure
alone is good as an end. It has often been argued that Mill
himself was not a consistent exponent of utilitarianism owing to
his admission that "some _kinds_ of pleasure are more desirable and
more valuable than others," and his reference to the "sense of
dignity" as the ground of the preference that is given to {26}
some pleasures over others.[68] Moreover, in Mill's famous formula
that "it is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig
satisfied," Paulsen finds the implication that the moral value
lies, not in pleasure as such, but in pleasurable functions; and
he consequently observes that there is no radical difference
between Mill's utilitarianism and the doctrine of "energism,"[69]
according to which the highest good is not the feeling of
pleasure, but an "objective content of life," namely, the perfect
development and exercise of life,[70] or, as he also calls it,

[Footnote 68: Mill, _op. cit._, pp. 11, 13.]

[Footnote 69: F. Paulsen, _System der Ethik_, i. (Stuttgart &
Berlin, 1913), p. 275. In my account of Paulsen's theory I have
availed myself of some expressions used in F. Thilly's English
edition of his work (London, 1899).]

[Footnote 70: _Ibid._, i. 223.]

[Footnote 71: _Ibid._, i. 224.]

As hedonism is based on the proposition that each person desires
his own happiness, so energism is based on the proposition that
each person desires to live a human life and all that is implied
in it, the goal at which the will of every living creature aims
being the normal exercise of the vital functions that constitute
its nature.[72] And as hedonism has been divided into egoistic and
universalistic hedonism, so energism has been divided into
egoistic and universalistic energism. According to the former kind
of energism, the highest good, or principle of morality, is the
welfare of individual life; according to the latter, it is the
welfare of the race.[73] Paulsen's energism is universalistic.
Every man desires to live, but he also desires to help others to
live; all human beings are both egoistic and altruistic, although
in very different degrees. Indeed, in the motives of actions it is
impossible to draw any sharp limit between the interests of self
and the interests {27} of others. It is a mistake to suppose that
every act has but one motive: many motives combine to influence
the will to action.[74] And just as the motives of an act, so also
the effects of it tend to be both egoistic and altruistic. "There
is no act that does not influence the life of the individual as
well as that of his surroundings, and therefore cannot and must
not be viewed and judged from the standpoint of both individual
and general welfare. The traditional classification, which
distinguishes between duties towards self and duties towards
others, cannot be recognized as a legitimate division. There is no
duty towards individual life that cannot be construed as a duty
towards others, and no duty towards others that cannot be proved
to be a duty towards self."[75] But then, Paulsen asks, can there
never be a conflict between egoism and altruism? His answer is:
there are, no doubt, cases of such a conflict, but "the opposition
between individual and general welfare, selfish and altruistic
motives, forms not the rule, but the exception. As a rule, there
is harmony in the effects as well as in the motives."[76]

[Footnote 72: _Ibid._, i. 270.]

[Footnote 73: F. Thilly, _Introduction to Ethics_ (New York,
1905), p. 127.]

[Footnote 74: Paulsen, _op. cit._, i. 246, 247, 390 _sqq._]

[Footnote 75: _Ibid._, i. 387 _sqq._]

[Footnote 76: _Ibid._, i. 394.]

So far we have only considered the prevalence of desires to
promote welfare, not the moral valuation of such desires. But
there is, according to Paulsen, a close connection between the
morality of acts and their tendency to gratify the desire for
welfare. Good is that which gratifies a desire, and morally good
is an act if it tends to promote the welfare of the individual and
the society and at the same time is performed from a sense of
duty. But the goodness of the motive depends upon its tendency to
express itself outwardly in good acts. Morality is not an end in
itself but a means to an end, namely, the realization {28} of the
highest good, that which human beings strive after, individual and
racial welfare.[77]

[Footnote 77: Paulsen, _op. cit._, i. 227 _sqq._, 342.]

It seems, then, that Paulsen repeats the hedonistic fallacy of
regarding the prevalence of a desire as evidence of the morality
of its realization: the moral goodness of a particular motive
depends upon the effect which it tends to produce in action, and
the effect itself is good because man wills it. Now it may
possibly be argued that Paulsen has not definitely attributed
objective validity to his ethical principle, that his ways of
expressing himself often are so vague that when he speaks of moral
goodness or badness, duty or virtue, he may ultimately mean what
he and others consider to be good or bad, obligatory or virtuous.
But if Paulsen had looked upon moral values as merely subjective,
he could not have represented his theory of the goodness of the
will as a development of the Kantian doctrine of the moral law,
supplying it with a teleological ground for "the validity of the
moral norms . . . , the obedience to which gives moral value to
the will."[78] Paulsen admits that the moral nihilism which denies
the validity of all moral norms and values cannot be logically
disproved. But he argues that it is also impossible to convince a
delirious person or a madman of the unreality of his
hallucinations or delusions[79]--an argument which seems to imply
that the existence of moral insensibility, or "moral insanity," is
no more inconsistent with the objectivity of moral values than the
existence of madness is with the objectivity of truth.

[Footnote 78: _Ibid._, i. 222.]

[Footnote 79: _Ibid._, i. 376 _sqq._]

According to Bradley, pleasure is a good, but not the good,
because "happiness is the end,"[80] and "happiness, {29} for the
ordinary man, neither means a pleasure nor a number of pleasures.
It means in general the finding of himself, or the satisfaction of
himself as a whole, and in particular it means the realization of
his concrete ideal of life."[81] "Morality is co-extensive with
self-realization, as the affirmation of the self which is one with
the ideal."[82] The good self is the self whose end and pleasure
is the realization of the ideal self; "which is interested in and
bound up with pursuits, activities, in a word, with ends that
realize the good will. The good will is the will to realize the
ideal self."[83] Now "man is a social being; he is real only
because he is social, and can realize himself only because it is
as social that he realizes himself." "Leaving out of sight the
question of a society wider than the state, we must say that a
man's life with its moral duties is in the main filled up by his
station in that system of wholes which the state is, and that
this, partly by its laws and institutions, and still more by its
spirit, gives him the life which he does live and ought to
live."[84] "What is moral _in any particular given case_ is seldom
doubtful. Society pronounces beforehand; or, after some one course
has been taken, it can say whether it was right or not."[85] As
Hegel pointed out, "the wisest men of antiquity have given
judgment that wisdom and virtue consist in living agreeably to the
Ethos of one's people."[86] What interests us in this connection
is not the theory as such, but its foundation. Why is
self-realization, conceived in the sense indicated, a moral
obligation? I can find no other answer to this question in
Bradley's _Ethical Studies_ than the view that it is an object of
desire, {30} in other words, that we ought because we will.[87]
"The good self satisfies us because it answers to our real being.
. . . In taking its content into our wills and realizing that, we
feel that we realize ourselves as the true infinite, as one
permanent harmonious whole." On the other hand, "the bad self not
only does not realize our true being, but is never, for its own
sake and as such, desired at all."[88]

[Footnote 80: F. H. Bradley, _Ethical Studies_ (Oxford, 1927), p.

[Footnote 81: _Ibid._, p. 96.]

[Footnote 82: _Ibid._, p. 224.]

[Footnote 83: _Ibid._, p. 279.]

[Footnote 84: _Ibid._, p. 174.]

[Footnote 85: _Ibid._, p. 198.]

[Footnote 86: _Ibid._, p. 187.]

[Footnote 87: Bradley, _op. cit._, pp. 71, 73, 95, 279, etc. This
has also been pointed out by Dr. W. O. Stapledon in his book _A
Modern Theory of Ethics_ (London, 1929), pp. 33, 34, 41 _sq._]

[Footnote 88: Bradley, _op. cit._, p. 303.]

Other moralists, whose theories are teleological without being
hedonistic, base their validity on intuitions. According to Dr.
Rashdall, the true criterion of morality is the tendency of an act
to promote a well-being or good, which besides pleasure includes
many other elements possessing different values. The right action
is always that which, so far as the agent has the means of
knowing, will produce the greatest amount of good upon the whole.
The values of the elements included in the good are intuitively
discerned and compared with one another by the moral or practical
reason. A paramount position among these intuitions is occupied by
the three axioms of prudence, rational benevolence, and equity,
which we have already discussed in connection with utilitarianism.
"It does on reflection strike us as self-evident that I ought to
promote my own good on the whole (where no one else's good is
affected), that I ought to regard a larger good for society in
general as of more intrinsic value than a smaller good, and that
one man's good is (other things being equal) of as much intrinsic
value as any other man's." Among the many good things included in
well-being virtue is the greatest. Even those virtues which are
most obviously altruistic in their tendency are also ends {31} in
themselves--having a value independent of, and in some cases much
greater than, the mere pleasure which they cause in others; hence
it becomes rational to encourage the cultivation and exercise of
these virtues even in ways which cannot always be shown to produce
a net gain in pleasure on the whole. Again, as to the less
obviously utilitarian virtues and duties it is said that through
all of them there seems to run the general principle that a higher
value should be attributed to the exercise and cultivation of the
higher--that is to say, of the intellectual, aesthetic, and
emotional--faculties than to the indulgence of the merely animal
and sensual part of our nature.[89] Rashdall says, "The view that
we have arrived at is that the morality of our actions is to be
determined ultimately by its tendency to promote a universal end,
which end itself consists of many ends, and in particular
two--Morality and pleasure."[90] I should have thought that no
particular intuition was needed to tell us that the morality of
our actions is to be determined by its tendency to

[Footnote 89: Rashdall, _op. cit._, i. 90, 91, 93, 184 _sqq._]

[Footnote 90: _Ibid._, i. 219.]

Another moralist whose theory is closely related to the
utilitarian principle as developed by Stuart Mill is Professor
Hobhouse. He accepts Mill's admission that one kind of pleasure is
intrinsically superior to another but, like many others, he
regards it as fatal to the maintenance of simple pleasurableness
as the standard of action, and asks what sort of experience it is
that will yield pleasure of the most desirable quality. He replies
that "it is the harmonious fulfilment of human powers. The end, as
thus conceived, does not separate happiness from the kind of life
in which it is sought, but treats them as two elements in the same
whole, as the experience and the feeling-tone {32} which qualifies
the experience. The rational object of human action is a type of
life, not merely a type of feeling."[91] And the rational good is
the mode of life sustained by a harmony of feeling, "a harmonious
fulfilment of vital capacity, or the fulfilment of vital capacity
as a whole. Feeling in harmony with its object is what we call
Pleasure. The body of feeling in harmony with itself and the body
of its objects is what we call happiness. Viewed as feeling, then,
Rational Good is happiness, viewed as the object of this feeling
it is the fulfilment of vital capacity as a consistent whole.
Viewed in both aspects together it is happiness found in such
fulfilment."[92] By happiness is then meant happiness of all
beings capable thereof, and by fulfilment of vital capacity is
meant fulfilment in all living beings so far as it can attain
harmonious expression. "It is this universal harmony of feeling
and vital activity which is the good, and the end which each
individual is required to serve, not his own happiness or the
fulfilment of his own power."[93] The principle of harmony
involves, or rather is conditioned by, the axiom that "what is
unambiguously good is good universally"; "one feeling is not to be
preferred to another because it is the feeling of this man rather
than that, except in so far as the preference is required on
universal principles which are integral parts of the general
system of harmony."[94] And the fundamental principles in which
the system of feeling at the basis of our social action expresses
itself, "e.g., that I must consider my neighbour as myself, are
justified in reason, and the {33} judgments of right and wrong
founded upon them are true."[95]

[Footnote 91: L. T. Hobhouse, _The Rational Good_ (London, 1921),
p. 139.]

[Footnote 92: _Ibid._, p. 114.]

[Footnote 93: _Ibid._, p. 117.]

[Footnote 94: L. T. Hobhouse, _The Elements of Social Justice_
(London, 1922), p. 106. _Idem_, _The Rational Good_, p. 80.]

[Footnote 95: _Idem_, _The Elements of Social Justice_, p. 24.]

So far as I can see, this essentially coincides with Sidgwick's
principle that "I ought not to prefer my own lesser good to the
greater good of another," which, as I have tried to show, is not a
self-evident proposition. Professor Hobhouse supports his theory
by an attempt to prove that the contrary principle of
self-preference, whether of an individual or a group, involves
inconsistencies and is by definition irrational. He maintains that
if I adopt the system of self-preference, "the principle of
universals" will compel me to admit that "you will form a similar
system for yourself and that these systems may clash. If, then,
both systems are rational, rational systems may be inconsistent,
which is contrary to definition."[96] But why should the two
systems clash and, therefore, be inconsistent? As I have said
before, when I pronounce an act to be good or bad, right or wrong,
I mean that it is so not only for myself but for all similar
persons in similar circumstances; hence it would be
self-contradictory to say that it is right for me to be an egoist
though not for another similar person in similar circumstances.
But I can find nothing irrational or inconsistent in the
proposition that it is right for everybody to be an egoist, myself
as well as others. The common sense opinion that, in certain
circumstances, we have a right to prefer our own lesser good to
the greater good of another, cannot be refuted by any arguments of

[Footnote 96: _Idem_, _The Rational Good_, p. 82. _Cf._ _Idem_,
_The Elements of Social Justice_, p. 23.]

       *       *      *       *       *

While the teleological theories imply that such acts are good or
right as tend to produce certain results or {34} effects, or to
realize a certain end, there is another doctrine according to
which certain kinds of action are unconditionally prescribed
without regard to ulterior consequences, or at most with a very
partial consideration of consequences. It is held that duty is not
usually a difficult thing for an ordinary man to know, that we
have the power of seeing clearly that certain courses of conduct
are right in themselves, that, for example, "duty should be
performed 'advienne qui pourra,' that truth should be spoken
without regard to consequences, that justice should be done
'though the sky should fall.'"[97] This has been called
intuitionism, in the narrow sense of the term, and has also been
called unphilosophical intuitionism, in distinction from
philosophical intuitionism, which intuitively judges some general
rule of conduct to be true or evident and from this rule deduces
the morality or immorality of this or that particular course of
conduct, as we have seen to be the case with various teleological
theories of ethics. Intuitionism of the former kind is practically
the morality of common sense, the opinions of ordinary men. These
opinions are not only loose and shifting, but in many points
mutually contradictory, and cannot therefore possibly be regarded
as self-evident truths. In his classical review of common sense
Sidgwick observes that from such regulation of conduct as the
common sense of mankind supports no proposition can be elicited
which, when fairly contemplated, even appears to have the
characteristic of a scientific axiom.[98]

[Footnote 97: Sidgwick, _op. cit._, p. 200.]

[Footnote 98: _Ibid._, p. 360.]



MORAL JUDGMENTS (_concluded_)

It will perhaps be argued that even though this or that moral
principle, or even all moral principles hitherto laid down, fail
to be objectively valid or express a moral truth, there may
nevertheless be in the human mind some "faculty" which makes the
pronouncement of objectively valid moral judgments possible. There
are so many "theoretical" truths which have never been discovered,
and yet we have in our intellect a "faculty" enabling us to
pronounce judgments that are true. So also moralists of different
normative schools of ethics maintain that we possess a faculty
which can pronounce true moral judgments. This faculty has been
called by names like "moral sense," "conscience," or "practical"
or "moral reason," or been simply included under the general terms
"reason" or "understanding."

According to the moral sense school, the morality or immorality of
conduct is discriminated by a special sense "implanted" in us for
this purpose. It perceives virtue and vice as the eye perceives
light and darkness. Shaftesbury observes that man possesses
"natural affections, which lead to the good of the publick";
"self-affections, which lead only to the good of the private"; and
"unnatural affections," which lead neither to public nor private
good. Virtue consists in a harmony or proper balance between the
two first kinds of affections; and it is by means of the moral
sense that we can tell whether these affections are {36} properly
balanced or not.[1] Its verdict is final: neither the applause of
custom nor the sanction of religion can ever alter "the eternal
measures, and immutable independent nature of worth and
virtue."[2] According to Hutcheson, again, our moral sense proves
that the essence of virtue consists in benevolence: "that action
is best, which procures the greatest happiness for the greatest
numbers; and that worst, which, in like manner, occasions
misery."[3] It has often been remarked that the term "moral sense"
is a misnomer: this supposed "faculty" not only lacks a bodily
organ, but its perceptions lack the uniformity which characterizes
our sensations under similar physiological conditions.[4] It is
essentially an emotional faculty. Shaftesbury says that a natural
affection, which is "an original one of earliest rise in the soul
or affectionate part," makes the sense of right and wrong[5]--that
is, the moral sense; and that this sense "must consist in a real
antipathy or aversion to injustice or wrong, and a real affection
or love towards equity and right, for its own sake, and on account
of its own natural beauty and worth."[6] Hutcheson writes in his
work, the _Inquiry_:--"Some actions have to men an immediate
goodness; . . . by a superior sense, which I call a moral one, we
approve the actions of others, and perceive them to be their
perfection and dignity, and are determin'd to love the agent; a
like perception we have in reflecting on such actions of our own,
without any {37} view of natural advantage from them."[7] In his
later works he also assigns some importance to reason in the
process attending moral decisions;[8] yet the understanding
"judges about the means or the subordinate ends: but about the
ultimate ends there is no reasoning."[9] Rationalistic moralists
have justly made the objection to this moral sense theory that it
is totally unable to give any objective validity to the moral
perceptions.[10] In his criticism of it Kant observes that
"feelings which naturally differ infinitely in degree cannot
furnish a uniform standard of good and evil, nor has any one a
right to form judgments for others by his own feelings."[11]
Hutcheson himself frankly admits that "every one judges the
affections of others by his own sense; so that it seems not
impossible that in these senses men might differ as they do in

[Footnote 1: Shaftesbury, _Characteristicks_, ii. (London, 1733),
p. 86 _sqq._ The expression "moral sense"--which is rarely used by
him--is found in the marginal notes _ibid._ pp. 41, 42, 44-46, 53
_sq._, and in the text p. 46.]

[Footnote 2: _Ibid._, ii. 35 _sq._]

[Footnote 3: F. Hutcheson, _An Inquiry into the Original of our
Ideas of Beauty and Virtue_ (London, 1753), p. 185.]

[Footnote 4: _Cf._ S. Spalding, _The Philosophy of Christian
Morals_ (London, 1843), p. 315 _sq._]

[Footnote 5: Shaftesbury, _op. cit._, ii. 44 _sq._]

[Footnote 6: _Ibid._, ii. 42.]

[Footnote 7: Hutcheson, _An Inquiry into the Original of our Ideas
of Beauty and Virtue_ (London, 1753), p. 100 _sq._]

[Footnote 8: _Cf._ W. R. Scott, _Francis Hutcheson_ (Cambridge,
1900), p. 204 _sqq._]

[Footnote 9: Hutcheson, _A System of Moral Philosophy_, i.
(London, 1755), p. 38.]

[Footnote 10: _E.g._, H. Rashdall, _The Theory of Good and Evil_,
i. (London, 1924), p. 144 _sqq._]

[Footnote 11: I. Kant, _Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten_,
sec. ii. (_Gesammelte Schriften_, iv. [Berlin, 1911], p. 442; T.
K. Abbott's translation in _Kant's Critique of Practical Reason
and other Works on the Theory of Ethics_ [London, 1898], p. 61).]

[Footnote 12: Hutcheson, _An Essay on the Nature and Conduct of
the Passions and Affections. With Illustrations on the Moral
Sense_ (London, 1756), p. 237.]

Butler calls "the moral faculty" conscience, but as a synonym for
it he frequently uses the term "principle of reflection." It has
two aspects, a purely cognitive and an authoritative, and on its
cognitive side it "pronounces determinately some actions to be in
themselves just, right, good; others to be in themselves evil,
wrong, unjust."[13] {38} Sometimes he even calls it reason. But
his dominant view seems to be that which lays stress on the
instinctive intuition rather than the reflection.[14] He
says:--"In all common ordinary cases we see intuitively at first
view what is our duty. . . . This is the ground of the
observation, that the first thought is often the best. In these
cases doubt and deliberation is itself dishonesty. . . . That
which is called considering what is our duty in a particular case,
is very often nothing but endeavouring to explain it away."[15]
But how, then, is it that different consciences so often issue
conflicting orders? This question is never raised by Butler. He
gives us no criterion of rightness and wrongness apart from the
voice of conscience.[16] It has been said that when Butler and
other intuitionist writers refer to the conscience as the supreme
principle of morals, they do not mean by it a "private conscience"
but rather what may be called "the universal conscience"--that
ultimate recognition of the rightness and wrongness of actions
which is latent in all men, but which in some men is more fully
developed than in others.[17] Whewell wrote:-- {39} "As each man
has his reason, in virtue of his participation in the common
reason of mankind, so each man has his conscience, in virtue of
his participation in the common conscience of mankind. . . . As
the object of reason is to determine what is true, so the object
of conscience is to determine what is right. As each man's reason
may err, and thus lead him to a false opinion, so each man's
conscience may err, and lead him to a false moral standard. As
false opinion does not disprove the reality of truth, so the false
moral standards of men do not disprove the reality of a supreme
rule of human action."[18] This appeal to a mysterious universal
conscience as an infallible judge of right and wrong merely
assumes the existence of an objectively valid standard in morals
instead of proving it. For Butler conscience really represented
the will of God.

[Footnote 13: J. Butler, _Sermon II.--Upon Human Nature_,
§ 8 (_Works_, i. [London, 1900], p. 45).]

[Footnote 14: _Cf._ J. Bonar, _Moral Sense_ (London, 1930), p.

[Footnote 15: Butler, _Sermon VII.--Upon the Character of Balaam_,
§ 14 (_Works_, i. 100).]

[Footnote 16: _Cf._ J. M. Wilson and T. Fowler, _The Principles of
Morals_ (_Introductory Chapters_) (Oxford, 1886), p. 56; C. D.
Broad, _Five Types of Ethical Theory_ (London, 1930), p. 82 _sq._
Professor A. E. Taylor ("Some Features of Butler's Ethics," in
_Mind_, N. S. xxxv. [London, 1926], p. 276 _sq._) says that it is
no fault of the _Sermons_, in which Butler's ethical doctrine is
chiefly conveyed to us, that they did not consider the possibility
of conflicting moral codes and the grounds on which a choice could
be made between them, because the object of the preacher was to
impress on his audience the necessity of conducting their lives
virtuously, and they would be agreed, in all essentials, on the
question what sort of conduct is right and wrong. But his
disregard of the apparent or real variations in the deliverance of
"conscience" certainly obscures his ethical theory in its most
essential point.]

[Footnote 17: J. S. Mackenzie, _A Manual of Ethics_ (London,
1929), p. 150. See also Taylor, _loc. cit._, p. 291.]

[Footnote 18: W. Whewell, _The Elements of Morality including
Polity_ (Cambridge, 1864), p. 151. In the same sense Th. Lipps
(_Die ethischen Grundfragen_ [Leipzig & Hamburg, 1912], p. 181)
speaks of the "absolute" conscience.]

Cudworth, Clarke, Price, and Reid are names that recall to our
mind a theory according to which the morality of actions is
perceived by the intellect, just as are number, diversity,
causation, proportion. "Morality is eternal and immutable," says
Richard Price. "Right and wrong, it appears, denote what actions
are. Now whatever anything is, that it is, not by will, or decree,
or power, but by nature and necessity. Whatever a triangle or
circle is, that it is unchangeably and eternally. . . . The same
is to be said of right and wrong, of moral good and evil, as far
as they express real characters of actions. They must immutably
and necessarily belong to those actions of which they are truly
affirmed."[19] And as having a real existence {40} outside the
mind, they can only be discerned by the understanding. It is true
that this discernment is accompanied with an emotion:--"Some
impressions of pleasure or pain, satisfaction or disgust,
generally attend our perceptions of virtue and vice. But these are
merely their effects and concomitants, and not the perceptions
themselves."[20] Samuel Clarke is of opinion that if a man endowed
with reason denies the eternal and necessary moral differences of
things, it is the very same "as if a man that has the use of his
sight, should at the same time that he beholds the sun, deny that
there is any such thing as light in the world; or as if a man that
understands Geometry or Arithmetick, should deny the most obvious
and known propositions of lines or numbers."[21]

[Footnote 19: R. Price, _A Review of the Principal Questions in
Morals_ (London, 1787), pp. 63, 74 _sq._]

[Footnote 20: Price, _op. cit._, p. 63.]

[Footnote 21: S. Clarke, _A Discourse concerning the Being and
Attributes of God, the Obligations of Natural Religion, and the
Truth and Certainty of the Christian Revelation_ (London, 1732),
p. 179.]

Since the days of Kant moral judgments have been referred to a
special faculty or a part of the general faculty of reason, called
"practical" or "moral" reason, as the source of the objective
validity assigned to them; according to Kant the speculative and
the practical reason "can ultimately be only one and the same
reason which has to be distinguished merely in its
application."[22] The very existence of this mysterious faculty
presupposes that there really are self-evident or axiomatic moral
propositions; hence if no such proposition can be shown to exist
we have no right whatever to postulate that there is a faculty
which ever could give us any. It is perfectly clear that Kant
_assumed_ the objectivity of duty, and that this assumption led him
to the idea of a pure practical reason, {41} not _vice versa_.[23]
He needed a faculty to explain the moral law, which he regarded as
a fact of pure reason, "of which we are _a priori_ conscious, and
which is apodictically certain," and the objective reality of
which "cannot be proved by any deduction by any efforts of
theoretical reason."[24] The same is the case with Sidgwick. In
referring moral judgments to reason he simply means to imply their
objectivity, _i.e._, that "what I judge ought to be must, unless I
am in error, be similarly judged by all rational beings who judge
truly of the matter"; he does not mean "to prejudice the question
whether valid moral judgments are normally attained by a process
of reasoning from universal principles or axioms, or by direct
intuition of the particular duties of individuals."[25] Dr.
Rashdall writes:--"We may if we like call Practical Reason a
separate faculty from speculative Reason--that is only a question
of words. We really mean simply that they are distinguishable
aspects of one and the same rational self. The important thing is
that we should recognize that moral judgments possess an absolute
truth or falsity, which is equally valid for all rational beings;
and, if that is recognized, it seems most natural to ascribe them
to Reason."[26]

[Footnote 22: Kant, _op. cit._, Vorrede (_Gesammelte Schriften_,
iv. 391; Abbott's translation, p. 7). See also _Idem_, _Kritik der
praktischen Vernunft_, i. 1. 3 (_Gesammelte Schriften_, v.
[Berlin, 1913], p. 89 _sqq._; Abbott, p. 182 _sqq._).]

[Footnote 23: _Cf._ A. Hägerström, _Kants Ethik_
(Uppsala, 1902), p. 594.]

[Footnote 24: Kant, _Kritik der praktischen Vernunft_, i. 1. 1. 8
(v. 47; Abbott, p. 136).]

[Footnote 25: H. Sidgwick, _The Methods of Ethics_ (London, 1913),
p. 33.]

[Footnote 26: Rashdall, _op. cit._, i. 166.]

The question to be answered, then, is whether any of the moral
principles that have been regarded as self-evident really is so.
If ethics is to be taken as the term for a normative science, I
agree with Professor Moore's statement that "the fundamental
principles of Ethics must be self-evident." I also agree with him
when he says:--"The expression 'self-evident' means properly that
the proposition {42} so called is evident or true, _by itself_
alone; that it is not an inference from some proposition other
than _itself_. The expression does _not_ mean that the proposition
is true, because it is evident to you or me or all mankind,
because in other words it appears to us to be true. That a
proposition appears to be true can never be a valid argument that
true it really is."[27] Just as the statement "this proposition is
true" does not mean the same as to say, "I consider this
proposition to be true," so also the statement "this moral
principle is self-evident" does not mean the same as to say, "this
moral principle appears self-evident to me." But how, then, can I
know if a proposition is really self-evident or only supposed to
be so? In the case of theoretical truths no truth is considered to
have a claim to self-evidence which is not generally accepted as
self-evident or axiomatic by all those whose intellect is
sufficiently developed to have an opinion on the matter worthy of
any consideration at all. It is true, as Kant said, that universal
assent does not prove the objective validity of a
judgment[28]--indeed, there are mathematical axioms that have been
called in question although they have passed current for
centuries; but, to speak with Sidgwick, the absence of
disagreement between experts must be an indispensable negative
condition of the certainty of our beliefs.[29] In the case of
moral principles enunciated as self-evident truths disagreement is

[Footnote 27: G. E. Moore, _Principia Ethica_ (Cambridge, 1922),
p. 143.]

[Footnote 28: Kant, _Kritik der praktischen Vernunft_, Vorrede (v.
12 _sq._; Abbott, p. 98).]

[Footnote 29: _Supra_, p. 12 _sq._]

The great variability of moral judgments does not of course _eo
ipso_ disprove the possibility of self-evident moral intuitions.
It is incompatible with that cruder kind {43} of intuitionism
which maintains that some moral faculty directly passes true moral
judgments on particular courses of conduct at the moment of
action. But what about the differences of opinion as regards the
great moral principles that are supposed to be self-evident? Dr.
Rashdall writes:--"Neither the slow development of the moral
faculty nor its unequal development in different individuals at
the same level of social culture forms any objection to the _a
priori_ character of moral judgments. We do not doubt either the
axioms of Mathematics or the rules of reasoning, because some
savages cannot count more than five, or because some highly
educated classical scholars are incapable of understanding the
fifth proposition of Euclid's first book. . . . Self-evident
truths are not truths which are evident to everybody. There are
degrees of moral illumination just as there are degrees of musical
sensibility or of mathematical acuteness."[30] But is it really
possible to assume that defective "moral illumination" could
sufficiently explain the existence of so many different ethical
theories, each of which is based on one or more principles
regarded as self-evident intuitions, and as to some of which there
is the same disagreement now as there was two thousand years ago?
How can there be such a great diversity of opinion among "moral
specialists" with regard to propositions that are assumed to be
axioms? Some of these specialists say it is an axiom that I ought
not to prefer my own lesser good to the greater good of another;
whilst others not only deny the self-evidence, but thoroughly
disagree with the contents, of this proposition. According to
Sidgwick the proposition that pleasure is the only rational
ultimate end of action is an object of intuition;[31] according to
Dr. Moore, also a professor of moral philosophy, the untruth of
this proposition {44} is self-evident.[32] The latter finds it
self-evident that good cannot be defined;[33] but others, who have
no smaller claim to the epithet "moral specialists," are of the
very contrary opinion. What should we say if two professors of
mathematics quarrelled about the axiom that "if equals be added to
equals the wholes are equal," to which Sidgwick compares one of
his moral axioms?[34]

[Footnote 30: Rashdall, _op. cit._, i. 84 _sq._]

[Footnote 31: _Supra_, p. 15.]

[Footnote 32: Moore, _op. cit._, pp. 75, 144.]

[Footnote 33: _Ibid._, pp. 6, 8, 148.]

[Footnote 34: _Supra_, p. 9.]

There are no doubt moral propositions which really are certain and
self-evident, for the simple reason that they are tautological,
that the predicate is but a repetition of the subject; and moral
philosophy contains a great number of such tautologies, from the
days of Plato and Aristotle to the present times. But apart from
such cases, which of course tell us nothing, I am not aware of any
moral principle that could be said to be truly self-evident. The
presumed self-evidence is only a matter of opinion; and in some
cases one might even be inclined to quote Mr. Bertrand Russell's
statement that "if self-evidence is alleged as a ground of belief,
that implies that doubt has crept in, and that our self-evident
proposition has not wholly resisted the assaults of
scepticism."[35] None of the various theories of normative science
can be said to have proved its case; none of them has proved that
moral judgments possess objective validity, that there is anything
truly good or bad, right or wrong, that moral principles express
anything more than the opinions of those who believe in them.

[Footnote 35: B. Russell, _The Analysis of Mind_ (London, 1922),
p. 263. See also H. H. Joachim, _The Nature of Truth_ (Oxford,
1906), p. 55.]

       *       *      *       *       *

But what, then, has made moralists believe that moral judgments
possess an objective validity which none of {45} them has been
able to prove? What has induced them to construct their theories
of normative ethics? What has allured them to invent a science the
subject-matter of which--the objectively good or right--is not
even known to exist? The answer is not difficult to find. It has
often been remarked that there is much greater agreement among
moralists on the question of moral practice than on the question
of theory. When they are trying to define the ultimate end of
right conduct or to find the essence of right and wrong, they give
us the most contradictory definitions or explanations--as Leslie
Stephen said, we find ourselves in a "region of perpetual
antinomies, where controversy is everlasting, and opposite
theories seem to be equally self-evident to different minds."[36]
But when they pass to a discussion of what is right and wrong in
concrete cases, in the various circumstances of life, the
disagreement is reduced to a surprising extent. They all tell us
that we should be kind to our neighbour, that we should respect
his life and property, that we should speak the truth, that we
should live in monogamy and be faithful husbands or wives, that we
should be sober and temperate, and so forth. This is what makes
books on ethics, when they come to the particular rules of life,
so exceedingly monotonous and dull; for even the most
controversial and pugnacious theorist becomes then quite tame and
commonplace. And the reason for this is that all ethical theories
are as a matter of fact based on the morality of common sense.
Professor Carveth Read rightly observes:--"We cannot be so
deceived as to imagine that the moral rules that may seem to be
conclusions in any system, are really inferences from its
characteristic {46} conceptions. With some slight qualifications,
the rules are rules of Common Sense, and are the premises, the
true _principia_, from which the theory is inferred. To agree with
them on the whole is a test that no theory can ever evade."[37] So
also normative ethics has adopted the common sense idea that there
_is_ something right and wrong independently of what is thought to
be right or wrong. People are not willing to admit that their
moral convictions are a mere matter of opinion, and look upon
convictions differing from their own as errors. If asked why there
is so much diversity of opinion on moral questions, and
consequently so many errors, they would probably argue that there
_would_ be unanimity as regards the rightness or wrongness of a
given course of conduct _if_ everybody possessed a sufficient
knowledge of the case and all the attendant circumstances and
_if_, at the same time, everybody had a sufficiently developed
moral consciousness--which practically would mean a moral
consciousness as enlightened and developed as their own. This
characteristic of the moral judgments of common sense is shared by
the judgments of philosophers, and is at the bottom of their
reasoned arguments in favour of the objectivity of moral values.

[Footnote 36: L. Stephen, _The Science of Ethics_ (London, 1882),
p. 2. _Cf._ H. Sidgwick, "My Station and Its Duties," in
_International Journal of Ethics_, iv. (Philadelphia, etc., 1893),
p. 13 _sq._]

[Footnote 37: Carveth Read, _Natural and Social Morals_ (London,
1909), p. 9.]

The common sense idea that moral judgments possess objective
validity is itself regarded as a proof of their really possessing
such validity. It is argued that the moral judgment "claims
objectivity," that it asserts a value which is found in that on
which it is pronounced. "This is the meaning of the judgment,"
says Professor Sorley. "It is not about a feeling or attitude of,
or any relation to, the subject who makes the judgment."[38] Dr.
Rashdall {47} writes:--"Is not this idea of objectivity just the
most fundamental of our moral convictions? . . . If there is in
the human mind this consciousness of an objective 'ought,' it must
be derived from the intellectual part of our nature . . . If the
notion of duty is as inexpugnable a notion of the human mind as
the notion of quantity or cause or substance or the like, we have
every reason that we can possibly have for believing in its
objective validity."[39] Yet in another place he implicitly admits
that, after all, there is in point of universality some difference
between these notions. He admits that most, and possibly the
whole, of the savage's actual morality and of his intellectual
beliefs about morality can be satisfactorily explained upon the
emotional view; and he says that it would not matter, for the
purpose of his argument, if we had to ascend to a comparatively
advanced stage in the development of morality before we reached
any ideas about human conduct that could be described as a sense
of duty.[40] The whole argument is really reduced to the
assumption that an idea--in this case the idea of the validity of
moral judgments--which is generally held, or held by more or less
advanced minds, must be true: people claim objective validity for
the moral judgment, therefore it must possess such validity. The
only thing that may be said in favour of such an argument is, that
if the definition of a moral proposition implies the claim to
objectivity, a judgment that does not express this quality cannot
be a moral judgment; but this by no means proves that moral
propositions so defined are true--the predicated objectivity may
be a sheer illusion.

[Footnote 38: W. R. Sorley, _Moral Values and the Idea of God_
(Cambridge, 1924). p. 150.]

[Footnote 39: H. Rashdall, _Is Conscience an Emotion?_ (London,
1914), pp. 34, 36, 39.]

[Footnote 40: _Ibid._, p. 70 _sq._]

Well then, it might be argued, if you do not admit that {48} there
is anything objectively right or wrong, you must not use these or
any other moral predicates, because if you do, you assign to them
a meaning that they do not possess. But what about other
predicates which are also formally objective and yet, when we more
carefully consider the matter are admitted to be merely subjective
estimates? The aesthetic judgment makes claim to objectivity: when
people say that something is beautiful, they generally mean
something more than that it gives, or has a tendency to give, them
aesthetic enjoyment; and there are also many philosophers who
uphold the objectivity of beauty and maintain that the beauties of
nature exist apart from a beholding eye or a hearing ear. But even
those who agree with Hume that beauty is no quality in things
themselves, but exists merely in the mind which contemplates them,[41]
do not hesitate to speak of "beauty," and would consider it absurd
to be taken to task for doing so. Sidgwick admits that if I say
"the air is sweet" or "the food is disagreeable," it would not be
exactly true that I mean no more than that I like the one or
dislike the other, although, if my statement is challenged, I
shall probably content myself with affirming the existence of such
feelings in my own mind.[42] So also, if anybody calls a certain
wine or cigar good, there is some objectivity implied in the
judgment, and however willing he is to recognize that the
so-called goodness is a mere matter of taste, he will certainly,
even if he is a philosopher, continue to call the wine or cigar
good, just as before. Or, to take an instance from the sphere of
knowledge: Hume, in expounding his own view, still speaks with the
man in the street of objects and processes in nature, although his
very aim is to convince {49} us that what we know is really
limited to impressions and ideas. And every one of us makes use of
the words sunrise and sunset, which are expressions from a time
when people thought that the sun rose and set, though nobody now
holds this view. Why, then, should not the ethical subjectivist be
allowed to use the old terms for moral qualities, although he
maintains that the objective validity generally implied in them is
a mere illusion? Dr. Rashdall himself, as we just saw, speaks of
an emotional "morality" among savages, that is, a morality without

[Footnote 41: D. Hume, "Essay xxiii.--Of the Standard of Taste,"
in _Philosophical Works_, iii. (London, 1875), p. 268.]

[Footnote 42: Sidgwick, _op. cit._, p. 27.]

There is thus a very general tendency to assign objectivity to our
subjective experience, and this tendency is particularly strong
and persistent with regard to our moral experience. Why we
attribute validity to it is of course a matter that does not
trouble the moral intuitionist any more than the mathematician
looks for a ground for his axioms. He is not concerned with the
question of origins. Professor Moore says that the questions as to
the origin of people's moral feelings and ideas are of course "not
without interest, and are subjects of legitimate curiosity," but
"only form one special branch of Psychology or Anthropology."[43]
And Professor Sorley remarks that when we ask, "Why do we assign
validity to our moral approval and to moral ideas generally?" the
history of their genesis gives us no answer.[44] For my own part I
maintain, on the contrary, that an examination into the history of
the moral consciousness of mankind gives us a clue to its supposed
objectivity, as well as to its other characteristics.

[Footnote 43: G. E. Moore, _Ethics_ (London, _s.d._), p. 130

[Footnote 44: Sorley, _op. cit._, p. 64.]

People are generally inclined to assume that what makes a certain
impression upon their minds also makes a similar impression upon
the minds of others. This assumption {50} is very largely
confirmed by facts; and, generally speaking, people's inclination
to generalize their judgments is greater in proportion as the
impressions are found to be similar in each particular case. If
"there is no disputing of tastes," that is because taste is so
very variable; and yet even in this instance we recognize a
certain standard by speaking of a "good" and a "bad" taste. On the
other hand, if the appearance of objectivity in the moral
judgments is so illusive as to make it seem necessary to refer
them to reason, that is partly on account of the comparatively
uniform nature of the moral consciousness. Society is the school
in which we learn to distinguish between right and wrong. The
headmaster is Custom, and the lessons are the same for all the
members of the community. The first moral judgments were
pronounced by public opinion; public indignation and public
approval are the prototypes of the moral emotions. As regards
questions of morality there was in early society no difference of
opinion; hence a character of universality was from the very
beginning attached to the moral judgments. And when, with
advancing civilization, this unanimity was to some extent
disturbed by individuals who ventured to dissent from the opinions
of the majority, the disagreement largely arose from circumstances
which did not affect the moral principle itself, but had reference
only to its application, that is, from circumstances of a purely
intellectual character, from the knowledge of, or attention paid
to, positive facts.

But besides the relative uniformity of moral opinions and the
possibility of considerably harmonizing conflicting opinions by a
demonstration of facts, there are other circumstances which have
in a large measure contributed to the strong belief in moral
truths. From our earliest childhood we are taught that certain
acts _are_ right and {51} that others _are_ wrong. The leading-string
in the child's ethical growth is, all the time, the presence of
other persons, whose "word of command" is authoritative and not to
be trifled with.[45] There is further the authority of public
opinion, custom, and law, with disagreeable consequences for those
who act contrary to their decrees. There is the influence of some
great teacher whose mind was ruled by the ideal of moral
perfection, and whose words became sacred on account of his
supreme wisdom, like Confucius or Buddha, or on religious grounds,
like Jesus. There is the belief in an all-wise and all-powerful
God, whose will is the supreme law and who inflicts punishment on
the transgressor. And besides the external authority of the rules
of conduct there is the internal authority assigned to the moral
law, the sense of obligatoriness, which has much impressed
moralists of different schools. It filled Kant with the same awe
as the star-spangled firmament. According to Butler, conscience is
"a faculty in kind and in nature supreme over all others, and
which bears its own authority of being so."[46] Its supremacy is
said to be "felt and tacitly acknowledged by the worst no less
than by the best of men."[47] Adam Smith calls the moral faculties
the "vicegerents of God within us," who "never fail to punish the
violation of them by the torments of inward shame and
self-condemnation; and, on the contrary, always reward obedience
with tranquillity of mind, with contentment, and
self-satisfaction."[48] Even Hutcheson, who raises the question
why the {52} moral sense should not vary in different men as the
palate does, considers it from its very nature "to be designed for
regulating and controlling all our powers."[49]

[Footnote 45: _Cf._ J. M. Baldwin, _Social and Ethical
Interpretations in Mental Development_ (New York, 1897), p. 298.]

[Footnote 46: Butler, _Sermon II--Upon Human Nature_, § 8
(_Works_, i. 45).]

[Footnote 47: Dugald Stewart, _The Philosophy of the Active and
Moral Powers of Man_, i. (Edinburgh, 1828), p. 302.]

[Footnote 48: Adam Smith, _The Theory of Moral Sentiments_
(London, 1887), p. 235.]

[Footnote 49: Hutcheson, _A System of Moral Philosophy_, i. 61.]

The authority of the moral law has been taken as a clear
manifestation of the objectivity of duty and as a testimony of the
subjectivistic fallacy. "If moral approbation is a mere feeling,"
says Dr. Rashdall, "how can it claim any superiority over other
feelings?"[50] But if all external motives of a social and
religious character be put aside, it may be fairly asked if the
influence of the moral law upon the conduct of men is really so
great as well-meaning moralists try to make us believe. It does
not seem to command obedience in any exceptional degree, the
regard for it can hardly be called the mainspring of action. It is
only one spring out of many, and variable like all others. In some
instances it may be a dominant power in a man's life, in others it
is a voice calling in the wilderness; and the majority of people
seem to be more afraid of the blame or ridicule of their
fellowmen, or of the penalties with which the law of the country
threatens them, than of "the vicegerents of God" in their own
hearts. Kant speaks of "the peace of conscience of so many (in
their own opinion conscientious) men, when . . . they have merely
had the good fortune to escape bad consequences."[51] It has been
said that mankind prefer the possession of virtue to all other
enjoyments, and look upon vice as worse than any other misery;[52]
that the pleasures and pains of conscience are in the normally
constituted mind far more intense {53} and durable than any other
pleasures or pains.[53] But as a matter of fact, the obedience to
the moral law, as to any ordinary law, is seldom accompanied with
any distinct feeling of pleasure at all: the "good" conscience
chiefly means the absence of a bad one.[54] And as for the bad
conscience, I think we may agree with Leslie Stephen that "most
men find nothing easier than to suppress its stings, when some
immediately bad consequence, or the contempt and abhorrence of
their neighbours, does not constantly instil the venom."[55] It is
said that virtue bears in itself its own reward, and vice its own
punishment. But what an unjust retributor conscience is. The more
a person habituates himself to virtue the more he sharpens its
sting, the deeper he sinks in vice the more he blunts it. While
the best men have the most sensitive consciences, the worst have
hardly any conscience at all. We are reminded that men are
rewarded for good and punished for bad acts by the moral approval
or disapproval of their neighbours. But public opinion and law
judge of detected acts only; their judgment is seldom based upon
an exhaustive examination of the case; all that they require is
formal compliance with the more elementary rules of duty.
Moreover, {54} a person is respected or praised, blamed or
despised, on other grounds than his moral qualities; indeed, the
admiration which men feel for intellectual superiority, artistic
genius, courage, strength, or even accidental success, is often
more intense than the admiration they feel for virtue. Thus the
supposed supremacy of the moral law receives but scanty
recognition in the practice and actual feelings of men. And to say
that, whether its dictates are obeyed or not, they ought to be
obeyed--or, as Butler put it, that conscience, "had it strength,
as it has right; had it power, as it has manifest authority, . . .
would absolutely govern the world"[56]--is simply to say that what
ought to be ought to be. There are even philosophers who have
actually denied that the moral values are the highest of all

[Footnote 50: Rashdall, _The Theory of Good and Evil_, i. 143.]

[Footnote 51: Kant, _Von der Einwohnung des bösen Princips
neben dem guten_, 3 (_Gesammelte Schriften_, vi. [Berlin, 1914],
p. 38; Abbott's translation, p. 345).]

[Footnote 52: Hutcheson, _An Inquiry into the Original of Beauty
and Virtue_, p. 252.]

[Footnote 53: T. Fowler, _Progressive Morality_ (London, 1895), p.

[Footnote 54: _Cf._ L. Feuerbach, _Sämmtliche Werke_, x.
(Stuttgart, 1911), p. 283; N. H. Bang, _Begrebet Moral_
(Köbenhavn, 1897), p. 168; M. Scheler, _Der Formalismus in
der Ethik_ (Halle a. d. S., 1927), p. 334. Kant (_Kritik der
praktischen Vernunft_, 1, 2. 2. 2 [v. 117; Abbott, p. 214]) says
that the consciousness of virtue is accompanied, not with
enjoyment, but with self-contentment, **"which in its proper
signification always designates only a negative satisfaction in
one's existence, in which one is conscious of needing nothing."
Yet in his discussion of duties of "indeterminate obligation"
(_Einleitung zur Tugendlehre_, §7 [_Gesammelte Schriften_,
vi. [Berlin, 1914], p. 391; Abbott, p. 301]**) he speaks of "a moral
pleasure which goes beyond mere satisfaction with one's self
(which may be merely negative), and of which it is proudly said
that in this consciousness virtue is its own reward."]

[Footnote 55: Stephen, _op. cit._, p. 319.]

[Footnote 56: Butler, _Sermon II.--Upon Human Nature_, § 14
(_Works_, i. 48).]

[Footnote 57: _Cf._ H. Münsterberg, _Der Ursprung der
Sittlichkeit_ (Freiburg i. B., 1889), p. 115: "Man muss klar und
unbeirrt erkennen, dass . . . sittlich wertlose Handlungen
für die Entwickelung und Vervollkommnung der Menschheit
unendlich wertvoller sein können, als es sittliche Leistungen
sind"; G. Freudenberg, _Grenzen der Ethik_ (Leipzig, 1927), p. 129
_sq._: "Es ist ein grundsätzliches Missverständnis, der
Ethik die Frage zu stellen, ob die ethischen Werte 'hoher' oder
'niedriger' als andere Werte seien. Offenbar wird ja auch
über das Wesen der Musik gar nichts ausgesagt, wenn man sie
als die höchste der Künste bezeichnet."]

The authority assigned to conscience is really only an echo of the
social or religious sanctions of conduct: it belongs to the
"public" or the religious conscience, _vox populi_ or _vox dei_.
In theory it may be admitted that every man ought to act in
accordance with his conscience. But this phrase is easily
forgotten when, in any matter of importance, the individual's
conscience comes into conflict with the common sense of his
community; or doubt may be thrown upon the sincerity of his
professed convictions, or he may be blamed for having such a
conscience as he has. There are philosophers, like Hobbes and
Hegel, who {55} have denied the citizen the right of having a
private conscience. The other external source from which authority
has been instilled into the moral law is the alliance between
morality and religion. In spite of all his efforts to base his own
moral theory on a non-theological basis, Dr. Rashdall feels
compelled to admit that, in his opinion, the belief in God is the
logical presupposition of an "objective" or absolute morality. "A
moral ideal," he says, "can exist nowhere and nohow but in a
mind; an absolute moral ideal can exist only in a Mind from which
all Reality is derived. Our moral ideal can only claim objective
validity in so far as it can rationally be regarded as the
revelation of a moral ideal **eternally existing in the mind of
God."[58] So also Professor Bohlin, after a penetrating review of
the claim to objective validity made by normative moralists,
arrives at the conclusion that only a divine revelation can give
morality such a validity.[59] But the belief in the
authoritativeness of moral obligation may survive the religious
source from which it sprang and last after the alliance between
morality and religion has been broken. It has been pointed out by
Schopenhauer and others[60] that Kant's categorical imperative,
with its mysteriousness and awfulness, is really an echo of the
old religious formula "Thou shalt," though it is heard, not as the
command of an external legislator, but as a voice coming from
within. Schiller wrote to Goethe, "There still remains something
{56} in Kant, as in Luther, that makes one think of a monk who has
left his monastery, but been unable to efface all traces of

[Footnote 58: Rashdall, _The Theory of Good and Evil_, ii. 212.]

[Footnote 59: T. Bohlin, _Das Grundproblem der Ethik_ (Uppsala &
Leipzig, 1923), p. 428 _sqq._]

[Footnote 60: A. Schopenhauer, _Die Grundlage der Moral_,
§§ 4, 6 (_Sämmtliche Werke_, iv.[2] [Leipzig,
1916], pp. 124-126, 133 _sqq._). F. Paulsen, _Immanuel Kant_
(Stuttgart, 1899), p. 345 _sq._ J. Rehmke, _Grundlegung der Ethik
als Wissenschaft_ (Leipzig, 1925), p. 58. _Cf._ Kant, _Von der
Einwohnung des bösen Princips neben dem guten_, Anmerkung
(vi. 23 n. †; Abbott, p. 330 n. 1), where he speaks of the
majesty of the law "like that on Sinai."]

[Footnote 61: _Briefwechsel zwischen Schiller und Goethe in den
Jahren 1794 bis 1805_, ii. (Stuttgart & Augsburg, 1856), p. 167.]

The theological argument in favour of the objective validity of
moral judgments, which is based on belief in an all-good God who
has revealed his will to mankind, contains, of course, an
assumption that cannot be scientifically proved. But even if it
could be proved, would that justify the conclusion drawn from it?
Those who maintain that they in such a revelation possess an
absolute moral standard and that, consequently, any mode of
conduct which is in accordance with it must be objectively right,
may be asked what they mean by an all-good God. If God were not
supposed to be all-good, we might certainly be induced by prudence
to obey his decrees, but they could not lay claim to moral
validity; suppose the devil were to take over the government of
the world, what influence would that have on the moral
values--would it make the right wrong and the wrong right? It is
only the all-goodness of God that can give his commandments
absolute moral validity. But to say that something is good because
it is in accordance with the will of an all-good God is to reason
in a circle; if goodness means anything, it must have a meaning
which is independent of his will. God is called good or righteous
because he is supposed to possess certain qualities that we are
used to call so: he is benevolent, he rewards virtue and punishes
vice, and so forth. For such reasons we add the attributes
goodness and righteousness to his other attributes, which express
qualities of an objective character, and by calling him all-good
we attribute to him perfect goodness.[62] As a matter of {57}
fact, there are also many theologians who consider moral
distinctions to be antecedent to the divine commands. Thomas
Aquinas and his school maintain that the right is not right
because God wills it, but that God wills it because it is right.

[Footnote 62: _Cf._ Shaftesbury, _op. cit._, ii. 49 _sq._:
"Whoever thinks there is a God, and pretends formally to believe
that he is just and good, must suppose that there is independently
such a thing as justice and injustice, truth and falsehood, right
and wrong; according to which he pronounces that God is just,
righteous, and true." A similar remark has been made by C. Stumpf
(_Vom ethischen Skeptizismus_ [Leipzig, 1909], p. 22) and G.
Heymans (_Einführung in die Ethik auf Grundlage der
Erfahrung_ [Leipzig, 1914], p. 8).]

Before leaving this subject I must still mention a fact that has
made moralists so anxious to prove the objectivity of our moral
judgments, namely, the belief that ethical subjectivism is an
extremely dangerous doctrine. In a little book called _Is
Conscience an Emotion?_, largely written to oppose views held
either by Professor McDougall or myself, Dr. Rashdall remarks that
"the scientific spirit does not require us to blind ourselves to
the practical consequences which hang upon the solution of not a
few scientific problems," and that "assuredly there is no
scientific problem upon which so much depends as upon the answer
we give to the question whether the distinction which we are
accustomed to draw between right and wrong belongs to the region
of objective truth like the laws of mathematics and of physical
science, or whether it is based upon an actual emotional
constitution of individual human beings."[63] He maintains that
the emotionalist theory of ethics, which leads to a denial of the
objective validity of moral judgments, "is fatal to the deepest
spiritual convictions and to the highest spiritual aspirations of
the human race," and that it therefore is "a matter of great
practical as well as intellectual importance" that it should be
rejected. "To deny the validity of the idea {58} of duty," he
says, "has a strong tendency to impair its practical influence on
the individual's life"; and "the belief in the objectivity of our
moral judgments is a necessary premiss for any valid argument for
the belief either in God, if by that be understood a morally good
or perfect Being, or in Immortality."[64] The last statement is
astounding. In another place Dean Rashdall argues that objective
morality presupposes the belief in God,[65] and now we are told
that any valid argument for the belief in God presupposes
objective morality. These two statements combined lead to the
logical conclusion that there is no valid evidence _either_ for
the existence of God _or_ for the objectivity of moral judgments.

[Footnote 63: Rashdall, _Is Conscience an Emotion?_, p. 199 _sq._]

[Footnote 64: Rashdall, _op. cit._, pp. 126, 127, 194.]

[Footnote 65: _Supra_, p. 55.]

It is needless to say that a scientific theory is not invalidated
by the mere fact that it is likely to cause mischief. The
unfortunate circumstance that there do exist dangerous things in
the world, proves that something may be dangerous and yet true.
Another question is whether the ethical subjectivism I am here
advocating really is a danger to morality. It cannot be
depreciated by the same inference as was drawn from the teaching
of the ancient Sophists, namely, that if that which appears to
each man as right or good stands for that which is right or good,
then everybody has the natural right to follow his caprice and
inclinations and to hinder him doing so is an infringement on his
rights. My moral judgments spring from my own moral consciousness;
they judge of the conduct of other men not from their point of
view but from mine, not in accordance with their feelings and
opinions about right and wrong but according to my own. And these
are not arbitrary. We approve and disapprove because we cannot do
otherwise; our moral consciousness belongs to our mental
constitution, which we cannot {59} change as we please. Can we
help feeling pain when the fire burns us? Can we help sympathizing
with our friends? Are these facts less necessary or less powerful
in their consequences, because they fall within the subjective
sphere of our experience? So also, why should the moral law
command less obedience because it forms a part of ourselves?

I think that ethical writers are often inclined to overrate the
influence of moral theory upon moral practice, but if there is any
such influence at all, it seems to me that ethical subjectivism,
instead of being a danger, is more likely to be an advantage to
morality. Could it be brought home to people that there is no
absolute standard in morality, they would perhaps be on the one
hand more tolerant and on the other hand more critical in their
judgments. Emotions depend on cognitions and are apt to vary
according as the cognitions vary; hence a theory which leads to an
examination of the psychological and historical origin of people's
moral opinions should be more useful than a theory which
postulates moral truths enunciated by self-evident intuitions that
are unchangeable. In every society the traditional notions as to
what is good or bad, obligatory or indifferent, are commonly
accepted by the majority of people without further reflection. By
tracing them to their source it will be found that not a few of
these notions have their origin in ignorance and superstition or
in sentimental likes or dislikes, to which a scrutinizing judge
can attach little importance;[66] and, on the other hand, he must
condemn many an act or omission which public opinion, out of
thoughtlessness, treats with indifference. It will, moreover,
appear that moral estimates often survive the causes from which
they sprang. {60} And what unprejudiced person can help changing
his views if he be persuaded that they have no foundation in
existing facts?

[Footnote 66: See _infra_, pp. 107, 108, 258.]

       *       *      *       *       *

I have thus arrived at the conclusion that neither the attempts of
moral philosophers or theologians to prove the objective validity
of moral judgments, nor the common sense assumption to the same
effect, give us any right at all to accept such a validity as a
fact. So far, however, I have only tried to show that it has not
been proved; now I am prepared to take a step further and assert
that it cannot exist. The reason for this is that in my opinion
the predicates of all moral judgments, all moral concepts, are
ultimately based on emotions, and that, as is very commonly
admitted,[67] no objectivity can come from an emotion. It is of
course true or not that we in a given moment have a certain
emotion; but in no other sense can the antithesis of true and
false be applied to it. The belief that gives rise to an emotion,
the cognitive basis of it, is either true or false; in the latter
case the emotion may be said to be felt "by mistake"--as when a
person is frightened by some object in the dark which he takes for
a ghost, or is indignant with a person to whom he imputes a wrong
that has been committed by somebody else; but this does not alter
the nature of the emotion itself. We may call the emotion of
another individual {61} "unjustified," if we feel that we
ourselves should not have experienced the same emotion had we been
in his place, or, as in the case of moral approval or disapproval,
if we cannot share his emotion. But to speak, as Brentano
does,[68] of "right" and "wrong" emotions, springing from
self-evident intuitions and having the same validity as truth and
error, is only another futile attempt to objectivize our moral
judgments. Heymans regards it as self-evident that a good man
deserves to be happy and a bad man unhappy;[69] but what is this
"axiom" if not a mere expression of the retributive character of
the moral emotions? So also other instances of the so-called
_Gefühlsevidenz_ are nothing but psychological facts put into

[Footnote 67: See, e.g., Rashdall, _The Theory of Good and Evil_,
i. 145 _sq._, ii. 195; _Idem_, _Is Conscience an Emotion?_, pp.
30, 36; Sorley, _op. cit._, p. 54; C. Hebler, _Philosophische
Aufsätze_ (Leipzig, 1869), p. 48; J. Watson, _Hedonistic
Theories from Aristippus to Spencer_ (Glasgow, 1895), p. 135; H.
Maier, _Psychologie des emotionalen Denkens_ (Tübingen,
1908), pp. 789, 790, 800; H. Münsterberg, _Philosophie der
Werte_ (Leipzig, 1908), p. 28; H. Höffding, _Etik_
(Köbenhavn & Kristiania, 1913), p. 51; L. T. Hobhouse, _The
Rational Good_ (London, 1921), p. 16; R. Müller-Freienfels,
_Irrationalismus_ (Leipzig, 1922), p. 226; _Idem_, _Metaphysik des
Irrationalen_ (Leipzig, 1927), p. 400; J. Laird, _The Idea of
Value_ (Cambridge, 1929), pp. 247, 315.]

[Footnote 68: F. Brentano, _Vom Ursprung sittlicher Erkenntnis_
(Leipzig, 1921), p. 18 _sqq._]

[Footnote 69: Heymans, _op. cit._, p. 203.]

[Footnote 70: _Cf._ _infra_, p. 263.]

If there are no moral truths it cannot be the object of a science
of ethics to lay down rules for human conduct, since the aim of
all science is the discovery of some truth. Professor
Höffding argues that the subjectivity of our moral valuations
does not prevent ethics from being a science any more than the
subjectivity of our sensations renders a science of physics
impossible, because both are concerned with finding the external
facts that correspond to the subjective processes.[71] It may, of
course, be a subject for scientific inquiry to investigate the
means which are conducive to human happiness or welfare, and the
results of such a study may also be usefully applied by moralists,
but it forms no more a part of ethics than physics is a part of
psychology. If the word "ethics" is to be used as the name for a
science, the object of that science can only be to study the moral
consciousness as a fact.

[Footnote 71: Höffding, _op. cit._, p. 68.]



The contention that all moral concepts, which are used as
predicates in moral judgments, are ultimately based on emotions,
is of course a claim that has to be substantiated. First, what is
the nature of those emotions?

Professor McDougall, though agreeing with me that original moral
judgments proceed directly from emotions, denies that there are
any specific emotions from which they spring. "Judgment of
approval," he says, "may be prompted by admiration, gratitude,
positive self-feeling, or by any one of the emotions when induced
by way of the primitive sympathetic reaction; judgment of
disapproval springs most frequently from anger, either in its
primary uncomplicated form, or as an element in one of its
secondary combinations, such as shame, reproach, scorn, but also
from fear and disgust."[1] But the question to be answered is not
what emotions may prompt people to pronounce moral
judgments--there are certainly many different emotions that may do
that--but whether there are any specific emotions that have led to
the formation of the concepts of right and wrong, good and bad,
and all other moral concepts, and therefore may be appropriately
named moral emotions. I maintain that there are two such emotions,
both complex by nature, for which I have used the traditional
terms moral approval and moral {63} disapproval or indignation.
They have, of course, in common certain characteristics that make
them moral emotions in distinction from other emotions of a
non-moral character, but at the same time both of them belong to a
wider class of emotions, which I have called retributive emotions.
Again, they differ from each other in points that make each of
them allied to certain non-moral retributive emotions, disapproval
to anger and revenge, and approval to what I have called non-moral
retributive kindly emotion, which in its most developed form is
gratitude. They may thus, on the one hand, be regarded as two
distinct divisions of the moral emotions, whilst, on the other
hand, moral disapproval, like anger and revenge, forms a
subspecies of resentment, and approval, like gratitude, forms a
subspecies of retributive kindly emotion.

[Footnote 1: W. McDougall, _An Introduction to Social Psychology_
(London, 1926), p. 187 _sq._ _Cf._ J. Laird, _The Idea of Value_
(Cambridge, 1929), p. 238.]

Professor McDougall has criticized this scheme both in point of
terminology and classification. He has raised the objection that
approval and disapproval are not emotions but judgments, and that
to describe them as emotions is to perpetuate the chaos of
psychological terminology.[2] My reply to this objection is that
moral approval or approbation and moral disapproval or
disapprobation have been used as terms for emotions by moralists
and psychologists at least from the eighteenth century and
continue to be so used, even after and in spite of Professor
McDougall's criticism;[3] that their application both to judgments
and emotions is parallel to the varied meanings given to many
other terms--he speaks himself of revenge as an emotion, although
it also means an act; and that he has escaped the necessity of
finding another name for moral approval only by ignoring the
emotion itself. He further {64} reproaches me for co-ordinating
anger--including, of course, disinterested anger, which he seems
to identify with moral indignation--and revenge as subspecies of
resentment, which he describes as "the fusion of anger and
positive self-feeling immediately evoked by an act of
aggression."[4] But here again, in my use of the term resentment,
I may appeal to the traditional meaning of the term, for which I
may refer, _e.g._, to Shaftesbury,[5] Butler,[6] Bain,[7] and the
Oxford Dictionary; and I doubt whether it helps to bring order
into the chaos of psychological terminology to invent a new
meaning for it.

[Footnote 2: McDougall, _op. cit._, p. 124.]

[Footnote 3: _E.g._, by L. T. Hobhouse, _The Rational Good_
(London, 1921), p. 74 n.; R. H. Thouless, _Social Psychology_
(London, 1925), p. 252.]

[Footnote 4: McDougall, _op. cit._, p. 123. See also _ibid._, p.

[Footnote 5: Shaftesbury, _Characteristicks_, ii. (London, 1733),
144 _sqq._, 420.]

[Footnote 6: J. Butler, _Sermon VIII.--Upon Resentment_.]

[Footnote 7: A. Bain, _The Emotions and the Will_ (London, 1880),
pp. 181, 182, 291.]

Professor McDougall also says that I have failed to see the
difference between anger and revenge. I have written:--"Resentment
may be described as an aggressive attitude of mind towards a cause
of pain. Anger is sudden resentment, in which the hostile reaction
against the cause of pain is unrestrained by deliberation.
Revenge, on the other hand, is a more deliberate form of non-moral
resentment, in which the hostile reaction is more or less
restrained by reason and calculation."[8] My view that the emotion
of revenge is, generally speaking, more deliberate than ordinary
anger is, I believe, in agreement with the common use of the
terms;[9] but I have added that it is impossible to draw any
distinct limit between these two types of resentment. Professor
McDougall's criticism is provoked by the fact that, in his view,
anger is a "primary" {65} emotion, whereas revenge is a "binary
compound of anger and positive self-feeling."[10] He says I
maintain "against Steinmetz that self-feeling is not an essential
element in vengeful emotion";[11] but this brief statement is a
very defective summary of the views expressed by me.

[Footnote 8: _The Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas_, i.
(London, 1906), p. 22.]

[Footnote 9: See, _e.g._, Shaftesbury, _op. cit._, ii. 145;
Butler, _Sermon VIIi.--Upon Resentment_; Bain, _op. cit._, p. 181
_sq._; Th. Ribot, _The Psychology of the Emotions_ (London, 1897),
p. 222; A. F. Shand, _The Foundations of Character_ (London,
1920), p. 229.]

[Footnote 10: McDougall, _op. cit._, p. 122 _sq._]

[Footnote 11: _Ibid._, p. 122.]

According to Steinmetz, revenge is essentially rooted in the
feeling of power and superiority. It arises consequent on the
experience of injury, and its aim is to enhance the self-feeling,
which has been lowered or degraded by the injury suffered. It
answers this purpose best if it is directed against the aggressor
himself, but it is not essential to it that it should take any
determinate direction: _per se_ and originally it is
"undirected."[12] In examining in detail all the facts adduced by
Dr. Steinmetz as evidence for his hypothesis of an original stage
of undirected revenge I found that they were no evidence at all.
They only show that in certain circumstances, either in a fit of
passion or when the actual offender is unknown or out of reach,
some innocent person, who is in no way connected with the
inflictor of the injury, may become an object of retaliation.
There is such an intimate connection between the suffering of an
injury and the hostile reaction by which the injured individual
gives vent to his passion, that the reaction does not fail to
appear even when it misses its aim. In the institution of the
blood-feud some sort of collective responsibility is usually
involved, but here the guilt extends itself, as it were, in the
eyes of the offended party to the kinsmen of the manslayer; and
besides, the strong tendency to discrimination that characterizes
resentment is not wholly lost even behind the veil of common
responsibility. We are often {66} told that the blood-feud is in
the first place directed against the malefactor, and against some
relative of his only if he cannot be found; this is stated even of
so low savages as Australian natives.[13] After this criticism I
made some remarks, unnoticed by Professor McDougall, which bring
my view of revenge much nearer to his than his readers are made to
believe. I wrote:[14]

[Footnote 12: S. R. Steinmetz, _Ethnologische Studien zur ersten
Entwicklung der Strafe_ (Leiden & Leipzig, 1894), _passim_.]

[Footnote 13: _Moral Ideas_, i. 35 _sq._]

[Footnote 14: _Ibid._, i. 38 _sqq._]

"I certainly do not mean to deny that violation of the
'self-feeling' is an extremely common and powerful incentive to
resentment. It is so among savage and civilized men alike; even
dogs and monkeys get angry when laughed at. Nothing more easily
arouses in us anger and a desire for retaliation, nothing is more
difficult to forgive, than an act which indicates contempt, or
disregard of our feelings. Long after the bodily pain of a blow
has ceased, the mental suffering caused by the insult remains and
calls for vengeance. This is an old truth often told. According to
Seneca, 'the greater part of the things which enrage us are
insults, not injuries.' Plutarch observes that, though different
persons fall into anger for different reasons, yet in nearly all
of them is to be found the idea of their being despised or
neglected. 'Contempt,' says Bacon, 'is that which putteth an edge
upon anger, as much, or more, than the hurt itself.' But . . . in
all cases revenge implies, primordially and essentially, a desire
to cause pain or destruction in return for hurt suffered, whether
the hurt be bodily or mental; and if to this impulse is added a
desire to enhance the wounded 'self-feeling,' that does not
interfere with the true nature of the primary feeling of revenge.
There are genuine specimens of resentment without the co-operation
of self-regarding pride; and, on the other hand, the reaction of
the wounded 'self-feeling' is not necessarily, in the first place,
concerned with the {67} infliction of pain. If a person has
written a bad book which is severely criticized, he may desire to
repair his reputation by writing a better book, not by humiliating
his critics; and if he attempts the latter rather than the former,
he does so not merely in order to enhance his 'self-feeling,' but
because he is driven on by revenge."[15]

[Footnote 15: It must be due to careless reading of this sentence
that Prof. McDougall (_op. cit._, p. 122 _sq._) makes the
following confused remark:--"Westermarck seeks to support his view
(I suppose the view that 'self-feeling is not an essential element
in vengeful emotion') by saying that, if one has written a book
and it has been adversely criticized, though our self-feeling
receives a painful check we do not seek vengeance on the critic
but rather set out to write a better book. Now, it is dangerous to
trust to the consideration of the emotions of the most cultivated
and intellectual class of men in seeking light on the origin of
the emotions, but I think that most authors would avenge
themselves on the unjust and damaging critic, if they could find
an easy opportunity; and our literary disputes frequently are but
the most refined expression of this emotion." Surely Prof.
McDougall could no more than myself consider the writing of a
better book to be an act of revenge if no anger be connected with
it, since he regards anger as an essential element in revenge.]

If I, instead of saying that violation of the self-feeling is an
extremely common incentive to resentment (by which I did not mean
merely revenge), had said that it is a regular incentive to
revenge, which I have not denied and which is most probably true,
there would, so far as I can see, be no real disagreement between
Professor McDougall and myself as to the nature of revenge. He
says himself that his account of revenge is nearer to that of
Steinmetz than to mine; but I doubt the accuracy of this
statement, as he recognizes anger as one element in revenge and
regards anger not as undirected, but as essentially directed
against the object or person provoking it.[16] Both of us agree
that a violent assertion of one's power is not an adequate
characteristic of the act in which revenge {68} seeks its
satisfaction. And I find no reason to dispute Professor
McDougall's view that revenge is a "fusion of anger and positive
self-feeling . . . developed within the system of the
self-regarding sentiment--to which circumstance it owes its
persistent character--with the addition of painful feeling arising
from the continued thwarting of the two impulses."[17] But I
maintain that thwarting of the self-feeling is also a very
frequent, though of course not a necessary, incentive to anger,
and cannot, therefore, be regarded as a characteristic by which
revenge is distinguished from anger. As Dr. Shand observes, anger
"may be aroused by the sharp and sudden pain of a blow, or by
being insulted, scorned, mocked at, or even neglected."[18]
Indeed, Professor McDougall seems himself to have been unable to
uphold his distinction between anger and revenge. He says, "If a
man strikes me a sudden and unprovoked blow, . . . the impulse,
the thwarting of which in this case provokes my anger, is the
impulse of self-assertion."[19]

[Footnote 16: McDougall, _op. cit._, p. 51. _Idem_, _An Outline of
Psychology_ (London, 1926), p. 321: "When we are angry, we feel
the impulse to attack the object that angers us."]

[Footnote 17: _Idem_, _An Introduction to Social Psychology_, p.

[Footnote 18: Shand, _op. cit._, p. 227. _Cf._ Bain, _op. cit._,
p. 177.]

[Footnote 19: McDougall, _An Introduction to Social Psychology_,
p. 51 n. 1.]

In classifying certain emotions under the common heading
"resentment" I have done so because they may all be described as a
hostile attitude of mind towards a living being, or something
taken for a living being, as a cause of pain, whatever the
circumstances may be that have aroused it in each particular case.
This common characteristic seems to me a most legitimate ground of
classification on account of the uniformity of its function and
its extreme importance in the life of the species. Resentment,
like protective reflex action, from which it has gradually
developed, is a means of protection for the animal owing to its
tendency to remove a cause of danger. {69} The disposition to
experience it may consequently be regarded as an element in the
animal's mental constitution which has been acquired through the
influence of natural selection in the struggle for existence. In
comparison with these facts it is a matter of minor importance
whether the hostile reaction is connected with a thwarting of the
self-feeling or not. Indeed, as this may be the case not only in
revenge but also in anger, it is, for this reason also, impossible
to draw any distinct limit between these two types of resentment.
Nor is it possible to discern where an actual desire to inflict
pain comes in. We may assume that in its primitive form anger,
even when directed against a living being, could not have been
connected with a representation of the enemy as suffering. But as
a successful attack is necessarily accompanied with such
suffering, the desire to produce it naturally became, with the
increase of intelligence, an important factor in resentment. And
when pain was distinguished as a normal effect of resentment, the
infliction of it could also be aimed at as an end in itself.
Resentment is particularly apt to assume this character under the
influence of the self-feeling of the injured party, as a means of
humiliating the offender.[20]

[Footnote 20: _Cf._ Ribot, _op. cit._, p. 221; Shand, _op. cit._,
p. 243 _sq._]

That moral disapproval is closely connected with non-moral
resentment is indicated by language: we may feel indignant on
other than moral grounds, and we may feel "righteous anger." The
relationship between these emotions is also conspicuous in their
outward expressions, which, when the emotion is strong enough,
present similar characteristics. When possessed with deep moral
indignation, a person looks as if he were angry, and so he really
is, in the wider sense of the term. This relationship has been
ignored by those who have described moral approval and disapproval
merely as feelings of pleasure or pain. {70} Yet it was recognized
already some two thousand years ago in a remarkable passage of the
Greek historian Polybius, who wrote:--"If a man has been rescued
or helped in an hour of danger, and, instead of showing gratitude
to his preserver, seeks to do him harm, it is clearly probable
that the rest will be displeased and offended with him when they
know it, sympathizing with their neighbour and imagining
themselves in his case. Hence arises a notion in every breast of
the meaning and theory of duty, which is in fact the beginning and
end of justice."[21] Hartley regarded resentment and gratitude as
"intimately connected with the moral sense";[22] and Adam Smith
made the resentment and gratitude of the "impartial spectator" a
corner stone of his theory of the moral sentiments. The elaborate
and acute arguments with which he supported his moral theory could
not fail to exercise some influence on subsequent moral
philosophy, but though his book on the subject rapidly won
popularity when it first appeared, it was afterwards largely
forgotten, save by historians of philosophy, whose remarks on it,
in England, were generally frigid and sometimes almost
contemptuous.[23] {71} For my own part I maintain that Adam
Smith's _Theory of Moral Sentiments_ is the most important
contribution to moral psychology made by any British thinker, and
that it is so in the first place on account of the emphasis it
lays on the retributive character of the moral emotions.

[Footnote 21: Polybius, _Historiæ_, vi. 6.]

[Footnote 22: D. Hartley, _Observations on Man_, i. (London,
1810), p. 520.]

[Footnote 23: Leslie Stephen writes (_History of English Thought
in the Eighteenth Century_, ii. [London, 1927], p. 77):--"It is
impossible to resist the impression . . . that we are not
listening to a thinker really grappling with a difficult problem,
so much as to an ambitious professor who has found an excellent
opportunity for displaying his command of language, and making
brilliant lectures. . . . Smith's main proposition was hardly
original." In the historical survey of moral theories in J. M.
Wilson's and T. Fowler's _Principles of Morals_ (Oxford, 1886), it
is said to be unnecessary to speak of his ethical philosophy at
any length (_Introductory Chapters_, p. 61). Dr. J. Bonar (_Moral
Sense_ [London, 1930], p. 168) asserts that it has needed all the
fame of Adam Smith's second book, _The Wealth of Nations_, "to
keep alive the memory of his first, which founded no school, and
is usually passed over with the faint praise due to the author's
reputation." In striking contrast with this is the regard which
German historians of philosophy have shown for Adam Smith's book
on the _Moral Sentiments_. A new German edition of it appeared
only a few years ago.]

As there are varieties of non-moral resentment so there are also
varieties of moral disapproval. Under the influence of the
altruistic sentiment its aggressiveness has been subject to
modifications. At its earlier stages the desire to cause suffering
or destruction to the offender is a very marked characteristic of
it. To take revenge on an enemy is regarded as a duty, or, in
other words, the omission to do so calls forth moral disapproval.
This is the case not only in the savage world. In the Old
Testament the spirit of vindictiveness pervades both the men and
their God; it is the duty of a man to avenge the murder of his
relative,[24] and the enemies of Yahveh can expect no mercy from
him, but utter destruction is their lot. To do good to a friend
and to do harm to an enemy was a maxim of the ancient
Scandinavians.[25] It was taken as a matter of course by popular
opinion in Greece[26] and Rome. According to Aristotle, "it
belongs to the courageous man never to be worsted"; to take
revenge on a foe rather than to be reconciled is just, and
therefore honourable.[27] Cicero defines a good man as a person
"who serves whom he can, and injures none save when provoked by

[Footnote 24: _Numbers_, xxxv. 19.]

[Footnote 25: K. Maurer, _Die Bekehrung des Norwegischen Stammes
zum Christenthume_, ii. (München, 1856), p. 154 _sq._]

[Footnote 26: L. Schmidt, _Die Ethik der alten Griechen_, ii.
(Berlin, 1882), p. 309 _sqq._]

[Footnote 27: Aristotle, _Rhetorica_, i. 9. 24. _Cf._ Aeschylus,
_Choeophori_, 309 _sqq._; Plato, _Meno_, p. 71; Xenophon,
_Memorabilia_, ii. 6. 35.]

[Footnote 28: Cicero, _De Officiis_, iii. 19. _Cf._ _ibid._, ii.

{72} That revenge is considered a duty implies, of course, that
the person on whom it is incumbent is an object of moral blame if
he does not perform that duty; but behind this censure there is
obviously a desire to see the injurer suffer. Yet the moral
disapproval may in these cases differ from the revenge of the
offended party as to the intensity of suffering required by it.
Sometimes his feeling of revenge may seem to outsiders to be too
weak or too much checked by other impulses, but in other cases it
appears unduly great. In early society we often find that the
practice of revenge is regulated by a rule that requires
equivalence between the injury and the suffering inflicted in
return for it. Sometimes this rule demands that only one life
shall be taken for one, sometimes that a manslayer shall die in
the same manner as his victim, sometimes that other injuries also
shall be retaliated by the infliction of similar injuries on the
offenders.[29] This strict equivalence is not characteristic of
resentment as such. There is undoubtedly a certain proportion
between the injury inflicted and the resentful reaction; other
things being equal, the resentment increases in intensity along
with the pain arousing it. The more a person feels offended, the
greater is his desire to retaliate by inflicting counter-pain, and
the greater is the pain he desires to inflict. Moreover, the
desire to pull down the humiliating arrogance of the aggressor is
naturally influenced by the idea of paying him back in his own
coin; and it is probable that the disposition to imitate,
especially in cases of sudden anger, acts in the same direction.
But resentment involves no accurate balancing of suffering against
suffering, hence there may be a crying disproportion between the
act of revenge and the injury that provoked it.[30] As Sir Thomas
Browne observes, a revengeful mind "holds no {73} rule in
retaliation, requiring too often a head for a tooth, and the
supreme revenge for trespasses, which a night's rest should
obliterate."[31] The _lex talionis_, which requires equivalence
between suffering and suffering, has undoubtedly a social origin.
If the offender is a person with whose feelings men are ready to
sympathize, their sympathy will keep the desire to see him suffer
within certain limits; and if, in ordinary circumstances, they
tend to sympathize equally with both parties, the injurer and the
person injured, and in consequence confer upon these equal rights,
they will demand a retaliation that is only equal in degree to the
offence. If this explanation is correct, the rule of equivalence
must originally have been restricted to offences within the social
group; for according to early custom and law only members of the
same society have equal rights. In speaking of the tit-for-tat
system prevalent among the Guiana Indians, Sir E. F. Im Thurn
expressly says, "Of course all this refers chiefly to the mutual
relations of members of the same tribe."[32] And when we find
savages acting according to the same principle in their relations
to other tribes, the reason for this may be sought partly in the
strong hold which that principle has taken of their minds, and
partly in the dangers accompanying intertribal revenge, which make
it desirable to restrict it within reasonable limits. The desire
that the offender shall suffer and the desire that his suffering
shall correspond to his guilt have also contributed to the
substitution of punishment for revenge and to the rise of a
judicial organization. For as long as retaliation is in the hands
of private individuals, there is no guarantee, on the one hand,
that the offender will have to suffer, on the other {74} hand,
that the act of retaliation will be sufficiently

[Footnote 29: _Moral Ideas_, i. 178.]

[Footnote 30: _Ibid._, i. 178.]

[Footnote 31: T. Browne, _Christian Morals_ (Cambridge, 1716),
iii. 12, p. 94.]

[Footnote 32: F. Im Thurn, _Among the Indians of Guiana_ (London,
1883), p. 214.]

[Footnote 33: _Moral Ideas_, i. 180 _sqq._]

The more the moral consciousness is influenced by the altruistic
sentiment, the more severely it condemns any retributive
infliction of pain that it regards as undeserved; and it seems to
be in the first place with a view to preventing such injustice
that teachers of morality have enjoined upon men to forgive their
enemies. Side by side with the doctrine of resentment we find
among peoples of culture the doctrine of forgiveness. In Leviticus
there is the rule, "Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge
against the children of thy people."[34] Sirach, who counts among
the nine causes of a man's happiness to see the fall of his enemy,
says in another passage, "Forgive thy neighbour the hurt that he
has done unto thee, so shall thy sins also be forgiven when thou
prayest."[35] According to the Talmud he who does not persecute
those who persecute him, and he who takes an offence in silence,
are the friends of God.[36] The Koran, while repeating the old
rule, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth," at the same
time teaches that paradise is "for those who repress their rage,
and those who pardon men";[37] and according to Mohammedan
tradition the Prophet laid down the rule, "Resolve that if people
do good to you, you will do good to them, and if they oppress you,
oppress them not again."[38] The principle of forgiveness had also
{75} advocates in Greece and Rome. In one of the Platonic
dialogues Socrates says, "We ought not to retaliate or render evil
for evil to any one, whatever evil we may have suffered from him";
though he adds that "this opinion has never been held, and never
will be held, by any considerable number of persons."[39] The
Stoics condemned anger as unnatural and unreasonable. According to
Seneca, "it is the part of a great mind to despise wrongs done to
it"; but he also shrewdly remarks that "the most contemptuous form
of revenge is not to deem one's adversary worth taking vengeance
upon."[40] The Chinese philosopher Lao-Tsze said, "Recompense
injury with kindness."[41] In the Laws of Manu, the mythical Hindu
legislator, the rule is laid down that a twice-born man should not
show anger against one who is angry, but bless any one who curses
him.[42] In the Buddhist Dhammapada it is said, "Let a man
overcome anger by love; let him overcome evil by good; let him
overcome the greedy by liberality, the liar by truth."[43]
Forgiveness of enemies is thus by no means an exclusively
Christian tenet.

[Footnote 34: _Leviticus_, xix. 18.]

[Footnote 35: _Ecclesiasticus_, xxv. 7; xxviii. 2.]

[Footnote 36: E. Deutsch, _Literary Remains_ (London, 1874), p.

[Footnote 37: _Koran_, ii. 190; iii. 125.]

[Footnote 38: S. Lane-Poole, _The Speeches and Table-Talk of the
Prophet Mohammad_ (London, 1882), p. 147. In Moorish proverbs we
also find the doctrine of forgiveness side by side with that of
resentment (E. Westermarck, _Wit and Wisdom in Morocco_ [London,
1930], p. 50 _sq._).]

[Footnote 39: Plato, _Crito_, p. 49.]

[Footnote 40: Seneca, _De ira_, ii. 32.]

[Footnote 41: _Tâo Teh King_, ii. 63. 1 (in _The Sacred
Books of the East_, xxxix. [Oxford, 1891]).]

[Footnote 42: _The Laws of Manu_, vi. 48 (in _The Sacred Books of
the East_, xxv. [Oxford, 1886]).]

[Footnote 43: _Dhammapada_, xvii. 223 (in _The Sacred Books of the
East_, x. [Oxford, 1898]). For other instances of the doctrine of
forgiveness see _Moral Ideas_, i. 74 _sqq._]

The rule of retaliation and the rule of forgiveness are not so
radically opposed to each other as they may appear to be. What the
latter condemns is really not every kind of resentment, but
non-moral resentment, not impartial indignation but personal
hatred. It prohibits revenge but not punishment. According to the
Laws of Manu crime was so indispensably to be followed by
punishment, that {76} if the king pardoned a thief or a
perpetrator of violence, instead of slaying or striking him, the
guilt fell on the king.[44] Jesus was certainly not free from
righteous indignation. It does not appear that he ever forgave the
legalists who sinned against the kingdom of God, and he told his
disciples that if a brother who had trespassed against his brother
neglected to hear the church, he should be looked upon as a
heathen and a publican.[45] Christian writers have laid much
stress upon the circumstance that Jesus enjoined men to forgive
their own enemies, but not to abstain from resenting injuries done
to others. According to Thomas Aquinas, "the good bear with the
wicked to this extent, that, so far as it is proper to do so, they
patiently endure at their hands the injuries done to themselves;
but they do not bear with them to the extent of enduring the
injuries done to God and their neighbours."[46] Yet it would be
absurd to blame a person for expressing moral indignation at an
act simply because he himself happens to be the offended party;
practically we allow him to be even more indignant than the
impartial spectator would be, whereas excessive placability often
meets with censure. We agree with Aristotle that anger admits not
only of an excess but of a defect,[47] and that "to submit to
insult, or to overlook an insult offered to our friends, shows a
slavish spirit."[48]

[Footnote 44: _The Laws of Manu_, viii. 316, 346 _sq._]

[Footnote 45: _St. Matthew_, xviii. 15 _sqq._]

[Footnote 46: Thomas Aquinas, _Summa Theologica_, ii.-ii. 108. 1.

[Footnote 47: Aristotle, _Ethica Nicomachea_, ii. 7. 10; iii. 1.
24; iv. 5. 3 _sqq._]

[Footnote 48: _Ibid._, iv. 5. 6.]

The aggressive character of moral disapproval has become modified
not only by a more scrutinizing attitude towards resentment and
retaliation, but also by a condemnation of causing suffering
merely for the sake of retribution. For ages it was looked upon as
a matter of {77} course that if a person had committed a crime he
should have to suffer for it. This is still the notion of the
multitude, as also of a host of theorizers, who by calling
punishment an expiation, or a reparation, or a restoration of the
disturbed equilibrium of justice, or some similar term, only
endeavour to give a philosophical sanction to a social institution
rooted in an emotion. The infliction of pain, however, is not an
act which the moral consciousness regards with indifference even
in the case of a criminal; and to many enlightened minds with keen
sympathy for human suffering it has appeared both unreasonable and
cruel that the State should wilfully torment him to no purpose.
Retributive punishment is condemned; but punishment itself is
defended. It is only looked upon in a different light, not as an
end in itself, but as a means of attaining an end. It is to be
inflicted not because wrong has been done, but in order that wrong
be not done. Its object is held to be either to deter from crime,
or to reform the criminal, or by means of elimination or seclusion
to make it physically impossible for him to commit fresh crimes.
These views were expressed already in Greek and Roman antiquity.
In a later age the view taken by Hobbes, that "the aym of
Punishment is not a revenge, but terrour,"[49] remained for a long
time the leading doctrine on the subject among philosophers as
well as legislators. During the nineteenth century the principle
of determent was largely superseded by the principle of
reformation; and a new school of criminologists advocated the
opinion that punishment should aim at repressing crime by an
"absolute" or "relative" elimination of the criminal, that is, in
extreme cases by killing him, but generally by incarcerating him
in a criminal lunatic asylum, or by banishing him for ever or for
a certain period, {78} or by interdicting him from a particular

[Footnote 49: Hobbes, _Leviathan_, ii. 28 (Oxford, 1881), p. 243.]

For my own part I maintain that those theorists who think it
possible to make punishment independent of moral resentment are
victims of an illusion.[50] Let us consider some consequences to
which the principles of determent and reformation might lead if
each of them were carried out consistently. The principle of
elimination may at once be put aside, because it has no reference
to the punishment of criminals, although it contains a
suggestion--and a most excellent one--as to the proper mode of
treating them. Their exclusion from the company of their
fellow-men--not to speak of their elimination by death--certainly
entails suffering, but according to the principle in question this
suffering is not directly _intended_. On the other hand,
punishment, in the ordinary sense of the word, always involves an
express intention to inflict pain, whatever be the object in
inflicting it. We do not punish an ill-natured dog when we tie him
up in order to prevent him from doing harm, nor do we punish a
lunatic by confining him in a madhouse.

[Footnote 50: The arguments adduced by Dr. Ewing in his recent
book, _The Morality of Punishment_ (London, 1929), coincide in
many respects with mine, which I have previously stated in my
_Moral Ideas_, vol. ii. p. 82 _sqq._]

According to the principle of determent the infliction of
suffering in consequence of an offence is justified only as a
means of increasing public safety: the offender is sacrificed for
the common weal. But why should the punishment necessarily be
restricted to the offender? It might be a more effective way of
deterring from crime to punish his children as well or, if he
cannot be caught, to punish them only; and if the notions of
desert and justice derived all their import from the socially
useful result achieved by the punishment, there would be nothing
unjust in doing {79} so. The only objection which from this point
of view could ever be raised against the practice of visiting the
wrongdoings of the fathers upon the children, is that it is
needlessly severe; the innocence of the children could count for
nothing. Professor Carveth Read has argued against me that we are
then "supposed to entirely disregard the feelings, or the rights,
of the innocent."[51] But why should we have to regard their
feelings more than those of the offender, if the infliction of
suffering in both cases serves the same useful end, the deterring
from crime? Moreover, if the object of punishment is merely
preventive, the heaviest punishment should be threatened where the
strongest motive is needed to restrain, and an injury committed
under great temptation, or in a passion, should consequently be
punished with particular severity. To this Professor Read remarks
that "great temptation and passion exclude the consideration of
other motives; so that threats are useless."[52] But if they are
useless, why should there in such cases be any punishment at all?

[Footnote 51: Carveth Read, _Natural and Social Morals_ (London,
1909), p. 200.]

[Footnote 52: _Ibid._, p. 201.]

Again, if punishment were to be regulated by the principle of
reforming the criminal, the result would in some cases be very
astonishing. There is no set of offenders more difficult to reform
than habitual vagrants and drunkards, whereas experience has shown
that the most easily reformed of all offenders is often some
person who has committed a serious crime. If reformation is the
only end of punishment, the latter should soon be set free, while
the petty offender might have to be shut up for all his life. Nay
more, if the criminal proves absolutely incorrigible and not the
slightest hope of his reformation is left, there would no longer
be any reason for punishing {80} him at all.[53] Professor Read
makes the remark, "As if determent and repression should count for
nothing";[54] but I am here speaking of the principle of
reformation alone, not of a combination of different principles.
The reformationist may also be asked why he does not try some more
humane method of improving people's characters than the infliction
of suffering.

[Footnote 53: _Cf._ W. D. Morrison, _Crime and its Causes_
(London, 1891), p. 203; E. Durkheim, _De la division du travail
social_ (Paris, 1893), p. 94.]

[Footnote 54: Read, _op. cit._, p. 201.]

It may seem strange that theories which are open to such
objections should have been able to attract so many intelligent
partisans. These theories must at least possess a certain
plausibility. If punishment on the one hand springs from moral
indignation and on the other hand is frequently interpreted as a
means either of deterring from crime or of reforming the criminal,
there must obviously be some connection between these ends and the
retributive aim of moral resentment. There must be certain facts
that to some extent lessen the gap between the theory of
retribution and the other theories of punishment.

The doctrine of determent regards punishment as a means of
preventing crime. A crime implies that a person's behaviour is a
cause of pain. The one thing which men try to prevent for its own
sake is pain, and the one thing which causes resentment is
likewise pain. There must consequently be a general coincidence
between the courses of behaviour that people resent and those
which the law would punish if it were framed on the principle of
determent. But the resemblance between the desire to deter and
resentment is greater still. Resentment is not only aroused by
pain, but is a hostile attitude towards its cause, and its
tendency is to remove this cause, that {81} is, to prevent pain.
An act of moral resentment is therefore apt to resemble a
punishment inflicted with a view to deterring from crime, provided
that the punishment is directed against the cause of crime--the
criminal himself--and its severity is proportioned to his guilt.

The doctrine of reformation aims at the removal of a criminal
disposition of mind by improving the offender. Moral resentment
likewise aims at the removal of a volitional cause of pain, by
bringing about repentance in the offender. That repentance ought
to be followed by forgiveness, partial or total, is a widely
recognized moral claim. But it does not only blunt the edge of
moral indignation and recommend the offender to the mercy of men
and gods: it is the sole ground on which pardon can be given by a
scrupulous judge. When sufficiently guided by deliberation and
left to itself, without being unduly checked by other feelings,
moral resentment is apt to be felt as long as its cause remains
unaltered, that is, until the will of the offender has ceased to
be offensive; and it ceases to be offensive only when he
acknowledges his guilt and repents. He who commanded his followers
to forgive a brother for his trespass at the same time pronounced
the qualification: "If he repent."[55] It is worth noticing that
when moral indignation is appeased by repentance, and repentance
alone, it is so, not on account of its specifically moral
character, but because it is a form of resentment. The angry or
revengeful man is also apt to be in a similar way influenced by
the sincere apologies of the offender. As Aristotle said, men are
placable in regard to those who acknowledge and repent their
guilt: "there is proof of this in the case of chastising servants;
for we chastize more violently those who contradict us, {82} and
deny their guilt; but towards such as acknowledge themselves to be
justly punished we cease from our wrath."[56] No doubt, in the
case of revenge external satisfaction or material compensation is
often allowed to take the place of genuine repentance, and the
humiliation of the adversary may be sufficient to quiet the angry
passion. But the revenge felt by a reflecting mind is not so
readily satisfied: it wants effectively to remove the cause that
aroused it. The object which resentment is chiefly intent upon,
Adam Smith observes, "is not so much to make our enemy feel pain
in his turn, as to make him conscious that he feels it upon
account of his past conduct, to make him repent of that conduct,
and to make him sensible, that the person whom he injured did not
deserve to be treated in that manner."[57] The delight of revenge,
says Bacon, "seemeth to be not so much in doing the hurt, as in
making the party repent."[58]

[Footnote 55: _St. Luke_, xvii. 3_sq._]

[Footnote 56: Aristotle, _Rhetorica_, ii. 3. 5.]

[Footnote 57: Adam Smith, _op. cit._, p. 138 _sq._]

[Footnote 58: Bacon, "Essay IV. Of Revenge," in _Essays_ (London,
1864), p. 59.]

We can now see the origin of the notion that the end of punishment
should be the reformation of the criminal. This principle
emphasizes the most humane element in resentment, the demand that
the offender's will shall cease to be offensive; hence the
doctrine of reformation has itself a retributive origin. This
explains the fact, otherwise inexplicable, that the amendment
which it has in view is to be effected by the infliction of pain.
It also accounts for the inconsistent attitude of the
reformationist towards incorrigible offenders. Resentment gives
way to forgiveness only in the case of repentance, not in the case
of incorrigibility. Hence if the reformationist does not regard
incorrigibility as a legitimate ground for exempting a person from
punishment, he has to admit that {83} punishment is justified also
on some other ground than the reformation of the criminal.

Thus the theories both of determent and of reformation are
ultimately offspring of the same emotion that first induced men to
inflict punishment on their fellow-creatures. It escaped the
advocates of these theories that they themselves were under the
influence of the very principle they fought against, because they
failed to grasp its true import. Rightly understood, resentment is
preventive in its nature, and when sufficiently deliberate,
regards the infliction of suffering as a means rather than as an
end. It not only gives rise to punishment, but readily suggests as
its proper end either determent or amendment or both. But first of
all, moral resentment raises a protest against wrong. And whatever
theorists may say on the matter, its immediate aim has always been
to give expression to the righteous indignation of the society
which inflicts it.

Now it may be thought that men have no right to give vent to their
moral resentment in a way which hurts their neighbours unless some
benefit may be expected from it. In the case of many other
emotions we hold that the conative element in the emotion ought
not to be allowed to develop into a distinct volition or act; and
it would seem that a similar view might be taken with reference to
the aggressiveness of moral disapproval. It is a notion of this
kind that is at the bottom of the utilitarian theories of
punishment. They are protests against purposeless infliction of
suffering, against crude ideas of retributive justice, against
theories hardly in advance of the feelings of the popular mind. If
they are open to objections which seem incontestable, that is
certainly due to other circumstances than their demand that
punishment shall serve a useful end. Punishment must be kept
within the limits {84} recognized as legitimate by the moral
consciousness, and, as I have tried to show, the consequences to
which the purely utilitarian theories might lead transgress these
limits. On the other hand, it may be said that while those
theories seem to exaggerate the deterring or reforming influence
which punishment exercises upon criminals, they in other respects
take too narrow a view of its social usefulness. Whether its voice
inspire fear or not, whether it awaken a sleeping conscience or
not, punishment at all events tells people in plain terms what, in
the opinion of the society, they must not do. It gives the
multitude a severe lesson in public morality; and it is difficult
to see how quite the same effect could be attained by any other
method. Retaliation is such a spontaneous expression of
indignation that people would hardly realize the offensiveness of
an act that evoked no signs of resentment. Of course, punishment
in the legal sense of the term is only one form--the most concrete
form--of public retaliation; it is, indeed, probable that public
opinion exercises a greater influence than punishment would do
without its aid.[59] But punishment in combination with public
opinion has no doubt in some measure an educating, and not merely
a deterring, influence on the members of a society. As Sir James
Stephen observes, "the sentence of the law is to the moral
sentiment of the public in relation to any offence what a seal is
to hot wax. It converts into a permanent final judgment what might
otherwise be a transient sentiment."[60] Moreover, it must not be
overlooked that the infliction of punishment upon the perpetrator
of a grave offence gratifies a strong general desire, and even if
the dissatisfaction that accompanies {85} an ungratified desire
does not by itself afford a sufficient justification for
subjecting the offender to suffering, other more serious
consequences would undoubtedly in many cases result from leaving
him unpunished. Public indignation might find a vent in some less
regular and less discriminating mode of retaliation, like
lynching; or private retaliation would take the place of

[Footnote 59: _Cf._ J. Locke, _An Essay concerning Human
Understanding_, ii. 28. 12 (vol. i. [Oxford, 1894], p. 479 _sq._);
Shaftesbury, _op. cit._, ii. 64.]

[Footnote 60: J. F. Stephen, _A History of the Criminal Law of
England_, ii. (London, 1883), p. 81.]

A modification of the aggressive element in moral disapproval is,
finally, apparent in the attempt to narrow the channel of its
activity by the rule that we should hate not the sinner but only
the sin. This may be a beautiful maxim, but can it be realized? To
hate a certain act implies hatred of its volitional element, the
intention of him who performs the act; but to separate a volition
from the will that wills it is of course impossible. Hence the
hostile reaction against the sin must turn against the sinner. We
have seen that while deliberate and discriminating resentment aims
at influencing the offender's will, its immediate desire is
nevertheless to inflict suffering; and it may be questioned
whether the hatred of the sin without any such desire would be
anything more than a strong dislike similar to that which we feel
for a nasty animal or a heap of dirt. It is the instinctive desire
to inflict counter-pain--not necessarily physical--that gives to
moral indignation its most important characteristic. Without it,
moral condemnation and the ideas of right and wrong would never
have come into existence. Without it, we should no more condemn a
bad man than a poisonous plant. The reason why moral judgments are
passed on volitional beings, or their behaviour, is not merely
that they are volitional, but that they are sensitive as well; and
however much we try to concentrate our indignation on the act, it
derives its distinctive character from being directed against a
sensitive agent. I have heard persons {86} assert that a wrong act
awakens in them only sorrow or compassion; but then I strongly
suspect that they do not understand their own minds. I do not
think there is any man who does not in some measure resent a gross
injury of which he himself is the victim; and I refuse to believe
that there is any one who is so utterly incapable of feeling
sympathetic resentment on behalf of an injured fellow-creature,
that he, even in a case of the greatest atrocity, could be merely
sorry for the offender. And in any case, could even the most
ardent anti-retributionist imagine that he, quite apart from any
utilitarian considerations, would feel the same sympathy with a
person who suffers on account of some wrong he has committed, as
with one who suffers innocently? It is one of the most interesting
facts relating to the moral consciousness of the most humane type,
that it in vain condemns the gratification of the very desire from
which it sprang. It reminds one of a man of low extraction who, in
spite of all acquired refinement, still bears his origin stamped
on his face.

       *       *      *       *       *

While resentment is a hostile attitude of mind towards a living
being (or something taken for a living being) as a cause of pain,
retributive kindly emotion is a friendly attitude of mind towards
such a being as a cause of pleasure. Just as in the lower forms of
anger there can be no definite desire to produce suffering, so in
the lower forms of retributive kindliness there can be no definite
desire to produce pleasure. When an emotion of a non-moral kind
contains such a desire to give pleasure in return for pleasure
received, it is called gratitude. Intermingled with gratitude
there is often a feeling of indebtedness: he upon whom a benefit
has been conferred feels himself a debtor and regards the
benefactor in a way as {87} his creditor. This feeling has even
been represented as essential to, or as a condition of,
gratitude;[61] but it is one thing to be grateful and another
thing to feel that it is one's duty to requite a benefit. A
depression of the self-feeling, a feeling of humiliation, also
frequently accompanies gratitude as a motive for such a requital;
but I cannot consider it a necessary element in gratitude
itself.[62] We may be grateful without experiencing such a
feeling,[63] and we may be anxious to repay a benefit without
feeling gratitude.

[Footnote 61: A. Horwicz, _Psychologische Analysen auf
physiologischer Grundlage_ (Halle & Magdeburg, 1878), p. 333.]

[Footnote 62: _Cf._ E. von Hartmann, _Das sittliche Bewusstsein_
(Leipzig [1886]), p. 176 _sq._]

[Footnote 63: Professor McDougall (_An Introduction to Social
Psychology_, p. 114) maintains that "the act that is to inspire
gratitude must make us aware, not only of the kindly feeling, the
tender emotion, of the other towards us; it must also make us
aware of his power, we must see that he is able to do for us
something that we cannot do for ourselves." But surely we may feel
grateful for a token of goodwill without experiencing at all "that
negative self-feeling which is evoked by the sense of the superior
power of another."]

Retributive kindly emotion is of much less frequent occurrence in
the animal kingdom than the emotion of resentment. In a large
number of species not even the germ of it is found, and where it
occurs it is generally restricted within narrow limits. Anybody
may provoke an animal's anger, but only towards certain
individuals is it apt to feel retributive kindliness. The limits
for this emotion are marked off by the conditions under which
altruistic sentiments tend to arise. In its primitive form it is
found among animals living in groups, including the small group
consisting of mother, or parents, and offspring. The associated
animals take pleasure in each other's company, and with this
pleasure is intimately connected kindliness towards its cause, the
companion himself, who is conceived of as a friend. The altruistic
sentiment {88} would never have come into existence without such a
reciprocity of feeling.

Retributive kindly emotion has the tendency to retain a cause of
pleasure, just as resentment has the tendency to remove a cause of
pain. And as natural selection accounts for the origin of the
disposition to feel resentment, so also it accounts for the origin
of the disposition to feel retributive kindly emotion. Both of
these emotions are useful to the species: by resentment evils are
averted, by retributive kindliness benefits are secured. That
there is such an enormous difference in their prevalence is easily
explained by the simple facts that the living in groups is an
advantage only to certain species, and that even gregarious
animals have many enemies but few friends.

That moral approval--by which I understand that emotion of which
moral praise or reward is the outward manifestation--is a kind of
retributive kindly emotion, and as such allied to gratitude, will
probably be admitted without much hesitation. Its friendly
character is not, like the hostile character of moral disapproval,
disguised by any apparently contradictory facts. While the
infliction of suffering is generally _prima facie_ revolting to
our moral consciousness, the very reverse is the case with the
bestowal of a benefit.




We have seen that moral disapproval is a form of resentment, and
that moral approval is a form of retributive kindly emotion. It
still remains for us to examine in what respects these emotions
differ from kindred non-moral emotions, disapproval from anger and
revenge and approval from gratitude--in other words, what
characterizes them as specifically _moral_ emotions.[1]

[Footnote 1: Professor McDougall (_An Introduction to Social
Psychology_ [London, 1926], p. 124) makes the truly amazing
statement that I have no criterion by which to distinguish moral
from non-moral resentment. I have expressly devoted two whole
chapters of my _Moral Ideas_ (chs. iv. and v.) to this very
subject; and if he had taken any notice of them, he would have
found how closely his own views on the nature and origin of moral
indignation resemble mine.]

It is a common opinion, held by moralists who regard the intellect
as the source of moral concepts, that moral emotions only arise
after and in consequence of an intellectual process through which
the moral quality of a certain course of conduct has been
discerned. When I hear of a murder, for instance, I must realize
the wrongness of the act before I can feel moral indignation at
all; and if I delight in contemplating a virtuous action, it is
because I think the action to be good, and not _vice versa_.[2]
According to this theory, then, the moral judgment {90} is
antecedent to, and determines the moral emotion; and if it were
correct, moral emotions could be simply described as resentment or
retributive kindly emotion called forth by moral judgments. But in
my opinion such a definition would be absolutely meaningless.
Whatever emotions may follow moral judgments, such judgments could
never have been pronounced unless there had been moral emotions in
somebody antecedent to them. The moral concepts, which form their
predicates, are ultimately generalizations of tendencies to feel
either moral approval or disapproval with reference to that of
which those concepts are predicated; and if a judgment containing
such a predicate evokes a moral emotion, it can only do so because
its predicate is based on a similar emotion. The criterion of a
moral emotion can therefore in no case depend upon its proceeding
from a moral judgment. But at the same time moral judgments, being
definite expressions of moral emotions, can help us to discover
the true nature of these emotions.

[Footnote 2: Fleming, _A Manual of Moral Philosophy_ (London,
1867), p. 97 _sqq._ J. M. Wilson and T. Fowler, _The Principles of
Morals_, ii. (Oxford, 1887), pp. 198, 199, 202. T. Fowler,
_Progressive Morality_ (London, 1895), p. 44 _sqq._ W. D. Ross,
_The Right and the Good_ (Oxford, 1930), p. 131.]

A moral judgment always has the character of disinterestedness.
When pronouncing an act good or bad, I mean that it is so quite
independently of any reference it might have to me personally. If
a person condemns an act which does him harm, how can he vindicate
the moral nature of his judgment? Only by pointing out that his
condemnation is not due to the particular circumstance that it is
he himself who is the sufferer, that his judgment would be the
same if anybody else in similar circumstances had been the victim,
in other words, that it is disinterested. Even the egoistic
hedonist, who regards acts as good or bad according as they give
pleasure or pain to the agent, recognizes disinterestedness as
essential to a moral judgment, in so far as he holds the judgment
applicable to all similar cases, whether he himself or some {91}
one else happens to be the agent. Now, if the moral concepts are
generalizations of tendencies to feel moral emotions and at the
same time contain the notion of disinterestedness, we must
conclude that the emotions from which they spring are felt
disinterestedly. And it does not affect the real character either
of the moral judgments or the moral emotions that he who
pronounces such a judgment is often in practice influenced by the
intrusion of a non-moral element into the emotion expressed in it.
As Hume observed, "it seldom happens, that we do not think an
enemy vicious, and can distinguish betwixt his opposition to our
interest and real villainy or baseness."[3]

[Footnote 3: D. Hume, _A Treatise of Human Nature_, iii. 1. 2
(Oxford, 1896, p. 472).]

Of the disinterestedness of the moral emotions we find an
echo--more or less faithful--in the maxims of ethical theorists as
well as practical moralists. I have previously spoken of
Sidgwick's "principle of justice," which merely states the
disinterestedness involved in the very concept of "right."[4] The
same notion is contained in Samuel Clarke's "rule of equity,"
"Whatever I judge reasonable or unreasonable for another to do for
me; that, by the same judgment, I declare reasonable or
unreasonable, that I in the like case should do for him";[5] in
Kant's formula, "Act only on that maxim whereby thou canst at the
same time will that it should become a universal law";[6] in the
biblical saying, "Whatsoever ye would that men should do {92} to
you, do ye even so to them";[7] in Hobbes' "laws of nature"
expressed in "this one sentence, approved by all the world, Do not
that to another, which thou thinkest unreasonable to be done by
another to thy selfe."[8] In the Indian Mahabharata it is
said:--"Let no man do to another that which would be repugnant to
himself; this is the sum of righteousness; the rest is according
to inclination. In refusing, in bestowing, in regard to pleasure
and to pain, to what is agreeable and disagreeable, a man obtains
the proper rule by regarding the case as like his own."[9] When
Confucius was asked if there is any rule that may serve as a rule
of practice for all one's life, he answered, "Is not reciprocity
such a word? What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to
others"; and in another utterance he showed that the rule had for
him not only a negative, but a positive form as well.[10] The
disinterestedness of the moral emotions partly underlies the
utilitarian demand that, in regard to his own happiness and that
of others, an agent should be "as strictly impartial as a
disinterested and benevolent spectator";[11] and the biblical
rule, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."[12] But these
maxims, as we shall see,[13] contain much more than the
disinterestedness of the concept of duty.

[Footnote 4: _Supra_, p. 11 _sq._]

[Footnote 5: S. Clarke, _A Discourse concerning the Being and
Attributes of God, the Obligations of Natural Religion, and the
Truth and Certainty of the Christian Revelation_ (London, 1732),
p. 202.]

[Footnote 6: Kant, _Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten_, sec.
ii. (_Gesammelte Schriften_, iv. [Berlin, 1911], p. 421; T. K.
Abbott's translation in _Kant's Critique of Practical Reason and
other Works on the Theory of Ethics_ [London, 1898], p. 38). _Cf._
_infra_, p. 276.]

[Footnote 7: _St. Matthew_, vii. 12.]

[Footnote 8: Hobbes, _Leviathan_, ii. 26. 8 (Oxford, 1881), p.

[Footnote 9: _Mahabharata_, xiii. 5571 _sq._ (J. Muir, _Religious
and Moral Sentiments metrically rendered from Sanskrit Writers_
[London, 1875], p. 107).]

[Footnote 10: _Lun Yü_, xv. 23; _Chung Yung_, xiii. 4 (in J.
Legge, _The Chinese Classics_, vol. i. [Oxford, 1893]).]

[Footnote 11: J. S. Mill, _Utilitarianism_ (London, 1895), p. 24.]

[Footnote 12: _Leviticus_, xix. 18. _St. Matthew_, xxii. 39.]

[Footnote 13: _Infra_, pp. 205 _sqq._, 229.]

The disinterestedness by which moral approval and disapproval are
distinguished from other, non-moral, kinds {93} of resentment or
retributive kindly emotion is really a form of a more
comprehensive quality of the moral emotions, namely, impartiality,
real or apparent. If I pronounce an act done to a friend or to an
enemy good or bad, that implies that I assume the act to be so
independently of the fact that the person to whom it is done is my
friend or my enemy. Conversely, if I pronounce an act done by a
friend or by an enemy good or bad, that implies that I assume it
to be so independently of my friendly or hostile feelings towards
the agent. All this means that resentment and retributive kindly
emotion are moral emotions if they are assumed by those who feel
them to be uninfluenced by the particular relationship in which
they stand both to those who are immediately affected by the acts
in question and to those who perform the acts. A moral emotion,
then, is tested by an imaginary change of the relationship between
him who approves or disapproves of the mode of conduct by which
the emotion was evoked and the parties immediately concerned,
while the relationship between the parties themselves is left
unaltered. At the same time it is not necessary that the moral
emotion should be really impartial; it is sufficient that it is
tacitly assumed to be so, or even that it is not knowingly
partial. In attributing different rights to different individuals
or classes of individuals, we are often in reality influenced by
the relationship in which we stand to them; and yet those "rights"
may be real, moral rights, not merely preferences, namely, if we
assume that any impartial judge would share our views, or even if
we are unaware of their partiality. Similarly, when the savage
censures a homicide committed upon a member of his own tribe, but
praises one committed upon a member of another tribe, his censure
and praise are certainly influenced by his relations {94} to the
parties in question. He does not reason thus: it is blamable to
kill a member of one's own tribe and praiseworthy to kill a member
of another tribe, whether the tribe be my own tribe or not.
Nevertheless his blame and praise can hardly be denied to be
expressions of moral emotions.

       *       *      *       *       *

The analysis of the moral emotions that I have now attempted
applies not only to such emotions as we feel on account of the
conduct of others, but to such as we feel on account of our own
conduct as well, however much the latter may be blended with other
emotions, as being caused by our own behaviour. Remorse is a state
of mind that contains a hostile attitude towards oneself. It
involves vaguely or distinctly some desire to suffer. The
remorseful man wants to think of the wrong he has committed, he
wants clearly to realize its wickedness; and he wants to do this
not merely because he desires to become a better man, but because
it gives him some relief to feel the sting in his heart. We may
feel actual hatred against ourselves, we may desire to inflict
bodily suffering on ourselves as a punishment for what we have
done; there are even instances of criminals guilty of capital
offences who have given themselves up to the authorities in order
to appease their consciences by suffering the penalty of the
law.[14] Yet the desire to punish ourselves has a natural
antagonist in our aversion to pain, and this often blunts the
sting of the conscience. Self-approval, again, is not merely joy
at one's own conduct, but is a kindly emotion, a friendly attitude
towards oneself, which makes one feel that one's behaviour merits
praise or reward. We more often, however, hear of a "good
conscience," {95} which, as has been said above, generally means
little more than the absence of a bad one.

[Footnote 14: P. J. A. von Feuerbach, _Aktenmässige
Darstellung merkwürdiger Verbrechen_ (Giessen, 1828-29), i.
249; ii. 473, 479 _sq._]

As moral emotions, remorse and self-approval, must present the
same characteristics as make resentment and retributive kindliness
moral emotions when felt with reference to the conduct of other
people: disinterestedness and apparent impartiality. We may be
angry with ourselves from purely selfish motives: he who has lost
at play may be vexed with himself as well as he who has cheated at
play, and the egoist may reproach himself for having yielded to a
momentary impulse of benevolence. So also we may be pleased with
ourselves on other than moral grounds. Almost inseparable from the
moral judgment that we pass on our own conduct seems to be the
image of an impartial outsider who acts as our judge.

       *       *      *       *       *

Now we once more are faced by the question of origin. We have seen
that the dispositions to feel resentment and retributive kindly
emotion are easily explained by their usefulness. This explanation
naturally also holds true of the moral emotions in so far as they
are retributive emotions: it accounts for the hostile attitude of
moral disapproval towards the cause of pain and for the friendly
attitude of moral approval towards the cause of pleasure. But it
still remains for us to discover the origin of those elements in
the moral emotions by which they are distinguished from other,
non-moral, retributive emotions. First, how shall we explain their

We have to distinguish between different classes of conditions
under which disinterested retributive emotions arise. In the first
place, we may feel disinterested resentment, or disinterested
retributive kindly emotion, on account of an injury inflicted, or
a benefit conferred, upon another individual with whose pain, or
pleasure, we sympathize {96} and in whose welfare we take a kindly
interest. Our retributive emotions are, of course, always
reactions against pain or pleasure felt by ourselves; this holds
good of the moral emotions as well as of anger, revenge, and
gratitude. The question to be answered, then, is, Why should we,
quite disinterestedly, feel pain calling forth disapproval because
our neighbour is hurt, and pleasure calling forth approval because
he is benefited?

That a certain act causes pleasure or pain to the bystander may be
due to the close association that exists between these feelings
and their outward expressions. The sight of a happy face tends to
produce some degree of pleasure in him who sees it; the sight of
the bodily signs of suffering tends to produce a feeling of pain.
In either case the feeling of the spectator is due to the fact
that the perception of the physical manifestations of the feeling
produces the feeling itself on account of the established
association between them. Moreover, sympathetic pain or pleasure
may be the result of an association between cause and effect,
between the cognition of a certain act or situation and the
feeling generally evoked by this act or situation: a blow may
cause pain to the spectator before he has witnessed its effect on
the victim.

But the sympathetic feeling that results from association alone is
not what is popularly called sympathy: it lacks kindliness.[15]
Arising merely from the habitual connection of certain cognitions
with certain feelings in the experience of the spectator, it is,
strictly speaking, not at all concerned with what the other
individual _feels_. On the other hand sympathy, in the popular
sense of the {97} word, requires the co-operation of the
altruistic sentiment or affection, a disposition of mind that is
particularly apt to display itself as kindly emotion towards other
beings. This sentiment, only, induces us to take a kindly interest
in the feelings of our neighbours. It involves a tendency, or
willingness, and, when strongly developed, gives rise to an eager
desire, to sympathize with their pains and pleasures. Under its
influence our sympathetic feeling is no longer a mere matter of
association; we take an active part in its production, we direct
our attention to any circumstance which we believe may affect the
feelings of the person whom we love, and to any external
manifestation of his emotions. We are anxious to find out his joys
and sorrows, to be able to rejoice with him and to suffer with
him, and, especially, when he stands in need of it, to console or
to help him. For the altruistic sentiment is not merely
willingness to sympathize, it is above all a conative disposition
to promote the welfare of its object. It is true that sympathetic
pain, unaided by kindliness, may induce a person to relieve the
suffering of his neighbour, instead of shutting his eyes to it;
but then he does so, not out of regard to the feelings of the
sufferer, but simply to get rid of a painful cognition. Nor must
it be supposed that the altruistic sentiment prompts to assistance
only by strengthening the sympathetic feeling. The sight of the
wounded traveller may perhaps have caused no less pain to the
Pharisee than to the good Samaritan; yet it would have been
impossible for the latter to dismiss his pain by going away, since
he felt a desire to assist the wounded man, and this desire would
have been left ungratified if he had not stopped by the wayside.
To the egoist the relief offered a sufferer is a means of
suppressing the sympathetic pain, to the altruist the sympathetic
pain is, so to say, a means of giving relief. The altruist {98}
wants to know, to feel the pain of his neighbour, because he
desires to help him. Why are the most kind-hearted people often
the most cheerful, if not because they think of alleviating the
misery of their fellow-creatures, instead of indulging in the
sympathetic pain which it evokes?

[Footnote 15: _Moral Ideas_, i. 109. _Cf._ Th. Ribot, _The
Psychology of the Emotions_ (London, 1897), p. 233; A. F. Shand,
"The Sources of Tender Emotion," in G. F. Stout's _Groundwork of
Psychology_ (London, 1903), p. 198 _sqq._; _Idem_, _The
Foundations of Character_ (London, 1920), p. 44 _sqq._; McDougall,
_op. cit._, p. 78 _sqq._]

The co-operation of the altruistic sentiment with sympathy also
produces in us disinterested retributive emotions, when the
individual towards whom we are kindly disposed is hurt or
benefited. In the tendency to feel such emotions, however, there
is a great difference between resentment and retributive
kindliness. Resentment towards an enemy is itself, as a rule, a
much stronger emotion than retributive kindly emotion towards a
benefactor. And as for the sympathetic forms of these emotions, it
is not surprising that the altruistic sentiment is more readily
moved by the sight of pain than by the sight of pleasure,
considering that it serves as a means of protection for the
species. Moreover, sympathetic retributive kindliness has powerful
rivals in the feelings of jealousy and envy, which tend to excite
anger also towards him who bestows the benefit on the other
individual. As an ancient writer observes, "many suffer with their
friends when the friends are in distress, but are envious of them
when they prosper."[16] Among the lower animals there seems to be
no trace of retributive kindly emotion felt as a result of
pleasure taken in kindness shown to another individual. On the
other hand, there is sympathetic resentment in consequence of an
inflicted injury. A mammalian mother is as hostile to the enemy of
her young as to her own enemy. Social animals defend members of
their own group, which evidently involves some degree of
sympathetic anger. When a young monkey which had been {99} seized
by an eagle cried for assistance, "the other members of the troop,
with much uproar, rushed to the rescue, surrounded the eagle, and
pulled out so many feathers, that he no longer thought of his
prey, but only how to escape."[17] Speaking of a group of
chimpanzees, Professor Köhler says that if one of them is
attacked before the eyes of the others, great excitement goes
through the whole group. Even the lightest form of punishment,
pulling the ear of the offender, or a playful pretence at
punishment, often stirred single members of the group to much more
decisive action. A little weak chimpanzee would run up excitedly,
stretch out his arm to the punisher, if the ape was still being
punished, try to hold the big man's arm tight, and finally, with
exasperated gestures, start hitting out at him.[18] Among
domesticated animals and animals in confinement sympathetic
resentment may be felt even when the individual who is hurt
belongs to another species. The Rev. Charles Williams mentions a
dog at Liverpool who saved a cat from the hands of some young
ruffians: he rushed in among the boys, barked furiously at them,
terrified them into flight, and carried the cat off in his mouth
to his kennel, where he nursed it.[19] Darwin speaks of a little
American monkey in the Zoological Gardens of London which, when
seeing a great baboon attack his friend, the keeper, rushed to the
rescue and by screams and bites so distracted the {100} baboon,
that the man was able to escape.[20] The dog who flies at any one
who strikes, or even touches, his master is a very familiar
instance of sympathetic resentment.

[Footnote 16: L. Schmidt, _Die Ethik der alten Griechen_, i.
(Berlin, 1882), p. 259.]

[Footnote 17: Ch. Darwin, _The Descent of Man_ (London, 1890), p.
101 _sq._ Various other instances of sympathetic resentment in
monkeys have been stated by Brehm (see _ibid._, p. 101; Shand,
_The Foundations of Character_, p. 236).]

[Footnote 18: W. Köhler, _The Mentality of Apes_ (London,
1927), p. 286 _sq._]

[Footnote 19: Ch. Williams, _Dogs and Their Ways_ (London, 1863),
p. 43. For dogs resenting injuries done to other dogs see G. J.
Romanes, _Animal Intelligence_ (London, 1895), p. 440; and T.
Medwin, _The Angler in Wales_, ii. (London, 1834), pp. 162-164,
197, 216 _sq._]

[Footnote 20: Darwin, _op. cit._, p. 103.]

The scope of disinterested resentment naturally varies with the
scope of the altruistic sentiment. For reasons which I have stated
elsewhere, I think it likely that in mankind not only maternal but
also paternal and conjugal affection, in some degree, existed from
the very beginning, together with the family consisting of parents
and offspring, which is also found among anthropoid apes.[21] In
its intrinsic nature, however, parental love is not exactly what
the term parental indicates. Herbert Spencer pointed out that it
is not adequately defined as the instinct which attaches a
creature to its young, as it is not exclusively displayed in that
relation: he identified it with the love of the helpless,
stimulated by the perception of "smallness joined, usually, with
relative inactivity, being the chief indications of
incapacity."[22] That maternal love is in some degree love of the
helpless is obvious from the fact that it originally only lasts as
long as the young are unable to shift for themselves. But
Spencer's theory fails to explain how it is that, even in a
gregarious species, mothers make a distinction between their own
offspring and other young. During my stay among the mountaineers
of Morocco I was often struck by the eagerness with which in the
evening, when the flock of ewes and the flock of lambs were
reunited, each mother sought for her own lamb and each lamb for
its own mother; and {101} the same can be testified by every
shepherd. A similar discrimination has been noticed even in cases
of conscious adoption. Brehm tells us of a female baboon which had
so capacious a heart that she not only adopted young monkeys of
other species, but stole young dogs and cats which she continually
carried about; yet her kindness did not go so far as to share food
with her adopted offspring, although she divided everything quite
fairly with her own young ones.[23] To account for maternal love
we must therefore assume the existence of some other stimulus
besides the perception of the signs of helplessness, which
produces, or at least strengthens, the instinctive response in the
mother. This stimulus must be rooted in the external relationship
in which the offspring stand to the mother from the very
beginning. She is in close proximity to her helpless young from
their tenderest age; and she loves them because they are to her a
cause of pleasure.[24]

[Footnote 21: E. Westermarck, _The History of Human Marriage_, i.
(London, 1921), ch. i.]

[Footnote 22: H. Spencer, _The Principles of Psychology_, ii.
(London, 1890), p. 623 _sq._ See also D. Hartley, _Observations on
Man_, i. (London, 1810), p. 497.]

[Footnote 23: Darwin, _op. cit._, p. 70. See also F. Alverdes,
_Social Life in the Animal World_ (London, 1927), p. 135.]

[Footnote 24: Dr. Shand, who accepts my theory of maternal love,
first set forth in my _Moral Ideas_ (ii. 188 _sq._), argues (_op.
cit._, p. 238) that "we shall approach closer to the facts if we
substitute for this abstract term 'pleasure' the more concrete
term 'joy.'" But I maintain that though the mother, as he says,
feels joy and joy contains other elements besides pleasure, it is
the pleasure felt at her perception of the small and weak creature
in close proximity to herself that is the stimulus of her love,
and the emotion she feels towards them is tender.]

The stimuli to which paternal love responds are apparently derived
from the same circumstances as those which call into activity
maternal love, the helplessness and proximity of the offspring;
wherever it exists the father is near his young from the
beginning. And here again, as in the case of maternal love, the
instinctive response may be assumed to be the result of a process
of natural selection, which has preserved a mental disposition
necessary for the existence of the species in which it is found.
Professor {102} McDougall asks how we can account for the fact
that men are at all capable of this emotion and of this
disinterested protective impulse; and his answer is that in its
racial origin the instinct was undoubtedly primarily maternal,
but, like many other characters, was transmitted to the other
sex.[25] To me it seems that the origin of the paternal instinct
offers no more difficult problem to solve than that of the
maternal instinct. How could Professor McDougall's theory account
for the parental instinct of those species in which it is found
exclusively in the male, as is the rule among fishes that take any
care at all of their offspring, and among certain frogs?[26] The
male of certain species of _Arius_ carries the ova about with him
in his capacious pharynx. The male _Amia calva_ guards and leads
its family of young for a considerable time. The male stickleback
builds a nest, in which he induces a number of females to lay
their eggs, defends the nest most courageously against rival
males, and guards not only the eggs but also the young for some
time after they are hatched; whereas the female has no concern
with her eggs after she has laid them. The male nurse-frog
(_Alytes obstetricans_) carries the eggs about with him in a long
string wound round his hind legs until the larvae emerge, and
defends this string against marauders; and in the Chilian species
of narrow-mouthed frogs (_Rhinoderma darwinii_) the male not only
carries the eggs in his gular sac but the young as well, until
their metamorphosis is complete. Among the birds there are a few
species in {103} which both the brooding and the care of the
newly-hatched young devolve exclusively on the male.[27]

[Footnote 25: McDougall, _op. cit._, p. 59.]

[Footnote 26: A. C. L. G. Guenther, _An Introduction to the Study
of Fishes_ (Edinburgh, 1880), p. 163. A. Sutherland, _The Origin
and Growth of the Moral Instinct_, i. (London, 1898), p. 32
_sqq._; L. A. Jägerskiöld, _Några valda drag ur djurens vård om
sina ungar_ (Stockholm, 1902), p. 19 _sqq._;
Alverdes, _op. cit._, p. 66 _sq._]

[Footnote 27: Sutherland, _op. cit._, i. 59 _sq._
Jägerskiöld, _op. cit._ p. 35. _Idem_, _Om spel och
parningslekar hos djuren_ (Stockholm, 1908), p. 146.]

We have no reason to believe that the family consisting of parents
and offspring was the only social unit among primitive men, though
it probably was, as among many existing savages of the lowest
type,[28] the group of people who most permanently lived together.
It is more probable that they at least at times, when the supply
of food allowed it, lived in somewhat larger groups, or, in other
words, that they were in some degree gregarious; this is the case
with the gorilla and the chimpanzee, who have been found sometimes
in families and sometimes in small bands.[29] Subsequently, when
man gradually found out many new means of earning his living and
thereby more and more emancipated himself from direct dependence
on surrounding nature, the group grew in coherence and size. And
thus mankind developed into the most gregarious of all animal

[Footnote 28: _The History of Human Marriage_, i. 54 _sqq._]

[Footnote 29: _Ibid._, i. 33 _sqq._]

Among a gregarious species of animals the members of a herd are at
ease in each other's company, suffer when they are separated,
rejoice when they are reunited. And, as has been pointed out
before, with the pleasure they take in each other's company is
intimately connected kindliness towards its cause, the companion
himself. Associated animals very frequently display affection for
each other--defend each other, help each other in distress and
danger, perform various other services for each other.[30] Among
men the members of the same social unit are tied {104} to each
other with various bonds of a distinctly human character--the same
customs, laws, institutions, magic or religious ceremonies and
beliefs, notions of a common descent, and so forth. As men
generally are fond of that to which they are used or which is
their own, they are also naturally apt to have likings for other
individuals whose habits, ideas, and feelings are similar to

[Footnote 30: Darwin, _op. cit._, p. 100 _sqq._ P. Kropotkin,
_Mutual Aid_ (London, 1902), ch. i. _sq._ Alverdes, _op. cit._, p.
133 _sq._]

Thus all the various forms of the altruistic sentiment are
characterized by the same tendency to feel kindliness towards an
individual who is a cause of pleasure. There is no reason to
regard one form of it as derived from another. The difference
between its varieties lies in the difference between the
individuals by the perception of whom it is stimulated, but its
impulse is in all cases kindliness towards a cause of pleasure. In
mankind there seems to be an innate disposition to take some
pleasure in the company of a fellow-man, unless he for some
special reason is a cause of fear or dislike. It may be increased
by certain particular stimuli, as is the case in the parental,
conjugal, and filial sentiments, and on the other hand it is
checked by circumstances that restrict the size of the group.

Uncivilized peoples are as a rule described as kind towards
members of their own community or tribe. Within these limits they
are charitable and generous, and their customs relating to mutual
aid are often much more stringent than our own; and this applies
even to the very lowest among them.[31] The mutual good-will,
harmony, and sense of solidarity that under normal conditions
prevail in their societies lead to disinterested resentment, which
is generally felt when a member of the group is hurt. Speaking of
some Australian savages, Mr. Fison remarks:--"To the savage, the
whole gens is the individual, {105} and he is full of regard for
it. Strike the gens anywhere, and every member of it considers
himself struck, and the whole body corporate rises up in arms
against the striker."[32] Among certain Queensland aborigines,
says Dr. Roth, a man has to reckon not only with the injured one
or his relatives, but also, in some cases, with the whole camp
collectively, who will take upon itself to inflict punishment upon
the offender; while a woman who makes herself obnoxious in the
camp, especially to the female portion of it, is liable to be set
upon and "hammered" by her fellow-sisters collectively.[33] Much
more frequently savage justice is administered not by the whole of
the community, but by some person or persons invested with
judicial authority, a council of elders or a chief.[34] But the
resentment of the community also displays itself in the widespread
custom which enjoins private revenge as a duty. The desire to see
the offender suffer may induce the community to assist the avenger
in some way or other in attaining his object,[35] or actually to
compel the injured party to take revenge. Of an Australian tribe,
where an offender was to receive one or more spears from the
injured man when he had recovered strength or from his relatives
if he was dead, we are told, "Obedience to such laws was never
withheld, but would have been enforced, without doubt, if
necessary, by the assembled tribe."[36]

[Footnote 31: _Moral Ideas_, i. 540 _sqq._ See also Kropotkin,
_op. cit._, p. 88 _sqq._]

[Footnote 32: L. Fison and A. W. Howitt, _Kamilaroi and Kumai_
(Melbourne & Sydney, 1880), p. 170.]

[Footnote 33: W. E. Roth, _Ethnological Studies among the
North-West-Central Queensland Aborigines_ (Brisbane & London,
1897), pp. 139, 141.]

[Footnote 34: _Moral Ideas_, i. 173 _sqq._]

[Footnote 35: _Ibid._, i. 176 _sq._]

[Footnote 36: Fison and Howitt, _op. cit._, p. 282.]

While disinterested resentment may thus be felt in consequence of
an injury inflicted upon another individual as {106} a reaction
against sympathetic pain, it may also be directly produced by the
cognition of the signs of resentment. In the former case it is
really independent of the emotion of the injured individual; we
may feel resentment on his behalf though he himself feels none. In
the latter case it is an emotion reflected through the medium of
its outward expression and felt independently of the cause of the
original emotion of which it is a reflection, which may in fact be
out of sight. Professor Holmes tells us that "among bees, ants,
and termites signs of anger by one individual may awaken the whole
community to a high pitch of excitement."[37] So also a group of
chimpanzees may be thrown into a state of blind fury by the angry
cries of one of its members, "even when the majority of its
members have seen nothing of what caused the first cry, and have
no notion of what it is all about."[38] When the yells and shrieks
of a street dog-fight are heard, dogs from all sides rush to the
spot, each dog apparently ready to bite any of the others. So,
too, in an infuriated crowd of men one gets angry because the
other is angry, and often the question, Why? is hardly asked. This
form of disinterested resentment is of considerable importance
both as an originator and a communicator of moral ideas. Men are
inclined to sympathize with the resentment of persons for whom
they feel regard; hence an act which, though harmless by itself,
is forbidden by God and man may be not only professed but actually
felt to be wrong. For a similar reason the punishment inflicted by
the society, which as a rule is an expression of its moral
indignation, may also, by arousing sympathetic resentment, lead to
the idea that the victim of it deserves to be punished. {107}
Children, as everybody knows, grow up with their ideas of right
and wrong graduated, to a great extent, according to the temper of
the father or mother; and men are not seldom, as Hobbes said,
"like little children, that have no other rule of good and evill
manners, but the correction they receive from their Parents, and
Masters."[39] Any means of expressing resentment may serve as a
communicator of the emotion. Besides punishment, language deserves
special mention. Moral disapproval may be evoked by the
very sounds of words like "murder," "theft," "cowardice," and
others, which not merely indicate a certain mode of behaviour but
also express the opprobrium attached to it. By the use of some
strong word the orator raises the indignation of a sympathetic
audience to its pitch.

[Footnote 37: S. J. Holmes, _The Evolution of Animal Intelligence_
(New York, 1911), p. 209.]

[Footnote 38: Köhler, _op. cit._, p. 288.]

[Footnote 39: Hobbes, _op. cit._, i. 11, p. 76.]

There is yet a third way in which disinterested resentment may
arise. In many cases people feel hostile to a person who inflicts
no injury on anybody. There are in the human mind what Bain called
"disinterested antipathies," or sentimental aversions "of which
our fellow-beings are the subjects, and on account of which we
overlook our own interest quite as much as in displaying our
sympathies and affections."[40] Differences of taste, habit, and
opinion easily create similar dislikes; and these, too, have
played a prominent part in the moulding of the moral
consciousness. The antipathy which is so commonly felt against
anything unusual, new, or foreign, may lead to the idea that it is
wrong; and when a certain act, which does no harm--apart from the
painful impression it makes on the spectator--fills people with
disgust or horror, they may feel no less inclined to inflict harm
upon the agent than if he had committed an offence against person,
property, {108} or good name. Such resentment may also arise from
the observation of the feelings of others. As Abraham Tucker said,
"we grow to love things we perceive them fond of, and contract
aversions from their dislikes."[41]

[Footnote 40: A. Bain, _The Emotions and the Will_ (London, 1880),
p. 268.]

[Footnote 41: A. Tucker, _The Light of Nature Pursued_, i.
(London, 1840), p. 154.]

We have already noticed that sympathy, in the popular sense of the
word, may produce not only disinterested resentment but
disinterested retributive kindliness: when taking a pleasure in
the benefit bestowed upon our neighbour, we are disposed to look
with kindness upon the benefactor. Moreover, as resentment may be
produced by the cognition of outward signs of resentment in
others, so kindly emotion may be produced by the signs of
kindliness. Even a dog may be well-disposed towards a stranger
when he sees a friend--whether a man or another dog--be friendly
to him. Language communicates emotions by terms of praise as well
as by terms of condemnation; and a reward, like a punishment, has
some tendency to reproduce the emotion from which it sprang.
Finally, men have disinterested likings as they have disinterested
dislikes. As an instance of these may be mentioned the common
admiration of courage when felt irrespectively of the object for
which it is displayed--a feeling which has even elevated it to an
independent virtue, and in any case tends to influence the moral

Having thus found the origin of disinterested retributive
emotions, we have also partly explained the origin of the moral
emotions. But, as we have seen, these emotions are not only
disinterested, but impartial in a wider sense, or at least, are
not knowingly partial. The possibility of such impartiality,
however, is explained by the answer to the more general question,
how disinterestedness and apparent impartiality have become
characteristics of that {109} particular kind of retributive
emotions that we call moral emotions. The solution of this problem
is not difficult to find. It lies in the fact that society is the
birth-place of the moral consciousness; that the first moral
judgments expressed, not the private emotions of isolated
individuals, but emotions felt by the society at large; that
tribal custom was the earliest rule of duty.

Customs are not merely public habits--the habits of a certain
circle of men, a racial or national community, a rank or class of
society--but they are at the same time rules of conduct. As Cicero
observes, the customs of a people "are precepts in
themselves."[42] We say that "custom commands," or "custom
demands," and even when custom simply allows the commission of a
certain class of actions, it implicitly lays down the rule that
such actions are not to be interfered with. And the rule of custom
is conceived of as a moral rule, which decides what is right and
wrong.[43] "Les loix de la conscience," says Montaigne, "que nous
disons naistre de nature, naissent de la coustume."[44] The Greek
idea of the customary, [Greek: to\ no/mimon], shows the close
connection between morality and custom; and so do the words
[Greek: e)/thos, ê)/thos], and [Greek: ê)thika/], the
Latin _mos_ and _moralis_, the German _Sitte_ and
_Sittlichkeit_.[45] Moreover, in early society, customs are not
only moral rules, but the only moral rules ever thought of. The
savage strictly complies with the Hegelian command that no man
must have a private conscience.

[Footnote 42: Cicero, _De Officiis_, i. 41.]

[Footnote 43: _Moral Ideas_, i. 118 _sq._]

[Footnote 44: M. de Montaigne, _Essais_, i. 22 (_[OE]uvres_
[Paris, 1837], p. 48).]

[Footnote 45: For the history of these words see W. Wundt, _Ethik_
(Stuttgart, 1912), i. 21 _sqq._]

What does it mean that custom is a rule of conduct? It implies
that every deviation from custom is apt to call forth public
disapproval. In the lower stages of civilization, {110}
especially, custom is a tyrant who binds man in iron fetters, and
who threatens the transgressor not only with general disgrace, but
often with bodily suffering or even death. Now if custom is a
moral rule, the public disapproval aroused by its transgression
may be properly called a moral emotion. Moreover, where all the
duties of a man are expressed in the customs of the society to
which he belongs, it is obvious that the characteristics of moral
disapproval are to be sought for in its connection with custom.
Custom is fixed once for all, and admits of no purely personal
preferences. It is equally binding for me and for you and for all
the other members of the society. A breach of it is equally wrong
whether I myself am immediately concerned in the act or not; this
involves disinterestedness. So also the condemnation of it is
independent of the relationship in which the parties concerned in
it stand to me personally; this implies impartiality in a larger
sense. And all this holds true whatever be the origin of any
particular custom. It may have originated in selfishness or
partiality: the leading men of the society may at first have
prohibited certain acts because they found them disadvantageous to
themselves, or to those with whom they particularly sympathized.
Where custom is an oppressor of women, this oppression may, in
some measure at least, be traced back to the selfishness of the
men. Where custom sanctions slavery, it is certainly not impartial
to the slaves. Yet in the one case as in the other custom is
assumed to be in the right, irrespectively of one's own station,
and the women and the slaves themselves are expected to be of the
same opinion. Such an expectation is by no means a chimera. Under
normal social conditions, largely owing to men's tendency to share
the resentment of their superiors, the customs of a society are
willingly submitted to and recognized as right by the great
majority {111} of its members, whatever be their station. Among
the Rejangs of Sumatra, says Marsden, "a man without property,
family, or connections, never, in the partiality of self-love,
considers his own life as being of equal value with that of a man
of substance."[46] Mr. Torday observes that in Congo the position
of woman, mere chattel and drudge as she seems to be according to
our notions, is nevertheless completely consonant with her own
conception of her rights--so much so that it is precisely from the
woman's side that the European reformer is likely to meet with the
most determined opposition. However selfish, however partial a
certain rule may be, it becomes a true custom, a moral rule, as
soon as the selfishness or partiality of its makers is lost sight

[Footnote 46: W. Marsden, _The History of Sumatra_ (London, 1811),
p. 247.]

It must not be supposed that, by deriving the characteristics of
moral disapproval from its connection with custom, I implicitly
contradict my initial proposition that moral emotions are at the
bottom of all moral judgments. Custom is a moral rule only on
account of the disapproval called forth by its transgression. In
its ethical aspect it is nothing but a generalization of emotional
tendencies, applied to certain modes of conduct and transmitted
from generation to generation. In its capacity of a rule of duty
custom, _mos_, is derived from the emotion to which it gave its

And as public disapproval is the prototype of moral disapproval,
so public approval, expressed in public praise, is the prototype
of moral approval: it is characterized by the same
disinterestedness and apparent impartiality. But of these two
emotions public disapproval, being at the root of custom and
leading to the infliction of punishment, is by far the more
impressive. Hence it is not surprising that the term "moral" is
etymologically connected with _mos_, {112} which always implies
the existence of a social rule the transgression of which evokes
public disapproval. Only by analogy it has come to be applied to
the emotion of approval as well.

Though moral disapproval and approval have taken their place in
the system of human emotions as public emotions felt by the
society at large, they have not always remained inseparably
connected with the feelings of any special society. The unanimity
of opinion that originally characterized the members of the same
social unit was disturbed by its advancement in civilization.
Individuals arose who found fault with the moral ideas prevalent
in the community to which they belonged, criticizing them on the
basis of their own individual feelings. To deny such individuals
the right of speaking in the name of morality true and proper
would be to attach to this term a meaning which, in its
narrowness, would be utterly different from the established usage
of it. All that is required is that their retributive emotions
should possess that disinterestedness and apparent impartiality
which have become moral characteristics in connection with custom,
but may differ from public disapproval and approval either in
strength or with regard to the facts by which they are evoked.
Indeed, the dissent from the orthodox views of morality often
arises from the conviction that the apparent impartiality of
public feelings is an illusion. In the course of progressive
civilization the moral consciousness has tended towards a greater
equalization of rights, towards an expansion of the circle within
which the same moral rules are held applicable. And this process
has been largely due to the example of influential individuals and
their efforts to raise public opinion to their own standard of

The fact that the earliest moral emotions were public {113}
emotions implies that the original form of the moral consciousness
cannot, as is often asserted, have been the individual conscience.
Martineau's observation that the inner springs of other men's
actions may be read off only by inference from our own experience,
by no means warrants his conclusion that the moral consciousness
is at its origin engaged in self-estimation, instead of
circuitously reaching this end through a prior critique upon our
fellow-men.[47] The moral elements in the feelings we experience
with reference to our own conduct are generally mixed up with
other elements to such an extent that they can be disentangled
only by a careful process of abstraction, and could never have
been distinguished as specific moral emotions unless the notion of
morality had been previously derived from another source.

[Footnote 47: J. Martineau, _Types of Ethical Theory_, ii.
(Oxford, 1891), p. 29 _sqq._]

{114} _CHAPTER V_


The theory of the emotional origin of moral judgments I am here
advocating does not imply that such a judgment affirms the
existence of a moral emotion in the mind of the person who utters
it: he may do so without feeling any emotion at all. No doubt, to
say that a certain act is good or bad may be the mere expression
of an emotion felt with regard to it, just as to say that the sun
is hot or the weather cold may be a mere expression of a sensation
of heat or cold produced by the sun or the weather. But such
judgments express subjective facts in terms which strictly
speaking have a different meaning. To attribute a quality to
something is not the same as to state the existence of a
particular emotion or sensation in the mind that perceives it.
This, however, does not imply that the term used to denote the
quality may not have a subjective origin. I maintain, on the
contrary, that the qualities assigned to the subjects of moral
judgments really are generalizations derived from approval or
disapproval felt with regard to certain modes of conduct, that
they are tendencies to feel one or the other of these emotions
interpreted as qualities, as dynamic tendencies, in the phenomena
which gave rise to the emotion. A similar translation of emotional
states into terms of qualities assigned to external phenomena is
found in many other cases: something is "fearful" because people
fear it, "admirable" because people admire it. When we call an act
good or bad, we do not _state_ the existence of any emotional
tendencies, any {115} more than, when we call a landscape
beautiful, we state any characteristics of beauty: we refer the
subject of the judgment to a class of phenomena which we are used
to call good or bad. But we are used to call them so because they
have evoked moral approval or disapproval in ourselves or in other
persons from whom we have learned the use of those words.

Most people follow a very simple method in judging of an act.
Particular modes of conduct have their traditional labels, many of
which are learned with language itself; and the moral judgment
commonly consists simply in labelling the act according to certain
obvious characteristics which it presents in common with others
belonging to the same group.[1] We hear that some one has
appropriated another's property, this is theft, it is wrong; some
one tells an untruth, this is lying, it is wrong; some one gives
money to a needy person, this is charitable, it is good; and so
forth. But when we examine the nature of these acts we find that
they are apt to give rise to or, as we may also put it, to become
the objects of, certain emotions, either of disapproval or
approval, and it is the tendency to feel one or the other of these
emotions that has led people to {116} call them bad or good. Those
who first established the use of these and all other moral
concepts felt disapproval or approval and expressed in the
concepts their tendency to feel such an emotion in the given
circumstances. This is what may be called the intrinsic meaning of
the terms. I do not say that those who use them are aware of this
meaning. We are often unable to tell what is really implied in a
concept that we predicate to a certain phenomenon. When any one is
asked what he means by saying that something is or exists, or that
something is the cause of something else, I suppose that everybody
who is not a philosopher, and many a philosopher also, feels
somewhat bewildered. As Mr. Bertrand Russell observes, "to say
that a word has a meaning is not to say that those who use the
word correctly have ever thought out what the meaning is: the use
of the word comes first, and the meaning is to be distilled out of
it by observation and analysis. . . . A word is used 'correctly'
when the average hearer will be affected by it in the way
intended."[2] When we want to find out the intrinsic meaning of a
term we have to examine the circumstances in which it is used. And
in analyzing the predicates of moral judgments, we are guided by
the fact that if we ourselves emphatically and truly mean what we
say when we pronounce such a judgment, we recognize that we are
apt, or at least think we are apt, to feel a moral emotion of
either approval or disapproval with regard to that on which the
judgment is pronounced.

[Footnote 1: I have copied these two sentences from my _Moral
Ideas_ (i. 9). They show that I was fully aware of the fact,
subsequently stated by Professor McDougall (_An Introduction to
Social Psychology_ [London, 1926], p. 185 _sq._), that "the
emotions on which a man's moral judgments are based may be not his
own emotions at the time of passing judgment, and not even his own
earlier emotions, but the emotions, especially that disinterested
emotion we call moral indignation, of those who in bygone ages
have played their parts in the shaping of the moral tradition."
His reference to my theory of the emotional origin of moral
judgments suggests that I had overlooked the distinction between
what he calls "original moral judgment and imitative moral
judgments." As regards the latter, he says, the intellectualist
doctrine, according to which the act of classing precedes and
determines the moral emotion, is true; while "as regards original
moral judgments, Westermarck is in the right--they proceed
directly from emotions."]

[Footnote 2: B. Russell, _The Analysis of Mind_ (London, 1922), p.
197 _sq._ _Cf._ G. C. Field, _Moral Theory_ (London, 1921), p. 5

Professor Sorley, who admits that "feeling and striving" are
anterior to moral ideas and moral judgment, argues that once the
transition to the moral judgment is made, "we are no longer
concerned with subjective emotions {117} but with the validity of
the assertion that this or that is good. Morality begins with
judgments about good and evil, right and wrong, and not simply
with emotions--retributive, parental, sympathetic, or what
not."[3] How this transition from emotions to moral judgments has
taken place we are not told. In my opinion, as already said, the
tendency to feel moral approval or disapproval was interpreted as
a quality in the phenomenon that gave rise to it, and, for reasons
stated before, the concept expressing this quality was supposed to
give objective validity to the judgment in which it was the
predicate. If it were based on an emotion it could not do so;
hence the violent opposition to the theory of the emotional origin
of moral judgments. But I feel tempted to quote Hobbes' sagacious
remarks:--"In reasoning, a man must take heed of words; which
besides the signification of what we imagine of their nature, have
a signification also of the nature, disposition, and interest of
the speaker; such as are the names of vertues, and vices; for one
man calleth wisdome, what another calleth feare; and one cruelty,
what another justice; one prodigality, what another magnanimity;
and one gravity, what another stupidicy, &c. And therefore such
names can never be true grounds of any ratiocination. No more can
metaphors, and tropes of speech: but these are less dangerous,
because they profess their inconstancy; which the other do

[Footnote 3: W. R. Sorley, _Moral Values and the Idea of God_
(Cambridge, 1924), pp. 67, 69.]

[Footnote 4: T. Hobbes, _Leviathan_, i. 4 (Oxford, 1881), p. 26.]

In order to show that the concepts which are used as predicates in
moral judgments are ultimately based upon emotions it is necessary
to examine the relations between the concepts and the emotions.
This is a task which has been much neglected by the moralists of
the emotional {118} school, although it is evidently a matter of
paramount importance. I shall restrict my analysis to the
principal terms used in English, all of which have equivalents in
other European languages. To what extent they have equivalents in
non-European tongues I do not take upon myself to decide. That all
existing peoples, even the lowest, have moral emotions is as
certain as that they have customs, and there can be no doubt that
they give expression to those emotions in their speech. But it is
another question how far their emotions have led to such
generalizations as are implied in moral concepts. Many savages
have terms more or less corresponding to our "good" and "bad,"
which, like our own terms, are used to express moral, as well as
other, qualities.[5] It seems very probable that originally moral
concepts were not clearly differentiated from other more
comprehensive generalizations, and that they assumed a more
definite shape only by slow degrees. At the same time we must not
expect to find the beginning of this process reflected in the
vocabularies of languages. There is every reason to believe that a
savage distinguishes between the "badness" of a man and the
"badness" of a piece of food, although he may have no clear idea
of the distinction. Language is a rough generalizer: even more or
less superficial resemblance between different phenomena often
suffices to establish linguistic identity between them. Compare
the rightness of a line with **the rightness of conduct, the
wrongness of an opinion with the wrongness of an act. And notice
the different significations given to the verb "ought" in the
following sentences:--"They ought to be in town by this time, as
the train left Paris last night"; "If you wish to be healthy {119}
you ought to rise early"; "You ought always to tell the truth."
But even the meaning of a term that is used in a moral sense may
vary considerably. In this respect it resembles the meaning of
other words, which, as Mr. Bertrand Russell puts it, "is an area,
like a target: it may have a bull's eye, but the outlying parts of
the target are still more or less within the meaning, in a
gradually diminishing degree as we travel further from the bull's

[Footnote 5: See _Moral Ideas_, i. 131 _sq._; and W. Planert, "Le
développement des idées morales examiné au point de vue
linguistique," in _Le Monde orientale_, xviii. (Uppsala, 1925),
p. 124 _sqq._]

[Footnote 6: Russell, _op. cit._, p. 197 _sq._]

In ethical treatises there are two moral concepts that compete
with each other for supremacy: that of _ought_ or _duty_, and that
of _goodness_. According to Kant, in fact, all morality consists
in the doing of duty for duty's sake, and what is good is what
ought to be done. Several later writers have accepted the former
of these propositions, but maintain that there are good actions
which surpass acts of duty in value, though they fall outside the
moral field because they are done for an end that is good and not
for the sake of their intrinsic rightness. Professor de Burgh, for
instance, who admits that acts done from spontaneous affection may
be of higher value than acts of duty for duty's sake, argues that
"it is paradoxical to confuse the two types of action and
valuation by merging them, under the common rubric 'moral,' into
one."[7] I think that to most people who are not swayed by the
Kantian terminology it would rather seem paradoxical to deny the
epithet "moral" to the conduct of a man who from pity relieves a
sufferer or a mother who sacrifices health and pleasure for her
child, on the ground that they act {120} thus from love without
thought of moral obligation. Other writers reserve the field of
morality for duty alone because they look upon social regulation
as the origin of all morality. Bain says that "positive good deeds
and self-sacrifice are the preserving salt of human life; but they
transcend the region of morality proper, and occupy a sphere of
their own."[8] Durkheim argues that it would be "contraire
à toute méthode" to include under the same heading acts which
are obligatory and acts which are objects of admiration, and at
the same time exempt from all regulation; "si donc, pour rester
fidèle à l'usage, on réserve aux premiers la qualification de
moraux, on ne saurait la donner également aux seconds."[9] But
does not ordinary usage sanction goodness as a moral quality as
well as rightness or conformity to the rule of duty, and what
would the history of ethics be if all theories of goodness were
excluded from it?

[Footnote 7: W. G. de Burgh, "On Right and Good: the Problem of
Objective Right," in _Journal of Philosophical Studies_, v.
(London, 1930), pp. 432, 254. Similar views have been expressed by
H. Münsterberg (_Der Ursprung der Sittlichkeit_ [Freiburg, i.
B., 1889], p. 98 _sqq._) and N. H. Bang (_Begrebet Moral_
[Köbenhavn, 1897], pp. 145, 190).]

[Footnote 8: A. Bain, _The Emotions and the Will_ (London, 1880),
p. 292.]

[Footnote 9: E. Durkheim, _De la division du travail social_
(Paris, 1893), p. 30. A similar view is taken by Professor R.
Lagerborg ("La nature de la morale," in _Revue internationale de
Sociologie_, xi. [Paris, 1903], p. 466).]

At the same time it seems to me obvious that the idea of duty,
being derived from custom, is prior to that of moral goodness. To
say, as Green does, that the idea of an absolute and a common good
"must have been at work in the minds of men before they could be
capable of recognizing any kind of action as one that _ought_ to
be done,"[10] is a philosophical construction for which there is
not a whit of evidence. Professor Moore even asserts that our
"duty" can only be defined "as that action, which will cause more
good to exist in the Universe than any possible alternative";[11]
but then he is guilty of a confusion between {121} the concept of
duty and what he thinks that people ought to do. And when he
further maintains that, as we can never be sure that any action
will produce the greatest value possible, "we never have any
reason to suppose that an action is our duty,"[12] and that if a
man has adopted a given course of conduct after taking all
possible care to assure himself that it is the best, and it, owing
to some subsequent event, which he could not possibly have
foreseen, turns out not to be the best, his action was
wrong[13]--I think the aberrations of speculative ethics from the
ordinary use of terms may be said to have reached their pitch;
these statements make one think of the sin of unbelief attributed
to the poor pagans who could never have heard of the Gospel. That
any one ought to do the best he is able to do, is a proposition
often heard;[14] but even if it were self-evident, as Professor
Laird believes,[15] it could not affect the concept of ought,
because it would only tell us what we ought to do, not what it
means that we ought to do it. I venture, however, to think that
those who state or accept this proposition themselves have
actually two standards of duty, one by which they measure man and
his doings in the abstract, with reference to an ideal which they
identify with duty, and another by which they are guided in their
practical moral judgments upon their own and their neighbours'
conduct. It seems to me that Professor Laird himself makes an
admission in this direction when he writes:--"We are reluctant to
admit that _anyone_ should be sacrificed deliberately in {122}
order that others may gain, and when we are compelled to act in
this fashion we do not care to think of it. On the other hand we
praise, with very occasional reserve, anyone who sacrifices
himself for such an end."[16] The conscientious man is apt to
judge himself more severely than he judges others, and may be
unwilling to admit that he ever can do more than his duty, seeing
how difficult it is even to do all that he ought to do, and
impressed, as he would be, with the feeling of his own
shortcomings; yet I do not see how he could conscientiously deny
that he has omitted to do many praiseworthy or heroic deeds
without holding himself blamable for such omissions. My general
conclusion, then, is that the concept of duty can no more be
derived from that of goodness than the concept of goodness from
that of duty. And the reason for their fundamental difference is
that the concept of duty springs from the emotion of moral
disapproval and that of goodness from the emotion of moral
approval. Considering that disapproval has in all ages played a
far more important part in the moral consciousness of mankind than
approval, I am unable to subscribe to the opinion that "the
conception of the Good is the central point of ethics."[17]

[Footnote 10: T. H. Green, _Prolegomena to Ethics_ (Oxford, 1899),
p. 239_sq._]

[Footnote 11: G. E. Moore, _Principia Ethica_ (Cambridge, 1922),
p. 148.]

[Footnote 12: _Ibid._, p. 149.]

[Footnote 13: G. E. Moore, _Ethics_ (London, _s.d._), p. 191

[Footnote 14: H. Sidgwick, _The Methods of Ethics_ (London, 1913),
p. 219. F. H. Bradley, _Ethical Studies_ (Oxford, 1927), p. 157 n.
1. O. Stapledon, "The Bearing of Ethics on Psychology," in
_Journal of Philosophical Studies_, ii. (London, 1927), p. 366. J.
S. Mackenzie, _A Manual of Ethics_ (London, 1929), pp. 321, 404.]

[Footnote 15: J. Laird, _A Study in Moral Theory_ (London, 1926),
p. 200.]

[Footnote 16: Laird, _op. cit._, p. 263.]

[Footnote 17: L. T. Hobhouse, _Morals in Evolution_ (London,
1915), p. 19.]

The notion embodied in "ought" is frequently looked upon as
ultimate and unanalyzable. If this were the case we might, in our
study of the moral consciousness, be able to draw up lists of
duties, but we should be unable to understand or explain a single
one of them, nay, the fact that there is a moral law at all would
be a sheer mystery. Fortunately, however, we are not reduced to
such incompetence. Far from being a simple notion, "ought" is
clearly decomposable, even though it have a flavour of its {123}
own which is easier to feel than to describe. First of all, it
expresses a conation. When I feel that I ought to do a thing, I
experience an impulse to do it, though some opposite impulse may
finally determine my action; and when I say to another man, "You
ought to do this or that," there is certainly implied a professed
wish to influence his action in a given direction. In the notion
of "duty," the ethical import of which is identical with that of
"ought," the conative element is not so obvious. Closely connected
with the conative nature of "ought" is the imperative character it
is apt to assume; and both its conativeness and its imperativeness
are determined by the cognition that the mode of conduct which
ought to be performed or refrained from is not, or will possibly
not be, performed or refrained from. It is also this notion of its
not being so that determines the emotion which gives to "ought"
the quality of a moral predicate. The doing of what ought not to
be done, or the refraining from what ought not to be refrained
from, is apt to call forth moral disapproval; this is the most
essential fact involved in the notion of "ought."

Every "ought"-judgment contains implicitly a prohibition of that
which ought not to be done. Nobody would ever have dreamt of
laying down a moral rule if the idea of its transgression had not
presented itself to his mind. We may reverse the words of the
Apostle[18] and say that where no transgression is, there is no
law; the law-breaker is, in a way, the law-maker.[19] When Solon
was asked why he had specified no punishment for one who had
murdered a father, he replied that he supposed it could not occur
to any man to commit such a crime.[20] Similarly, {124} the modern
Shintoist concludes that the primaeval Japanese were pure and holy
from the fact that they are represented as a people who had no
moral commandments.[21] It is this prohibitive character of
"ought" that has imparted to duty that idea of antagonism to
inclination which has found its most famous expression in the
Kantian ethics, and which made Bentham look upon the word itself
as having in it "something disagreeable and repulsive."[22] It is
this intrinsic connection between "ought" and "wrong" that has
given to duty the most prominent place in ethical speculation when
moral pessimism has been predominant. While the ancient Greeks,
with whom happiness was the state of nature, hardly spoke of
duty,[23] but held virtue to be the supreme good, Christianity, on
the other hand, which looked upon man as a being born and bred in
sin, regarded morals pre-eminently as a matter of duty. Then,
again, in modern times, Kant's categorical imperative came as a
reaction against that moral optimism which once more had given the
preference to virtue, considering everything in the world or in
humanity as beautiful and good from the very beginning.[24]

[Footnote 18: _Romans_, iv. 15.]

[Footnote 19: _Cf._ F. Thilly, _Introduction to Ethics_ (New York,
1905), p. 280.]

[Footnote 20: Diogenes Laertius, _Solon_, 10. Cicero, _Pro S.
Roscio Amerino_, 25.]

[Footnote 21: W. E. Griffis, _The Religions of Japan_ (London,
1895), p. 72.]

[Footnote 22: J. Bentham, _Deontology_, i. (London & Edinburgh,
1834), p. 10.]

[Footnote 23: Professor C. C J. Webb ("Obligation, Autonomy, and
the Common Good," in _Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society_, N.
S. xx. [London, 1920], p. 120 _sq._) observes that Aristotle does
not altogether ignore the obligatory character of morality, as
appears from his frequent use of the word [Greek: dei=], but
that he did not look upon it as the distinctive feature of moral

[Footnote 24: _Cf._ Th. Ziegler, _Social Ethics_ (London, 1892),
pp. 22, 75 _sq._]

It is not, then, in the emotion of approval that we must seek for
the origin of the concepts of "ought" and "duty." At the same time
we often applaud him who is faithful to his duty in circumstances
where the average man would have felt a strong temptation to yield
to a contrary impulse. {125} It is to such cases that we may trace
that adoration of duty, or rather of its fulfilment, which has
been so common among moralists since the days of Kant, who
attributed moral worth only to dutiful acts that result from a
successful struggle against opposite inclinations.[25] They have a
tendency to confine the words "ought" and "duty" to cases where
there is generally a strong desire to do what ought not to be
done.[26] Now there is no contradiction in the omission of an act
being disapproved of and the performance of it being praised; and
when the word "duty" is used in a derivative sense as a concrete
rule of duty, it may even refer to a course of conduct the
omission of which is in ordinary circumstances, but not
necessarily in every instance, disapproved of.[27] Strictly
speaking, however, "ought" and "duty" only express the tendency of
an act's omission to call forth moral disapproval and say
nothing about the consequences of its performance. "When ye shall
have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are
unprofitable servants: {126} we have done that which was our duty
to do."[28] Duty is a stern lawgiver who threatens with punishment
but promises no reward.

[Footnote 25: See _infra_, p. 271 _sq._]

[Footnote 26: _Cf._ F. Staudinger, _Das Sittengesetz_ (Berlin,
1897), p. 317; C. D. Broad, _Five Types of Ethical Theory_
(London, 1930), p. 164.]

[Footnote 27: This use of the word "duty" has made it possible to
speak of "conflicting duties." Such an expression can only mean
that rules of conduct which generally ought to be followed may in
exceptional cases come into conflict with each other. This does
not justify Bradley's phrase, "I neglect duty because of duty"
(_Ethical Studies_ [Oxford, 1927], p. 227); for it can never be my
duty at the same time to do a thing and not to do it (_Cf._ Kant,
_Einleitung in die Metaphysik der Sitten_, 4 [_Gesammelte
Schriften_, vi. [Berlin, 1914], p. 224; T. K. Abbott's translation
in _Kant's Critique of Practical Reason and other Works on the
Theory of Ethics_ [London, 1898], p. 280]). The "conflict of
duties" is particularly felt by a person who in a given moment
hesitates whether he ought to follow the one or the other of two
conflicting general rules of duty (_Cf._ H. Y. Groenewegen,
"Pflicht und Gewissen in der Ethik," in _Studier tillågnade
Efraim Liljeqvist_, i. [Lund, 1930], p. 246). The subject has been
discussed at considerable length by E. Laas (_Idealismus und
Positivismus_, ii. [Berlin, 1882], p. 261 _sqq._) and F.
Staudinger (_op. cit._, p. 324 _sqq._).]

[Footnote 28: _St. Luke_, xvii. 10.]

The tendency in a phenomenon to arouse moral disapproval is
directly expressed by the term _bad_, and closely allied to it is
the term _wrong_. But there is some difference in the use of these
words. While "bad" may be applied both to a person's character and
to his conduct, only his conduct may be said to be wrong. The
reason for this is that the concept of moral wrongness is modelled
on the notion of a moral law, the breach of which is regarded as
"wrong"; and by laying down a moral law we only enjoin a certain
course of conduct, we do not command a person to have a certain
character. To say that an act or forbearance is a duty is thus, so
far as its morality is concerned, exactly the same thing as to say
that the opposite mode of conduct is wrong.

"Wrong" is popularly regarded as the opposite of _right_, and they
really are contradictories, but only within the sphere of positive
moral valuation. We do not call the actions of irresponsible
beings, like animals and infants, "right," although they are not
wrong. Nor do we pronounce morally indifferent actions of
responsible beings "right," unless we wish thereby especially to
point out that they are not wrong; but it would be more strictly
accurate to say that people have "_a_ right" to do them. A right
action, in the strict sense of the word, is on a given occasion
_the_ right action, unless a choice of alternatives is permitted by
the rule of duty; right is what is in conformity to duty. Those
who recognize the existence of something super-obligatory would
not say that it is not right; they would say that it is more than
right, but not that it is more right. "Right" has no comparative;
a certain {127} mode of conduct is either in conformity to the
rule of duty or not. There are degrees of badness and of goodness,
as the moral disapproval and the moral approval may be stronger or
weaker, but there are no degrees of rightness.

The fact that the right mode of conduct is that which is in
conformity to duty and not infrequently requires self-restraint,
accounts for the erroneous opinion held by many ethical writers
that "right" is intrinsically connected with moral approval. The
choice of the right alternative, as I said in connection with the
concept of duty, may give us satisfaction and call forth in us an
emotion of approval, and the judgment in which we point out the
rightness of the act may actually contain applause. The manner in
which the judgment, "That is right," is pronounced often shows
that it is meant to be an expression of praise. But this does not
imply that the concept "right" by itself has reference to moral
approval and involves praise. It only means that in one word is
expressed a certain concept--that of conformity to duty--_plus_ an
emotion of approval. That "right" _per se_ involves no praise is
obvious from the fact that we regard it as perfectly right to pay
a debt and to keep a promise, or to refrain from killing, robbing,
or lying, though these acts or forbearances have no tendency
whatever to evoke in us an emotion of moral approval.

The concept of "right," then, as implying that the opposite mode
of conduct would have been wrong, ultimately derives its moral
significance from moral disapproval. This may seem strange
considering that "right" is commonly looked upon as positive and
"wrong" as its negation. But we must remember that language and
popular conceptions in these matters start from the notion of a
moral rule or command. It is held to be of paramount importance
that such modes of conduct as are apt to arouse {128} general
moral disapproval should be avoided. People try to prevent them by
prohibitions and injunctions, often emphasized by threats of
penalties for the transgressors. The whole moral and social
discipline is based upon commands; customs are rules of conduct,
and so are laws. It is natural, then, that the notion of a command
should figure uppermost in popular conceptions of morality.
Obedience to the command is right, the breach of it is wrong. But
the fact that gave birth to the command itself was the disapproval
called forth by the act which the command forbids or by the
omission of that which it enjoins.

I have now spoken of "right" as an adjective. Used as a
substantive, to denote a _right_, it also, in whatever sense it be
applied, expresses a concept that is rooted in the emotion of
moral disapproval. To have a right to do a thing is to be allowed
to do it, either by positive law, in the case of a legal right, or
by the moral law, in the case of a moral right; in other words, to
have a moral right to do a thing implies that it is not wrong to
do it. But generally the concept of "a right" means something more
than this. From the fact that an act is allowable, that it is not
wrong, it follows, as a rule, that it ought not to be prevented;
and this character of inviolability is largely included in the
very concepts of rights. That a man has a right to live does not
merely mean that he commits no wrong by supporting his life, but
it chiefly means that it would be wrong of other people to prevent
him from living, that it is their duty to refrain from killing
him, or even, as the case may be, that it is their duty to help
him to live. And in order to constitute a right in him, the duty
in question must be a duty _to him_, that is, a duty to be
performed for his own sake. To kill another person's slave may be
condemned as an injury done to the slave himself, in which case it
is a duty to the slave not to kill him; but it {129} may also be
condemned on account of the loss it inflicts upon the master, and
in this case it is deemed a duty to the master not to kill his
slave. In the latter case we can hardly say that the duty of
refraining from killing the slave constitutes a right to life in
the slave: it only constitutes a right in the master to retain his
slave alive and not to be deprived of him by an act causing his

So commonly does the conception of a right belonging to a person
contain the idea of a duty which other persons owe him, that it
seems necessary to point out the existence of rights in which no
such idea is involved. A man's right to defend his country, for
instance, does not intrinsically imply that it is wrong of the
enemy to disable him from doing so. But on the other hand there
are rights which are nothing else than duties towards those who
have the rights. A right is not always a person's right to do, or
to refrain from doing, something; it may have exclusive reference
to other people's conduct. That a father has a right to be obeyed
by his children only means that it is a duty incumbent on them to
obey him. That a person has the right to bodily integrity only
means that it is wrong to inflict on him a bodily injury. These
rights may, no doubt, if violated, give rise to certain rights of
activity: the father may have a right to exact from his children
the obedience they owe him, the person who is attacked may have a
right to defend himself. But in such cases the right of exacting
obedience or of resisting wrong is certainly not identical with
the right of being obeyed or of not being wronged.

It is commonly said that rights have their corresponding duties.
But if this expression is to be used, it must be remembered that
the duty which "corresponds" to a right is, as a matter of fact,
either included in that right or simply identical with it. The
identity between the right {130} and the duty, then, consists in
this, that the notion of a right belonging to a person is
identical with the notion of a duty towards him. Rights and duties
are not identical in the sense that it is always a duty to insist
on a right, though this has been urged. If anybody prevents me
from making use of my right, it may no doubt be deemed a duty on
my part not to tolerate the wrong committed against me, but
nothing of the kind is involved in the concept of a right. And the
same may be said with reference to the assertion that a right to
do a thing is always, at the same time, a duty to do it--an
assertion which is a consequence of the doctrine that there is
nothing morally indifferent and nothing that goes beyond duty; in
other words, that all conduct of responsible beings is either
wrong or obligatory. Even if this doctrine were accepted by our
common moral experience--which it certainly is not--even if there
were a constant coincidence between the acts which a person has a
right to perform and such as it is his duty to perform, that would
not constitute identity between the concepts of "right" and
"duty." According to the meaning of a right, A's right may be B's
duty towards A; but A's right cannot mean A's duty towards B or
anybody else.

Closely connected with the notions of wrongness and rightness are
the notions of _injustice_ and _justice_. Injustice is a kind of
wrongness. To be unjust is always to be unjust to somebody, a
violation of some one's right. Justice is a kind of rightness. It
involves the notion that a duty to somebody, a duty corresponding
to a right in him, is fulfilled;[29] we may say that justice
"demands" that it should be fulfilled. As an act is "right" if its
omission is wrong, so an act is "just" in the strict sense of the
word, {131} if its omission is unjust. But like the adjective
"right," the adjective "just" is also sometimes used in a wider
sense, to denote that something is "not unjust." As non-obligatory
acts that are not wrong can hardly be denied to be right, so
non-obligatory acts that are not unjust can hardly be denied to be
just, although they are not demanded by justice.

[Footnote 29: According to the **_Institutiones_ of Justinian (i.
1. 1), "justice is the constant and perpetual will to render to
each one his right."]

At the same time "injustice" and "justice" are not simply other
names for violating or respecting rights. Whenever we style an act
unjust, we emphasize that it involves partiality. We do not
generally call murder and robbery unjust but wrong or criminal,
because the partiality involved in their commission is quite
obscured by their glaring wrongness or criminality; but we at once
admit their gross injustice when we consider that the murderer and
robber indulged their own inclinations with utter disregard of
their neighbours' rights. On the other hand, we look upon "unjust"
as an exceedingly appropriate term for a judge who condemns an
innocent man with the intention to save the culprit; and we say it
is just or, more emphatically, that justice demands that the
innocent should not suffer in the place of the guilty. When we
style an act "just," in the strict sense of the term, we point out
that an undue preference would have been shown some one by its
omission. It is true, as Adam Smith observes, that "we may often
fulfil all the rules of justice by sitting still and doing
nothing,"[30] and that the man who barely refrains from violating
the person or estate or reputation of his neighbours so far does
justice to them; but in such cases we hardly apply the epithet
"just," simply because there is no reason to emphasize the
partiality of those who act in the contrary manner.

[Footnote 30: Adam Smith, _The Theory of Moral Sentiments_
(London, 1887), p. 117.]

{132} It is the emphasis laid on the duty of impartiality that
gives justice a special prominence in connection with punishments
and rewards. A man's rights depend to a great extent upon his
actions. Other things being equal, the criminal has not the same
rights to inviolability as regards reputation, freedom, property,
or life as the innocent man; the miser and egoist have not the
same rights as the benefactor and the philanthropist. On these
differences in rights due to differences in conduct the terms
"just" and "unjust" lay stress; for in such cases an injustice
would have been committed if the rights had been equal. When we
say of a criminal that he has been "justly" imprisoned, we point
out that he was no victim to undue partiality, as he had forfeited
the general right to freedom on account of his crime. When we say
of a benefactor that he has been "justly" rewarded, we point out
that no favour was partially bestowed upon him in preference to
others, as he had acquired the special right of being rewarded.
But the "justice" of a punishment or a reward, strictly speaking,
involves something more than this; as we have seen, what is
strictly just is always the discharge of a duty corresponding to a
right that would have been in a partial manner disregarded by a
transgression of the duty. If it is just that a person should be
rewarded he ought to be rewarded, and to fulfil this duty is to do
him justice. Again, if it is just that a person should be punished
he ought to be punished, and his not being punished is an
injustice to other persons. It is an injustice towards all those
whose condemnation of the wrong act finds its recognized
expression in the punishment, inasmuch as their rightful claim
that the criminal should be punished, their right of resisting
wrong, is thereby violated in favour of the wrong-doer. Moreover,
his not being punished is an injustice towards other criminals,
who {133} have been, or who will be, punished for similar acts, in
so far as they have a right to demand that no undue preference
should be shown to anybody whose guilt is equal to theirs.
Retributive punishment may admit of a certain latitude as to the
retribution. It may be a matter of small concern from the
community's point of view whether men are fined or imprisoned for
the commission of a certain crime. But justice demands that in
equal circumstances all of them should be punished with the same
severity, since the crime has equally affected their rights.

The emphasis which "injustice" lays on the partiality of a certain
mode of conduct always involves a condemnation of that partiality.
Like every other kind of wrongness, "injustice" is thus a concept
that is obviously based on the emotion of moral disapproval. And
so is the concept of "justice," whether it involves the notion
that an injustice would be committed if a certain duty is not
fulfilled, or is simply used to denote that a certain course of
conduct is "not unjust." But there is yet another sense in which
the word "just" is applied. It may emphasize the impartiality of
an act in a tone of praise. Considering how difficult it may be to
be perfectly impartial and give every man his due, especially when
one's own interests are concerned, it is only natural that men may
be applauded for being just, and, consequently, that to call a
person "just" may be to praise him. So, also, "justice" is used as
the name for a virtue, "the mistress and queen of all
virtues."[31] But all this does not imply that an emotion of moral
approval enters into the _concept_ of "justice." It only means
that one word is used to express a certain concept--a concept
which, as we have seen, ultimately derives its import from moral
disapproval--and in addition an emotion of approval. That the
concept of "justice" by {134} itself has no reference to the
emotion of approval appears from the fact that it is no praise to
say of an act that it is "only just."

[Footnote 31: Cicero, _De officiis_, iii. 6.]

From the concepts springing from moral disapproval we shall pass
to those springing from moral approval. Foremost among these ranks
the concept _good_.

The word "good" is applied to a great variety of objects.[32] The
use made of it is in fact so extensive that it has been supposed
to be essentially a collection of homonyms, such that the set of
things to which it is applied--roughly, those in connection with
which we heard it pronounced in early years, like a good bed, a
good kick, a good baby, a good God--have no common characteristic
at all.[33] Most frequently the concept of goodness has been
considered closely related to desire, pleasure, or satisfaction.
According to Hobbes, a man calls "good" whatever is the object of
his appetite or desire, and "evil" the object of his hate or
aversion.[34] Spinoza said that "we deem a thing to be good
because we strive for it, wish for it, long for it, or desire
it";[35] but also, that we call a thing "good" or "evil" in so far
as we perceive that it affects us with pleasure or pain.[36]
Locke[37] and Hume[38] looked upon aptness to produce pleasure as
the criterion of goodness. According to Bradley, "we may speak of
the good, generally, as that which satisfies desire. It is that
which we approve of, and in which we can rest with a feeling of
{135} contentment. Or we may describe it again, if we please, as
being the same as worth."[39] But whatever all other good things
may have in common, "goodness," in the emphatically moral sense of
the word--and with this alone I am here concerned--has a
characteristic of its own, which makes it widely different from
any other "good":[40] it is a concept rooted in the tendency to
feel the emotion of moral approval, which implies a kindly feeling
towards another individual as a cause of pleasure. This was
clearly perceived by Hutcheson when he wrote that moral goodness
"denotes our idea of some quality apprehended in actions, which
procures approbation, attended with desire of the agent's
happiness."[41] It is a serious defect of modern theories of value
that they so frequently fail to distinguish properly between moral
and other values.

[Footnote 32: _Cf._ W. D. Ross, _The Right and the Good_ (Oxford,
1930), p. 65 _sqq._]

[Footnote 33: C. K. Ogden and I. A. Richards, _The Meaning of
Meaning_ (London, 1927), p. 124_sq._]

[Footnote 34: Hobbes, _op. cit._, i. 6, p. 35.]

[Footnote 35: B. de Spinoza, _Ethica_, iii. prop. 9.]

[Footnote 36: _Ibid._, iv. Prop. 8.]

[Footnote 37: J. Locke, _An Essay concerning Human Understanding_,
ii. 21. 43, vol. i. (Oxford, 1894), p. 340_sq._]

[Footnote 38: D. Hume, _A Treatise of Human Nature_, iii. 1. 2
(Oxford, 1896), p. 472.]

[Footnote 39: F. H. Bradley, _Appearance and Reality_ (London,
1915), p. 402.]

[Footnote 40: Professor Sorley (_op. cit._, p. 120 _sq._)
maintains that "the widespread and unreflective application of
moral predicates--of 'good' and 'bad'--to the operations of mere
things . . . is really a survival of the primitive animism which
attributed to material things a life and mind similar to those of
man." But animism, as we know it, certainly does not attribute
everything which we should call "good" or "bad" to the activity of
volitional or supposed volitional beings, and, generally speaking,
I can see no reason whatever for believing that the terms which
are used both in a moral and in a non-moral sense were originally
expressions for moral qualities only. Language, as already said,
is a rough generalizer.]

[Footnote 41: F. Hutcheson, _An Inquiry into the Original of our
Ideas of Beauty and Virtue_ (London, 1753), p. 105.]

"Good" conduct has often been identified with "right" conduct, but
this identification is not borne out by the actual use of these
terms, which should be our only criterion in fixing their
meaning.[42] A father does right in supporting his children,
inasmuch as he, by doing so, discharges {136} a duty incumbent on
him, but we do not say that he does a good deed by supporting
them, or that it is good of him to do so. Nor do we call it good
of a man to refrain from killing or robbing his neighbour,
although his conduct is so far right. In these cases "good" has an
emphatically moral meaning. If the question were put whether it is
not always good that a person does his duty, nobody would of
course deny that it is good. But then this predicate is used in a
wider sense, not as a term of praise derived from the emotion of
moral approval: we do not express any tendency to experience a
kindly feeling towards a man because he refrains from killing
another. The antithesis between "right" and "wrong" is, in a
certain sense at least, contradictory, the antithesis between
"good" and "bad" is only contrary. Every act--provided that it
falls within the sphere of positive moral valuation--that is not
wrong is right, but every act that is not bad is not necessarily
good. Just as we may say of a thing that it is "not bad" and yet
refuse to call it "good," so we may object to praising the
discharge of a duty as "good," although the opposite course of
conduct would be bad. But at the same time we may also very well
praise a man for an act the omission of which would have incurred
blame. To say of one and the same act that it is "right" and that
it is "good," in the strict moral sense, really means that we
judge of it from different points of view. Since moral praise
expresses a kindly attitude of mind, it is commendable for a man
not to be too niggard in his acknowledgment of other people's
right conduct; whereas, self-praise being objectionable, only the
other point of view is deemed proper when he passes a judgment on
himself. He may say, without incurring censure, "I have done my
duty, I have done what is right," but it would sound too
self-complacent to say, "I have done a good deed," and {137} be
actually obnoxious to say, "I am a good man." The best man even
refuses to be called good by others:--"Why callest thou me good?
there is none good but one, that is, God."[43]

[Footnote 42: That "good" conduct and "right" conduct do not mean
the same thing, which I pointed out in my _Moral Ideas_, has been
recently emphasized by Dr. Ross (_op. cit._, _passim_), although
he could not of course, from his objectivistic point of view,
accept my subjectivistic interpretation of this difference.]

[Footnote 43: _St. Matthew_, xix. 17.]

While "goodness" is the general expression for moral praise, the
word virtue is generally used to denote a disposition of mind that
is characterized by some special kind of goodness. He who is
habitually temperate possesses the virtue of temperance, he who is
habitually brave the virtue of courage, he who is habitually
generous the virtue of generosity. Even when a man is simply said
to be "virtuous," this epithet is given him, more or less
distinctly, with reference to some kind or kinds of goodness
attributed to him: it may mean that he has many virtues, or that
he has much of one. A Supreme Being who is regarded as all-good is
not called virtuous.

Virtue has been said essentially to express effort, resistance,
and conquest. According to Kant it is "the moral disposition in
struggle";[44] according to others it is the harmony won, while
merit is the winning of it.[45] But I do not see that the general
concept of virtue presupposes struggle. A virtue, consisting in
the disposition to will or not to will a certain kind of conduct,
is not even reduced by the fact that no rival impulses make
themselves felt. It is true that by struggle and conquest a man
may display more virtue, namely, the virtue of self-restraint in
addition to the virtue gained by it. The vigorous and successful
contest against temptation constitutes a virtue by itself. For
instance, the quality of mind that is exhibited in a {138}
habitual and victorious effort to subdue strong sexual passions is
a virtue distinguishable from that of chastity, and the latter is
not made greater thereby; he who exercises more self-restraint in
resisting seductive impulses may have more merit, but merit is not
necessarily proportionate to virtue. The virtues are broad
generalizations of mental dispositions that on the whole are
regarded as laudable. Owing to their stereotyped character it
easily happens in individual cases that the possession of a virtue
confers no merit upon the possessor. A man's virtues are no exact
gauge of his general moral worth. In order to form a just opinion
of the value of a person's character we must take into account the
strength of his instinctive desires and the motives of his
conduct; and there are virtues that pay no regard to either. A
sober man who has no taste for intoxicants possesses the virtue of
sobriety in no less degree than a man whose sobriety is the result
of overcoming a strong desire. He who is brave with a view to
being applauded is not inferior in courage to him who faces danger
merely from a feeling of duty. The only thing that the possession
of a virtue presupposes is that it should have been tried and
tested. We cannot say that people unacquainted with intoxicants
have the virtue of sobriety, and that a man who never had anything
to spend distinguishes himself for frugality. To attribute a
virtue to somebody is always to bestow upon him some degree of
praise, and it is not praise, only irony, to say of a man that he
"makes a virtue of necessity."

[Footnote 44: Kant, _Kritik der praktischen Vernunft_, i. 1. 3
(_Gesammelte Schriften_. v. [Berlin, 1913], p. 84; Abbott's
translation, p. 178).]

[Footnote 45: J. Dewey, _The Study of Ethics_ (Ann Arbor, 1897),
p. 133 _sq._ G. Simmel, _Einleitung in die Moralwissenschaft_, i.
(Berlin, 1892), p. 228. _Cf._ Shaftesbury, _Characteristicks_, ii.
(London, 1733), p. 36 _sqq._]

There has been much discussion about the relation between virtue
and duty, and it has been regarded as very complicated. We do not
call it a virtue if a man habitually refrains from killing or
robbing, or pays his debts, or performs a great number of other
duties. We do call temperance and justice virtues, although we
regard it as {139} obligatory on a man to be temperate and just.
We also call hospitality and charity virtues in cases where their
exercise goes beyond the strict limits of duty. It is no wonder
that those who consider the notion of duty incapable of being
analyzed, or who fail to recognize its true import, are
embarrassed by facts like these. But if my analysis of duty and
virtue is correct, the relation between them is simple enough.
That something is a duty implies that the opposite mode of conduct
tends to evoke moral disapproval, that it is a virtue implies that
the disposition to practise it tends to evoke moral approval. If
the virtues actually cover a comparatively large field of the
province of duty, that is due to their being dispositions of mind.
We may praise the habits of justice and gratitude, even though we
find nothing praiseworthy in an isolated just or grateful act.

There has been no less confusion with regard to the relation
between duty and _merit_. Like the notions of goodness and virtue,
the "meritorious" derives its origin from the emotion of moral
approval; but while the former merely express a tendency to give
rise to such an emotion, the "meritorious" implies that the object
to which it refers merits praise, that it has a just claim to
praise, in other words, that it ought to be recognized as good.
This makes the term "meritorious" more emphatic than the term
"good," but at the same time it narrows its province in a peculiar
way. Just as the expression that something ought to be done
implies the idea that it possibly may not be done, so the
statement that something is meritorious, in pointing out its
goodness, implies the idea that this goodness may fail to receive
due recognition. It would be blasphemous to call the acts of a God
who is conceived to be infinitely good "meritorious," since it
would suggest a thinkable limitation of his goodness.

{140} The emphatic claim to praiseworthiness made by the
"meritorious" has led to its identification with the
_superobligatory_. But from what has been said above it is
manifest that they are not identical. As the discharge of a duty
may be praised as a good deed, so it may also be regarded as an
act that ought to be recognized as good. Practically, no doubt,
there is a certain antagonism between duty and merit. We praise,
and especially we regard as deserving praise, only what is above
the average,[46] and we censure what is below it. But although
thus most acts that are deemed meritorious fall outside the
ordinary limits of duty as roughly drawn by the popular mind, we
are on the other hand often disposed to attribute merit to a man
on account of an act which from a strict point of view is his
duty, but a duty that most people in the same circumstances would
have left undischarged. This shows that the antagonism between
duty and merit is not absolute. And in the concept of merit _per
se_ no such antagonism is involved.

[Footnote 46: Merit, as Professor S. Alexander (_Moral Order and
Progress_ [London, 1896], p. 196) says, "expresses the interval
which separates the meritorious from the average."]

But while "meritorious" is not identical with "superobligatory,"
it is obvious that if a course of conduct which is not regarded as
a duty is held to be meritorious, it is _eo ipso_ admitted that a
man can do more than his duty. This is denied both by those who
derive goodness from duty and consider that what is good is what
ought to be done, and by those who derive duty from goodness and
consider that everybody ought to do the best he is able to do.
Duty, which is the minimum of morality in so far as it implies
that the opposite mode of conduct is wrong, is identified with the
supreme moral ideal, which requires the best possible conduct for
its realization. As I have {141} said above, this rigorism is not
supported by our practical moral judgments. It is a mere theory,
which may be traced either to the direct or indirect influence of
Protestant theology with its denial of all works of
supererogation, or to the endeavours of normative moralists to
preach the most elevated kind of morality they can conceive. For
my own part I do not see how such a doctrine could serve any
useful purpose at all. The recognition of a "superobligatory" does
not lower the moral ideal, on the contrary it tends to raise it;
and at the same time it makes it more possible to vindicate the
moral law and administer it more strictly. It is nowadays a
recognized principle in legislation that a law loses much of its
weight if it cannot be enforced. If the realization of the highest
moral ideal is commanded by a moral law, such a law will always
remain a dead letter, and morality will gain nothing. It seems to
me that far above the anxious effort to fulfil the commandments of
duty stands the free and lofty aspiration to live up to an ideal,
which, unattainable as it may be, threatens neither with blame nor
remorse him who fails to reach its summits. Does not experience
show that those whose minds are constantly prepossessed with
thoughts of duty are apt to become inhuman, intolerant, indeed

       *       *      *       *       *

In the earlier part of the book I have tried to show that there
are no moral truths in the ordinary sense of the word, which
attributes objective validity to moral judgments. But if I am
right in my assertion that the moral concepts intrinsically
express a tendency to feel a moral emotion of either approval or
disapproval, it is obvious that a judgment which contains such a
concept may be said to be true if the person who pronounces it
actually has a tendency to feel the emotion in question with
reference {142} to the subject of the judgment. Professor Sorley
argues against me that if a value-judgment lacked that validity it
assumes, the proposition "this is good" could never be either true
or false; "it would only express some peculiar state of mind of
the person making the assertion and would have no possible
validity in itself--would be, indeed, simply an emotion put by
mistake into the form of a proposition."[47] I thought it was
generally recognized that every proposition is either true or
false, and that this must consequently be the case also with the
proposition "this is good," whatever be the meaning of its
predicate. But whether it is true _or_ false just depends on the
meaning given to it. If, as I maintain, the objective validity of
all moral valuation is an illusion, and the proposition "this is
good" is meant to imply such validity, it must always be false. On
the other hand, if "good" expresses a tendency to feel moral
approval, the proposition in question is, as already said, true if
there really is such a tendency with regard to that of which
goodness is predicated, and false if there is no such
tendency--people are often hypocrites in their moral judgments.
The same predicate is thus used in a sense that makes the
proposition always false, and in another sense that makes it
either true or false--just as the proposition "the sun sets" was
always false in those days when everybody believed that it was the
sun and not the earth that moved, but may be either true or false
when its predicate is used in the present sense of the word. As to
the alleged mistake of putting an emotion into the form of a
proposition, it should be noticed that all of us, even normative
moralists, are guilty of similar "mistakes" when we say that
something is fearful, wonderful, hateful, admirable, lovable, or
what not.

[Footnote 47: Sorley, _op. cit._, p. 68.]

Professor Moore has raised other objections to my {143} theory of
the emotional origin of the moral concepts. He argues that if one
person says "this action is wrong," and another says of the very
same action that it is not wrong, and each of them merely makes a
judgment about his own feelings towards it, they are not differing
in opinion about it at all, and, generally speaking, there is
absolutely no such thing as a difference of opinion upon moral
questions. "If two persons think they differ in opinion on a moral
question (and it certainly seems as if they sometimes _think_ so),
they are always, on this view, making a mistake, and a mistake so
gross that it seems hardly possible that they should make it: a
mistake as gross as that which would be involved in thinking that
when you say, 'I did not come from Cambridge to-day' you are
denying what I say when I say 'I did.'" This seems to Professor
Moore to be a very serious objection to my view.[48] But let me
choose another, analogous case, to illustrate the nature of his
argument. One person says, "This food is disagreeable," and
another says of the very same food that it is not disagreeable. We
should undoubtedly assert that they have different opinions about
it. On Professor Moore's view this shows that the two persons do
not merely judge about their feelings but state that the food
really is, or is not, disagreeable, and if they admitted that they
only expressed their own feelings--as they most probably would if
their statements were challenged[49]--and yet thought that they
differed in opinion, they would make a mistake almost too great to
be possible. For my own part I venture to believe that most people
would find it absurd if they _denied_ that they had different
opinions about the food. This follows from the fact that the
subjective experience has been objectivized in {144} the speech as
a quality attributed to the object, and seems the more natural on
account of the ambiguous meaning which the word "opinion" has in
common parlance, where it is used both for a judgment and for the
expression of a feeling.[50] Indeed, in another place Professor
Moore himself admits that "a man's _feelings_ with regard to an
action are not always clearly distinguished from his _opinion_ as
to whether it is right or wrong," and that "one and the same word
is often used, sometimes to express the fact that a man has a
_feeling_ towards an action, and sometimes to express the fact
that he has an _opinion_ about it."[51] It seems to me that this
admission itself is sufficient to deprive his argument of all
evidential value.

[Footnote 48: G. E. Moore, _Philosophical Studies_ (London, 1922),
p. 333 _sq._]

[Footnote 49: _Cf._ H. Sidgwick, _The Methods of Ethics_ (London,
1913), p. 27.]

[Footnote 50: See, _e.g._, H. W. Fowler and F. G. Fowler, _The
Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English_ (Oxford, 1929), p.

[Footnote 51: G. E. Moore, _Ethics_ (London, _s.d._), p. 119.]

Dr. Ross repeats Professor Moore's argument, which he finds
unanswerable, and adds the following one of his own against the
view that identifies goodness with the presence of some feeling:
"If something, without changing its nature, at some moment aroused
for the first time the feeling in some mind, we should clearly
judge not that the object had then first become good, but that its
goodness had then first been apprehended."[52] This is simply
implied in the common sense belief in the objectivity of moral
values, which I have examined before. But it is certainly in
perfect agreement with my theory of moral values that we may judge
an act to have been good before it evoked moral approval in us,
since our tendency to feel this emotion, which constitutes its
goodness, is something quite different from our actual feeling of
it. I agree with Dr. Ross that if, for instance, some one were to
become aware of an act of self-denial and admire it, he might
"pronounce that it had been good even when no one had {145} been
admiring it,"[53] inasmuch as he might attribute to himself a
tendency to admire or, as I should say, approve of it, and
consequently to the object a tendency to arouse in him the emotion
of approval. Such a tendency is exactly on a par with that power
of producing aesthetic enjoyment which, according to Dr. Ross, is
the characteristic of a beautiful object.[54] And I think that if
Professor Moore's objection to my theory of the subjectivity of
moral values were sound, it would also apply to Dr. Ross' view of
beauty. He says that if the same object produces genuine aesthetic
enjoyment in one individual and genuine aesthetic repulsion in
another, the same object is both beautiful and ugly, and that
consequently our ordinary ideas about beauty and ugliness require
revision, since we generally mean by "beautiful" and "ugly"
attributes which cannot belong to the same thing.[55] This is
quite analogous to my view that the same act can be both good and
bad, according as it is approved of by one individual and
disapproved of by another. And in either case we may certainly
{146} say that the two individuals differ in opinion about that on
which they pronounce their judgments. How, then, can Dr. Ross
regard Professor Moore's argument against me as "unanswerable"?

[Footnote 52: Ross, _op. cit._, pp. 11, 82 _sq._]

[Footnote 53: _Ibid._, p. 89.]

[Footnote 54: Dr. Ross (_op. cit._, p. 128) says that "we cannot
judge an object to be beautiful till we think we have been
aesthetically thrilled by it," and that "the judgment, while it is
not a judgment about the judger's state of mind, is one in which,
on the strength of his knowledge of (or opinion about) his state
of mind, he ascribes an attribute to an object. And if we ask
ourselves what is the common attribute belonging to all beautiful
objects, we can, I believe, find none other than the power of
producing the kind of enjoyment known as aesthetic." He admits
that "we do not _mean_ by 'beautiful' an attribute having even this
sort of reference to a mind, but something entirely resident in
the object, apart from relation to a mind"; but suggests that "we
are deceived in thinking that beautiful things have any such
common attribute over and above the power of producing aesthetic
enjoyment." This view of beauty is precisely similar to my view of
moral values, namely, that the moral attributes are ultimately
tendencies to feel either moral approval or disapproval
interpreted as dynamic tendencies in the phenomena that gave rise
to the emotion, and that we are deceived if we think they are
anything else.]

[Footnote 55: _Ibid._, p. 129 _sq._]

The other critical remark that Professor Moore has made on my
theory has also reference to the meaning of words. He says it is
commonly believed that some moral rules exhibit a _higher_
morality than others, and asks what I could mean by saying that
A's morality is higher than B's. He gives himself the answer: I
could only mean that "A's morality is _my_ morality, and B's is
not." There is no inconsistency in this: my denial of objective
moral standards does not prevent my pronouncing moral judgments
which are expressions of my own moral feelings, and whatever terms
I use they have to be interpreted accordingly. "But," he adds, "it
seems to me quite clear that when we say one morality is higher
than another, we do not merely mean that it is our own. We are not
merely asserting that it has a certain relation to our own
feelings."[56] I have no doubt that this is the case with most
people's judgments, but this does not disprove my view that their
assumed objectivity is an illusion. Leslie Stephen says each man
thinks that his own morality is the _right_ morality, and that any
other standard is mistaken.[57] But who could maintain that it is
so, because it is thought to be so?

[Footnote 56: Moore, _Philosophical Studies_, p. 334 _sq._]

[Footnote 57: L. Stephen, _The Science of Ethics_ (London, 1882),
p. 37.]

The word "higher" has also incited Dr. Rashdall to an attack on
me. He says that in one place I have talked about some emotions as
"higher emotions"; but the context in which I did so[58] ought to
have made it quite plain that I attached no moral significance at
all to this expression. {147} He asks why I, on my views, should
assume that "the emotions of the reflective are higher or truer
than those of the unreflective."[59] I have said no such
thing--how could an emotion be "true"? But I have said that the
moral consciousness has developed from unreflective to reflective,
which implies that the moral emotions have come to be more and
more influenced by thought and reasoning.

[Footnote 58: _Moral Ideas_, ii. 744.]

[Footnote 59: H. Rashdall, _Is Conscience an Emotion?_ (London,
1914), p. 123. _Cf._ _Idem_, _The Theory of Good and Evil_, ii.
(London, 1924), p. 413.]

Though all moral judgments are ultimately based on emotions, the
influence that intellectual factors exercise on such judgments is
very great indeed.[60] Emotions are determined by cognitions and
differ in nature or strength according as the cognitions differ.
This has been a very important cause of the variations of moral
judgments: the same course of conduct is differently judged of
because different ideas are held as to its nature or implications.
If a person tells an untruth we are apt to feel indignant; but if,
on due consideration of facts, we find that his motive was
benevolent, for instance, to save the life of the person to whom
the untruth was told, our indignation ceases and may be followed
by approval. A moral judgment may be said to be more enlightened
in proportion as it is influenced by reflection or knowledge, and
the so-called moral evolution largely consists in a gradual
progress in enlightenment. On this subject I shall have much more
to say in the two following chapters.

[Footnote 60: A statement of mine (_op. cit._, i. 20) to the
effect that if it could be brought home to people that there is no
absolute standard in morality they would perhaps be more apt to
listen to the voice of reason, has led Dr. Rashdall (_Is
Conscience an Emotion?_, p. 124 _sq._) to the exclamation, "'The
voice of reason,' forsooth, when the whole chapter is a diatribe
against the notion that Reason has anything to say about conduct."
This inaccuracy is astounding. In that very same chapter I have
said (_op. cit._, i. 10), "The influence of intellectual
considerations upon moral judgments is certainly immense."]

{148} _CHAPTER VI_


The moral emotions are not only at the bottom of the predicates of
moral judgments, but also account for the general nature of their

Moral judgments are commonly said to be passed upon conduct and
character. This is a convenient mode of expression, but needs
explanation. The term "conduct" includes various elements into
which the subjects of moral judgments may be resolved. In the
first place it may be an act, by which I understand an event
together with the intention to produce it. I then maintain that
there can be only one intention in one act, and reject as
confusing such distinctions as that between the immediate and the
remote intentions or the direct and the indirect intentions of an
act, which have been made by some moralists. It has been said, for
instance, that if a nihilist seeks to blow up a train containing
an emperor and others, his direct intention may be simply the
destruction of the emperor, but that he indirectly also intends
the destruction of the others who are in the train, since he is
aware that their destruction will be included along with that of
the emperor.[1] In this case we have two intentions and, if the
nihilist succeeds in realizing them, two acts, namely, the blowing
up of the train and the killing of the emperor; the former of
these acts does not even necessarily involve the latter. But I
fail to see that there is any intention at all to kill other
persons. {149} The nihilist's non-intention in this respect may
not serve as an extenuation of his guilt, but we must not confound
a moral estimate with the psychical fact to which it refers. His
intention to blow up the train involved an extreme disregard of
the fate of those persons, he knowingly exposed them to extreme
danger; and this may have been held as blamable as if he had
intended to kill them.

[Footnote 1: J. S. Mackenzie, _A Manual of Ethics_ (London, 1929),
p. 49. _Cf._ H. Sidgwick, _The Methods of Ethics_ (London, 1913),
p. 202 n.]

More strictly speaking, however, the moral judgments we pronounce
on acts do not really relate to the event but to the intention;
and a moral judgment may refer to a mere intention, independently
of its being realized or not. The event is of moral importance
only in so far as it indicates a decision that is final; "the road
to hell is paved with good intentions." External events are
generally the direct causes of our moral emotions; indeed, without
the _doing_ of harm and the _doing_ of good the moral
consciousness would never have come into existence. Hence the
ineradicable tendency to pass moral judgments upon acts, though
they really refer to the final intentions involved in acts. It
would be both inconvenient and purposeless to deviate, in this
respect, from the established usage. And no misunderstanding can
arise if it is borne in mind that by an "act," as the subject of a
moral judgment, is invariably understood the event _plus_ the
intention which produced it, and that the very same moral judgment
as is pronounced on acts would also, on due reflection, be
recognized as valid with reference to final decisions in cases
where purely accidental circumstances prevented the accomplishment
of the act.

It is in their capacity of volitions that intentions are subjects
of moral judgments. But there are certain other conations that
also may be the objects of moral blame or praise, namely,
deliberate wishes, which have been too little noticed both by
psychologists and moralists. In the {150} realm of conations
decisions and deliberate wishes form a province by themselves by
being, in contrast to mere impulses, expressions of a man's
character or "will."

If moral judgments are passed on intentions and deliberate wishes,
it follows that they may, in many cases, be passed on motives. The
term "motive" has been defined in different ways. It has been
taken to mean an element in deliberation, the selected impulse in
the conflict between various impulses, which normally results in a
volitional action.[2] More frequently, I believe, it is used in a
wider sense. I understand by it the conative cause or reason of an
intention or a deliberate wish, a conation that "moves" the
will.[3] As such it may itself be, or not be, an intention or a
deliberate wish; and if it is, it obviously falls within the
sphere of moral valuation. But it should be noticed that if the
motive of an act is an intention, it must be an intention
belonging to another act. When Brutus helped to kill Caesar in
order to save his country, his intention to save it was the
reason, and therefore the motive, of his intention to kill Caesar.
Some writers have said that the motive of an act is a part of the
intention. But if the intention of an act is a part of the act
itself, and a motive is the cause of an intention, the motive of
an act cannot be a part of its intention, since a part cannot be
the cause of the whole of which it forms a part.

[Footnote 2: R. H. Thouless, _Social Psychology_ (London, 1925),
p. 258.]

[Footnote 3: _Cf._ the _Oxford English Dictionary_, _s. v._

But even motives which, being neither intentions nor deliberate
wishes, are no proper subjects of moral valuation, may
nevertheless indirectly exercise much influence on moral
judgments. One such motive is fear; hence compulsion is also in
the eye of the law a frequent ground of extenuation.[4] Strictly
speaking, a volition can never be {151} compelled into
existence;[5] to act under compulsion really means to act under
the influence of a non-voluntary motive which is so powerful that
every ordinary human will would yield to it. As Aristotle puts it,
pardon is given when "a man has done what he ought not to have
done through fear of things beyond the power of human nature to
endure and such that no man could undergo them. And yet, perhaps,"
he adds, "there are some things which a man must never allow
himself to be compelled to do, but must rather choose death by the
most exquisite torments."[6] There is also what is called
"compulsion by necessity." If a person without permission
gratifies his hunger with food that is not his own, the impulse
which is the motive of his act has by itself no moral value.
Nevertheless it must be taken into account by him who judges of
the act: other things being equal, the person is less guilty in
proportion as his hunger is more intense, and in extreme cases he
may incur no blame at all; and this is likewise recognized by many
laws.[7] So also, if any one commits a crime in a rage he is less
blamable, and punished less severely,[8] than if he commits the
same crime in cold blood; in this case, too, the moral judgment is
modified by the pressure that a mere impulse exercises upon the
agent's will. No man is responsible for such a pressure, unless it
be due to choice or it might have been avoided with due foresight,
and a thoughtful judge can only blame the agent for not having
resisted the impulse, but allowed it to determine his will. In
certain cases of mental disease a morbid impulse may take such a
despotic possession of the patient as to drive him to the
infliction of an injury. {152} He may be dominated by an impulse
to kill somebody which he cannot resist; or he may yield to an
impulse to steal or to set fire to houses or other property,
without having any purpose to serve by what he does or any
ill-feeling against the owner of the property. The deed to which
the patient is driven may be one that he abhors, as when a mother
kills the child whom she loves most. In such cases the agent is
acquitted by an enlightened and scrupulous moral judge, and if he
is condemned by the law of his country and its guardians, the
reason for this can be nothing but ignorance.

[Footnote 4: _Moral Ideas_, i. 284 _sq._]

[Footnote 5: _Cf._ F. H. Bradley, _Ethical Studies_ (Oxford,
1927), p. 44.]

[Footnote 6: Aristotle, _Ethica Nicomachea_, iii. 1. 7 _sq._]

[Footnote 7: _Moral Ideas_, i. 285 _sqq._]

[Footnote 8: _Ibid._, i. 294 _sqq._]

If we more carefully analyze our moral judgments, however, we have
to admit that they are not really passed on intentions or
deliberate wishes in the abstract, but on the persons who have
them: _they_ are held blamable or worthy of praise. And the reason
for this is that the moral emotions are reactionary attitudes
towards living beings. When moral judgments formally refer to
intentions or deliberate wishes they intrinsically refer to
persons on account of them. Such judgments may then include both
the intention of an act and its motive, but they may also have
reference to either of them separately. Many judgments take notice
only of the intention of an act and say nothing about its motive.
This is particularly the case with judgments the predicates of
which express no tendency to feel either approval or disapproval
if the act is performed, such as "right," both as an adjective and
a substantive, and "just." An act is "right" or "just"
independently of its motive; so also what a person has "a right"
to do he may do from any motive whatever, and when his right is a
duty that other persons owe him their motives for fulfilling this
duty are not thought of at all. At the same time we may very well
blame or praise a man on account of his motive when he does an act
that is {153} "right" or "just." If a man saves a fellow creature
from drowning in the hope of being paid for the trouble, it would
be absurd to deny that his act is right, but his motive may
nevertheless be called bad. On the other hand, even if he had done
it in circumstances which exposed him to so great a danger that it
could not be required of him as a duty, we should hardly call his
action good or meritorious, that is, bestow moral praise on a
person for an act the motive of which we disapprove.

If the motive is not considered when an act is called right, it
may seem natural that it should not be considered either when an
act is called wrong. But these cases are not quite analogous. As
long as people do what they ought to do, we have generally no
reason for inquiring into their motives; and when we call their
actions right we neither blame nor praise them. But when we say
that a person has acted wrongly we blame him for his act, and a
conscientious judge would consider it necessary to examine his
motive before condemning him. It has been said that a man is not
necessarily blamable because he has acted wrongly.[9] But this is,
in my opinion, to dissociate the act from the agent in a way which
our moral consciousness cannot easily accept. As already said,
there are cases in which even so stereotyped expressions of moral
feelings as laws pay regard to the motives of acts, and the
tendency of modern criminal law is to do so more and more, just
under the influence of men's moral judgments. It would sound
strange to hear that a person is a criminal if he has been
acquitted by the judge, and it seems scarcely more appropriate to
say that he has acted wrongly if he is {154} free from blame. But
this is a purely formal question of no deeper ethical

[Footnote 9: See, _e.g._, G. E. Moore, _Ethics_, (London, _s.
d._), p. 193; A. C. Ewing, _The Morality of Punishment_ (London,
1929), p. 9; C. D. Broad, "Critical Notice" of Ewing's book in
_Mind_, N. S. xxxix. (London, 1930), p. 348.]

A volition may have reference not only to the doing of a thing,
but to the refraining from doing a thing. It may form part not
only of an act but of a forbearance, and may as such be the
subject of moral judgment no less than the intention involved in
an act. But willing not to do a thing must be distinguished from
not willing to do a thing: forbearances must be distinguished from
omissions. An omission, in the restricted sense of the word, is
characterized by the absence of volition; it is, as Austin put it,
"the not doing a given act, without adverting (at the time) to the
act which is not done."[10] Now moral judgments refer not only to
willing but to not-willing as well, not only to acts and
forbearances but to omissions. It is curious that this important
point has been so little noticed by writers on ethics, although it
constitutes a distinct and frequent fact in our moral judgments.
It has been argued that what is condemned is really a volition,
not the absence of a volition; that an omission is bad, not
because the person did not do something, but because he did
something else, "or was in such a condition that he could not
will, and is condemned for the acts which brought him into that
condition";[11] or that moral blame attaches to him only "in so
far as his carelessness is the result of some wilful neglect of
duty."[12] All this seems to me to be defective analysis. If a
person forgets to discharge a certain duty incumbent upon him,
say, to pay a debt, he is censured {155} not for anything he did,
but for not doing a thing he ought to have done, because he did
not think of it; he is blamed for his forgetfulness. In other
words, his guilt lies in his negligence.

[Footnote 10: J. Austin, _Lectures on Jurisprudence_, i. (London,
1873), p. 438.]

[Footnote 11: S. Alexander, _Moral Order and Progress_ (London,
1896), p. 34 _sq._]

[Footnote 12: Sidgwick, _op. cit._, p. 60. A similar view is taken
by expositors of the moral philosophy of Roman Catholicism (F. A.
Göpfert, _Moraltheologie_, i. [Paderborn, 1899], p. 113).
_Cf._ K. Binding, _Die Normen und ihre Übertretung_, ii.
(Leipzig, 1877), p. 105 _sqq._]

Closely related to negligence is heedlessness; the difference
between them is seemingly greater than it really is. While the
negligent man omits an act that he ought to have done, because he
does not think of it, the heedless man does an act from which he
ought to have forborne, because he does not consider its probable
or possible consequences.[13] In the latter case there is acting,
in the former case there is absence of acting; but in both cases
the moral judgment refers to want of attention, that is, to
not-willing. In rashness, again, the person adverts to the
mischief that his act may cause, but from insufficient advertence
assumes that it will not ensue; his fault is partial want of
attention. Negligence, heedlessness, and rashness, are all
included under the common term "carelessness."

[Footnote 13: In the common use of language the word "negligence"
often stands for heedlessness as well, or for carelessness. I use
it here in the sense in which it was applied by Austin (_op.
cit._, i. 439 _sq._).]

Our moral blame, however, is concerned with not-willing only in so
far as it attributed to a defect of the will, not to the influence
of intellectual or other circumstances for which no man can be
held responsible. That power in a person which is called his
"will" is regarded as a cause, not only of such events as are
intended, but of such events as we think that the person "could"
have prevented by his will. And just as, in the case of volitions,
the guilt of the party is affected by the pressure of
non-voluntary motives, so in the case of carelessness mental facts
falling outside the sphere of the will must be closely considered
{156} by the conscientious judge. But nothing is harder than to
apply this rule in practice.

Equally difficult it is, in many cases, to decide whether a
person's behaviour is due to want of advertence or is combined
with a knowledge of what his behaviour implies, or of the
consequences that may result from it--to decide whether it is due
to carelessness, or to something worse than carelessness. For him
who refrains from performing an obligatory act, though adverting
to it, "negligent" is certainly too mild an epithet, and he who
knows that mischief will probably result from his deed is
certainly worse than heedless. Yet even in such cases the
immediate object of blame may be the absence of a volition--not a
want of attention, but a not-willing to do, or a not-willing to
refrain from doing, an act in spite of advertence to what the act
implies or to its consequences. I may abstain from performing an
obligatory act though I think of it, and yet at the same time make
no resolution not to perform it. So too, if a man is ruining his
family by his drunkenness he may be aware that he is doing so, and
yet he may do it without any volition to that effect. In these
cases the moral blame refers neither to negligence or
heedlessness, nor to any definite volition, but to disregard of
one's duty or of the interests of one's family. At the same time
the transition from conscious omissions to forbearances, and the
transition from not-willing to refrain from doing to willing to
do, are easy and natural; hence the distinction between willing
and not-willing may be of little or no significance from an
ethical point of view. For this reason such consequences of an act
as are foreseen as certain or probable have commonly been included
under the term "intention,"[14] often as a special branch of
intention-- {157} "oblique," or "indirect," or "virtual"
intention;[15] but, as was already noticed, this terminology is
hardly appropriate. I shall call such consequences of an act as
are foreseen by the agent, and such incidents as are known by him
to be involved in his act, "the known concomitants" of the act.
When the nihilist blows up the train containing an emperor and
others, with a view to killing the emperor, the extreme danger to
which he exposes the others is a known concomitant of his act. So,
also, in most crimes, the breach of law, as distinct from the act
intended, is a known concomitant of the act, inasmuch as the
criminal, though aware that his act is illegal, does not perform
it for the purpose of violating the law. As Bacon said, "no man
doth a wrong for the wrong's sake, but thereby to purchase himself
profit, or pleasure, or honour, or the like."[16] On the other
hand, nobody is responsible for such concomitants of his acts as
he could not know. Hence certain classes of agents--animals,
children, idiots, madmen--who are more or less unable to know or
foresee the implications or consequences of their acts are totally
or partially exempted from moral blame as well as legal

[Footnote 14: _Cf._ Sidgwick, _op. cit._, p. 202.]

[Footnote 15: J. Bentham, _An Introduction to the Principles of
Morals and Legislation_ (Oxford, 1879), p. 84. Austin, _op. cit._,
i. 480. E. C. Clark, _An Analysis of Criminal Liability_
(Cambridge, 1880), pp. 97, 100.]

[Footnote 16: Bacon, "Essay IV. Of Revenge," in _Essays_ (London,
1864), p. 59. _Cf._ H. Grotius, _De jure belli et pacis_, ii. 20.
29. 1: "Vix quisquam gratis malus est."]

Absence of volitions, like volitions themselves, gives rise not
only to moral blame, but to moral praise. We may, for instance,
applaud a person for refraining from doing a thing beneficial to
himself but harmful to others, which in similar circumstances
would have proved too great a temptation to any ordinary man; and
it does not necessarily lessen his merit if the opposite
alternative did not {158} even occur to his mind, and his
abstinence, therefore, could not possibly be ascribed to a
volition. Very frequently moral praise refers to known
concomitants of acts rather than to the acts themselves. The merit
of saving another person's life at the risk of one's own really
lies in the fact that the knowledge of the danger did not prevent
the saver from performing his act; and the merit of the charitable
man depends on the loss that he inflicts upon himself by giving
his property to the needy. In these and analogous cases of
self-sacrifice for a good end, the merit, strictly speaking,
consists in not-willing to avoid a known concomitant of a
beneficial act. But there are also instances in which moral praise
is bestowed on a person for not-willing to avoid a known
concomitant which is itself beneficial. Thus it may on certain
conditions be magnanimous of a person not to refrain from doing a
thing, although he knows that his deed will benefit somebody who
has injured him, and towards whom the average man in similar
circumstances would display resentment.

All these various elements into which the subjects of moral
judgments may be resolved, viewed with reference to all such
circumstances as may influence their moral character, are included
in the term "conduct." In order to form an accurate idea of these
circumstances, it is necessary to consider not only the case
itself but the man's character, if by character is understood a
person's will regarded as a continuous entity.[17] The subject of
a moral judgment is, strictly speaking, a person's will conceived
{159} as the cause of his conduct; and since a man's will or
character is a continuity, it is necessary that any judgment
passed upon him in a particular case should take notice of his
will as a whole, his character. We impute a person's conduct to
him only in so far as we regard it as a result or manifestation of
his character, as directly or indirectly due to his will. Hume
observes:--"Actions are, by their very nature, temporary and
perishing; and where they proceed not from some _cause_ in the
character and disposition of the person who performed them, they
can neither redound to his honour, if good; nor infamy, if
evil. . . . The person is not answerable for them."[18] There is
thus an intimate connection between character and conduct as
subjects of moral valuation. When judging of a man's conduct in
a special instance, we judge of his character, and when judging
of his character we judge of his conduct in general.

[Footnote 17: _Cf._ Alexander, _op. cit._, p. 49: "Character is
simply that of which individual pieces of conduct are the
manifestation"; W. McDougall, _An Outline of Psychology_ (London,
1926), p. 442: "'The Will' is character in action"; M. Scheler,
_Der Formalismus in der Ethik_ (Halle a. d. S., 1927), p. 504:
"Der Character ist ja weiter nichts als das hypothetische mehr
oder weniger konstante X, das wir setzen, um uns einzelne
beobachtete Handlungen einer Person zu erklären." To the word
character has also been given a broader meaning.]

[Footnote 18: D. Hume, _An Enquiry concerning Human
Understanding_, viii. 2. 76 (Oxford, 1902, p. 98). _Cf._ _Idem_,
_A Treatise of Human Nature_, ii. 3. 2 (Oxford, 1896), p. 411. See
also A. Schopenhauer, _Die Freiheit des Willens_, 5
(_Sämmtliche Werke_, iv.^2 [Leipzig, 1916], p. 93 _sq._);
_Idem_, _Die Grundlage der Moral_, § 20 (_ibid._, p. 257).]

It is sometimes said that moral judgments are also passed on
emotions; but I think this implies a misunderstanding of what is
actually judged of. A person who feels resentment may be a proper
object of moral disapproval, not on account of the resentful
impulse as such, but because it has been allowed to develop either
into an intention or into a deliberate wish to make the other
person suffer or, at any rate, into a wish that he shall have to
suffer; and the word resentment may be vaguely used in all these
cases. Envy may be condemned in so far as it contains, not merely
a wish to be as fortunate as the man towards whom it is felt--the
word is often rather playfully used in this sense--but a wish that
he should {160} not be so fortunate. The commandment, "Love your
enemies," may imply something more than the next commandment, "Do
good to them that hate you,"[19] it may enjoin you to try to check
your anger; but it cannot reasonably make it an obligation for you
to have a tender feeling towards your enemy. As Kant said, "love,
as an affection, cannot be commanded,"[20] and the reason for this
is that it cannot be produced by any effort of will. Professor
Moore, who maintains that there is a large class of moral rules
that are concerned with our "feelings, thoughts and desires,"
mentions as an instance of this kind of rule the tenth
commandment, "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house," etc.;
yet he admits himself that although I cannot by any single act of
will directly prevent from arising in my mind a desire for
something that belongs to some one else, I might by my will
prevent its continuance "by forcing myself to attend to other
considerations which may extinguish the desire."[21] But what
about the censure we pass on a person who rejoices at the
misfortune of another? Dr. Broad calls this joy a wrong emotion,
the feeling of which is an "emotional moral defect";[22] but I do
not think that even this case gives support to his general view
that emotions are right and wrong in exactly the same sense as
actions are.[23] It is true that the joy which is the direct cause
of our censure contains neither an intention nor a deliberate
wish; {161} but it is an indication of a malicious disposition of
will, and it is for this reason we blame the person who feels it.
If he joyfully contemplates the misfortune which befalls another
it may be assumed that he in other circumstances would wish him to
suffer; Kant called this emotion "ein geheimer Menschenhass."[24]
So also the absence of an emotion may, when viewed as a symptom,
give rise to, and be the apparent object of, a moral judgment. We
are apt to blame a man whose feelings are not affected by the news
of some evil that has befallen his friend, because we regard this
as a sign of an uncharitable character.

[Footnote 19: _St. Luke_, vi. 27.]

[Footnote 20: Kant, _Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten_, sec.
i. (_Gesammelte Schriften_, iv. [Berlin, 1911], p. 399; Abbott's
translation in _Kant's Critique of Practical Reason and other
Works on the Theory of Ethics_ [London, 1898], p. 15). See also
Kant, _Idem_, _Einleitung zur Tugendlehre_, 11 (_Gesammelte
Schriften_, vi. [Berlin, 1914], p. 401; Abbott, p. 312).]

[Footnote 21: G. E. Moore, _Philosophical Studies_ (London, 1922),
p. 315_sq._]

[Footnote 22: C. D. Broad, "Analysis of some Ethical Concepts," in
_Journal of Philosophical Studies_, iii. (London, 1928), pp. 296,

[Footnote 23: _Ibid._, p. 297.]

[Footnote 24: Kant, _Metaphysische Anfangungsgründe der
Tugendlehre_, § 36 (_Gesammelte Schriften_, vi. [Berlin,
1914], p. 460).]

Few things are more liable to arouse people's indignation than
opinions that differ from their own, and when the disagreement is
about morals or religion, the indignation may certainly have a
claim to the epithet righteous. Even philosophical theories, like
egoistic hedonism and ethical subjectivism, do not escape the
charge of immorality. But when an opinion as such is morally
condemned it can hardly mean anything else than a condemnation of
its realization in practice, or of the consequences to which it is
supposed to lead; and it may therefore be considered wrong to
pronounce or propagate it. At the same time a person who holds a
certain opinion, say an atheist, may be supposed to lack the
indispensable requirement for a good life; and the very holding of
it may be an object of moral disapproval as an assumed effect of
the will--there is a will to believe. That a certain belief, or
"unbelief," is never by itself a sufficient ground for condemning
the person who has it is recognized both by Catholic and
Protestant theology. Thomas Aquinas points out that the _sin_ of
unbelief consists in "contrary opposition to the {162} faith,
whereby one stands out against the hearing of the faith, or even
despises faith," and that, though such unbelief itself is in the
intellect, the cause of it is in the will. And he adds that in
those who have heard nothing of the faith, unbelief has not the
character of a sin, "but rather of a penalty, inasmuch as such
ignorance of divine things is a consequence of the sin of our
first parent."[25] Dr. Wardlaw likewise observes:--"Ignorance is
criminal only when it arises from wilful inattention, or from
aversion of heart to truth. Unbelief involves guilt, when it is
the effect and manifestation of the same aversion--of a want of
will to that which is right and good."[26]--To shut one's eyes to
truth may be a great wrong, but nobody is blamable for seeing
nothing with his eyes shut.

[Footnote 25: Thomas Aquinas, _Summa Theologica_, ii.-ii. 10. 1

[Footnote 26: R. Wardlaw, _Four Sermons: Two on Man's
Accountability for his Belief, &c._ (Glasgow, 1830), p. 38.]

       *       *      *       *       *

However obvious it may be that the moral consciousness, when
sufficiently influenced by reflection, intrinsically bestows its
blame and praise upon the will alone, we must not, of course,
assume that moral judgments always and necessarily relate to the
will. Let us briefly consider what light early custom, law, and
belief may throw on this subject.[27] That custom is a moral rule,
and originally the only moral rule, has been pointed out above,
and ancient customs are at the foundation of early law-books, in
which they were expressly formulated and enforced by a more
definite sanction. It is true that while such laws express moral
ideas prevalent at the time they are established, they are not,
though still in existence, necessarily faithful representatives of
the ideas of a later age; for the legal {163} form gives the
ancient custom such fixity that it may be able to survive, as a
law, the change of public opinion and the introduction of a new
custom. It may also be said that a law, being a general and at the
same time strictly defined rule of conduct, cannot make special
provision for every case and therefore may fail to satisfy public
feelings in particular instances. But these facts do not affect
the general conclusions we may arrive at.

[Footnote 27: I have discussed this subject much more fully in my
_Moral Ideas_, vol. i. chs. ix.-xii., which also give the
authorities for the facts quoted in the present chapter.]

We notice that at the lower stages of civilization there is a
considerable lack of discrimination between intentional injuries
and accidental ones, in other words, that moral judgments are
largely influenced by external events involved in, or resulting
from, the conduct of men. The customs of some savage peoples are
said to make no distinction at all between those two kinds of
harm, and other savages impute at least a certain degree of guilt
to persons who in our opinion are perfectly innocent. Nay, even
among peoples who have reached a higher level of culture innocent
persons are often punished by law for bringing about events
without any fault of theirs. Instances of this are found in the
laws of the Chinese and the ancient Babylonians, Hebrews, Hindus,
and Teutons. In historic times Teutonic peoples treated
intentional homicide as worse than unintentional, but even the
involuntary manslayer had to pay __wer__ to the family of the dead
man, and the _wer_ to be paid was not merely compensation for the
loss sustained but it was punishment as well. And the character of
criminality attached to accidental homicide survived the system of
_wer_. When homicide became a capital offence, homicide by
misadventure was included in the law. It is true that the
involuntary manslayer was not executed but recommended to the
mercy of the prince, and subsequently, when he no longer was in
need of mercy, he nevertheless continued to be treated as a
criminal {164} by the law of England. He was punished with
forfeiture of his goods; and according to the rigour of the law
such forfeiture might have been exacted as late as the year 1828,
when the law was finally abolished after having fallen into
desuetude in the course of the previous century.

If men at the earlier stages of civilization generally attach
undue importance to the outward aspect of conduct, the same is
still more the case with their gods. According to the Vedic hymns,
whoever with or without intention offends against the eternal
ordinances of Varuna, the All-knowing and Sinless, arouses his
anger and is bound with the bonds of the god--with calamity,
sickness, or death. In the Greek literature there are several
cases of guilt incurred by the accidental transgression of some
sacred law, the transgressor being perfectly unaware of the nature
of his deed. The Hebrew psalmist cries out, "Who can understand
his errors? Cleanse thou me from secret faults." Unintentional
error, Mr. Montefiore observes, would be as liable to incur divine
punishment as the most voluntary crime, if it infringed the
tolerably wide province in which the right or sanctity of Yahveh
was involved. The rabbis maintained that a false oath, even if
made unconsciously, involves man in sin and is punished as such;
and we meet with a similar opinion in mediaeval Christianity,
where various penitentials condemned to penance a person who, in
giving evidence, swore to the best of his belief, in case his
statement afterwards proved untrue. In other instances, also,
penances were prescribed for mere misfortune; thus, if a person
killed another by pure accident he had to do penance for one or
several years--if he accidentally killed his father or mother he
might have to do so even for fifteen years. The Scotists expressly
declared that the external deed has {165} a moral value of its
own, which increases the goodness or badness of the agent's
intention; and though this doctrine was opposed by Thomas Aquinas,
Bonaventura, and other leading theologians, it was nevertheless
admitted by them that, according to the will of God, certain
external deeds entail a certain accidental reward, the so-called

How shall we explain all these facts? Do they faithfully represent
ideas of moral responsibility? Do they indicate that, at the
earlier stages of civilization, the outward event as such,
irrespectively of the will of the agent, is an object of blame?

Most of the statements that imply a perfect absence of
discrimination between accident and intention refer to the system
of private redress. While this system is more or less regulated by
custom and does not allow the injured party or his kin to treat
the offender just as they please, it nevertheless makes
considerable allowance for their personal feelings, and these
feelings are apt to be neither impartial nor sufficiently

In the case of accidental homicide, deference may also have to be
shown for the supposed feelings of the dead man's ghost, who angry
and bloodless is craving for revenge and thirsting for blood, and
ready to persecute his own family if they leave his desires
ungratified. At the same time he also attacks the manslayer and
cleaves to him like a miasma. The manslayer is consequently
regarded as unclean, and has both for his own sake and for the
sake of the community in which he lives to undergo some ceremony
of purification in order to rid himself of the dangerous and
infectious pollution; and this is the case whether the shedding of
blood was intentional or accidental. Now, though this state of
uncleanness does not intrinsically involve guilt, there can be no
doubt that {166} in various cases the polluting effect attributed
to manslaughter has influenced the moral judgment of the act; the
inconvenient restrictions laid on the tabooed manslayer easily
come to be looked upon in the light of a punishment and the rites
of purification as a means of removing guilt. Moreover, the notion
of a persecuting ghost may be replaced by the notion of an
avenging god; it is a fact of common occurrence that the doings or
functions of one mysterious being are transferred to another. And
what particularly helps to explain the attitude of religion
towards unintentional and unforeseen shedding of human blood is
the widespread idea that the infection of uncleanness is shunned
by gods even more than it is by men.

There are other, more general reasons for the want of
discrimination often displayed by religion in regard to the
accidental transgression of a religious law. When a thing is taboo
it is supposed to be charged with mysterious energy that will
injure or destroy the person who comes into contact with the
forbidden thing, whether he does so wilfully or by mistake. So
also, according to primitive notions, the effect of a curse or an
oath is purely mechanical; hence a person who swears falsely in
ignorance exposes himself to no less danger than a person who
perjures himself knowingly. Again, as regards religious offences
in the strictest sense of the term--that is, offences against some
god that are supposed to arouse his resentment--it should be
remembered that, just as a man who is hurt is unable to judge the
matter as coolly as does the community at large, so a god whose
ordinances are transgressed is thought to be less discriminating
in his anger than a disinterested human judge, and consequently
more apt to be influenced by the external event. There are thus
various reasons why, in the point that we are discussing, {167}
the religious beliefs of a people do not faithfully represent
their general notions of moral responsibility.

But though the grossest want of discrimination may be explained
from revengeful feelings and superstitious beliefs, there still
remain a multitude of cases that must be regarded as genuine
expressions of moral disapproval. As to these it should, first, be
remembered that the reflecting moral consciousness also may hold a
person blamable for the unintentional and unforeseen infliction of
an injury, namely, in cases where it assumes want of proper
foresight. Now, as we know, it is often difficult enough to
discern whether, or to what extent, an unintended injury is due to
carelessness on the part of the agent; sometimes it is no easy
thing to tell whether an injury was intended or not. It is not to
be expected, then, that distinctions of so subtle a nature should
be properly made by the uncultured mind, and least of all is it to
be expected that such distinctions should be embodied in early
custom and law, which are based on average cases and allow of no
minute individualization. It has been observed that the roughness
of Teutonic justice may be partly explained from the difficulty of
getting any proof of intention or of its absence, from the lack of
any proper distinctions between misadventure and carelessness, and
from the fact that the so-called misadventures of early times
covered many a blameworthy act. But, most important of all, the
unreflecting mind is shocked by the harm done, and cares little
for the rest. It does not press the question whether the harm was
caused by the agent's will or not. It does not make any serious
attempt to separate the external event from the will, and is
inclined to assume that there is a coincidence between the two.
This is the main reason for the indiscriminate attitude of early
custom and law towards accidental injuries. It does not imply any
difference {168} in principle between the enlightened and
unenlightened moral consciousness as regards the subject of moral

This becomes quite obvious when we consider what a great influence
the outward event exercises upon moral estimates even among
ourselves. "The world judges by the event, and not by the design,"
says Adam Smith. "Every body agrees to the general maxim, that as
the event does not depend on the agent, it ought to have no
influence upon our sentiments, with regard to the merit or
propriety of his conduct. But when we come to particulars, we find
that our sentiments are scarce in any one instance exactly
conformable to what this equitable maxim would direct."[28] If,
however, it is clearly realized that a certain event is the result
of merely external circumstances, that it was neither intended by
the agent nor could have been foreseen by him, in other words,
that it is absolutely unconnected with any defect of will, then
there could be no moral disapproval at all. Such an event could
not even call forth a feeling of revenge. Sudden anger itself
cools down when it appears that the cause of the inflicted pain
was a mere accident. Even a dog distinguishes between being
stumbled over and being kicked.

[Footnote 28: Adam Smith, _The Theory of Moral Sentiments_
(London, 1887), p. 152.]

Morally equivalent to accidental injuries is harm caused by agents
who on account of their intellectual inferiority are unable to
know the implications or consequences of their acts, such as
animals, little children, idiots, and madmen. Yet however
irresponsible they appear to us, they are not always recognized to
be so. At lower stages of civilization animals may be treated as
responsible agents. The custom of avenging the violent death of a
{169} relative is often extended to cases in which the slayer was
an animal, and animals are even exposed to regular punishment. In
various European countries they have been judicially sentenced to
death and publicly executed in retribution for injuries inflicted
by them. Advocates were assigned to defend the accused animals,
and the whole proceedings, trial, sentence, and execution, were
conducted with all the strictest formalities of justice. These
proceedings seem to have been particularly common from the end of
the thirteenth till the seventeenth century; the last case in
France occurred as late as 1845. It seems to me probable that this
practice of punishing animals after human fashion had developed
from the earlier European custom of giving up a beast who had done
some serious damage, especially if it had caused the death of a
man, to the injured party or his family that it might be
retaliated upon. And the reason for punishing the animal seems
simple enough: the animal was regarded as responsible for its
deed. In early records the punishment is frequently spoken of as
an act of "justice," and from various details we can also see how
closely the responsibility ascribed to animals resembled the
responsibility of men. A distinction was made between a
mischievous dog that entered a room through an open door and one
that committed a burglary. The repetition of a crime aggravated
the punishment. The animal "principal" was punished more severely
than the "accessories"; and, as in the case of men so in the case
of animals, youth was a ground for acquittal. Once when a sow and
her six young ones were tried on a charge of their having murdered
and partly eaten a child, the sow was condemned to death, whereas
the young pigs were acquitted on account of their youth and the
bad example of their mother. The practice of punishing animals
seems less surprising when we consider {170} that even among
ourselves the dog who steals or the horse who kicks arouses a
feeling of resentment that almost claims to be righteous. And in
earlier times beasts were frequently looked upon as more or less
rational beings. In the sixteenth century Benoit wrote that
animals often speak. In the middle of the following century
Hieronymus Rorarius published a book to prove that animals make
better use of their reason than men.

The total or partial irresponsibility of childhood has only been
recognized more fully along with a deeper insight into the true
nature of the child. According to early custom children who have
committed an injury are sometimes retaliated upon; and in English
records from the eighteenth century we read of a girl of thirteen
who was burned for killing her mistress, and of a boy of eight who
was hanged for arson. The irresponsibility of the insane has been
slowly recognized in European legislation. Many of them were
burned as witches or heretics, others were treated as ordinary
criminals. A lunatic was a hateful individual because he was
supposed to have the devil in him, or because his affliction was
regarded as the visitation of God upon heresy or sin. But to
explain the forensic attitude towards insanity it should also be
noticed that its mental characteristics have been so little
understood that many demented persons have been treated as if they
were sane because they were thought to be sane, and that others,
though recognized as labouring under insane delusions, have been
treated as responsible because they were thought to be sane in
other respects.

Considering how little regard is paid to motives in our own laws,
we must not expect much notice to be taken of them by early law
and custom. Yet we find there cases in which theft committed under
stress of great hunger is left unpunished; and the difference
between an injury which {171} a person inflicts deliberately, in
cold blood, and one which he inflicts in the heat of the moment,
under the disturbance of great excitement caused by a wrong done
to himself, is widely recognized. Even savages of so low a type as
the Australian natives are said to distinguish between murder and

It has often been noticed that in early moral codes the so-called
negative commandments, which tell people what they ought not to
do, are much more prominent than the positive commandments, which
tell them what they ought to do. The main reason for this is that
negative commandments spring from the disapproval of acts, whereas
positive commandments spring from the disapproval of forbearances
or omissions, and that the indignation of men is much more easily
aroused by action than by the absence of it. A person who commits
a harmful deed is a more obvious cause of pain than a person who
causes harm by doing nothing, and this naturally affects the guilt
in the eyes of the multitude. The more scrutinizing the moral
consciousness, the greater the importance which it attaches to
positive commandments. This is well illustrated by a comparison
between Old and New Testament morality: the old legal formula
began "thou shalt not," the new begins, "thou shalt." Yet to say
that the new morality involved the discovery of "a new continent
in the moral globe,"[29] is an obvious exaggeration. The customs
of all nations contain not only prohibitions, but positive
injunctions as well. To be generous to friends, charitable to the
needy, hospitable to strangers, are rules that may be traced back
to the lowest stages of savagery known to us. The difference in
question is only one of degree.

[Footnote 29: J. R. Seeley, _Ecce Homo_ (London, 1892), p. 179.]

That moral indignation and moral approval are from the very
beginning felt, not with reference to certain {172} modes of
conduct in the abstract, but with reference to persons on account
of their conduct, is obvious from the intrinsic nature of those
emotions. The more a moral judgment is influenced by reflection,
the more it scrutinizes the character that manifests itself in
that individual piece of conduct by which the judgment is
occasioned; but however superficial it be, it intrinsically refers
to a will conceived of as a continuous entity, to a person
regarded as a cause of pleasure or pain. This holds true of savage
and civilized men alike. Even tame animals, in response to a hurt
or a benefit, behave differently towards different persons
according to their previous experience of the agent.

       *       *      *       *       *

After what has been said above the answer to the all-important
question, so frequently ignored by writers on ethics, why moral
judgments are passed on conduct and character is not far to seek.
These judgments spring from moral emotions. The moral emotions are
retributive emotions. A retributive emotion is a reactive attitude
of mind, either hostile or kindly, towards a living being (or
something taken for a living being), regarded as a cause of pain
or pleasure. And a living being is, on due reflection, regarded as
a true cause of pain or pleasure only in so far as this feeling is
assumed to be caused by its will. The correctness of this
explanation I consider to be proved by the fact that not only
moral emotions, but also non-moral retributive emotions when
sufficiently deliberate, are felt towards objects that are exactly
similar in nature to those on which moral judgments are passed.
This coincidence cannot possibly be accidental: it must have its
ground in the retributive character of the emotions which are at
the bottom of all moral valuation.

Like moral indignation, deliberate non-moral resentment {173} can
be felt only towards a living being, or towards something which is
taken for a living being. We may be angry with inanimate things
for a moment, but our anger disappears as soon as we reflect that
the thing which gave rise to it is neither volitional nor
sensitive. Even a dog who, in playing with another dog, hurts
himself by running into a tree, changes his angry attitude
immediately he notices what gave him pain.[30]

[Footnote 30: H. M. Stanley, _Studies in the Evolutionary
Psychology of Feeling_ (London, 1895), p. 154_sq._]

Very similar to injuries resulting from inanimate things are
injuries resulting accidentally from animate beings. If my arm or
my foot gives a push to my neighbour, and he is convinced that the
push was neither intended nor foreseen nor due to any carelessness
whatever on my part, surely he cannot feel angry with me. My
neighbour makes a distinction between a part of my body and myself
as a volitional being, and finds that _I_ am no proper object of
resentment when the cause of the hurt was merely my arm or my
foot. An event is attributed to me as its cause only if it is
considered to be connected in some way or other with my will; and
_I_, regarded as a volitional and sentient entity, can be a
proper object of resentment only as a cause of pain. As said
before, even a dog distinguishes between being stumbled over and
being kicked, and the reason for this is that the dog scents an
enemy in the person who kicks him, but not in the one who
stumbles. We are told of some Kafirs that they expect a similar
discrimination from the elephant; for if an elephant is killed
"they seek to exculpate themselves towards the dead animal, by
declaring to him solemnly, that the thing happened entirely by
accident, not by design."[31]

[Footnote 31: H. Lichtenstein, _Travels in Southern Africa_, i.
(London, 1812), p. 254.]

{174} We can hardly feel disposed to resent injuries inflicted
upon us by animals, little children, or madmen when we clearly
recognize their inability to judge of the nature of their acts.
"Why," says the Stoic, "do you bear with the delirium of a sick
man, or the ravings of a madman, or the impudent blows of a child?
Because, of course, they evidently do not know what they are
doing. . . . Would any one think himself to be in his perfect mind
if he were to return kicks to a mule or bites to a dog?"[32]
Hartley observes, "As we improve in observation and experience,
and in the faculty of analyzing the actions of animals, we
perceive that brutes and children, and even adults in certain
circumstances, have little or no share in the actions referred to

[Footnote 32: Seneca, _De ira_, iii. 26 _sq._]

[Footnote 33: D. Hartley, _Observations on Man_, i. (London,
1810), p. 493.]

Non-moral resentment, when sufficiently deliberate,
considers motives of acts. If a man tells us an untruth, our
feelings towards him are not the same if he did it in order to
save our life as if he did it for his own benefit. Moreover, our
anger abates, or ceases altogether, if we find that he who injured
us acted under compulsion,[34] or under the influence of a sudden
impulse, too strong for any ordinary man to resist. Then, the main
cause of the injury was not his will, conceived as a continuous
entity. It yielded to the will of somebody else, reluctantly, as
it were, or to a powerful conation which formed no part of his
real self. He was merely an instrument in another's hand, or he
was "beside himself," "beyond himself," "out of his mind." When we
are angry, says Montaigne, "it is passion that speaks, and not
we."[35] So also, what a person does in madness is not an act
committed by _him_:
 "Was 't Hamlet wrong'd Laertes? Never Hamlet:
  If Hamlet from himself be ta'en away,
  And when he's not himself does wrong Laertes,
  Then Hamlet does it not, Hamlet denies it.
  Who does it, then? His madness: if 't be so,
  Hamlet is of the faction that is wrong'd;
  His madness is poor Hamlet's enemy."[36]

[Footnote 34: _Cf._ Seneca, _op. cit._, ii. 30: "Who but an unjust
person can be angry with what is done under compulsion?"]

[Footnote 35: M. de Montaigne, _Essais_, ii. 31 (_[OE]uvres_
[Paris, 1837], p. 396).]

[Footnote 36: Shakespeare, _Hamlet_, v. 2.]

We resent not only acts and volitions, but also omissions, though
generally less severely; and when a hurt is attributed to want of
foresight, our resentment is, _ceteris paribus_, proportionate to
the degree of carelessness which we lay to the offender's charge.
The less foresight could have been expected in a given case, the
smaller share has the will in the production of the event. Like
moral disapproval, non-moral resentment is not indifferent to the
character of the injurer. It reaches its height when he is found
to nourish habitual ill-will towards the injured party; while the
latter is not deaf to the prayer for forgiveness that springs from
genuine repentance.

Passing to the emotion of gratitude, we find a similar resemblance
between the facts that give rise to this emotion and those which
are objects of moral praise. We may feel some kind of retributive
affection for inanimate objects that have given us pleasure: "a
man grows fond of a snuff-box, of a pen-knife, of a staff which he
has long made use of, and conceives something like a real love and
affection for them."[37] But gratitude, involving a desire to
please the benefactor, can reasonably be felt towards such objects
only as are themselves capable of feeling pleasure. On due
deliberation we do not feel grateful to a person who does good to
us by pure accident: since gratitude is directed towards the
assumed cause of {176} pleasure and a person is regarded as a
cause only in his capacity as a volitional being, gratitude
presupposes that the pleasure shall be due to his will. For the
same reason motives are taken into consideration by the benefited
party. As Hutcheson observes, "bounty from a donor apprehended as
morally evil, or extorted by force, or conferr'd with some view of
self-interest, will not procure real good-will; nay, it may raise

[Footnote 37: Adam Smith, _op. cit._, p. 136.]

[Footnote 38: F. Hutcheson, _An Inquiry into the Original of our
Ideas of Beauty and Virtue_ (London, 1753), p. 157.]

The objects towards which non-moral resentment and gratitude are
felt are thus in their general nature precisely similar to those
which are the subjects of moral judgments. This seems to me
definitely to solve a problem which necessarily baffles solution
in the hands of those who fail to recognize that moral judgments
are based on emotions of a retributive character. It has been
argued, for instance, that moral praise and blame are not applied
to inanimate things and those who commit involuntary deeds,
because they are administered only "where they are capable of
producing some effect";[39] that moral judgment is concerned with
the question of compulsion, because "only when a man acts morally
of his own free will is society sure of him";[40] that we do not
regard a lunatic as responsible, because we know that "his mind is
so diseased that it is impossible by moral reprobation alone to
change his character so that it may be subsequently relied
upon."[41] The bestowal of moral praise or blame on a person is
thus attributed to utilitarian calculation.[42] So consistently
did James Mill apply his theory, that their purpose is the
encouragement of right conduct {177} and the discouragement of
wrong,[43] that, as his son tells us, he refused to let his praise
or blame be influenced by the motive of the agent: "he blamed as
severely what he thought a bad action, when the motive was a
feeling of duty, as if the agents had been consciously evil
doers."[44] But, as Stuart Mill observes (though he never seems to
have realized the full import of his objection), while we may
administer praise and blame with the express design of influencing
conduct, "no anticipation of salutary effects from our feeling
will ever avail to give us the feeling itself."[45]

[Footnote 39: James Mill, _A Fragment on Mackintosh_ (London,
1835), p. 370.]

[Footnote 40: Th. Ziegler, _Social Ethics_ (London, 1892), p. 56

[Footnote 41: W. K. Clifford, _Lectures and Essays_ (London,
1886), p. 296.]

[Footnote 42: See also James Mill, _op. cit._, pp. 261, 262, 375.]

[Footnote 43: A theory which seems to be shared by Sidgwick (_op.
cit._, p. 428) and Professor Moore (_Ethics_ [London, _s. d._],
pp. 188, 189, 193).]

[Footnote 44: J. S. Mill, _Autobiography_ (London, 1873), p. 49

[Footnote 45: _Idem_, in a note to James Mill's _Analysis of the
Phenomena of the Human Mind_, ii. (London, 1869), p. 323.]

But it is not only with reference to their general nature that
there is a coincidence between the subjects of moral judgments and
the facts which are apt to give rise to retributive emotions: a
detailed inquiry into the moral valuation of the particular modes
of conduct shows its obvious connection with the retributive
character of the moral emotions. The largest portion of my book on
_The Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas_ has been devoted
to such an inquiry, and its result is to my mind the most
conclusive proof possible of my theory of the emotional origin of
moral judgments. I do not know that any other theory on their
origin, whatever arguments have been adduced in support of it, has
been subjected to an equally comprehensive test.

       *       *      *       *       *

When we more closely scrutinize the fact that the subject of a
moral judgment is, strictly speaking, a person's will or character
as the cause of his conduct, we notice that the question how his
character has become what it {178} is, though generally not raised
at all, has something to do with the thoroughness of the judgment.
I think most people would admit that a licentious man who has
grown up in corrupt surroundings is less blamable than an equally
licentious man who has always lived under conditions favourable to
virtue, and that a pickpocket who was kidnapped as a child by a
band of pickpockets and trained to the profession should be looked
upon with some indulgence. It may of course be said that though
the person's conduct is largely due to the influence of external
circumstances upon his character, this influence was not
irresistible, that he might have overcome it by an effort of will,
and that consequently he is not free from blame; but in any case
the influences of environment and the circumstances of upbringing
are not irrelevant to the degree of his guilt. We do make a
distinction between the original and the acquired character,
however impossible it is in practice to draw a hard and fast line
between the two. As Leslie Stephen observes, there is in the whole
of our lives a constant action and reaction between the external
and internal conditions, and "we cannot disentangle them into two
separate series of events, any more than we can say whether
breathing depends more upon the air or the lungs."[46] But I
cannot agree with Professor Field when he calls it a mere
prejudice to say that it would be unfair to condemn a man for
things which are the result of external circumstances over which
he had no control.[47] We do exempt a man from blame if we know
that he acts under compulsion and hold the compulsion {179}
irresistible for any ordinary man. No doubt, we should consider it
overscrupulous to refrain from pronouncing a moral judgment on a
person because we do not know or cannot know, how far his
character is due to education or environment and how far it is
not, but we have nevertheless to admit that our judgment might be
different if we had such knowledge. In the very strictest sense of
the term, the proper subject of moral judgment is the innate
character,[48] and any succeeding change a person's character
undergoes is imputable to _him_ only in so far as it is caused by
the character with which he was born.

[Footnote 46: L. Stephen, _The Science of Ethics_ (London, 1882),
p. 284.]

[Footnote 47: G. C. Field, _Moral Theory_ (London, 1921), p. 171
_sq._ A similar view has been expressed by F. E. Beneke
(_Grundlinien des natürlichen Systemes der praktischen
Philosophie_, i. [Berlin, Posen & Bromberg, 1837], p. 533) and Th.
Lipps (_Die ethischen Grundfragen_ [Leipzig & Hamburg, 1912], p.
287 _sq._).]

[Footnote 48: This was much emphasized by Schopenhauer, who even
maintained that a person's character remains unchanged throughout
his life (_Die Freiheit des Willens_, iii. [_Sämmtliche
Werke_, iv.^2 [Leipzig, 1916], p. 50 _sqq._]; _Die Grundlage der
Moral_, § 20 [_ibid._, iv.^2 249 _sqq._]).]

But what about the innate character itself? _We_ have not made it,
it is also the product of something outside ourselves. Is all
responsibility, then, a mere delusion? The answer to this question
is considered by many to depend on whether the will is free or
not: if it is free the origin of the character is a matter of no
consequence, if it is not free human beings are said to be no more
proper subjects of moral judgment than are inanimate things. The
application of moral praise and blame would be "in itself as
absurd as to applaud the sunrise or be angry at the rain";[49] the
only kind of admiration a virtuous man might deserve would be that
"which we justly accord to a well-made machine."[50] Nor are these
inferences from determinism only weapons forged by its opponents:
they are shared by some of its own adherents. Richard Owen and his
followers maintained that, since a man's character {180} is made
_for_ him, not _by_ him, there is no justice in punishing him for
what he cannot help.[51] To Stuart Mill responsibility simply
means liability to punishment, inflicted for a utilitarian
purpose.[52] So also Sidgwick--whose attitude towards the
free-will theory is that of a sceptic--argues that the common
retributive view of punishment and the ordinary notions of
"merit," "demerit," and "responsibility," involve the assumption
that the will is free, and that these terms, if used at all, have
to be used in new significations. "In this view," he says, "if I
affirm that A is responsible for a harmful act, I mean that it is
right to punish him for it; primarily, in order that the fear of
punishment may prevent him and others from committing similar acts
in future."[53]

[Footnote 49: J. Martineau, _Types of Ethical Theory_, ii.
(Oxford, 1891), p. 41 _sq._]

[Footnote 50: A. J. Balfour, _The Foundations of Belief_ (London,
1895), p. 25.]

[Footnote 51: J. S. Mill, _An Examination of Sir William
Hamilton's Philosophy_ (London, 1865), p. 506.]

[Footnote 52: _Ibid._, p. 506 _sqq._]

[Footnote 53: Sidgwick, _op. cit._, p. 71 _sq._]

If these conclusions are correct it is obvious that, whether the
infliction of punishment be justifiable or not, the _feeling_ of
moral indignation or moral approval is, from the deterministic
point of view, absurd. And yet we find that these emotions are
felt by determinists and indeterminists alike. Apparently the
former are not in the least affected by their notion that the
human will is subject to the general law of cause and effect.
Emotions are determined by specific cognitions, and last only as
long as the influence of those cognitions last. It makes me sorry
to hear that some evil has befallen my friend, but my sorrow
disappears directly I find that the rumour was false. I get angry
with a person who hurts me, but my anger subsides as soon as I
recognize that the hurt was purely accidental. My indignation is
aroused by an atrocious crime; but it ceases completely when I
hear that {181} the agent was mad. On the other hand, however
convinced I am that a person's conduct and character are in every
detail a product of causes, that does not prevent me from feeling
towards him retributive emotions--either anger or gratitude, moral
resentment or approval. This suggests that a retributive emotion
is not essentially determined by the cognition of free-will. At
the same time it seems easy to explain the fallacy which is at the
bottom of the notion that moral valuation is inconsistent with

Full responsibility, as we have seen, presupposes freedom from
compulsion. Hence the inference that it also presupposes freedom
from causation, and that complete determination involves complete
irresponsibility. Compulsion is confounded with causation; and
this confusion is due to the fact that the cause which determines
the will is actually looked upon in the light of a constraining
power outside the will. Determinism is confounded with fatalism.
When a man's whole conduct is determined by an external power
ruling over human affairs, a god or an all-powerful fate, he can
obviously not be held responsible for what he does under the
influence of such constraint: the logical outcome of radical
fatalism is a denial of all moral imputability and a rejection of
all moral judgment.

Not so with determinism. While fatalism presupposes the existence
of a person who is constrained by an outward power, determinism
regards the person himself as in every respect a product of
causes. It does not assume any part of his will to have existed
previous to his formation by these causes; his will cannot
possibly be constrained by them because there is nothing to
constrain, it is made by them. When we say of a person that he is
influenced by external circumstances or subdued by fate, we regard
_him_ as existing independently of that which {182} influences or
subdues him, we attribute to him an innate character which is
acted upon from the outside. He would have been different if he
had lived under different conditions of life, or if fate had left
him alone. But could we say that he would have been different if
the causes to which he owes his existence had been different, if
he had been the offspring of different parents? _He_ would not
have existed at all. This is the pivot of the whole question. A
moral emotion and a moral judgment presuppose the existence of a
certain individual with an innate character, it is towards him
that the emotion is felt, on him that the judgment is passed;
beyond that they cannot go. They can consider the influences to
which his innate character has been subjected from the outside
world, they cannot consider the causes from which it has sprung.
To do so would be foreign to their very nature. The moral emotions
are no more concerned with the origin of the innate character than
the aesthetic emotions are concerned with the origin of the
beautiful object. In their capacity of retributive emotions, they
are essentially directed towards sensitive and volitional entities
conceived, not as uncaused themselves, but only as causes of
pleasure or pain.



Ethical relativity implies that there is no objective standard of
morality, and objectivity presupposes universality. As truth is
one it has to be the same for any one who knows it, and if
morality is a matter of truth and falsity, in the normative sense
of the terms, the same must be the case with moral truth. If a
certain course of conduct _is_ good or bad, right or wrong, it is
so universally, and cannot be both good and bad, right and wrong.
The universality of truth does not mean, of course, that everybody
knows what is true and false. It has constantly been argued
against ethical subjectivism that the variety of moral judgments
no more justifies the denial of moral objectivity than the
diversity in judgments about the course of things disproves the
objectivity of truth. The validity or fallacy of this argument
depends in the first place upon the causes to which the
variability of moral judgments is due.

In the last chapter I pointed out that the subjects of moral
judgments present no difference in principle so far as their
general nature is concerned. Such judgments are passed on conduct
and character, and if they were guided by sufficient knowledge of
facts and reflection there would be no essential difference
between them as regards the general subjective conditions of the
modes of conduct to which they refer. This uniformity as regards
the nature of their subjects is due to the facts that they {184}
are all based on moral emotions, and that the moral emotions are
retributive emotions felt towards persons conceived as causes of
pleasure or pain.

But the variability of moral valuation depends in a very large
measure upon intellectual factors of another kind, namely,
different ideas relating to the objective nature of similar modes
of conduct and their consequences. Such differences of ideas may
arise from different situations and external conditions of life,
which consequently influence moral opinion. We find, for instance,
among many peoples the custom of killing or abandoning parents
worn out with age or disease.[1] It prevails among a large number
of savage tribes and occurred formerly among many Asiatic and
European nations, including the Vedic people and peoples of
Teutonic extraction; there is an old English tradition of "the
Holy Mawle, which they fancy hung behind the church door, which
when the father was seaventie, the sonne might fetch to knock his
father in the head, as effete and of no more use." This custom is
particularly common among nomadic hunting tribes, owing to the
hardships of life and the inability of decrepit persons to keep up
in the march. In times when the food-supply is insufficient to
support all the members of a community it also seems more
reasonable that the old and useless should have to perish than the
young and vigorous. And among peoples who have reached a certain
degree of wealth and comfort, the practice of killing the old
folks, though no longer justified by necessity, may still go on,
partly through survival of a custom inherited from harder times,
and partly from the humane intent of putting an end to lingering
misery. What appears to most of us as an atrocious practice may
really be an act of kindness, and {185} is commonly approved of,
or even insisted upon, by the old people themselves.

[Footnote 1: _Moral Ideas_, i. 386 _sqq._]

Or take the widespread custom of infanticide.[2] Among the lower
races custom often decides how many children are to be reared in
each family, and not infrequently the majority of infants are
destroyed. This wholesale infanticide is also mainly due to the
hardships of savage life. The helpless infant may be a great
burden to the parents both in times of peace and in times of war.
It may prevent the mother from following her husband about on his
wanderings or otherwise encumber her in her work. Moreover, a
little forethought tells the parents that their child before long
will become a consumer of provisions perhaps already too scanty
for the family. Savages, who often suffer greatly from want of
food, may have to choose between destroying their offspring or
famishing themselves. Urgent want is frequently represented by our
authorities as the main cause of infanticide; and their statements
are corroborated by the conspicuous prevalence of this custom
among poor tribes and in islands whose inhabitants are confined to
a narrow territory with limited resources. For a similar reason
infanticide is or has been a custom among many peoples who have
reached a higher degree of civilization. In ancient times the
Semites, or at least some of them, not only practised it but, in
certain circumstances, approved of it or regarded it as a duty;
according to an old Arab proverb, it was a generous deed to bury a
female child. The murder of female infants, either by the direct
employment of homicidal means or by exposure to privation and
neglect, has for ages been a common practice, or even a genuine
custom, among various Hindu castes. Exposure of new-born children
was practised by the people of the Vedic age, as {186} also by
other so-called Aryan peoples in ancient times. The exposure of
deformed or sickly infants was a custom in Greece; at Sparta, at
least, it was enjoined by law. Aristotle lays down the rule with
respect to the exposing or bringing up of children, that "nothing
imperfect or maimed shall be brought up." He proposes that the
number of children allowed to each marriage shall be regulated by
the State, and that, if any woman be pregnant after she has
produced the prescribed number, an abortion shall be procured
before the foetus has life. It is necessary, he says, to take care
that the increase of the people should not exceed a certain
number, in order to avoid poverty and its concomitants, sedition
and other evils. Yet the exposure of healthy infants, which was of
frequent occurrence in Greece, was hardly approved of by public
opinion, although generally tolerated. In Rome, also, custom or
law enjoined the destruction of deformed infants; but there was no
tendency to encourage infanticide beyond these limits. It has been
observed that while the Greek policy was rather to restrain, the
Roman policy was always to encourage, population. Being engaged in
incessant wars of conquest, Rome was never afraid of being
over-populated, but, on the contrary, tried to increase the number
of its citizens by according special privileges to the fathers of
many children and exempting poor parents from most of the burden
of taxation. On the other hand, though the exposure of healthy
infants was disapproved of in pagan Rome, it was not generally
regarded as an offence of very great magnitude, and during the
Empire, when it was practised on an extensive scale, it was spoken
of in the literature with frigid indifference. But Christianity
brought about a complete change of ideas. The early Fathers of the
Church taught that if the abandoned infant died, the unnatural
parent was guilty {187} of nothing less than murder; and the
enormity of the crime of causing an infant's death was enhanced by
the notion that children who had died unbaptized were doomed to
eternal perdition. This reminds us of the fact that the moral
ideas about infanticide are also determined by factors very
different from considerations resulting from economic conditions.

[Footnote 2: _Ibid._, i. 394 _sqq._]

The variability of moral judgments largely originates in different
measures of knowledge, based on experience of the consequences of
conduct, and in different beliefs. In almost every branch of
conduct we notice the influence which the belief in supernatural
forces or beings or in a future state has exercised upon the moral
ideas of mankind, and the great diversity of this influence.
Religion or superstition has on the one hand stigmatized murder
and suicide, on the other hand it has commended human sacrifice
and certain cases of voluntary self-destruction. It has inculcated
humanity and charity, but has also led to cruel persecutions of
persons embracing another creed. It has emphasized the duty of
truth-speaking, and has itself been a cause of pious fraud. It has
promoted cleanly habits and filthiness. It has enjoined labour and
abstinence from labour, sobriety and drunkenness, marriage and
celibacy, chastity and temple prostitution. It has introduced a
great variety of new duties and virtues, quite different from
those which are recognized by the moral consciousness when left to
itself, but nevertheless in many cases considered more important
than any other duties or virtues. From this motley crowd of
influences I shall single out a few representative cases, in which
it may be worth while to point out the facts that have led to the
extraordinary diversity of moral opinion.

Hardly any pagan practice has been more revolting to the moral
feelings of Christians than that of human sacrifice, {188} which
is found not only among many savages, but occurred in early times
among all Indo-European peoples, the Semites, and the Japanese,
and in the New World among the Mayas and the Aztecs, who practised
it on an enormous scale.[3] The gods were supposed to be gratified
by such offerings--because they had an appetite for human flesh or
blood, or because they required attendants, or because they were
angry and could only be appeased by the death of him or those who
aroused their anger or some representative of the offending
community, or who could exactly tell why? The chief thing is that
people know or believe that on some certain occasion they are in
danger of losing their lives; they attribute this to the designs
of a supernatural being; and, by sacrificing a man, they hope to
gratify that being's craving for human life and thereby avert the
danger from themselves. That this principle mainly underlies the
practice of human sacrifice appears from the circumstances in
which it generally occurs. Human victims are often offered in war,
before a battle, or during a siege; for the purpose of stopping or
preventing epidemics; as a method of putting an end to a
devastating famine or drought; or with a view to averting perils
arising from the sea or from rivers. In these cases the offering
of human sacrifices is mostly a matter of public concern, a method
of ensuring the lives of many by the death of one or a few. But
human life is also sacrificed, by way of substitution, for the
purpose of preventing the death of some particular person,
especially a chief or a king, from sickness, old age, or other
circumstances. I do not say that the practice of human sacrifice
is in every case based on the idea of substitution, but I think
there is sufficient evidence to prove that it is as a rule a
method of life-insurance--absurd, no doubt, according {189} to our
ideas, but not an act of wanton cruelty. When practised for the
benefit of the community or in a case of national distress, it is
hardly more cruel than to compel thousands of men to suffer death
on the battlefield on behalf of their country or to advocate the
infliction of capital punishment on the ground of social
expediency. The sacrifice of offenders has in fact survived in the
Christian world, since every execution performed for the purpose
of appeasing an offended and angry god may be justly called a
sacrifice. It was a principle adopted by the Christian Church and
the Christian governments that it belongs to the king "to avenge
God's anger very deeply, according as the deed may be,"[4] and
this principle was acted upon till quite modern times and largely
contributed to the excessive severity of the penal codes.

[Footnote 3: _Moral Ideas_, i. 434 _sqq._]

[Footnote 4: _The Laws of Cnut_, ii. 40 (in _Ancient Laws and
Institutes of England_ [London, 1840]).]

Whilst human sacrifice has shocked the feelings of Christians,
there are other cases in which Christian morals and legislation
have treated as most horrible crimes acts which most peoples have
looked upon with considerable moral indifference, if not as
altogether blameless. One such case is suicide.[5] It is not often
that savages are reported to attach any stigma to it; if they deny
self-murderers the ordinary funeral rites or bury them in a
separate place, they do so for fear of having anything to do with
them or in order to prevent them from mixing with the other dead,
because their ghosts are looked upon as dangerous. In China and
Japan suicide is in many circumstances regarded as an honourable
act. Among the Hindus it has always been considered one of the
most acceptable rites that can be offered to their deities. In
none of the few cases of suicide mentioned in the Old {190}
Testament is any censure passed on the perpetrator of the deed,
nor is there any text that forbids a man to die by his own hand.
The Greek tragedians frequently give expression to the notion that
suicide is in certain circumstances becoming to a noble mind. But
according to the Platonic Socrates, "there may be reason in saying
that a man should wait, and not take his own life until God
summons him"; and Aristotle maintains that he who from rage kills
himself commits a wrong against the State. The opinions of the
philosophers, however, were anything but unanimous, and the
Stoics, especially, advocated suicide as a relief from all kinds
of misery. Throughout the whole history of pagan Rome there was no
statute declaring it to be a crime for an ordinary citizen to take
his own life; the self-murderer's rights were in no way affected
by his deed, his memory was no less honoured than if he had died a
natural death, his will was recognized by law, and the regular
order of succession was not interfered with.

[Footnote 5: _Moral Ideas_, ii. 229 _sqq._]

In no question of morality was there a greater difference between
classical and Christian doctrines than in regard to suicide. The
earlier Fathers of the Church still allowed, or even approved of,
suicide in certain cases, namely, when committed in order to
procure martyrdom, or to avoid apostasy, or to retain the crown of
virginity; but since the days of St. Augustine no such exceptions
have been admitted by the Church. Suicide was assimilated with
murder, nay, was declared to be the worst form of murder, "the
most grievous thing of all." The self-murderer was deprived of the
rights that were granted to all other criminals. In the sixth
century a Council enjoined that "the oblations of those who were
killed in the commission of any crime may be received, except of
such as laid violent hands on themselves"; and a subsequent
Council denied the latter the usual rites of Christian burial.
{191} It was even said that Judas committed a greater sin in
killing himself than in betraying his master Christ to a certain
death. How shall we explain these views?

According to the Christian doctrine, as formulated by Thomas
Aquinas, suicide is unlawful for three reasons. It is against a
natural inclination and contrary to the charity which a man ought
to bear towards himself; by killing himself a person does an
injury to the community of which he is a part; and he usurps the
office of judge on a point not referred to him, because the
judgment of life and death belongs to God alone. The second of
these arguments is borrowed from Aristotle, and is entirely
foreign to the spirit of early Christianity with its enthusiastic
commendation of the hermit life. But the other two are deeply
rooted in some of the fundamental doctrines of Christianity--in
the sacredness of human life, in the duty of absolute submission
to the will of God, and in the extreme importance attached to the
moment of death. The earthly life is a preparation for eternity,
sufferings which are sent by God are not to be evaded but to be
endured. The man who takes away the life given him by the Creator
displays the utmost disregard for the will and authority of his
Master; and, worst of all, he does so in the very last minute of
his life, when his doom is sealed for ever. His deed, as Thomas
Aquinas says, is "the most dangerous thing of all, because no time
is left to expiate it by repentance." This is the crucial point of
the whole question. Considering that this religious view of
suicide has been the cause of the extreme severity with which it
has been treated in Christian countries, it is strange to be told
by a sociologist like Durkheim, that the more lenient judgment
passed on it by the public conscience of the present time is
merely accidental and transient, because moral evolution is not
likely to be retrogressive in this particular {192} point after it
has followed a certain course for centuries.[6] This is to ignore
the real causes of the extraordinary condemnation of suicide in
Christian countries.

[Footnote 6: E. Durkheim, _Le suicide_ (Paris, 1897), p. 377.]

Another case in which the difference of moral opinion between
Christians and pagans has been equally radical is the attitude
towards homosexual practices.[7] In Greece pederasty in its baser
forms was censured, though generally, it seems, with no great
severity, but the universal rule was apparently that when decorum
was observed in the friendship between a man and a youth, no
inquiries were made into the details of the relationship. And this
attachment was not only regarded as permissible, but was praised
as the highest form of love, as the offspring of the heavenly
Aphrodite, as a path leading to virtue, as a weapon against
tyranny, as a safeguard of civic liberty, as a source of national
greatness and glory. In Rome there was an old law of unknown date
which imposed a mulct on him who committed pederasty with a free
person; but this law, of which very little is known, had lain
dormant for ages, and the subject of ordinary homosexual
intercourse had never afterwards attracted the attention of the
pagan legislators. But when Christianity became the religion of
the Roman Empire, a veritable crusade was opened against sodomy.
Several emperors made it a capital crime: those who were found
guilty of it should be punished with the sword or be burned alive
in the presence of all the people. "A sentence of death and
infamy," says Gibbon, "was often founded on the slight and
suspicious evidence of a child or a servant, . . . and pederasty
became the crime of those to whom no crime could be imputed."
This attitude towards homosexuality had a profound and lasting
influence on European legislation. {193} Throughout the Middle
Ages and later, Christian lawmakers thought that nothing but a
painful death in the flames could atone for the sinful act. In
France persons were actually burned for sodomy in the middle and
latter part of the eighteenth century. In England it was
punishable by death till 1861, although in practice the extreme
punishment was not inflicted. The latter fact shows that there was
a discrepancy between moral sentiments and the law.

[Footnote 7: _Moral Ideas_, ii. ch. xliii.]

The enormity of guilt attached to this crime has puzzled moral
philosophers. Kant looks upon sexual perversion as a pollution of
human dignity, but finds the utter reprobation of it very hard to
justify upon grounds of reason.[8] Schopenhauer gives highly
metaphysical explanations, connected with his general theory of
the will, both of the homosexual desire and the condemnation of
pederasty;[9] but in one of his works he simply says that the
wrongness of the latter lies in the seduction of the younger and
inexperienced party, who is thereby ruined both physically and
morally.[10] He does not raise the question whether the seduction
of a youth is fraught with so much more terrible consequences than
that of a girl as to justify the enormous difference in the
treatment of the seducer. Others maintain that the attitude
towards perversity is only intelligible on the hypothesis that
moral purity is directly judged to have an intrinsic worth quite
{194} independent of hedonic results.[11] To me it seems obvious
that the censure to which homosexual intercourse as such is
frequently subject is in the first place due to that feeling of
aversion or disgust which it tends to call forth in normally
constituted adult individuals, whose sexual instincts have
developed under normal conditions. This feeling tends to abate or
disappear where special circumstances, such as absence of the
other sex, the seclusion of women, or other facts, have given rise
to widely spread homosexual practices; and in no case does it seem
to have been sufficiently strong by itself to lead to very drastic
public measures. Among uncivilized peoples such practices are
generally taken little notice of; they may be a subject for
derision or contemptuous remarks wounding the vanity of the
delinquent by the implication that he must be unable to procure
the full natural enjoyment of his impulse if he has to resort to
such substitutes.[12] The laws of the ancient Scandinavians
ignored homosexuality, though passive pederasts were much despised
by them, being identified with cowards and regarded as sorcerers.
Chinese law makes little distinction between unnatural and other
sexual offences; but as a matter of fact the former are regarded
by the Chinese as less hurtful to the community than ordinary
immorality, and pederasty is not looked down upon. In Japan there
was no law against homosexual intercourse till the revolution of
1868, and we are told that in the period of Japanese chivalry it
was considered more heroic if a man loved a person {195} of his
own sex than if he loved a woman. Mohammed forbade sodomy, and the
general theory of his followers is that it should be punished like
fornication; but in the Mohammedan world it is practically
regarded, at most, as a mere peccadillo.

[Footnote 8: Kant, _Metaphysische Anfangungsgründe der
Tugendlehre_, §7 (_Gesammelte Schriften_, vi. [Berlin, 1914],
p. 425). _Cf._ J. Laird, _The Idea of Value_ (Cambridge, 1929), p.

[Footnote 9: A. Schopenhauer, _Die Welt als Wille und
Vorstellung_, ii. (_Sämmtliche Werke_, iii. [Leipzig, 1916]),
p. 646 _sqq._ _Idem_, _Parerga und Paralipomena_, ii.
(_Sämmtliche Werke_, vi. [Leipzig, 1916]), § 168, p.

[Footnote 10: _Idem_, _Die Grundlage der Moral_, §5
(_Sämmtliche Werke_, iv.^2 [Leipzig, 1916], p. 128 _sq._).]

[Footnote 11: G. Heymans, _Einführung in die Ethik_ (Leipzig,
1914), p. 215 _sq._ A. E. Taylor, "Critical Notice" of the same
work, in _Mind_, N. S. xxv. (London, 1916), p. 391 _sq._ _Cf._
_Idem_, _The Problem of Conduct_ (London, 1901), p. 45 _sq._]

[Footnote 12: See, _e.g._, B. Malinowski, _The Sexual Life of
Savages in North-Western Melanesia_ (London, 1929), p. 395;
Margaret Mead, _Growing up in New Guinea_ (New York, 1930), p.

In a very different light was it looked upon by the Hebrews.
Unnatural sins are not allowed to defile the land of the Lord:
whosoever shall commit such abominations shall be put to death.
The enormous abhorrence of them expressed in this law had a very
specific reason, namely, the Hebrews' hatred of a foreign cult.
Unnatural vice was the sin of a people who was not the Lord's
people, the Canaanites, who thereby polluted their land, so that
he visited their guilt and the land spued out its inhabitants. We
know that sodomy entered as an element into their religion:
besides female prostitutes there were male prostitutes, or
_qed[=e]sh[=i]m_, attached to their temples. The sodomitic acts
committed with the latter seem, like the connections with the
female temple prostitutes, to have had in view to transfer
blessings to the worshippers; in Morocco supernatural benefits are
to this day expected not only from heterosexual, but also from
homosexual intercourse with a holy person. The _qed[=e]sh[=i]m_
are frequently alluded to in the Old Testament, especially in the
period of the monarchy, when rites of a foreign origin made their
way into both Israel and Judah. And it is natural that the Yahveh
worshippers should regard their practice with the utmost horror as
forming part of an idolatrous cult.

The Hebrew conception of homosexuality passed into Christianity.
The notion that sodomy is a form of sacrilege was here
strengthened by the habits of the gentiles, among whom St. Paul
found the abominations of Sodom rampant. During the Middle Ages
heretics were accused {196} of unnatural vice as a matter of
course. Indeed, so closely was sodomy associated with heresy that
the same name was applied to both. Thus the French _bougre_ (from
the Latin _Bulgarus_, Bulgarian), as also its English synonym, was
originally a name given to a sect of heretics who came from
Bulgaria in the eleventh century and was afterwards applied to
other heretics, but at the same time it became the regular
expression for a person guilty of unnatural intercourse. In
mediaeval laws sodomy was also repeatedly mentioned together with
heresy, and the punishment was the same for both. It thus remained
a religious offence of the first order. And in this fact and its
connection with Hebrew ideas we find the answer to the problem we
set out to solve. Like suicide, the kind of sexual perversion of
which I have now spoken has been stigmatized as a crime of the
greatest magnitude on account of its relation to specific
religious beliefs. It is interesting to notice that in one other
religion, besides Hebrewism and Christianity, it has been looked
upon with the same abhorrence, namely, Zoroastrianism, and there
also as a practice of infidels, of Turanian shamanists.

       *       *      *       *       *

In so far as differences of moral opinion depend on knowledge or
ignorance of facts, on specific religious or superstitious
beliefs, on different degrees of reflection,[13] or on different
conditions of life or other external circumstances, they do not
clash with that universality which is implied in the notion of the
objective validity of moral judgments. We shall now examine whether
the same is the case with other differences that, at least
apparently, are not due to purely cognitive causes.

[Footnote 13: I shall in another connection (_infra_, p. 258
_sq._) discuss the influence of reason in harmonizing differences
of moral opinion springing from sentimental likes and dislikes.]

{197} When we study the moral rules laid down by the customs of
savage peoples we find that they in a very large measure resemble
the rules of civilized nations. In every savage community homicide
is prohibited by custom, and so is theft. Savages also regard
charity as a duty and praise generosity as a virtue, indeed their
customs relating to mutual aid are often much more exacting than
our own; and many of them are conspicuous for their avoidance of
telling lies. But in spite of the great similarity of moral
commandments, there is at the same time a difference between the
regard for life, property, truth, and the general well-being of a
neighbour which displays itself in savage rules of morality and
that which is found among ourselves: it has, broadly speaking,
only reference to members of the same community or tribe.
Primitive peoples carefully distinguish between an act of homicide
committed within their own community and one where the victim is a
stranger: while the former is in ordinary circumstances
disapproved of, the latter is in most cases allowed and often
considered worthy of praise. And the same holds true of theft and
lying and the infliction of other injuries. Apart from the
privileges granted to guests, which are always of very short
duration, a stranger is in early society devoid of all rights. And
the same is the case not only among savages but among nations of
archaic culture as well.

When we pass from the lower races to peoples more advanced in
civilization we find that the social unit has grown larger, that
the nation has taken the place of the tribe, and that the circle
within which the infliction of injuries is prohibited has been
extended accordingly. But the old distinction between injuries
committed against compatriots and harm done to foreigners remains.
In Greece in early times the "contemptible stranger" had no {198}
legal rights, and was protected only if he was the guest of a
citizen; and even later on, at Athens, while the intentional
killing of a citizen was punished with death and confiscation of
the murderer's property, the intentional killing of a non-citizen
was punished only with exile. The Latin word _hostis_ was
originally used to denote a foreigner, and Mommsen suggests that
in ancient days the Romans did not punish the killing of a
foreigner unless he belonged to an allied nation. The German word
_elender_ has acquired its present meaning from the connotation of
the older word which meant an "outlandish" man. In Teutonic
countries the stranger as such, unless he belonged to a friendly
neighbouring tribe, had originally no legal rights at all; for his
protection he was dependent on individual hospitality, and
hospitality was restricted by custom to three days only.[14] Later
on, when commerce increased and the stranger was more often seen
in Teutonic lands, royal protection was extended to him; but
throughout the Middle Ages the position of the stranger was
anything but enviable. All Europe seems to have tacitly agreed
that foreigners had been created for the purpose of being robbed.
In the thirteenth century there were still several places in
France in which a stranger who remained there for a year and a day
became the serf of the lord of the manor. In England, till upwards
of two centuries after the Conquest, foreign merchants were
considered only as sojourners who had come to a fair or market,
and were obliged to employ their landlords as brokers to buy and
sell their commodities; and one stranger was often arrested for
the debt or punished for the misdemeanour of another. The custom
of seizing the goods of persons who had been shipwrecked seems to
have been universal, and in some European countries the {199} law
even permitted the inhabitants of maritime provinces to reduce to
servitude people who were shipwrecked on their coast. Along the
Baltic coast prayers were offered in the churches that God would
bless the shores with many shipwrecks; and it was even argued that
as shipwrecks were punishments sent by God, it was impious to be
merciful to the victims.[15]

[Footnote 14: _Moral Ideas_, i. 337 _sq._]

[Footnote 15: _Ibid._, ii. 24 _sq._]

It would be in vain to deny that the old distinction between a
tribesman or fellow-countryman and a foreigner is dead among
ourselves. The prevailing attitude towards war, the readiness with
which wars are waged, and the notions as to what is allowed in
warfare indicate the survival in modern civilization of the
ancient feeling that the life, property and general well-being of
a foreigner are not on a par with those of a compatriot. In times
of peace this feeling may disclose itself in the form of national
aggressiveness, under the flag of patriotism, or perhaps in the
behaviour towards the aborigines of some distant country. But both
law and public opinion certainly show a very great advance in
humanity with regard to the treatment of foreigners. And if we
pass to the rules laid down by moralists and professedly accepted
by a large portion of civilized humanity, the change from the
savage attitude has been enormous. The doctrine of universal love
is not peculiar to Christianity. The Chinese moralists inculcated
benevolence to all men, without making any reference to national
distinctions. Mih-tsze, who lived in the interval between
Confucius and Mencius, even taught that we ought to love all men
equally; but this precept called forth protests as abnegating the
peculiar devotion due to relatives. Buddhism enjoins the duty of
universal love: "As a mother, even at the risk of her own life,
protects her son, her only son, so let a man {200} cultivate
goodwill without measure toward all beings." According to the
Hindu work _Panchatantra_ it is the thought of little-minded
persons to consider whether a man is one of ourselves or an alien,
the whole earth being of kin to him who is generously disposed. In
Greece and Rome philosophers arose who opposed national narrowness
and prejudice. Thus the Cynics attached slight value to the
citizenship of any special state, declaring themselves to be
citizens of the world. But it was the Stoic philosophy that first
gave to the idea of a world-citizenship a definite positive
meaning and raised it to historical importance.[16]

[Footnote 16: _Moral Ideas_, ii. 176 _sq._]

It is obvious that the expansion of the moral rules has been a
consequence of the expansion of the social unit and of increased
intercourse between different societies, and if, as I maintain,
the range of the moral emotions varies with the range of the
altruistic sentiment, there is every reason to assume that an
immediate cause of the greater comprehensiveness of the moral
rules has been a corresponding widening of that sentiment. Among
gregarious animals it is apt to be felt towards any member of
their species that is not an object of their fear or anger. In
mankind it has been narrowed by social isolation, by differences
in race, language, habits, and customs, by enmity and suspicion.
But peaceful intercourse leads to conditions favourable to its
expansion, as well as to friendly behaviour for prudential reasons
in the relations between those who come into contact with each
other. People of different nationalities feel that in spite of all
dissimilarities there is much that they have in common; and
frequent intercourse makes the differences less marked or
obliterates many of them altogether.

Professor McDougall, on the other hand, remarks that the rise of
the spirit of nationality in the modern world {201} has coincided
with the great improvements in means of communication which have
multiplied a thousand-fold the contacts between men of different
races and nations, and he believes that "this multiplication of
contact, instead of destroying or weakening the barriers of
nationality, the 'prejudices' of race, the partiality of men for
their own kind, has but accentuated these things, fostered their
growth, intensified their influences throughout the world."[17]
That improved means of communication have made some nations more
afraid of some other nations is obvious; but though you do not
love those you fear, you may respect them and find it to be your
interest to treat them with consideration. In other cases Buckle
may be right in saying that ignorance is a powerful cause of
national hatred, and that "when you increase the contact, you
remove the ignorance, and thus you diminish the hatred."[18]
Experience derived from intercourse may certainly strengthen
national "prejudices," or bias based on preconceived opinion, but
we know that it also may have the very opposite effect. Professor
McDougall says "it remains true in general that the more we know
of other people the more we prefer our own."[19] The idea that
one's own people is the best is very deep-rooted in human
nature.[20] In their intercourse with white men savages have often
noticed with astonishment the arrogant air of superiority adopted
by the latter, because in their own opinion they are vastly
superior to the whites. According to Eskimo beliefs, the first
man, though made by the Great Being, was a failure and was
consequently cast {202} aside and called "white man," but a second
attempt resulted in the formation of a perfect man and he was
called _in-nu_, the name which the Eskimo give to themselves. If a
South Sea Islander sees a very awkward person he says, "How stupid
you are, perhaps you are an English man." I once heard a young
European affirm that everything made in his own country was better
than anything similar made in any other country. Of course,
travelling or residence abroad may strengthen our preference to
live among our own people--"East or west, home is best"--but it
should also be apt to open our eyes to the good qualities of other
nations. And, to return to our starting-point, how could even the
modern spirit of nationality be compared to the attitude towards
foreigners in those times when there was little intercourse
between the different nations of Europe?

[Footnote 17: W. McDougall, _Ethics and some modern World
Problems_ (London, 1924), p. 55.]

[Footnote 18: H. T. Buckle, _History of Civilisation in England_,
i. (London, 1894), p. 222.]

[Footnote 19: McDougall, _op. cit._, p. 56.]

[Footnote 20: _Moral Ideas_, ii. 170 _sqq._]

It has been said that "religious ideas have been largely
responsible for the transition from a moral code which includes
only duties towards the members of a small and exclusive circle to
a moral code which embraces, as persons entitled to the
performance of certain services, all mankind";[21] that when the
deity came to be considered the Lord of the world, every human
being, independently of nationality and race, was recognized as an
object of his care;[22] and that without their belief in God as a
Father, the Christians could never have formed the idea of a
common human brotherhood.[23] It is true, of course, that when
religion ceased to be national and became universal, it helped to
widen the boundaries of the moral {203} community; but it should
be remembered that its "universality" did not imply universal
acceptance, and that those who did not accept it, even when
recognized in theory as "brothers," were treated as enemies to God
and man. While extending the moral community to those who had the
same faith, religion thus became a new cause of the
differentiation of moral rules affecting those who had another
faith. The moral value of a religion is to be judged not by its
abstract tenets but by its influence on conduct, and in this
respect, as everybody knows, Christianity has been very far from
realizing the idea of a human brotherhood. The principle of the
Church was, "Omnem hominem _fidelem_ judica tuum esse fratrem."
The orthodox view that unbelief is a legitimate reason for going
to war has been acted upon to an extent which made the history of
Christianity for many centuries a perpetual crusade, which turned
against infidels and heretics alike, nay, even a slight shade of
difference from the liturgy of Rome became a legitimate cause of
war. When, in the latter part of the Middle Ages, attempts were
made by sovereigns and Councils of the Church to abolish the
ancient right of seizing the goods of persons who had been
shipwrecked, the robbing of shipwrecked infidels was not included
in the prohibitions.[24] In the seventeenth century the Scotch
clergy taught that food or shelter must on no occasion be given to
a starving man unless his opinions were orthodox.[25]

[Footnote 21: A. E. Taylor, _op. cit._, p. 143.]

[Footnote 22: K. Birch-Reichenwald Aars, _Gut und Böse_
(_Skrifter udgivne af Videnskaps-Selskabet i Christiania_, 1907.
II. Historisk-filosofisk Klasse, no. 3), p. 226.]

[Footnote 23: T. Bohlin, _Das Grundproblem der Ethik_ (Uppsala &
Leipzig, 1923), p. 44.]

[Footnote 24: _Moral Ideas_, ii. 25.]

[Footnote 25: Buckle, _op. cit._, iii. 277.]

The expansion of the moral rules has been attributed to reason.
"With the rise of reflection," says Professor Sorley, "there comes
also a change of the objects valued--chiefly by a modification of
the tribal or social limits by which they were at first
restricted. The circle of duties is widened until it gradually
takes in, or is fitted to take {204} in, all mankind."[26] The
Stoics actually referred to reason in support of their
cosmopolitan ideal. Human society has for its basis the identity
of reason in individuals; hence we have no ground for limiting
this society to a single nation. "If our reason is in common,"
says Marcus Aurelius, "there is a common law, as reason commands
us what to do and what not to do; and if there is a common law we
are fellow-citizens; if this is so, we are members of some
political community--the world is in a manner a state."[27] Seneca
argues:--"It is a crime to injure one's country; so it is,
therefore, to injure any of our countrymen, for he is a part of
our country. . . . Therefore it is also a crime to injure any man:
for he is your fellow-citizen in a larger state."[28] To this
great state, which includes all rational beings, the individual
states are related as the houses of a city are to the city
collectively;[29] and the wise man will esteem it far above any
particular community in which the accident of birth has placed
him.[30] But there was presumably also an emotional ground for
this abolition of national boundaries in the moral ideal. The
citizen of Alexander's huge empire had in a way become a citizen
of the world; and national dislikes were so much more readily
overcome as the various nationalities comprised in it were united
not only under a common government, but also in a common
culture;[31] indeed the founder of Stoicism was himself only half
a Greek. And the later Stoics were citizens of another
world-empire. {205} But may we really suppose that the
universality of the Christian doctrine was the result of a process
of reasoning? May we suppose that the conception of God as a
Father has led to the conclusion that all men are brothers? If by
his fatherhood is meant that he is _our_ father but not every
man's father, the argument is of course a fallacy; and if it means
that he is every man's father, this proposition implies that all
men are brothers. The latter proposition may have served to point
out the import of the former, but can hardly be said to have been
deduced from it. It seems that the Christian doctrine of the
fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man was the outcome of
the altruistic sentiment of its author, which was comprehensive
enough to embrace all mankind. It should be noticed that the
Eastern tenets of universal love were not connected with any
notion of a divine fatherhood.

[Footnote 26: W. R. Sorley, _Moral Values and the Idea of God_
(Cambridge, 1924), p. 164.]

[Footnote 27: Marcus Aurelius, _Commentarii_, iv. 4.]

[Footnote 28: Seneca, _De ira_, ii. 31.]

[Footnote 29: Marcus Aurelius, _op. cit._, iii. 11.]

[Footnote 30: Seneca, _De otio_, iv. 1. _Idem_, _Epistulae_,
lxviii. 2. Epictetus, _Dissertationes_, iii. 22. 83 _sqq._]

[Footnote 31: _Cf._ Plutarch, _De Alexandri Magni fortuna aut
virtute_, i. 6, p. 329.]

It will perhaps be argued that the impartiality which is a
characteristic of all moral judgments required a universalization
of the moral rules, and that this could only be accomplished by a
process of reasoning, which gradually extended them to wider and
wider circles of men and finally to the whole human race.[32] But
let us remember what the impartiality of moral judgments really
implies. I have derived it[33] from the fact that the retributive
emotions which are expressed in the moral concepts are both
disinterested, in the strict sense of the term, and are assumed by
those who feel them to be uninfluenced by the particular
relationship in which they stand to those who are immediately
affected by the acts in question and also to those who perform the
acts, or at the very least, that they are not knowingly partial.
When a person pronounces an act right or wrong, it implies that
_ceteris {206} paribus_ it is so whether he, or some friend or
enemy of his, does it to another; _or_ another does it to him, or to
some friend or enemy of his. This impartiality has nothing to do
with the question whether the agent and he to whom the act is done
belong to the same or different families, tribes, nations, or
other social groups. If it is considered wrong of a person to
cheat another belonging to his own group but not wrong to cheat a
foreigner, the impartiality of the moral emotion of disapproval,
which underlies the concept of wrongness, merely leads to a
general rule that applies to all similar cases independently of
the nationality of him who holds the view. If I maintain that a
foreigner, or a member of another class in my own society, has a
duty towards me but that I have not the same duty towards him, my
opinion can be justified only on condition that there is some
difference in the circumstances affecting the morality of the
case. People are certainly only too prone to assume that there are
such differences. When they attribute different rights to
different individuals, or classes of individuals, they are often
in reality influenced by the relationship in which they stand to
them; and reflection may be needed to decide whether the assumed
impartiality of their moral judgment is real or illusory. Indeed,
some degree of reasoning, however small, may always be needed in
order to know whether a retributive emotion is felt impartially. I
can quite subscribe to Dr. Rashdall's statement that "it is only
so far as he is a rational being that any one is capable of
impartially judging between the claims of one man and those of
another--whether that other be himself or a third person."[34] But
it seems to me to be a sheer illusion to maintain that reason
requires of us an impartiality in our conduct which makes no
difference between one {207} man and another or one sentient being
and another--Sidgwick, as we have seen, found no rational ground
for restricting our impartiality to mankind alone.[35] I cannot
find it unreasonable to endeavour to promote the welfare of my own
family or country in preference to that of other families or
countries. But my moral emotions tell me that I must allow anybody
else to show a similar preference for _his_ family or country.

[Footnote 32: _Cf._ H. Höffding, _Etik_ (Köbenhavn &
Kristiania, 1913), p. 52. ]

[Footnote 33: _Supra_, p. 90 _sqq._]

[Footnote 34: H. Rashdall, _Is Conscience an Emotion?_ (London,
1914), p. 104.]

[Footnote 35: _Supra_, p. 10.]

I think that the question, why moral rules should differ because
the persons to whom they refer are members of different social
groups, would hardly arise unless there were a correspondingly
broad altruistic sentiment behind it. Whatever part reflection may
have played in the expansion of the moral rules--prudence has
also, no doubt, had something to do with the matter--it seems to
me obvious that the dominant cause has been the widening of the
altruistic sentiment. Beyond its limits the equalization of duties
in our moral consciousness cannot go, whatever theorists may have
to say on the subject; and the varying strength of this sentiment
with regard to its objects will always prevent the rules from
being anything like uniform and always make their equalization
extremely incomplete. It is after all a very limited number of
duties that have been included in the process of expansion. The
duties that men owe to some smaller groups have never been, and
will never be, absorbed by the duties they owe to mankind at
large; and it is a mere theoretical postulate that our
concentration of altruistic behaviour upon a smaller circle of men
is only justified as the most efficient means of promoting the
good of all. Somebody has said that the right kind of patriotism
is to do good to one's own country without doing harm to anybody
else's country; and it is certainly a fact that the universal
duties {208} reached by the extension of moral rules are nearly
all such as are expressed by so-called negative commandments.

The variations of the altruistic sentiment in range and strength
are also responsible for other differences of moral opinion. Even
among ourselves there is no unanimity as to the dictates of duty
in cases where a person's own interests collide with those of his
fellow-men. I have previously discussed the utilitarian view,
formulated in Sidgwick's axiom of "rational benevolence," that,
other things being equal, no one must prefer his own lesser good
to the greater good of another.[36] He admits himself that this
principle is more rigid than the view of common sense; but, as I
pointed out, the diversity of opinion on this point is
considerably greater than he appears to have realized. I fail to
see that any process of reasoning or any "intuition" could ever
harmonize the different views. As Höffding said, no reasoning
can change an egoist into a utilitarian; his position is so far
unassailable.[37] Kant tried to demonstrate the inconsistency of
egoism by arguing that the very selfishness of men must make them
wish to act altruistically: a will which resolved that each should
be left to take care of himself without the assistance of others
would contradict itself, inasmuch as many cases might occur in
which one would have need of the sympathy of others, and in which,
by such a law sprung from his own will he would deprive himself of
all hope of the aid he desires.[38] But whatever else may be said
of this much **criticized argument, it could not possibly be used
to prove that we are morally bound to regard the happiness of
other individuals as much as we regard our own; nor is there
anything else to show that this high priest of ethical rationalism
would have assented to the utilitarian {209} demand that I am not
allowed to prefer my own lesser happiness to the greater happiness
of another man.[39] In some men the altruistic sentiment is
stronger than in others and, consequently, more apt to influence
their consciences with regard to their own conduct and their
judgments on other people's conduct. And while everybody will no
doubt agree that some amount of self-sacrifice is a duty in
certain circumstances, the amount and the circumstances can hardly
be fixed in general rules, and on the whole, in cases of
conflicting interests the judgment must to a large extent remain a
matter of private opinion.

[Footnote 36: _Supra_, p. 9 _sqq._]

[Footnote 37: Höffding, _op. cit._, p. 35.]

[Footnote 38: _Infra_, p. 274.]

[Footnote 39: _Infra_, p. 281 _sq._]

There is further the variety of moral opinion relating to men's
conduct towards the lower animals. Among savage peoples, the
Eastern nations, and the ancient Greeks and Romans, we find rules
inculcating regardful or kind behaviour towards them, which are
due partly to cognitive causes, especially religious or
superstitious ideas, and partly to kindly feelings;[40] the
altruistic sentiment has not necessarily reference to members of
the same species only--of this we have instances even among
animals in confinement and domesticated animals, which frequently
become attached to individuals of a different species with whom
they live together.[41] In the Old Testament, on the other hand,
we meet with an attitude which fundamentally differs from that of
other Eastern religions: man is the centre of creation, for whose
sake all other sentient creatures were brought into existence, and
they are given over to his supreme and irresponsible control
without the slightest injunction of kindness or the faintest
suggestion of any duties towards them. Among the Hebrews the
harshness of this anthropocentric doctrine was somewhat mitigated
by the sympathy which a simple pastoral and agricultural {210}
people naturally feels for its domestic animals; whereas in
Christianity it was further strengthened by the exclusive
importance that was attached to the spiritual salvation of man. He
was now more than ever separated from the rest of sentient beings;
even his own animal nature was regarded with contempt. St. Paul
asks with scorn, "Doth God take care for oxen?" No creed in
Christendom teaches kindness to animals as a dogma of religion,
nor is there any such allusion in most treatises on ethics which
base their teachings upon distinctly Christian tenets. The kindest
words, I think, which from a Christian point of view have been
said about animals have generally come from Protestant sectarians,
Quakers and Methodists, whereas Roman Catholic writers--with a few
exceptions,--when they deal with the subject at all, chiefly take
pains to show that abstinence from wanton cruelty is a duty not to
the animal but to man. This view was shared by Kant[42] and many
later philosophers.[43] So also the legal protection of animals
has often been vindicated on the ground that cruelty to animals
might breed cruelty to men or shows a cruel disposition of mind,
or that it wounds the sensibilities of other people.

[Footnote 40: _Moral Ideas_, ii. 490 _sqq._]

[Footnote 41: _Ibid._, i. 112.]

[Footnote 42: Kant, _Metaphysische Anfangungsgründe der
Tugendlehre_, § 16 _sq._ (_Gesammelte Schriften_, vi.
[Berlin, 1914], p. 442 _sq._).]

[Footnote 43: _E.g._, D. G. Ritchie, _Natural Rights_ (London,
1895), p. 110 _sq._; S. Alexander, _Moral Order and Progress_
(London, 1896), p. 281. According to F. H. Bradley (_Ethical
Studies_ [Oxford, 1927], p. 208), a beast is the object of duties,
but not the subject of rights.]

Indifference to animal suffering has been a characteristic of
public opinion in European countries up to quite modern times. In
1798 Thomas Young declared in his _Essay on Humanity to Animals_
that he was sensible of laying himself open to no small portion of
ridicule in offering to the public a book on such a subject.[44]
Till the {211} end of the eighteenth century and even later
cock-fighting was a very general amusement among the English and
Scotch, entering into the occupations of both the old and young.
Other pastimes indulged in were dog-fighting, bull-baiting, and
badger-baiting; and in the middle of the eighteenth century Lord
Kames described the bear-garden as one of the chief entertainments
of the English, though it was held in abhorrence by the French and
"other polite nations," being too savage an amusement to be
relished by those of a refined taste.[45] As late as 1824 Sir
Robert (then Mr.) Peel argued strongly against the legal
prohibition of bull-baiting.[46]

[Footnote 44: T. Young, _An Essay on Humanity to Animals_ (London,
1798), p. 1.]

[Footnote 45: Kames, _Essays on the Principles of Morality and
Natural Religion_ (Edinburgh, 1751), p. 7.]

[Footnote 46: T. C. Hansard, _Parliamentary Debates_, N. S., x.
(London, 1824), p. 491 _sqq._]

About two years previously, however, humanity to animals had, for
the first time, become a subject of English legislation by the Act
which prevented cruel and improper treatment of cattle. It was
afterwards followed by others prohibiting cruelty to domestic
animals and wild animals in captivity; and subsequently similar
laws were made in most continental countries. In the course of the
nineteenth century humanity to animals, from being conspicuous in
a few individuals only, became the keynote of a movement gradually
increasing in strength. It found philosophical expression in
Utilitarianism: Bentham, Mill, and, I believe, the utilitarian
school generally, applied their doctrine to all beings capable of
feeling pleasure and pain.[47]

[Footnote 47: J. S. Mill, _Dissertations and Discussions_, ii.
(London, 1859), p. 482. Sidgwick, _op. cit._, p. 414.]

This rapidly increasing sympathy with animal suffering was no
doubt to a considerable extent due to the declining faith in the
anthropocentric doctrine and to the influence of another theory,
which regards man not as separated {212} from the lower animals by
a special act of creation, but as a being generally akin to them
and only representing a higher stage in the scale of mental
evolution; the orthodox contempt for the dumb brutes was
superseded by feelings of affinity and kindly interest. But apart
from any theory, growing reflection has also taught men to be more
considerate in their treatment of animals by producing a more
vivid idea of their sufferings. Human thoughtlessness has been
responsible for much needless pain inflicted on them, and in spite
of some improvement it is so still. On the other hand, the
movement advocating greater humanity to animals is itself by no
means free from inconsistencies and lack of discrimination. Take
for instance the present crusade against vivisection, as compared
with the general indifference to the sufferings caused to wild
animals in sport. The vivisector, who in cold blood torments his
helpless victim in the interest of science and for the benefit of
mankind is called a coward, whereas the sportsman who inflicts
agonies on the creature he pursues for sheer amusement escapes all
censure and is rather looked up to. The pursued animal, it is
argued, has "free chances of escape."[48] This is an excellent
argument--provided we share the North American Indian's conviction
that an animal can never be killed without its own permission.

[Footnote 48: F. P. Cobbe, _The Modern Rack. Papers on
Vivisection_ (London, 1889), p. 10.]

The extreme views about our duties to animals may still be
modified, on one side by a clearer representation of animal
suffering and on the other side by the recognition of certain
facts, often overlooked, which make it unreasonable to regard
conduct towards dumb creatures in exactly the same light as
conduct towards men. Apart from the difference in grades of
sentience, it should be {213} remembered that animals have none of
those long-protracted anticipations of future misery or death
which we have.[49] If they are destined to serve as meat they are
not aware of it; and many domestic animals would never have come
into existence and been able to enjoy what appears a very happy
life, but for the purpose of being used as food. Yet though
greater intellectual discrimination may lessen the divergencies of
moral opinion on the subject, nothing like unanimity may be
expected, for the simple reason that humanity to animals is
ultimately based on the altruistic sentiment, and sympathy with
the animal world is a feeling which varies greatly in different
individuals. The utilitarian proposition that it is our duty to
aim at the good _universal_, interpreted and defined as "happiness"
or "pleasure," certainly makes it "arbitrary and unreasonable to
exclude from the end, as so conceived, any pleasure of any
sentient being";[50] but that proposition could never have been
made if there had been no tendency to sympathize with the feelings
of animals. And even if it be universally admitted that we ought
to pay _some_ regard to their feelings, it is impossible to suppose
that the same could ever be the case with the claim that they
should be regarded equally with the feelings of men.

[Footnote 49: _Cf._ J. Bentham, _An Introduction to the Principles
of Morals and Legislation_ (Oxford, 1879), p. 311 n.]

[Footnote 50: Sidgwick, _op. cit._, p. 414.]

       *       *      *       *       *

To ethical writers who believe in the objective validity of moral
judgments moral evolution implies a progressive discovery of
values as a matter of reflection or thought, which follows in the
wake of experience. They are fond of arguing that the changes of
moral opinion are on a par with the discoveries made in
mathematics, physics, and other sciences, which have been disputed
quite as {214} fiercely as any differences of moral valuation.[51]
"Moral principles," says Locke, "require reasoning and discourse,
and some exercise of the mind, to discover the certainty of their
truth. They lie not open as natural characters engraven on the
mind; which, if any such were, they must needs be visible by
themselves, and by their own light be certain and known to
everybody. But this is no derogation to their truth and certainty;
no more than it is to the truth or certainty of the three angles
of a triangle being equal to two right ones, because it is not so
evident as, 'the whole is bigger than a part,' nor so apt to be
assented to at first hearing. It may suffice that these moral
rules are capable of demonstration: and therefore it is our own
faults if we come not to a certain knowledge of them."[52] We are
reminded of the fact that "in the physical region the existence of
divergent ideas does not throw doubt upon the existence of a
reality independent of our ideas,"[53] and that in speculative
philosophy, history, social science, politics, where opinions
differ still more widely, "nobody seriously doubts that there is a
truth to be found, and that it is discoverable by a proper use of
the intellectual faculties which we possess."[54] Professor Sorley
remarks that the progress of moral ideas shows {215} no greater
transformation than the theories of science, which at one time
seemed firmly established but "have given place to other theories
which include a wider sweep, and a better understanding of each
portion, of experience."[55] Some earlier writers have gone much
farther. Buckle wrote:--"There is, unquestionably, nothing to be
found in the world which has undergone so little change as those
great dogmas of which moral systems are composed. . . . If we
contrast this stationary aspect of moral truths with the progressive
aspect of intellectual truths, the difference is indeed startling."[56]
According to Mackintosh, "morality admits no discoveries. . . . The
facts which lead to the formation of moral rules are as accessible,
and must be as obvious, to the simplest barbarian, as to the most
enlightened philosopher. . . . The case of the physical and
speculative sciences is directly opposite."[57] In spite of their
obvious exaggerations, I think there is this much truth in these
statements that the changes of moral ideas appear small when compared
with the enormous progress in knowledge our race has made on its path
from savagery to modern civilization. And the reason for this is that
while intellectual evolution has been a perpetual succession of new
discoveries, the changes of moral ideas have been no discoveries at
all, but only been due to more or less varying reactions of the
moral emotions.

[Footnote 51: Sorley, _op. cit._, pp. 136, 137, 163 _sqq._
Heymans, _op. cit._, p. 20 _sq._ Laird, _The Idea of Value_
(Cambridge, **1929), p. 234.]

[Footnote 52: Locke, _An Essay concerning Human Understanding_, i.
2. 1, vol. i. (Oxford, 1894), p. 64 _sq._ _Cf._ _ibid._, iv. 3.
18, vol. ii. 208. According to N. Hartmann (_Ethik_ [Berlin &
Leipzig, 1926], p. 142), "die Wertblindheit . . . steht vollkommen
auf einer Linie mit dem theoretischen Nichteinsehenkönnen des
mathematisch Ungeschulten oder Unbegabten."]

[Footnote 53: H. Rashdall, _The Theory of Good and Evil_, ii.
(Oxford, 1924), p. 211. _Cf._ Th. Lipps, _Die ethischen
Grundfragen_ (Leipzig & Hamburg, 1912), p. 2.]

[Footnote 54: Rashdall, _op. cit._, ii. 152. _Cf._ A. C. Ewing,
_The Morality of Punishment with some Suggestions for a general
Theory of Ethics_ (London, 1929), p. 10 _sq._]

[Footnote 55: Sorley, _op. cit._, p. 106.]

[Footnote 56: Buckle, _op. cit._, p. 180 _sq._]

[Footnote 57: _Memoirs of the Life of Sir James Mackintosh_,
edited by his son, R. J. Mackintosh, i. (London, 1835), pp. 119,

But while the objectivists cannot be accused of exaggerating the
changes in our theoretical knowledge as compared with those in
moral opinion, they have failed to see that the causes of these
changes are in a large measure fundamentally different. The
theoretical differences can be removed by sufficient observation
and reflection, owing {216} to the general uniformity of our
sense-perceptions and intellect. It has been said that "the moral
convictions of thoughtful and well-educated people are the data of
ethics just as sense-perceptions are the data of a natural
science. Just as some of the latter have to be rejected as
illusory, so have some of the former; but as the latter are
rejected only when they are in conflict with other more accurate
sense-perceptions, the former are rejected only when they are in
conflict with other convictions which stand better the test of
reflection."[58] But, surely, there is an enormous difference
between the possibility of harmonizing conflicting
sense-perceptions and that of harmonizing conflicting moral
convictions. When the sense-perceptions vary in the presence of
the same object, as when the object looks different under
different objective conditions or if the beholding eye is normal
or colour-blind, the variations can be accounted for by reference
to the external conditions or the structure of the organ, and they
in no way affect our conceptions of things as they really are. So
also a hallucination is easily distinguished from a perception
when we learn by experience that its object does not exist,
whereas the perception has an existing object. On the other hand
we all know that there often is a conflict between the moral
convictions of "thoughtful and well-educated people," nay, even
between the moral "intuitions" of philosophers, which proves
irreconcilable. This is just what may be expected if moral
opinions are based on emotions. The moral emotions depend upon
cognitions, but the same cognitions may give rise to emotions that
differ, in quality or intensity, in different persons or in the
same person on different occasions, and then there is nothing that
could make the emotions uniform. Certain cognitions inspire fear
into nearly every breast, but there {217} are brave men and
cowards in the world, independently of the accuracy with which
they realize impending danger. Some cases of suffering can hardly
fail to call forth compassion in the most pitiless heart; but
men's disposition to feel pity varies greatly, both in regard to
the beings for whom it is felt and as to the intensity of the
emotion. The same holds true of the moral emotions. To a large
extent, as we have seen, their differences depend upon the
presence of different cognitions, but very frequently the emotions
also differ though the cognitions are the same. The variations of
the former kind do not interfere with the belief in the
universality of moral judgments, but when the variations of the
moral emotions may be traced to different persons' tendencies to
feel differently in similar circumstances on account of the
particular nature of their altruistic sentiments, the supposed
universality of moral judgments is a delusion.

[Footnote 58: W. D. Ross, _The Right and the Good_ (Oxford, 1930),
p. 41.]

It will perhaps be argued that, with sufficient insight into
facts, there would be no diversity of moral opinion if only the
moral consciousness of all men were "sufficiently developed"; this
in fact was the explanation given by Sidgwick in a conversation
which I had with him on his moral axioms. But what is meant by a
sufficiently developed moral consciousness? Practically, I
suppose, nothing else than agreement with the speaker's own moral
convictions. The expression is faulty and deceptive, because, if
intended to mean anything more, it presupposes a universality of
moral judgments which they do not possess, and at the same time
may appear to prove what it presupposes. We may speak of an
intellect sufficiently developed to grasp a certain truth, because
truth is one; but it is not proved to be one by the fact that it
is recognized as such by a "sufficiently" developed intellect. The
universality of truth lies in the recognition of judgments {218}
as true by all who have a _full_ knowledge of the facts concerned,
and the appeal to a _sufficient_ knowledge rightly _assumes_ that
truth is universal.

That moral judgments could not possibly possess that universality
which is characteristic of truth becomes particularly obvious when
we consider that their predicates vary not only in quality but in
quantity. There are no degrees of truth and falsehood;[59] but
there are degrees of goodness and badness, virtues and merits may
be greater or smaller, a duty may be more or less stringent, and
if there are no degrees of rightness, the reason for it is that
right simply means conformity to the rule of duty. This difference
between truth and moral values has been expressly recognized even
by writers who uphold the objectivity of the latter, such as
Brentano[60] and Martineau. The latter writes:--"Good and Evil, in
will and character, cannot be reduced to the True and False;
because the latter are unsusceptible of degrees, which attach to
the very essence of the former. . . . Truth has no comparative or
superlative: it can never be less than true, and never more: its
existence is its perfection."[61]

[Footnote 59: _Cf._ H. H. Joachim, _The Nature of Truth_ (Oxford,
1906), p. 87; L. A. Reid, _Knowledge and Truth_ (London, 1923), p.

[Footnote 60: F. Brentano, _Vom Ursprung sittlicher Erkenntnis_
(Leipzig, 1921), p. 23.]

[Footnote 61: J. Martineau, _Types of Ethical Theory_, ii.
(Oxford, 1891), p. 472.]

The quantitative differences of moral estimates are plainly due to
the emotional origin of all moral concepts. Emotions vary in
intensity almost indefinitely, and the moral emotions form no
exception to this rule. Indeed, it may be fairly doubted whether
the same mode of conduct ever arouses exactly the same degree of
approval or disapproval in any two individuals. Many of these
differences are of course too slight to manifest themselves in the
{219} moral judgment; but very frequently the intensity of the
emotion is indicated by some special word, or by the tone in which
the judgment is pronounced. It should be noticed, however, that
the quantity of the estimate expressed in a moral predicate is not
identical with the intensity of the moral emotion which a certain
course of conduct arouses on a particular occasion. We are liable
to feel more indignant if an injury is committed before our eyes
than if we read of it in a newspaper, and yet we admit that the
degree of badness is in both cases the same. The comparative
quantity of moral estimates is determined by the intensity of the
emotions which their objects tend to evoke in exactly similar



All ethical theories are based on facts of the moral
consciousness. Without such an empirical foundation none of them
could have come into existence and, least of all, gained any
supporters. The normative theories have uniformly adopted the
common sense idea of the objectivity of moral judgments, which I
have tried to prove to be a mistaken interpretation of certain
data of our moral experience. But apart from this idea there must
be in the moral consciousness facts that account for the origin of
all the various theories; and if my view of the emotional basis of
moral judgments is correct, these facts must of course be in
agreement with it. I shall now proceed to a discussion of the
psychological background of normative theories in other points
than their claim to objective validity.

Most ethical theories have recognized that there is some
connection between moral valuation and the production of pleasure
or pain; indeed I think there is none that has completely failed
to do so, if not expressly at least by implication. This is just
what must be expected if all moral valuation ultimately springs
from moral emotions and the moral emotions are by nature
retributive, either a kindly attitude of mind towards a person as
a cause of pleasure or a hostile attitude of mind towards a person
as a cause of pain; and I know no other satisfactory explanation
of the connection between moral judgments and {221} the feelings
of pleasure and pain. This connection is most directly expressed
in the theories of egoistic and universalistic hedonism. The
former has been generally repudiated, the latter very widely
accepted. This seems to indicate that the support which egoistic
hedonism derives from the moral consciousness must be very scanty,
and the support which universalistic hedonism derives from it must
be very considerable.

I have previously pointed out that if by egoistic hedonism is
meant the doctrine that it is everybody's _duty_ to seek his own
happiness as the ultimate end of his actions and to treat all
other objects as subservient to this end, it is doubtful whether
it may be found anywhere outside the scope of theological
hedonism, and there only on the understanding that happiness means
everlasting happiness in the world to come. This doctrine,
however, may, if its theological assumptions are accepted, be
defended even from the universalistic point of view, since the
total amount of happiness which a man can produce in this world
would be utterly insignificant in comparison with the infinite
reward in store for him hereafter, if he obeys the law of God, and
the tremendous penalty of disobeying it. Moreover, the doctrine in
question may also be styled universalistic hedonism owing to the
assumption that God wishes the happiness of his creatures and
consequently will make men happy or miserable according as they
designedly increase or decrease the happiness of their fellow-men.
Apart from all theological considerations it has been argued, for
example, by Bentham in his _Deontology_, that a man best promotes
his own happiness by promoting the general happiness. But in this
untenable argument the supposed general effect seems rather to
serve as a justification of egoism than egoism as the moral basis
of universalism.

{222} Most moralists who are commonly looked upon as egoistic
hedonists do not say that it is a man's _duty_ always to aim at his
own happiness. According to Aristippus, the Cyrenaic, every one
desires pleasure and seeks to avoid pain; this is the case even
with infants, nay, with all living beings.[1] All pleasure is of
the same kind as a feeling, independently of the source from which
it comes;[2] and the wise man seeks the pleasure which lies
directly in his way, the pleasure of the moment, without troubling
himself about the future.[3] So also Epicurus looked upon pleasure
as the end towards which all beings in the world tend as their
natural condition.[4] It is the only thing that is unconditionally
good, while the only thing that is unconditionally evil is
pain.[5] But true pleasure is satisfaction, tranquillity of soul,
freedom from pain, not a yearning which, though momentarily
stilled, bursts forth again.[6] In order to reach the ideal of
life--a mind released from perturbation--a man requires the
assistance of others; hence friendship is the best of all good
things.[7] But to aim at the desirable state of mind is not
represented by Epicurus either as a duty or a virtue. He expressly
says that virtue is of value only as a means of obtaining it, only
as a source of pleasure.[8] Virtue as such is nothing but an empty

[Footnote 1: Diogenes Laertius, _De clarorum philosophorum vitis_,
ii. 87 _sq._]

[Footnote 2: _Ibid._, ii. 87.]

[Footnote 3: M. Wundt, _Geschichte der griechischen Ethik_, i.
(Leipzig, 1908), p. 412.]

[Footnote 4: Diogenes Laertius, _op. cit._, x. 129, 137. Cicero,
_De finibus_, i. 7. 23; i. 9. 30.]

[Footnote 5: Diogenes Laertius, _op. cit._, x. 128 _sq._ Cicero,
_op. cit._, i. 9. 29 _sq._]

[Footnote 6: Diogenes Laertius, _op. cit._, x. 131, 132, 136, 139.
Cicero, _op. cit._, i. 11. 37 _sq._ W. Wallace, _Epicureanism_
(London, 1880), p. 147. Wundt, _op. cit._, ii. (Leipzig, 1911), p.
188 _sqq._]

[Footnote 7: Diogenes Laertius, _op. cit._, x. 148.]

[Footnote 8: _Ibid._, x. 138. Cicero, _op. cit._, i. 13. 42 _sqq._
Seneca, _Epistulae_, 85. 18.]

[Footnote 9: Wundt, _op. cit._, ii. 184.]

According to a later doctrine of egoism, the one set {223} forth
by Mandeville, that which we call virtue is merely selfishness
masquerading. All untaught animals are only solicitous of pleasing
themselves. The chief thing, therefore, that legislators and
politicians were intent upon was to try to make the people they
were to govern believe that it was most beneficial for everybody
to conquer his appetites, to forgo his own interests, and to
pursue those which they themselves had in view. They discovered
that flattery was the most powerful instrument for inducing the
people to do so. Virtue was the name given to every performance by
which man, contrary to the impulse of nature, endeavours to
benefit others or to subdue his own passions. "The moral virtues
are the political offspring which flattery begot upon pride."[10]

[Footnote 10: B. de Mandeville, "An Enquiry into the Origin of
Moral Virtue," in _The Fable of the Bees: or, Private Vices,
Publick Benefits_ (London, 1724), p. 27 _sqq._]

Max Stirner, the arch-egoist, says that to him the words good and
bad are devoid of all meaning.[11] People have so long been taught
that they ought to suppress their selfishness, that they at last
have come to believe it, or in any case try to give the impression
of doing so. But they thereby sacrifice their inalienable
property, their freedom. They need not refrain from acting as they
have been told by religion or morality, from loving their
fellow-men and trying to make them happy; but the free man does so
only because it gives satisfaction to himself. There is no duty to
do anything, a man may do whatever he has power to do.[12]

[Footnote 11: M. Stirner, _Der Einzige und sein Eigentum_
(Leipzig, 1901), p. 8.]

[Footnote 12: _Ibid._, _passim_.]

While the doctrine that it is a man's duty to seek his own
happiness as the ultimate end of his actions is not a
characteristic of all theories that might be comprised under the
heading "egoistic hedonism," it is very widely {224} held outside
the limits of any theory that may be called by this name, that it
is a man's duty in many cases and many ways to look after his own
interests. According to current ideas men owe to themselves a
variety of duties resembling those they owe to their fellow-men.
They are forbidden to take their own lives, they are in some
measure considered to be under an obligation to support their
existence, to take care of their bodies, to preserve their
personal freedom, not to waste their property, to exhibit
self-respect, and in general to promote their own happiness or
welfare. And closely related to these self-regarding duties there
are self-regarding virtues, such as diligence, thrift, temperance.
But the duties which we are considered to owe to ourselves are
generally much less emphasized than those we are considered to owe
to others, and a prudential virtue does not receive the same
praise as one springing from a desire to promote the welfare of a
fellow-man. Many moralists even maintain that, properly speaking,
there are no self-regarding duties and virtues at all; that useful
action which is useful to ourselves alone is no matter for moral
notice; that in every case duties towards oneself may be reduced
to duties towards others; that intemperance and extravagant
luxury, for instance, are blamable only because they tend to the
public detriment, and that prudence is a virtue only in so far as
it is employed in promoting public interest.[13] In Positivism
all moral questions are referred to the well-being of Humanity,
and by "duty" is understood a useful social function {225}
voluntarily discharged.[14] Fichte said, "There is only one
virtue--to forget one's own person, and only one vice--to think of

[Footnote 13: F. Hutcheson, _An Inquiry into the Original of our
Ideas of Beauty and Virtue_ (London, 1738), pp. 133, 201. J.
Grote, _A Treatise on the Moral Ideals_ (Cambridge, 1876), p. 77
_sqq._ W. K. Clifford, _Lectures and Essays_ (London, 1886), pp.
298, 335. R. von Jhering, _Der Zweck im Recht_, ii. (Leipzig,
1883), p. 225. J. E. Heyde, "'Ich' und das Sittliche," in _Studier
tillågnade Efraim Liljeqvist_, i. (Lund, 1930), pp. 210,

[Footnote 14: J. K. Ingram, _Human Nature and Morals according to
Auguste Comte_ (London, 1901), p. 57 _sqq._]

[Footnote 15: J. G. Fichte, _Die Grundzüge des
gegenwärtigen Zeitalters_, 3 (_Sämmtliche Werke_, vii.
[Berlin, 1846], p. 35).]

It is true that any kind of conduct which in a considerable degree
immediately affects a person's own welfare is at the same time apt
to affect, to some extent, the well-being of other individuals,
and that the moral ideas concerning such conduct as is called
self-regarding are more or less influenced by considerations as to
its bearing upon others. But this is certainly not the only factor
that determines the judgment passed on it. There are circumstances
which give rise to moral judgments with direct reference to the
effect a person's behaviour has on his own well-being. In the
education of children various courses of self-regarding conduct
are strenuously insisted upon by parents and teachers. What they
censure or punish is regarded as wrong, what they praise or reward
is regarded as good; for, as we have noticed before, men have a
tendency to sympathize with the retributive emotions of persons
for whom they feel regard.[16] Moreover, in cases of
self-inflicted harm the injury committed may excite sympathetic
resentment towards the agent, although the victim is his own self.
Plato asks in his _Laws_, "What ought he to suffer who murders his
nearest and so-called dearest friend? I mean, he who kills
himself."[17] And the same point of view is conspicuous in St.
Augustine's argument, that the more innocent the self-murderer was
before he committed his deed the greater is his guilt in taking
his life[18]--an argument of particular force in connection {226}
with a theology which condemns suicides to everlasting torments,
and regards it as a man's first duty to save his soul. It should
also be noticed that disinterested likes or dislikes lead to moral
approval or disapproval of conduct which is essentially
self-regarding. But at the same time it is not difficult to see
why self-regarding duties and virtues only occupy a subordinate
place in our moral consciousness. The influence which
self-regarding conduct exercises upon other persons' welfare is
mostly too remote to attract attention. In education there is no
need to emphasize any other self-regarding duties and virtues but
those which, for the sake of the individual's general welfare,
require some sacrifice of his immediate pleasure or comfort. The
compassion we are apt to feel for the victim of an injury is
naturally much lessened by the fact that it is self-inflicted--it
is his own fault. And, on the other hand, indignation against the
offender is disarmed by the fact that he has got his punishment.

[Footnote 16: _Supra_, p. 106 _sq._]

[Footnote 17: Plato, _Leges_, ix. 873.]

[Footnote 18: St. Augustine, _De Civitate Dei_, i. 17.]

I have now spoken of self-regarding conduct that does not
perceptibly interfere with the interests of other individuals.
Sometimes it is looked upon as a duty, sometimes as praiseworthy,
but in the large majority of cases it is treated with moral
indifference, whatever theorists may have to say about it.[19] It
becomes a matter of acute moral concern mainly when it affects
other individuals' well-being, and then a problem may arise which
the agent finds very difficult to solve. The conflict is not
generally between what he may consider to be a duty to himself and
what he may consider to be a duty to others, but between his right
to promote his own well-being and his duty to respect the right of
somebody else. Universalistic hedonism or utilitarianism has laid
down the rule that it is a duty for each person to aim at the
greatest amount {227} of happiness on the whole, taking into
account all whose happiness is affected by the conduct and at his
own happiness as an element of the whole. It has, from the point
of view of common sense, greatly exaggerated the _duty_ of
promoting one's own happiness by putting it on a par with the duty
of promoting the happiness of others. Who would really consider it
a duty for a person to seek his own happiness in every case where
it implies a sacrifice of the lesser happiness of another? Who
would consider it to be in the same degree my duty to refrain from
doing harm to myself as to refrain from doing the same amount of
harm to another, for instance, to avoid causing an economic loss
to myself as to avoid causing a similar loss to another? At the
same time, I may, according to current moral ideas, have a _right_
to seek my own happiness in many cases where it involves a
lessening of some other person's happiness, even though I could
claim no counterbalancing gain to anybody else as an excuse for my
action.[20] Utilitarianism, on the other hand, requires the
sacrifice of the agent's private interests where they are
incompatible with the greatest happiness of the greatest number.
And it also requires that the happiness of every other individual
should be considered as much as that of any one else, unless there
are special grounds for believing that a greater amount of
happiness is likely to be realized in the one case than in the

[Footnote 19: _Moral Ideas_, i. 154 _sqq._]

[Footnote 20: See _supra_, p. 13 _sq._]

Generally speaking, the origin of utilitarianism may be traced to
the nature of the moral emotions. In the first place, as we have
seen, they are retributive emotions, moral approval being a kindly
attitude of mind towards a cause of pleasure and moral disapproval
a hostile attitude of mind towards a cause of pain: we approve a
person who causes pleasure and condemn one who causes {228} pain.
Thus our moral emotions are produced by exactly the same facts,
the giving of pleasure and the infliction of pain, as
utilitarianism considers the criteria of moral and immoral
conduct. In the second place, moral approval and disapproval, in
distinction from other retributive emotions, such as gratitude and
anger, are disinterested, in the strict sense of the term, and
apparently impartial; in other words, they are felt independently
of any reference that the conduct causing them may have to the
interests of those who feel them, and are also assumed by these
persons to be uninfluenced by the particular relationship in which
they stand both to those who are immediately affected by the acts
in question and to those who perform them. But these essential
characteristics of the moral emotions do not lead, for reasons
already indicated, to the exaggerated ideas expressed in the
utilitarian formula as to the duty of promoting one's own
happiness; nor are they, on the other hand, sufficient to explain
either its reduction of a person's rights when his interests
conflict with those of others, or its requirement that the
happiness of every other individual shall be considered as much as
that of any one else. The disinterestedness of the moral emotions
cannot admit that one person has a right to promote his own
happiness in circumstances where andother similar person has no
such right; but it is not opposed to the rule that every similar
person may in similar circumstances seek his own happiness on an
occasion when it involves a decrease of happiness on the whole. So
also the impartiality of the moral emotions does not allow a
person to treat another differently from any one else on account
of the particular relationship in which he stands to him
personally, unless every similar person is admitted to have a
similar right in similar circumstances. It does not prevent us
from paying greater attention to the interests {229} of our own
family or nation than to the interests of other families or
nations, quite apart from its effect on happiness as a whole. The
utilitarian formula is not a mere expression of the
disinterestedness and impartiality of the moral emotions, and
cannot therefore be regarded as anything like a moral axiom: its
universalism, as I have said before, is undoubtedly closely
connected with a corresponding expansion of the altruistic
sentiment. This sentiment is an important cause of the moral
emotions, but its scope may vary indefinitely without affecting
their essential nature, and may consequently give rise to very
different moral judgments; and if extended to the whole sentient
creation, universalistic hedonism may be the result. These facts,
in addition to the specific nature of the moral emotions, help us
to understand the great popularity of utilitarianism in a world
imbued with the ethics of the New Testament. As Stuart Mill
pointed out, "to do as one would be done by, and to love one's
neighbour as oneself, constitute the ideal perfection of
utilitarian morality."[21]

[Footnote 21: J. S. Mill, _Utilitarianism_ (London, 1895), p. 24

Though widely accepted, especially by earlier generations,
utilitarianism has been subjected to much criticism. It has been
argued that it is impossible to foresee all the hedonic
consequences of one's own or any other person's conduct in a
certain case; that different people often feel differently in the
same circumstances, that one man's feelings cannot, therefore, be
estimated and dealt with as if they were identical with another
man's feelings, and that it is impossible to know the differences
between them; that neither pleasure nor pain admit of a rigid
application of the rules of arithmetic and algebra; and so forth.
Much of this criticism has no bearing upon the question I am now
discussing, but a few remarks, besides those {230} already made,
are appropriate in the present connection.

The first and most fundamental assumption involved in the very
conception of "greatest happiness" as an end of action is the
commensurability of pleasures and pains. The pleasures sought and
the pains shunned are assumed to have determinate quantitative
relations to each other, since otherwise they cannot be conceived
as possible elements of a total of which we are to seek the
maximum, and in the comparison and balancing between them pain is
reckoned as the negative quality of pleasure. It is strange,
however, that the expounders of utilitarianism, who have taken so
much trouble to vindicate the psychological commensurability of
pleasures and pains should have failed to notice that they are far
from commensurable in the moral valuation of conduct. There the
production of a certain amount of pain is not _eo ipso_
counterbalanced by what may be psychologically regarded as an
equal, nay, a greater amount of pleasure; not even a cock-fight is
nowadays considered justified by the amusement it gives to any
number of people. The large majority of duties enjoin abstinence
from the infliction of pain, or alleviation or prevention of pain,
and these are practically the only duties to fellow-creatures that
the customs and laws of all peoples insist upon. To promote the
positive happiness of others is mostly looked upon as laudable,
not as a duty. This is not in agreement with the utilitarian view
that "it is always wrong for a man knowingly to do anything other
than what he believes to be most conducive to universal
happiness";[22] but it is in perfect agreement with my theory of
the emotional origin of moral judgments. The hostile attitude of
mind towards a cause of pain is a much more frequent and a much
stronger emotion than the kindly attitude of mind towards a cause
of pleasure, and the {231} altruistic sentiment, which plays such
an important part in the formation of moral resentment and moral
retributive kindly emotion, is much more readily moved by the
sight of pain than by the sight of pleasure. Indeed, the latter
emotion has powerful rivals in the feelings of jealousy and envy,
which may even excite anger against him who bestows the benefit
upon the other individual.[23] The author of the utilitarian
formula "the greatest happiness of the greatest number" laid all
stress on positive happiness, which he looked upon as "far
superior to misery, even in this world."[24] But we may rather
second Dr. Goldscheid's proposition that the chief moral criterion
is "the smallest pain of the smallest number."[25]

[Footnote 22: H. Sidgwick, _The Methods of Ethics_ (London, 1913),
p. 492.]

[Footnote 23: _Supra_, p. 98.]

[Footnote 24: F. Hutcheson, _A System of Moral Philosophy_, i.
(London, 1755). p. 190.]

[Footnote 25: R. Goldscheid, _Zur Ethik des Gesamtwillens_, i.
(Leipzig, 1902), p. 383.]

Utilitarianism would, of course, be utterly incompatible with the
morality of common sense if it taught that we are to determine the
morality of a particular mode of conduct by computing its probable
effects in each individual case. Such a doctrine would be as
absurd as to maintain, on the principle I am advocating, that the
moral judgments depend upon the emotions felt by persons at the
moment they pronounce them. Those judgments are largely
expressions of tendencies in certain classes of conduct to arouse
moral emotions; to say of a theft that it is wrong implies that an
act of this kind has a tendency to call forth moral disapproval.
So also a utilitarian does not hold that it is wrong because it in
this particular case produces more pain than pleasure; it is not
at all certain that it really does so. But he insists on the
necessity of acting according to general rules instead of
attempting to show that we may calculate the consequences in each
{232} special case. Dr. Albee believes that no utilitarian but
Bentham in his _Deontology_, where the object is to guide the
individual agent in his moral life, has failed to recognize the
need of depending upon such rules; at least there is no passage in
that book which points out their importance, as opposed to
particular computations.[26] But at the same time the utilitarian
admits that there are emergencies in which a general rule may be
transgressed; as in a case of special need--"necessity knows no
law,"--or when the general utility of truth-speaking is outweighed
by particular, bad consequences, or when the keeping of a promise
ceases to be a duty if it has been procured by fraud or unlawful
violence, or if the performance of it would be injurious to the
promisee.[27] This, too, is in full agreement with the emotional
theory of moral judgments and has the support of common sense. But
I want to emphasize that the relaxation of general rules in
individual cases serves the object, not of increasing pleasure,
but of diminishing pain--unless we consider as such a case like
the telling of harmless stories to children in order to amuse

[Footnote 26: E. Albee, _A History of English Utilitarianism_
(London, 1902), pp. 188, 320.]

[Footnote 27: Sidgwick, _op. cit._, p. 443.]

It has been contended that utilitarianism cannot adequately
account for certain duties, such as justice, veracity, and
chastity. So far as criminal justice is concerned I agree: I have
previously tried to show that those theorists who think it
possible to base punishment on utilitarian considerations alone,
independently of the emotion of moral resentment, are victims of
an illusion.[28] As for veracity, there is also some truth in the

[Footnote 28: _Supra_, p. 78 _sqq._]

In a large measure this duty undoubtedly has a utilitarian
foundation: he who tells a lie generally commits an {233} injury
against another person; his act consequently calls forth
sympathetic resentment, and becomes an object of moral censure.
Men have a natural disposition to believe what they are told, but
they also like to know the truth; curiosity is displayed even by
many of the higher animals. In our endeavour to learn the truth we
are frustrated by him who deceives us, and he becomes an object of
our resentment. Nor are we injured by a deception merely because
we like to know the truth, but, chiefly, because it is of much
importance for us that we should know it. Our conduct is
influenced by ideas; hence the erroneous notion as regards some
fact in the past, present, or future, which is produced by a lie,
may lead to unforeseen events detrimental to our interests.
Moreover, on discovering that we have been deceived, we have the
humiliating feeling that another person has impertinently made our
conduct subject to his will. This is a wound on our pride, a blot
on our honour. "The lie," says Sainte-Palaye, "has always been
considered the most fatal and irreparable affront that a man of
honour could receive."[29] How largely the condemnation of
falsehood is due to the harm suffered by the victim appears from
the fact that a lie is held more condemnable in proportion to the
magnitude of the harm caused by it. But even in apparently
trifling cases the reflective mind insists upon the necessity of
truthfulness. Every lie may have a tendency to lessen mutual
confidence, to predispose the perpetrator to commit a similar
offence in the future, and to serve as a bad example for
others.[30] Contrariwise, as Aristotle observes, he who is
truthful in unimportant matters will be all the more so in
important ones.[31] Similar considerations, however, {234} require
a certain amount of reflection and far-sightedness; hence
intellectual development tends to increase the emphasis laid on
the duty of veracity. At the earlier stages of civilization it is
frequently considered good form to tell an untruth to a person in
order to please him, and ill-mannered to contradict him, however
much he be mistaken, for the reason that farther consequences are
left out of account. The utilitarian basis of the duty of
truthfulness also accounts for those extreme cases in which
deception is held permissible or even a duty, either in
self-defence or when promoting the true interests of the person

[Footnote 29: De la Curne de Sainte-Palaye, _Mémoires sur
l'ancienne chevalerie_, i. (Paris, 1781), p. 78.]

[Footnote 30: _Cf._ J. Bentham, _Theory of Legislation_ (London,
1882), p. 260.]

[Footnote 31: Aristotle, _Ethica Nicomachea_, iv. 7. 8.]

But untruthfulness is not merely condemned on utilitarian grounds,
on account of the harm it is apt to cause: it is an object of
disinterested, moral resentment also because it is intrinsically
antipathetic. Lying is a cheap and cowardly method of gaining an
undue advantage, and is consequently despised where courage is
respected. It is the weapon of the weak, the woman, and the slave.
Fraud, says Cicero, is the property of a fox, force that of a
lion; "both are utterly repugnant to society, but fraud is the
more detestable."[32] "To lie is servile," says Plutarch, "and
most hateful in all men, hardly to be pardoned even in poor
slaves."[33] On account of its cowardliness, lying was
incompatible with Teutonic and knightly notions of manly honour;
and among ourselves the epithets "liar" and "coward" are equally
disgraceful to a man. "All . . . in the rank and station of
gentlemen," says Sir Walter Scott, "are forcibly called upon to
remember that they must resent the imputation of a voluntary
falsehood as the most gross injury."[34] Fichte asks, "Whence
comes that internal {235} shame for one's self which manifests
itself even stronger in the case of a lie than in the case of any
other violation of conscience?" And his answer is, that the lie is
accompanied with cowardice, and that nothing so much dishonours us
in our own eyes as want of courage.[35] According to Kant, "a lie
is the abandonment, and, as it were, the annihilation, of the
dignity of a man."[36]

[Footnote 32: Cicero, _De officiis_, i. 13.]

[Footnote 33: Plutarch, _De educatione puerorum_, 14.]

[Footnote 34: W. Scott, "Essay on Chivalry," in _Miscellaneous
Prose Works_, vi. (Edinburgh, 1827), p. 58.]

[Footnote 35: J. G. Fichte, _Das System der Sittenlehre_ (Jena &
Leipzig, 1798), p. 370.]

[Footnote 36: Kant, _Ethische Elementarlehre_, § 9
(_Gesammelte Schriften_, vi. [Berlin, 1914], p. 429).]

The duty of chastity is a more complicated matter. I shall first
discuss moral ideas concerning sexual relations between men and
women falling outside the recognized marriage institution. Among
many uncivilized peoples both sexes enjoy perfect freedom previous
to marriage; but it seems that those who look upon unchastity in a
girl as a disgrace or punish it as a crime are, roughly speaking,
as numerous as those who condone it, and among the former the man
who seduced her is also censured or punished. Among the simpler
peoples the standard of pre-nuptial chastity in a tribe is not
proportionate to its degree of culture, but it appears, on the
contrary, that in the lowest tribes chastity is more respected
than in the higher ones. Where free intercourse prevails between
unmarried people, sexual connections between a boy and a girl are
a frequent preliminary to their marriage, and may be a regular
method of courtship or a trial before establishing more permanent
relations; and if they lead to pregnancy or the birth of a child
they often make marriage compulsory.[37] Passing to more advanced
races, we find that chastity is regarded as a duty for unmarried
women, whilst a different {236} standard of morality is generally
applied to men.[38] "Confucianism," says Mr. Griffis, "virtually
admits two standards of morality, one for man, another for woman.
. . . Chastity is a female virtue, it is a part of womanly duty,
it has little or no relation to man personally."[39] Yet it is
said that in youth, when the physical powers are not yet settled,
the superior man guards against lust.[40] Among the ancient
Hebrews fornication was forbidden to women[41] but not to men. The
action of Judah towards the supposed harlot on the way to Timnath
is mentioned as the most natural thing in the world,[42] even
though the perpetrator was a man whom his brethren "shall praise"
and before whom his "father's children shall bow down."[43]
Throughout the Mohammedan world chastity is regarded as a
stringent duty in the case of a woman, for the breach of which she
has often to pay with her life, whereas in the case of a man it is
at most held as an ideal, almost out of reach. Among the Hindus
sexual impurity is scarcely considered a sin in the men, but in
women nothing is held more execrable or abominable. In one of the
Pahlavi texts continence is recommended from the point of view of
prudence: "Commit no lustfulness, so that harm and regret may not
reach thee from thine own actions."[44] But in Zoroastrianism,
also, chastity is chiefly a female duty. Among the ancient Teutons
an unmarried woman who belonged to an honourable family was
severely punished for incontinence, and the seducer was {237}
exposed to the revenge of her family, or had to pay compensation
for his deed. In Greece the chastity of an unmarried girl was
anxiously guarded, and according to Athenian law the relatives of
a maiden who had lost her virtue could with impunity kill the
seducer on the spot. It is true that a certain class of courtesans
occupied a remarkably high position in the social life of Greece,
being admired and sought after even by the principal men; but they
did so on account of their extraordinary beauty or their
intellectual superiority. The Romans, on the other hand, regarded
the courtesan class with much contempt. But both in Greece and
Rome pre-nuptial unchastity in men, when it was not excessive[45]
or did not take some especially offensive form, was hardly
censured by public opinion. The elder Cato expressly justified
it;[46] and Cicero says that "if there be any one who thinks that
youth is to be wholly interdicted from amours with courtesans, he
certainly is very strict indeed."[47] A few other writers,
however, were more exacting.[48] Such opinions grew up especially
in connection with the Neo-Platonic and Neo-Pythagorean
philosophies, and may be traced back to the ancient masters
themselves. We are told that Pythagoras inculcated the virtue of
chastity so successfully that when ten of his disciples, being
attacked, might have escaped by crossing a bean-field, they died
to a man rather than tread down the beans, which were supposed to
have a mystic affinity with the seat of impure desires.[49] Plato,
again, is in favour of a law to the effect that "no one {238}
shall venture to touch any person of the freeborn or noble class
except his wedded wife, or in barren and unnatural lusts."[50]

[Footnote 37: _The History of Human Marriage_, i. (London, 1921),
pp. 72 _sqq._, 126 _sqq._]

[Footnote 38: _Moral Ideas_, ii. 427 _sqq._]

[Footnote 39: W. E. Griffis, _The Religions of Japan_ (London,
1895), p. 149.]

[Footnote 40: _Lun Yü_, xvi. 7 (in J. Legge, _The Chinese
Classics_, i. [Oxford, 1893]).]

[Footnote 41: _Leviticus_, xix. 29. _Deuteronomy_, xxiii. 18.]

[Footnote 42: _Genesis_, xxxviii. 15 _sqq._]

[Footnote 43: _Ibid._, xlix. 8.]

[Footnote 44: _Dînâ-î Maînôg-î Khirad_, ii. 23 _sq._
(in _The Sacred Books of the East_, xxiv. [Oxford, 1885]).]

[Footnote 45: Valerius Maximus, _Facta dictaque memorabilia_, ii.
5. 6.]

[Footnote 46: Horace, _Satirae_, i. 2. 31 _sq._]

[Footnote 47: Cicero, _Pro Coelio_, 20 (48).]

[Footnote 48: Musonius Rufus, quoted by Stobaeus, _Florilegium_,
vi. 61. J. Denis, _Histoire des théories et des
idées morales dans l'antiquité_, ii. (Paris, 1856),
p. 133 _sqq._]

[Footnote 49: Jamblichus, _De Pythagorica vita_, 31 (191).]

[Footnote 50: Plato, _Leges_, viii. 840 _sq._ _Cf._ Xenophon,
_Memorabilia_, i. 3. 8.]

Much stronger was the censure which Christianity passed on
pre-nuptial connections. While looking with suspicion even on the
life-long union of one man with one woman, the Church pronounced
all other forms of sexual intercourse to be mortal sins. In the
Penitentials sins of unchastity were the favourite topic; and the
horror of them finds an echo in the secular legislation of the
first Christian emperors. Even the innocent offspring of illicit
intercourse were punished for their parents' sins with ignominy
and loss of certain rights which belonged to other, more
respectable, members of the Church and the State. Persons of
different sex who were not united in wedlock were forbidden by the
Church to kiss each other; nay, the sexual desire itself, though
unaccompanied by any external act, was regarded as sinful in the
unmarried.[51] In this standard of purity no difference of sex was
recognized, the same obligation being imposed upon man and woman.

[Footnote 51: "Perit ergo et ipsa mente virginitas." E. Katz, _Ein
Grundriss des kanonischen Strafrechts_ (Berlin & Leipzig, 1881),
p. 114 _sq._ For the subject of kissing see also Thomas Aquinas,
_Summa theologica_, ii.-ii. 154. 4.]

In this, as in many other points of morals, there has always been
a considerable discrepancy between Christian doctrine and public
opinion in Christian countries. The influence of the ascetic
doctrine of the Church was in one respect quite contrary to its
aspirations: the institution of clerical celibacy created a large
class of people to whom illicit love was the only means of
gratifying a natural desire, and this could hardly be favourable
to the ideal of chastity. During the Middle Ages incontinence was
largely an object of ridicule rather than censure, and in the
comic {239} literature of that period the clergy are represented
as the great corrupters of domestic virtue. Whether the tenet of
chastity laid down by the code of Chivalry was taken more
seriously may be fairly doubted. For a mediaeval knight the chief
object of life was love, he who did not understand how to win a
lady was but half a man; and the difference between a lover and a
seducer was apparently slight. The Reformation brought about some
change, if in no other respect at least by making marriage lawful
for the clergy. In fits of religious enthusiasm even the secular
legislators busied themselves with acts of incontinence in which
two unmarried adults of different sex were consenting parties. In
the days of the Commonwealth, in cases of less serious breach of
chastity than adultery and incest, each man or woman was for each
offence to be committed to the common gaol for three months; and
in Scotland, after the Reformation, fornication was punished with
a severity nearly equal to that which attended the infraction of
the marriage vow. But the fate of these and similar laws has been
either to be repealed or to become invalid. For ordinary acts of
incontinence public opinion is, practically at least, the only
judge. In the case of female unchastity its sentence is severe
enough among the upper ranks of society, while, so far as the
lower classes are concerned, it varies considerably even in
different parts of the same country, and is in many cases regarded
as venial. As to similar acts committed by unmarried men, the
words which Cicero uttered on behalf of Coelius might be repeated
by any modern advocate who, in defending his client, ventured
frankly to express the popular opinion on the subject. It seems to
me that with regard to sexual relations between unmarried men and
women Christianity has done little more than establish a standard
which, though accepted perhaps in theory, is {240} hardly
recognized by the feelings of the large majority of people--or at
least of men--in Christian communities, and has introduced the
vice of hypocrisy, which apparently was little known in sexual
matters by pagan antiquity.

After this survey of facts, which are of importance for our
discussion, we now come to the main points of it. Why has sexual
intercourse between unmarried people, if both parties consent,
come to be regarded as wrong? Why are the moral opinions relating
to it so variable? Why is the standard commonly so different for
man and woman?

If marriage, as I consider most probable, is based on an instinct,
tending to preserve the next generation and thereby the species,
which has been derived from some apelike progenitor,[52] it would
from the beginning be regarded as the natural form of sexual
intercourse in the human race, whilst other, more transitory
connections would appear abnormal and consequently be disapproved
of. Some feeling of this sort, however vague, may still be very
general in the race. But it has been more or less or almost
totally suppressed by social conditions which make it impossible
for men to marry at the first outbreak of the sexual passion.

[Footnote 52: _The History of Human Marriage_, i. ch. i.]

I believe that the censure passed on pre-nuptial connections may
be principally traced to the preference which a man gives to a
virgin bride. This preference, which is probably very ancient,
seems to spring partly from a feeling akin to jealousy towards
women who have had previous connections with other men, and partly
from an instinctive appreciation of female coyness. Each sex is
attracted by the particular characteristics of the other sex, and
coyness is a female quality. In mankind, as among {241} other
mammals, the female requires to be courted, often endeavouring for
a long time to escape from the male; not only in civilized
countries may courtship mean a prolonged making of love to the
woman. And it is certainly not the woman who most readily yields
to the desires of a man that is most attractive to him; as an
ancient writer puts it, all men love seasoned dishes, not plain
meats, or plainly dressed fish, and it is modesty that gives the
bloom to beauty.[53] Conspicuous eagerness in a woman appears to a
man unwomanly, repulsive, contemptible. His ideal is the virgin;
the lustful woman he despises.

[Footnote 53: Athenaeus, _Deipnosophistae_, xiii. 16.]

Where marriage is the customary form of sexual intercourse
pre-nuptial incontinence in a woman, as suggesting lack of
modesty, is therefore apt to disgrace her. At the same time it is
a disgrace to, and consequently an offence against, her family,
especially where the ties of kinship are strong. Moreover, where
wives are purchased the unchaste girl, by lowering her market
value, deprives her father or parents of part of their property.
This commercial point of view is found not only among savage
peoples, but is expressed in the Mosaic rule:--"If a man entice a
maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely
endow her to be his wife. If her father utterly refuse to give her
unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of
virgins."[54] The girl, however, is not the only offender: the
offence against her family is divided between her and the seducer,
who is regarded in the light of a robber spoiling their
merchandise. Marriage by purchase has thus raised the standard of
female chastity, and also, to some extent, checked the
incontinence of the men. But in numerous instances where a
seduction is followed by more or less serious consequences for the
seducer, the {242} penalty he has to pay is evidently something
else than the mere market value of the girl.

[Footnote 54: _Exodus_, xxii. 16 _sq._]

Thus the men, by demanding that the women whom they marry shall be
virgins, indirectly give rise to the demand that they themselves
shall refrain from intercourse with unmarried girls, which is
considered offensive to the families of the latter. To him who
duly reflects upon the matter it is clear that the seducer does a
wrong to the woman also; but I find no indication that this idea
occurs to the savage mind. Where the seducer is censured the girl
also is censured, being regarded not as the injured party but as
an accomplice in the crime. Even in the case of rape the harm done
to the girl herself is often little thought of; and if the girl's
feelings are thus disregarded when she is an unwilling victim of
violence, it can hardly be expected that she should be an object
of pity when she is a consenting partner. Does not public opinion
in the midst of civilization turn against the dishonoured one
rather than the dishonourer?

There is yet another party to be considered, namely, the
offspring. One would imagine that to a thinking mind, not
altogether destitute of sympathetic feelings, the question what is
likely to happen to the child if the woman becomes pregnant should
present itself as one of the greatest gravity. But in judging of
matters relating to sexual morality men have generally made little
use of their reason, and been guilty of much thoughtless cruelty.
Although marriage has come into existence for the sake of the
offspring, it rarely happens that in sexual relations much
unselfish thought is bestowed upon unborn individuals. Legal
provisions in favour of illegitimate children have made men
somewhat more careful, for their own sake, but they have also
nourished the idea that the responsibility of fatherhood may be
bought off by the small sum the man {243} has to pay for the
support of his natural child. The law may exempt him even from
this duty. "La recherche de la paternité est

[Footnote 55: _Code Napoléon_, § 340.]

The great authority on the ethics of Roman Catholicism, Thomas
Aquinas, tries to prove that simple fornication is a mortal sin
chiefly because it "tends to the hurt of the life of the child who
is to be born of such intercourse," or more generally, because "it
is contrary to the good of the offspring."[56] But this tender
care for the welfare of illegitimate children seems strange when
we consider the manner in which such children have been treated by
the Catholic Church herself. It is obvious that the horror of
fornication which is expressed in the Christian doctrine is in the
main a result of the same ascetic principle that declared celibacy
superior to marriage and tolerated marriage only because it could
not be suppressed.

[Footnote 56: Thomas Aquinas, _op. cit._, ii.-ii. 154. 2.]

Moral ideas regarding unchastity have also been influenced by the
close association which exists in a refined mind between the
sexual impulse and a sentiment of affection which lasts long after
the gratification of the bodily desire. We find an outcome of this
feeling in the distinction drawn between the prostitute and the
woman who yields to temptation because she loves. To indulge in
mere sexual pleasure, unaccompanied by higher feelings, appears
brutal in a man and still more so in the case of a woman. After
all, love is generally only an episode in a man's life, whereas
for a woman it is often the whole of her life. The Greek orator
said that at the moment when a woman loses her chastity her mind
is changed.[57] On the other hand, when a man and a woman, tied to
each other {244} by deep and genuine affection, decide to live
together as husband and wife, though not joined in legal wedlock,
the censure which public opinion passes upon their conduct seems
to an unprejudiced mind justifiable at most only in so far as it
may be considered to have been their duty to comply with the laws
of their country and to submit to a rule of some social

[Footnote 57: Lysias, quoted by L. Schmidt, _Die Ethik der alten
Griechen_, i. (Berlin, 1882), p. 273.]

Among ourselves an act of incontinence assumes a different aspect
if one of the parties, either the man or the woman, is married.
Involving a breach of faith, adultery is an offence against him or
her to whom faith is due, and at the same time the seducer commits
an offence against the husband of the adulteress. But here again
our own views are not universally shared. Among savage and
barbarous tribes it is obviously the rule that conjugal fidelity,
while considered a stringent duty in the wife, is not generally
considered so in the husband, although there are interesting
exceptions to the rule; and among the peoples of ancient
civilization the law requires faithfulness of the wife alone.
Among the Hebrews adultery was a capital offence, but it
presupposed that the guilty woman was another man's wife.[58] The
Aryan nations in early times generally saw nothing objectionable
in the unfaithfulness of a married man, whereas an adulterous wife
was punished with the greatest severity.[59] Until some time after
the introduction of Christianity among the Teutons their law-books
made no mention of the infidelity of husbands, because it was
permitted by ancient custom.[60] The Romans defined adultery as
sexual intercourse with another man's wife; the intercourse of a
married man with an unmarried {245} woman was not regarded as
adultery.[61] The ordinary Greek feeling on the subject is
expressed in the oration against Neaera, ascribed to Demosthenes,
where the license accorded to husbands is spoken of as a matter of
course:--"We keep mistresses for our pleasures, concubines for
constant attendance, and wives to bear us legitimate children and
to be our faithful housekeepers."[62] In classical literature,
however, the idea that fidelity in marriage ought to be reciprocal
is not altogether unknown.[63]

[Footnote 58: _Leviticus_, xx. 10. _Deuteronomy_, xxii. 22.]

[Footnote 59: O. Schrader, _Prehistoric Antiquities of the Aryan
Peoples_ (London, 1890), p. 388.]

[Footnote 60: W. E. Wilda, _Das Strafrecht der Germanen_ (Halle,
1842), p. 821. H. Brunner, _Deutsche Rechtsgeschichte_, ii.
(Leipzig, 1892), p. 662.]

[Footnote 61: A. Vinnius, _In quatuor libros institutionum
imperialium commentarius_, iv. 18. 4, p. 993. _Cf._ _Digesta_, 1.
16. 101. 1.]

[Footnote 62: _Oratio in Neaeram_, p. 1386. _Cf._ L. Schmidt, _op.
cit._, ii. 196 _sq._]

In its condemnation of adultery Christianity made no distinction
between husband and wife.[63] If continence is a strict duty for
unmarried persons independently of their sex, the observance of
the sacred marriage vow must be so in a still higher degree. But
here again there is a considerable discrepancy between the actual
feelings of Christian peoples and the standard of their religion.
Even in their laws relating to divorce and judicial separation we
often find an echo of the popular notion that adultery is a
smaller offence in a husband than in a wife.[65] That a married
man enjoys more liberty than a married woman is largely due to the
same causes as make him the more privileged partner in other
respects; but there are also special reasons for this inequality
between the sexes. It was a doctrine of the Roman jurists that
adultery is a crime in the wife, and the wife only, on account of
the danger of introducing strange children to the husband.
Moreover, the temptation of infidelity and the facility in
indulging {246} in it are commonly greater in the case of the
husband than in that of the wife; and actual practice is always
apt to influence moral opinion. And a still more important reason
for the inequality is undoubtedly the general notion that
unchastity of any kind is more discreditable for a woman than for
a man.

[Footnote 63: Aristotle, _Oeconomica_, p. 341, vol. ii. (Oxonii,
1810), p. 679. Plutarch, _Conjugalia praecepta_, 16. Plautus,
_Mercator_, iv. 5. L. Schmidt, _op. cit._, ii. 195 _sq._]

[Footnote 64: Gratian, _Decretum_, ii. 35. 5. 23.]

[Footnote 65: _The History of Human Marriage_, iii. (London,
1921), pp. 343, 344, 357 _sq._]

There is one form of unchastity that is universally condemned in
man and woman alike, namely, incest; but in this case the
prohibition is not restricted to non-matrimonial intercourse, it
refers in the first place to marriage itself. Among all peoples
there are exogamous rules, which forbid the members of a
particular group to marry any other member of it. In most cases
this group is composed of persons who are, or consider themselves
to be, related by blood or of the same kin; and the nearer the
relationship, the more frequently is it a bar to intermarriage, at
least within the same line of descent. The most frequent of all
exogamous rules are those which prohibit a son from marrying his
mother and a father from marrying his daughter; these rules seem,
in fact, to be universally prevalent in mankind. Hardly less
universal is the rule which forbids marriages between brothers and
sisters who are children of the same father and mother; the best
authenticated exceptions to this rule are generally found in the
families of kings or ruling chiefs, and there can be little doubt
that they are due to the aim of maintaining the purity of the
royal blood. Among peoples unaffected by modern civilization the
exogamic rules are probably in the large majority of cases more
extensive than among ourselves; very often they refer to all the
members of the clan, and the rule that a man may not marry a woman
of his own clan is usually supplemented by a further prohibition
of marrying other women who are nearly related to him.[66]

[Footnote 66: _The History of Human Marriage_, ii. ch. xix.]

{247} Many attempts have been made to account for the exogamous
rules;[67] I doubt whether any other question in the history of
social institutions has given rise to more controversy. They have
been ascribed to a pristine habit of female infanticide; to the
vain desire of savage men to have trophies in their wives; to
experience of the injurious influence of in-breeding (which must
have been made at an earlier stage of human development than that
represented by any living savages, but afterwards forgotten); to
marriage by capture originating in the hypothetical period of
primitive promiscuity; to marriage by purchase; to a superstitious
belief that incest blights the crops, prevents the multiplication
of edible animals, and renders the women of the community sterile;
to totemism; or to the furious jealousy of a gorilla-like
ancestor. I have elsewhere tried to show that the gravest
objections may be raised to each of these theories, and that in
addition there are other objections that may be raised to all of
them. They all regard the exogamous rules as social survivals from
very remote ages. They all suppose that these rules have
originated in social conditions which no longer exist, or in ideas
which have been found among a few savages or which have never been
found anywhere. Now, is it really reasonable to believe that a law
like that against incest among ourselves could be traced to
similar sources? The exogamous rules have not remained unaltered;
on the contrary, they differ even among peoples of the same stock,
and we know that in Europe, in the course of a few centuries, they
have been greatly changed in spite of the religious sanction given
them by the Church. This proves that those rules are not dead
fossils, but living parts of the social organism, subject to
modifications according to the circumstances.

[Footnote 67: _Ibid._, ii. ch. xx.]

Moreover, the theories in question imply that the home {248} is
kept free from incestuous intercourse by law, custom, or
education. But even if social prohibitions might prevent unions
between the nearest relatives, they could not prevent the desire
for such unions. The sexual instinct can hardly be changed by
prescriptions; I doubt whether all laws against homosexual
intercourse, even the most draconic, have ever been able to
extinguish the peculiar desire of anybody born with homosexual
tendencies. Nevertheless, our laws against incest are scarcely
felt as a restraint upon individual feelings. And the simple
reason for this is that in normal cases there is no desire for the
acts which they forbid. Generally speaking, there is a remarkable
absence of erotic feelings between persons living closely together
from childhood; among the lower animals, also, there are
indications that the pairing instinct fails to be stimulated by
companions and seeks strangers for its gratification. Hume
committed a curious psychological error in his utilitarian
explanation of the prohibition of incest when he wrote, "Those who
live in the same family have so many opportunities of licenses of
this kind, that nothing could preserve purity of manners, were
marriage allow'd amongst the nearest relations, or any intercourse
of love betwixt them ratify'd by law and custom."[68] Plato showed
a sharper eye for the problem of incest in his observation that an
unwritten law defends as sufficiently as possible parents from
incestuous intercourse with their children and brothers from
intercourse with their sisters, and that the thought of such a
thing does not enter at all into the minds of most of them.[69]

[Footnote 68: D. Hume, _An Enquiry concerning the Principles of
Morals_, sec. iv. (London, 1751), p. 67.]

[Footnote 69: Plato, _Leges_, viii. 838.]

Sexual indifference, however, is not by itself sufficient to
account for exogamous prohibitions. But such indifference {249} is
very generally combined with sexual aversion when the act is
thought of; indeed, I believe that this is normally the case
whenever the idea of sexual intercourse occupies the mind with
sufficient intensity and a desire fails to appear. An old and ugly
woman, for instance, would in such circumstances become sexually
repulsive to most men, and to many male inverts any woman, as an
object of sexual desire, is not merely indifferent but disgusting.
And, as I have pointed out above, aversions which are generally
felt readily lead to moral disapproval and prohibitory customs or
laws. This I take to be the fundamental cause of the exogamous
prohibitions. Persons who have been living closely together from
childhood are as a rule near relatives. Hence their aversion to
sexual relations with one another displays itself in custom and
law as a prohibition of intercourse between near kin. This
interpretation of their aversion in terms of kinship is exactly
analogous to another case of equally world-wide occurrence,
namely, the process which has led to the association of all sorts
of social rights and duties with kinship, though ultimately
depending upon close living together. Parental, filial, and
fraternal duties and rights, and those referring to relatives more
remotely allied, are not in the first instance rooted in
considerations of kinship. If men, instead of remaining in the
circle where they were born and keeping with their kindred, had
isolated themselves or united with strangers, there would
certainly be no blood-bond at all.

Innumerable facts show that the extent to which relatives are
forbidden to intermarry is nearly connected with their close
living together; and among various peoples marriage is prohibited
even between all persons belonging to the same village or other
local group, whether they are related by blood or not. At the same
time the members {250} of an exogamous clan very frequently do not
live in the same locality. The exogamous rules, though in the
first place associated with kinship because near relatives
normally live together, have come to include relatives who do not
do so--just as social rights and duties connected with kinship,
although ultimately depending upon local proximity, have a strong
tendency to last after the local tie is broken. Clan exogamy has
its counterpart, for instance, in the blood-feud as a duty
incumbent on the whole clan, whether the members of the clan live
together or not. In this process the influence of a common name
has undoubtedly been of great importance. As kinship is traced by
means of a system of names, the name comes to stand for
blood-relationship. This system is naturally one-sided, keeping up
the record of descent either on the father's or the mother's side,
but not on both sides at once; hence the prohibited degrees, like
the social rights and duties generally connected with clanship,
extend much farther on the one side than on the other.

It has been said by Professor Heymans, seconded by Professor
Taylor,[70] that the attitude of mankind towards sexual perversion
is absolutely critical for the utilitarian theory. It is argued
that, so far as utilitarian consequences are concerned, voluntary
celibacy and sexual perversion, both being detrimental to the
propagation of the species, stand on much the same footing,
whereas it is clear that the unsophisticated moral verdict of the
_orbis terrarum_ makes a distinction between them which the
utilitarian cannot explain and has no right to explain away.
Perversion is generally and strongly condemned, celibacy has been
praised as the height of moral perfection. This argument, {251}
which shows no great knowledge of actual moral ideas and their
causes, takes us to a discussion of celibacy and compels me to add
a few words about homosexuality to what was said of it in the
preceding chapter.

[Footnote 70: G. Heymans, _Einführung in die Ethik auf
Grundlage der Erfahrung_ (Leipzig, 1914), p. 215 _sq._ A. E.
Taylor, "Critical Notice" of the same work, in _Mind_, N. S. xxv.
(London, 1916), p. 391 _sq._]

Among an enormous number of peoples celibacy _is_ condemned, to some
extent for sentimental reasons but very largely on utilitarian
grounds.[71] In the savage world nearly every man endeavours to
marry when he has reached the age of puberty--if he has not been
betrothed before--and practically every woman gets married; and
very frequently we are told that a person who does not marry is
looked upon as an unnatural being or is an object of contempt or
ridicule. So also among peoples of archaic culture celibacy is a
great exception and marriage is regarded as a duty. In China it is
considered one of the greatest misfortunes that could befall a man
to die without leaving a son to perpetuate the family cult, and at
the same time an offence against the whole line of ancestors. For
it would doom father, mother, and all the ancestry in the
Nether-world to a pitiable existence without descendants enough to
serve them properly, to worship at the ancestral tombs, to take
care of the ancestral tablets, and duly to perform all rites
connected with the dead. Among the Semites we meet with the idea
that a dead man who has no children will miss something in
Sh[)e]ol through not receiving that kind of worship which
ancestors in early times appear to have received. The Hebrews
looked upon marriage as a religious duty. According to the
Sh[=u]l[h.][=a]n [(][=A]r[=u]kh, the recognized Jewish code, he
who abstains from marrying is guilty of bloodshed, diminishes the
image of God, and causes the divine presence to withdraw from
Israel; hence a single man past twenty may be compelled {252} by
the court to take a wife.[72] Although Islam considers marriage a
civil contract, it enjoins it as a religious duty "incumbent on
all who possess the ability." The Aryan nations in ancient times,
as Fustel de Coulanges and others have pointed out, regarded
celibacy as an impiety and a misfortune: "an impiety, because one
who did not marry put the happiness of the manes of the family in
peril; a misfortune, because he himself would receive no worship
after his death."[73] The old idea still survives in India, and we
meet with it in Zoroastrianism and in ancient Greece.[74] But the
Greeks regarded marriage as a matter not only of private but also
of public importance: in various places criminal proceedings might
be taken against celibates.[75] So also the conviction that the
founding of a house and the begetting of children constituted a
moral necessity and a public duty had a deep hold on the Roman
mind in early times.[76]

[Footnote 71: _The History of Human Marriage_, i. ch. x.]

[Footnote 72: _Sh[=u]l[h.][=a]n [(][=A]r[=u]kh_, iv. (Ebhen
ha-[(]ezer), i. 1, 3.]

[Footnote 73: N. D. Fustel de Coulanges, _La cité antique_
(Paris, 1864), p. 54 _sq._]

[Footnote 74: Isaeus, _Oratio de Apollodori hereditate_, 30, p.

[Footnote 75: Pollux, _Onomasticum_, iii. 48.]

[Footnote 76: Th. Mommsen, _The History of Rome_, i. (London,
1908), p. 74.]

Modern civilization looks upon celibacy in a different light. The
religious motive for marriage has ceased to exist: the lot of the
dead is no longer supposed to depend upon the devotion of the
living. It is said, in a general way, that marriage is a duty to
the nation or the race, but this argument is hardly applied to
individual cases. According to modern ideas the union between man
and woman is too much a matter of sentiment to be properly
classified among civic duties. Nor does the unmarried state strike
us as particularly unnatural; such a feeling is in compatible with
the large proportion of people who never marry. Nay, far from
enjoining marriage as a duty incumbent {253} on all, enlightened
opinion seems to agree that it is, on humanitarian--_i.e._,
utilitarian--grounds, a duty for many persons to remain unmarried.
In some European countries the marriages of persons in receipt of
poor-law relief have been legally prohibited, and in certain cases
the legislators have gone further still and prohibited all
marriages until the contracting parties can prove that they
possess the means of supporting a family.[77] There is a growing
opinion that persons suffering from certain kinds of disease,
which are likely to be transmitted to the offspring, ought not to
marry. People are beginning to feel that it entails a heavy
responsibility to bring a new being into existence, and that many
persons are wholly unfit for such a task. Future generations will
probably with a kind of horror look back at a period when the most
important, and in its consequences the most far-reaching, function
which has fallen to the lot of man was entirely left to individual
caprice and lust.

[Footnote 77: W. E. H. Lecky, _Democracy and Liberty_, ii.
(London, 1809), p. 181.]

Side by side with the notion that marriage is a duty for all
ordinary men and women, however, we find among many peoples the
rule that persons whose function it is to perform religious or
magical rites must be celibates.[78] To these belong both savage
and barbarous tribes and peoples of a higher civilization. In
ancient Peru there were virgins dedicated to the sun, who lived in
perpetual seclusion to the end of their lives. Among the Hindus,
in spite of the great honour in which marriage is held, celibacy
has always commanded respect in instances of extraordinary
sanctity; and a feeling of this kind led in Buddhism and Jainism
to the obligatory celibacy of monks and priests. In ancient Persia
there were sun priestesses who were {254} obliged to refrain from
intercourse with men. The Romans had their vestal virgins. In
Greece priestesses were not infrequently required to be virgins,
if not for their whole life, at any rate for the duration of their
priesthood. A small class of Hebrews, the Essenes, held the idea
that marriage is impure and neglected wedlock. This doctrine
exercised no influence, on Judaism, but perhaps much upon
Christianity. "He that gives her (his virgin) in marriage doeth
well; but he that gives her not in marriage doeth better."[79] "It
is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid
fornication, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman
have her own husband."[80] This and other passages in the New
Testament inspired a general enthusiasm for virginity. It works
miracles; it is like a spring flower, always softly exhaling
immortality from its white petals. The Lord himself opens the
kingdoms of the heavens to eunuchs. If Adam had preserved his
obedience to the Creator he would have lived for ever in a state
of virgin purity, and some harmless mode of vegetation would have
peopled paradise with a race of innocent and immortal beings. But
this opinion, expressed by Gregory of Nyssa and John of Damascus,
was opposed by Thomas Aquinas, who maintained that the human race
was from the beginning propagated by means of sexual intercourse,
although such intercourse was originally free from all carnal
desire, which is the real root of all sexual sinfulness.[81] Ideas
of this sort led by degrees to the obligatory celibacy of the
Christian clergy.

[Footnote 78: _The History of Human Marriage_, i. ch. xi.]

[Footnote 79: _1 Corinthians_, vii. 38.]

[Footnote 80: _Ibid._, vii. 1 _sq._]

[Footnote 81: H. von Eicken, _Geschichte und System der
mittelalterlichen Weltanschauung_ (Stuttgart, 1887), p. 437 _sq._]

Religious celibacy springs from various sources. In many cases the
priestess is regarded as married to the god {255} whom she is
serving. A trace of this idea is even found in early Christianity.
St. Cyprian speaks of women who have dedicated themselves to
Christ and live with him in a spiritual matrimony; and if any of
these women is guilty of impure connections she is "an adulteress,
not against a husband, but Christ."[82] According to the gospel of
Pseudo-Matthew, the Virgin Mary had in a similar manner dedicated
herself as a virgin to God.[83] Religious celibacy is further
enjoined or commended as a means of self-mortification supposed to
appease an angry god, or with a view to raising the spiritual
nature of man by suppressing one of the strongest of all sensual
appetites. It has also been argued that marriage prevents a person
from serving God perfectly, because it induces him to occupy
himself too much with worldly things; and this was one, but
certainly not the only, cause of the obligatory celibacy which the
Christian Church imposed upon her clergy. A further, and extremely
important, cause of religious celibacy is the idea that sexual
intercourse is defiling and in certain circumstances a mysterious
cause of evil. This idea is particularly conspicuous in connection
with religious observances. It is a common rule that he who
performs a sacred act or enters a holy place must be ceremonially
clean, and no kind of uncleanness is to be avoided more carefully
than sexual pollution. Holiness is a delicate quality which is
easily destroyed if anything polluting comes into contact with the
holy object or person, and it may also injure them in a more
positive manner. In self-defence, therefore, gods and holy persons
try to prevent polluted individuals from approaching them, {256}
and their worshippers are naturally anxious to do the same. And
apart from the resentment that the sacred being naturally feels
against the defiler, it appears that holiness is supposed to act
quite mechanically against pollution, to the destruction or
discomfort of the polluted person. It should also be noticed that,
owing to the injurious effect of pollution upon holiness, an act
generally regarded as sacred would, if performed by an unclean
individual, lack that magic efficacy which would otherwise be
attached to it. Mohammed described the ablution, which is a
necessary preparation for prayer, as "the half of faith and the
key of prayer." The Syrian philosopher Jamblichus speaks of the
belief that "the gods do not hear him who invokes them, if he is
impure from venereal connections";[84] and a similar notion
prevailed among the early Christians.

[Footnote 82: St. Cyprian, _Epistola LXII., ad Pomponium de
virginibus_, 3 _sq._ (J. P. Migne, _Patrologia_, iv. [Parisiis,
1844], p. 368 _sqq._).]

[Footnote 83: _The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew_, 8 (_Ante-Nicene
Christian Library_, xvi. [Edinburgh, 1870], p. 25).]

[Footnote 84: Jamblichus, _De mysteriis_, iv. 11.]

If freedom from sexual pollution is required even of the ordinary
worshipper, it is of course all the more indispensable in those
whose special office is to attend to the sacred cult. The Hebrew
priest had to avoid all unchastity; he was not allowed to marry a
harlot or a divorced wife, and the high-priest was also forbidden
to marry a widow.[85] But for a nation like the Jews, whose
ambition was to live and to multiply, celibacy could never become
an ideal. The Christians, on the other hand, who professed the
most perfect indifference to all earthly matters, found no
difficulty in glorifying a state which, however opposed it was to
the interests of the race and the nation, made men pre-eminently
fit to approach their god. It was even argued that sexual
intercourse, far from being a benefit to the kingdom of God by
propagating the species, was on the contrary detrimental to it by
being the great transmitter of the sin of our first parents. Thus
the view that celibacy is the height of moral perfection is simply
the outcome of {257} some specific religious and magical beliefs
of a rather primitive character; and utilitarianism can therefore
hardly be blamed for being at variance with it.

[Footnote 85: _Leviticus_, xxi. 7, 14.]

Nor can it be blamed if it does not condemn sexual
perversion--which has been said to stand on much the same footing
as celibacy--on the ground that it is unfavourable to propagation.
Utilitarianism does not consider reproduction as a duty for a man;
nor does it condemn sexual acts that are unproductive of
offspring, unless there are other reasons for condemning them. If
it did, it would, to be consistent, have to accept the Christian
doctrine, laid down by Athenagoras, that the procreation of
children is the measure of a man's indulgence in appetite, just as
the husbandman throwing the seed into the ground awaits the
harvest, not sowing more upon it.[86] Utilitarians have found
reasons for condemning perversion as harmful, at least in certain
cases, and refused to recognize any other reasons.[87] But
utilitarian considerations can certainly not account for the great
variety of moral attitudes towards homosexuality. It seems quite
obvious, as I have pointed out in another connection, that where
homosexual intercourse is an object of censure it is so in the
first place on account of the aversion it is apt to call forth;
while the view that it is a crime of the utmost gravity is due to
its association with unbelief or heresy.[88]

[Footnote 86: Athenagoras, _Legatio pro Christianis_, 33 (Migne,
_op. cit._, Ser. Graeca, vi. [Parisiis, 1857], p. 966).]

[Footnote 87: G. Mehlis, _Probleme der Ethik_ (Tübingen,
1918), p. 42_sqq._]

[Footnote 88: _Supra_, p. 194 _sqq._]

From this discussion--which has been somewhat lengthy on account
of the extremely complicated nature of the subject and its great
theoretical importance from the ethical point of view--it should
be obvious that the moral ideas relating to chastity partly rest
on a utilitarian basis, partly are influenced by specific
religious ideas, and to a {258} large extent spring from
sentimental likes and dislikes, which in no branch of morality
have been allowed a greater scope than here. Generally speaking,
sentimental preferences and aversions are largely responsible for
that divergence which exists between actual moral ideas and a
consistently utilitarian code of morality. But instead of
recognizing this divergence moralists have only too often
disguised it by advancing utilitarian pretexts for sentimental
requirements, and have thereby missed an opportunity to act as
moral educators. It is a strong point in consistent utilitarianism
that it cannot accept such requirements on their own merits.
Although the origin of instinctive likings and aversions, which
are still more or less generally felt, may be sought for in their
specific usefulness, civilization has brought about changed
conditions so far removed from the state of nature that such
feelings can by no means serve as utilitarian criteria of
morality. If we clearly realize that a certain act is productive
of no other harm but the aversion or disgust it causes, we can
hardly look upon it as a proper object of moral censure, provided
that the agent has not in an indelicate manner shocked anybody's
feelings. When sufficiently discriminating, resentment, whether
moral or non-moral, is too much concerned with the will of the
agent to be felt towards a person who obviously neither intends to
offend any one nor is guilty of culpable oversight. Even when the
person knows that his behaviour is repulsive to others, he may, on
utilitarian grounds, be considered to be justified in acting as he
does; some degree of reflection should lead to the thought that
antipathies are no sufficient ground for interfering with other
individuals' liberty of action either by punishing them or
subjecting them to moral censure. Nobody has more vehemently
denounced such interference than Stuart Mill. He insisted on
"liberty of tastes and pursuits; {259} of framing the plan of our
life to suit our own character; of doing as we like, subject to
such consequences as may follow: without impediment from our
fellow-creatures, so long as what we do does not harm them, even
though they should think our conduct foolish, perverse, or
wrong."[89] Bain wrote, "When one man endeavours to impose his
likings or dislikes upon another, or when a mere sentimental
preference entertained by the majority is made the law for every
one, there is a very serious infringement of individual freedom on
the one hand, with nothing legitimate to be set against it in the
way of advantage."[90]

[Footnote 89: J. S. Mill, _On Liberty_ (London, 1859), p. 26_sq._]

[Footnote 90: A. Bain, _The Emotions and the Will_ (London, 1880),
p. 279.]

An often adduced argument against utilitarianism, and hedonism
generally, is that it considers the motive of all action to be a
desire to feel pleasure or avoid pain, although every desire aims
directly at an objective end and not, at least in the first
instance, at the attainment of the subjective feeling of pleasure
or relief from pain. Hunger is directed to food, ambition to
honour, benevolence to the good of others, and similarly with
other desires. Butler wrote long ago that "all particular
appetites and passions are towards external things themselves, and
distinct from the pleasure arising from them."[91] An act may be
desired though it is not known by the agent to be attended with
pleasure. As Professor McDougall remarks, "we may observe
numberless instances of action, of persistent striving towards
ends, on the part of lowly animals which can not be credited with
the power of anticipating or desiring the pleasure that may accrue
from success."[92] Nor is anticipation {260} of pleasure always
connected with an act which is known to be pleasurable. But the
doctrine of psychological hedonism, according to which volition is
always determined by pleasure or pain actual or prospective, is
not inseparably joined with utilitarianism, and has even been
expressly rejected by some of its expounders. As an ethical theory
utilitarianism is essentially concerned, not with the psychology
of desire, but with the moral valuation of acts. In our moral
consciousness pleasure and pain certainly play a dominant role, in
so far as moral approval is a kindly attitude of mind towards a
person as a cause of pleasure, and moral disapproval a hostile
attitude of mind towards a person as a cause of pain. But this has
nothing whatever to do with the psychological question of pleasure
and pain as motives of action.

[Footnote 91: J. Butler, _Sermon XI.--Upon the Love of our
Neighbours_, §6 (_Works_, i. [London, 1903], p. 139).]

[Footnote 92: W. McDougall, _An Introduction to Social Psychology_
(London, 1926), p. 314.]

The distinction between the desire for pleasure and the desire for
something pleasant is emphasized by those theories which have been
included under names like energism, welfare theory, or eudemonism.
The moral value lies not in pleasure as such but in pleasurable
functions. The preservation and promotion of individual and social
life is the highest good, because the individual being strives to
preserve and advance both himself and other persons with whom he
sympathizes, and though pleasure is not the direct object of
desire it is a necessary concomitant of the realization of the
desire to promote individual and racial welfare. The theories
belonging to this class do not present the same definiteness as
utilitarianism, which regards pleasure as the common standard of
all that is desirable, and they often differ in details. What is
"welfare"? Höffding defines it as a durable state of
pleasure, or "true" happiness, which is not a state of passivity
but one consisting in activity, work, development.[93] According
{261} to other eudemonists, pleasure is an indication of the
successful attainment of the general end, welfare.[94] But however
welfare is defined, it is always something which we desire, and
all psychologists agree that the fulfilment of a desire brings
pleasure while the frustration of it brings pain.[95] This is the
case whatever the object of the desire may be--pleasure, welfare,
self-realization, or any other "good." And thus every ethical
theory that regards any course of conduct which promotes the
attainment of a certain desired end as good and any course of
conduct which obstructs it as bad, is so far in agreement with my
view that moral judgments are ultimately based on emotional
reactions against causes of pleasure or pain. I have no reason,
then, to examine the attempts of the rival theories to fix the
nature of the desire concerned.

[Footnote 93: H. Höffding, _Etiske undersogelser_
(Köbenhavn, 1891), p. 31. _Idem_, _Etik_ (Köbenhavn &
Kristiania, 1913), pp. 137, 139, 143.]

[Footnote 94: W. K. Wright, _General Introduction to Ethics_ (New
York, 1929), p. 327.]

[Footnote 95: _Cf._ G. F. Stout, _A Manual of Psychology_ (London,
1901), p. 245; H. Maier, _Psychologie des emotionalen Denkens_
(Tübingen, 1908), p. 764 _sq._; W. McDougall, _An Outline of
Psychology_ (London, 1926), p. 269.]

Among teleological moralists, both hedonists and non-hedonists,
there are, as we have seen, some who derive their criterion of
morality directly from the general prevalence of a certain kind of
desire, and others who found their theories on intuitions. These
intuitions are nowadays generally referred to reason, or practical
or moral reason, as a special faculty or a part of the general
faculty of reason, by which we apprehend moral truths immediately
without the drawing of inferences. Now it is very significant that
the conduct which the supposed moral intuitions pronounce good or
bad at the same time has a tendency to arouse emotions of moral
approval or disapproval. The intuitionist maintains that it does
so, and has always done so, _because_ it is good or bad; whereas in
my opinion it is, or was originally, held to be good or {262} bad
on account of its tendency to arouse the emotion. Intuitionists
are fond of comparing moral judgments to mathematical
propositions; but they have ignored the fact that while the former
are correlated with certain definite emotions, there is in the
case of the latter no similar correlation at all. Richard Price,
it is true, argued that our perceptions of virtue and vice ought
no more to be confounded with the feelings which are their effects
and concomitants "than a particular truth (like that for which
Pythagoras offered a hecatomb) ought to be confounded with the
pleasure that may attend the discovery of it."[96] This is, of
course, an altogether different matter: the pleasure caused by the
_discovery_ of a truth is not comparable to the emotions felt in
connection with the attribution of moral qualities to conduct or
character. As a "plausible" explanation of this connection it has
been suggested that the emotions of approval and disapproval may
"furnish the necessary occasions on which Reason recognizes
ethical characteristics, such as _goodness_ and _rightness_."[97]
If this were the case, we should have to admit that the emotions,
owing to their variability, would frequently beguile Reason into
transgression of its own "law of non-contradiction," by declaring
the very same course {263} of conduct sometimes right or good and
at other times wrong or bad. This would no doubt explain the
irreconcilable conflict between intuitions of different moralists,
but at a cost too terrible to be conceived. The only reasonable
explanation of the intimate connection between so-called
intuitions and the presence of emotional tendencies is, so far as
I can see, that the intuitions actually _are_ these tendencies
formulated as judgments that are calculated to give moral values
an objectivity they do not in reality possess.[98] If this be
admitted, an enormous advance is made towards our understanding of
the moral consciousness. For while a moral intuition can be no
more explained than a mathematical axiom, a moral emotion _can_ be
explained, as a particular emotional attitude arising under
definite conditions. We can say _why_ it arises, our mental
constitution being such as it is, and the moral judgment may
thereby be traced to its ultimate source.

[Footnote 96: R. Price, _A Review of the Principal Questions in
Morals_ (London, 1787), p. 63.]

[Footnote 98: C. D. Broad, _Five Types of Ethical Theory_ (London,
1930), p. 270. In speaking of self-evident moral judgments, Dr. H.
Rashdall (_The Theory of Good and Evil_, ii. [Oxford, 1924], p.
402 _sq._) says that a large class at least of them cannot be made
at all without the presence of certain emotions. He finds it
difficult to distinguish mere feelings or aversions from real
judgments of value, although he is clear that the two things must
be distinguished. The only approach to a test he can suggest is to
put the question, whether "an intuition--an apparently
unaccountable repugnance to some kind of conduct--" persists after
a due consideration of all the consequences of yielding to it. If
it does, he says, "it may probably be taken to represent not
merely a feeling, but a feeling to which the moral Reason
attributes intrinsic value" (_ibid._, i. 211 _sq._).]

[Footnote 98: _Cf._ _supra_, p. 61.]

{264} _CHAPTER IX_



In his ethical theory Kant differs both from those who maintain
that the general prevalence of a desire leads directly to the duty
of satisfying it, and, apparently at least, from those who base
moral laws on intuitions which they discover in their own
consciousness. He founds his ethics on conceptions of pure reason
without any appeal to experience of any kind: "reason of itself,
independent of all experience, ordains what ought to take
place."[1] In his _Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten_ he says
that we cannot make out empirically whether there is an imperative
of morality, a categorical imperative, at all; and not having the
advantage of its reality being given in experience, we have to
investigate its possibility _a priori_.[2] The basis of obligation
must be sought _a priori_ in the conceptions of pure reason and
not in the nature of man, or in the circumstances in the world in
which he is placed, because all moral laws must be valid with
absolute necessity. They must be so for all rational creatures
generally, and for this reason only also for men. In other words,
"we must derive them from the general concept of a rational

[Footnote 1: Kant, _Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten_, sec.
ii. (_Gesammelte Schriften_, iv. [Berlin, 1911], p. 408; T. K.
Abbott's translation in _Kant's Critique of Practical Reason and
other Works on the Theory of Ethics_ [London, 1898], p. 24).]

[Footnote 2: _Ibid._, sec. ii. (iv. 419 _sq._; Abbott, p. 36

[Footnote 3: _Ibid._, Vorrede (iv. 389; Abbott, p. 3 _sq._), sec.
ii. (iv. 408, 412, 425, 442; Abbott, pp. 25, 28, 43, 60 _sq._),
sec. iii. (iv. 447_sq._; Abbott, p. 66 _sq._).]

{265} In order that Kant's conception of obligation shall hold
good for a rational being it is not enough that this being is
endowed with reason. In the first place, the moral law applies to
all rational beings "in so far as they have a will, that is, a
power to determine their causality by the conception of rules."
For the Infinite Being, however, there is no obligation or duty,
because its will is a holy will, which would be incapable of any
maxim conflicting with the moral law, and obligation implies a
constraint to an action by the law, while duty is the name given
to this action. On the other hand, for all created rational
beings, affected as they are with wants and physical motives, the
moral law is a law of duty, of moral constraint, and of the
determination of their actions by respect for this law and
reverence for its duty.[4] This implies that these beings have not
only reason and a will, but also desires which tempt them to
transgress the moral law. Kant has thus attributed human feelings
and inclinations, which he knows by experience, to rational beings
of whom he can have no experience.[5] But apart from this, what is
the use of the proposition that the conception of duty holds good
for all finite rational beings, if these beings are presumed to
have just those characteristics of {266} humanity which Kant was
so anxious to eliminate in his deduction of duty from reason?

[Footnote 4: Kant, _Kritik der praktischen Vernunft_, i. 1. 1. 7
(_Gesammelte Schriften_, v. [Berlin, 1913], p. 32; Abbott, p. 120
_sq._), i. 1. 3 (v. 82; Abbott, p. 175).]

[Footnote 5: In his _Einleitung zur Tugendlehre_, 1 (_Gesammelte
Schriften_, vi. [Berlin, 1914], p. 379; Abbott, p. 290), Kant
seems to have discovered his mistake, when he writes that the
constraint announced by the moral imperative "does not apply to
all rational beings (for there may also be holy beings), but
applies to men as rational physical beings who are unholy enough
to be seduced by pleasure to the transgression of the moral law,
although they themselves recognize its authority." In his _Kritik
der praktischen Vernunft_ (i. 1. 1. 7 [v. 32; Abbott, p. 121]) he
had said that the holiness of will is "a practical idea which must
serve as a type to which finite rational beings can only
approximate indefinitely."]

The proposition in question, which Kant never gets tired of
repeating, was intended to give emphasis and support to his
contention that the moral law has its foundation in pure reason;
he does not even shrink from an argument like this: "Since moral
laws ought to hold good for every rational creature, we must
derive them from the general concept of a rational being."[6] His
main thesis is that no experience can explain a law which must
carry with it absolute necessity, and that it consequently must be
based on reason. The moral law, he says, "is conceived as
objectively necessary, only because it holds for everybody that
has reason and will."[7] That it possesses objective validity was
an idea that Kant, like all other normative moralists, shared with
common sense. He found this idea in his moral experience in the
form of a categorical imperative preserving the mysterious
awfulness of the old "Thou shalt," as an echo from another
world.[8] When he says that we cannot make out empirically whether
there is such an imperative at all, he refers in proof of this to
our inability to show with certainty in any example that the will
was determined merely by the law, without any other spring of
action.[9] But surely, our inability to do so does not involve
that we have no notion of the law itself. In his _Kritik der
praktischen Vernunft_ he has evidently himself come to the same
conclusion; for he says there, "The moral law is given as a fact
of pure {267} reason of which we are _a priori_ conscious, and
which is apodictically certain, though it be granted that in
experience no example of its exact fulfilment can be found."[10]
And when he speaks of the two things which fill the mind with ever
new and increasing admiration and awe, the starry heavens above
and the moral law within, he adds:--"I have not to search for them
and conjecture them as though they were veiled in darkness or were
in the transcendent region beyond my horizon; I see them before me
and connect them directly with the consciousness of my existence.
. . . The second begins from my invisible self, my personality,
and exhibits me in a world which has true infinity, but which is
traceable only by the understanding."[11]

[Footnote 6: _Grundlegung_, sec. ii. (iv. 412; Abbott, p. 28).]

[Footnote 7: _Kritik der praktischen Vernunft_, i. 1. 1. 8 (v. 36;
Abbott, p. 126).]

[Footnote 8: See _supra_, p. 55 _sq._ _Cf._ _Kritik der
praktischen Vernunft_, i. 1. 2 (v. 71; Abbott, p. 163): "Mysticism
is quite reconcilable with the purity and sublimity of the moral

[Footnote 9: _Grundlegung_, sec. ii. (iv. 407, 419; Abbott, pp. 23,
24, 36 _sq._).]

[Footnote 10: _Kritik der praktischen Vernunft_, i. 1. 1. 8 (v.
47; Abbott, p. 136). _Cf._ _ibid._, i. 1. 1. 8 (v. 55; Abbott, p.
145): "The objective reality of a pure will, or, what is the same
thing, of a pure practical reason, is given in the moral law _a
priori_, as it were, by a fact."]

[Footnote 11: _Ibid._, ii. (v. 161 _sq._; Abbott, p. 260).]

While deriving the moral law from reason, Kant was overwhelmed by
the awe and reverence it aroused in him.[12] He writes, "The
majesty of the law (like that on Sinai) inspires (not dread, which
repels, nor yet a charm, which invites to familiarity, but) _awe_,
which awakes _respect_ of the subject for his law-giver, and in the
present case the latter being within ourselves, a feeling of the
sublimity of our own destiny.**"[13] It is in this powerful emotional
response to the notion of duty that we have to look for the
ultimate ground of his theory of the moral motive. The notion of
duty "requires in the action, objectively, agreement with the law,
and, subjectively in its maxim, that respect for the law shall be
the sole mode in which the will {268} is determined thereby. . . .
Moral worth can be placed only in this, that the action is done
from duty, that is, simply for the sake of the law."[14] No act
done from inclination has any moral worth, and this is true
whatever be the nature of the inclination. All human inclinations
are desire for pleasure: "to be happy is necessarily the wish of
every finite rational being, and this, therefore, is inevitably a
determining principle of its faculty of desire."[15] And the
feeling of pleasure is always of one and the same kind and can
only differ in degree: it is of no consequence what the pleasing
object is, but only how much it pleases.[16] Kant illustrates his
doctrine by the following example. A man is beneficent simply
because his mind is so sympathetically constituted that he,
without any other motive, finds a pleasure in spreading joy around
him and takes delight in the satisfaction of others so far as it
is his own work. However proper, however amiable an action of this
kind may be, it has nevertheless no true moral worth, but is on a
level with any other that is done from inclination and not from
duty. On the other hand, if nature has put little sympathy in the
heart of this or that man, if he is by temperament cold and
indifferent to the sufferings of his fellowmen, "would he not
still find in himself a source from whence to give himself a far
higher worth than that of a good-natured temperament could be?
Unquestionably. It is just in this that the moral worth of the
character is brought out which is incomparably the highest of all,
namely, that he is beneficent, not from inclination, but from
duty."[17] So also actions which are done with great sacrifice may
be praised as {269} noble and sublime, "only so far as there are
traces which suggest that they were done wholly out of respect for
duty and not from excited feelings."[18]

[Footnote 12: _Cf._ _ibid._, i. 1. 3 (v. 86; Abbott, p. 180).]

[Footnote 13: _Von der Einwohnung des bösen Princips neben
dem guten_, Anmerkung (_Gesammelte Schriften_, vi. [Berlin, 1914],
p. 23 n.; Abbott, p. 330 n. 1).]

[Footnote 14: _Kritik der praktischen Vernunft_, i. 1. 3 (v. 81;
Abbott, p. 174).]

[Footnote 15: _Ibid._, i. 1. 1. 3 (v. 25; Abbott, p. 112).]

[Footnote 16: _Ibid._, i. 1. 1. 3 (v. 22 _sqq._; Abbott, p. 109

[Footnote 17: _Grundlegung_, sec. i. (iv. 398 _sq._; Abbott, p. 14

[Footnote 18: _Kritik der praktischen Vernunft_, i. 1. 3 (v. 85;
Abbott, p. 178 _sq._).]

Thus, then, while Kant agreed with the psychological hedonists
that all human inclinations are desire for pleasure, the ethical
conclusion he drew from this assumption was the exact opposite of
hedonism. Instead of deriving moral worth from desire for
pleasure, he regarded this desire as the great obstacle to
morality. But then the question arose: How shall we explain that
respect for the moral law which is the condition for its
fulfilment? How can it be a spring to action? This is a problem
with which Kant grapples without being able to solve it. Respect
for the law is a feeling which is produced by an intellectual
cause, a rational concept, and therefore specifically distinct
from all feelings that may be referred either to inclination or
fear.[19] In order that "a rational being who is also affected
through the senses should will what reason alone directs such
beings that they ought to will, it is no doubt requisite that
reason should have a power to infuse a feeling of pleasure or
satisfaction in the fulfilment of duty, that is to say, that it
should have a causality by which it determines the sensibility
according to its own principles." But at the same time it seems to
him quite impossible to discern how a mere thought, which itself
contains nothing sensible, can itself produce a sensation of
pleasure or pain--quite impossible to explain how man can take an
interest in the moral law. In other words, "how pure reason can be
practical--to explain this is beyond the power of human reason,
and all the labour and pains of seeking an explanation of it are

[Footnote 19: _Ibid._, i. 1. 3 (v. 73; Abbott, p. 166).
_Grundlegung_, sec. i. (iv. 401 n.*; Abbott, p. 17 n. 2).]

[Footnote 20: _Ibid._, sec. iii. (iv. 460 _sq._; Abbott, p. 80

{270} It has often been pointed out that the radical distinction
which Kant makes between "the respect for the moral law" and
"inclination" is a psychological error, and that conscientious
action springs from a desire or inclination just as any other
action. The incompatibility of his proposition, that there is no
moral worth in any act that is not done simply for duty's sake,
with current moral ideas is equally evident. The point which is of
particular interest in this connection is the question how he came
to form such a view. Besides the extraordinarily strong hold the
feeling of duty had on his mind, his defective psychology, and his
aversion to the ethical hedonism and eudemonism which flourished
in his days, there are some other facts to be considered. Kant had
the perfectly correct idea of the conception of duty that it
implicitly contains a prohibition of that which ought _not_ to be
done, that there would be no moral law if there were no
possibility of its transgression.[21] But this does not imply that
whenever a person behaves in conformity to it, the idea of
transgression presents itself to his mind. In the enormous
majority of cases there is no thought of it at all. Most of us are
throughout our lives obedient to the rules which forbid murder,
theft, adultery, and what not, and who would say that we are so
from that respect for the law which, according to Kant, "implies
fear, or at least apprehension of transgression"?[22] The same
applies to most of the numberless duties which we perform in our
daily life as a matter of course; it is only in rare cases that we
think of the contrary course of conduct at all. There is chiefly
an apprehension of it when a desire conflicting with the law
tempts the person to be disobedient to it; and it is on such cases
of conflict that Kant has concentrated his attention {271} in his
doctrine of duty. If the respect for the moral law implies
apprehension of its transgression and at the same time is a
necessary condition for doing one's duty, it is certainly quite
consistent to assert that the doing of a dutiful action
necessarily involves a conscious resistance to inclination; but it
is to restrict the meaning of duty within much narrower limits
than is justified by the ordinary usage of the word.

[Footnote 21: _Cf._ _supra_, p. 123.]

[Footnote 22: _Kritik der praktischen Vernunft_, i. 1. 3 (v. 81
_sq._; Abbott, p. 174).]

The notion of duty, as commonly conceived, implies that the
contrary mode of conduct is wrong. The man who refrains from doing
his duty is disapproved of, he who does his duty is not
disapproved of. This is the essential fact contained in the notion
of duty.[23] But what moral worth could there be, under all
circumstances, in refraining from doing wrong? Yet, though the
notion of duty involves no applause, there are cases in which we
applaud a man for doing his duty. The performance of an act may of
course be praised, although the omission of it is disapproved of;
and, besides, "duty" is often used as the name for a course of
conduct the omission of which is generally, though not necessarily
in every instance, an object of disapproval.[24] Now we are
particularly apt to bestow moral praise on a person who has done
his duty in unusually difficult circumstances, when he had a
strong interest in acting differently and his conduct involves a
high degree of self-restraint. This explains why Kant attributes
moral worth only to dutiful acts that result from a successful
struggle against contrary inclinations. For him "duty," the
"sublime and mighty name,"[25] is an expression of admiration and
reverence, of the emotion of moral approval aroused by obedience
to duty, and not {272} merely of the emotion of disapproval
aroused by transgression. He takes no notice of any other duty,
or, as he would say, action objectively conformable to the law,
but that which "gains reluctant reverence,"[26] except that he
pronounces it devoid of all moral worth. He does not say that it
is wrong because it is performed from some other motive than
respect for the law. He even finds it a very beautiful thing to do
good to men from love of them and from sympathetic goodwill, or to
be just from love of order.[27] And he applies the term
"fantastically virtuous" to the man who will admit nothing to be
indifferent in respect of morality, and "who strews all his steps
with duties, as with traps."[28] At the same time, his notion of
the sublimity of duty implies that he can assign no superiority to
other concepts based on the emotion of moral approval. What is
good is what ought to be done; however virtuous any one may be,
all the good he can ever do is only duty;[29] and "when we can
bring any flattering thought of merit into our action, then the
motive is already somewhat alloyed with self-love."[30] He speaks,
however, of "imperfect duties" that are "duties of virtue" and the
fulfilment of which is "merit," though their transgression is not
necessarily demerit but only moral unworth.[31]

[Footnote 23: _Supra_, p. 123.]

[Footnote 24: _Supra_, p. 124 _sq._]

[Footnote 25: _Kritik der praktischen Vernunft_, i. 1. 3 (v. 86;
Abbott, p. 180).]

[Footnote 26: _Kritik der praktischen Vernunft_, i. 1. 3 (v. 86;
Abbott, p. 180).]

[Footnote 27: _Ibid._, i. 1. 3 (v. 82; Abbott, p. 175).]

[Footnote 28: _Einleitung zur Tugendlehre_, 17 (vi. 409; Abbott,
p. 320).]

[Footnote 29: _Von der Einwohnung des bösen Princips neben
dem guten_, Allgemeine Anmerkung (vi. 48 _sq._; Abbott, p. 357).]

[Footnote 30: _Kritik der praktischen Vernunft_, ii. (v. 159;
Abbott, p. 257).]

[Footnote 31: _Einleitung zur Tugendlehre_, 7 (vi. 390; Abbott, p.

In the case of all finite beings that possess reason and will,
says Kant, the moral law has the form of an imperative which
commands categorically.[32] The categorical imperative lays down
the rule that you ought to obey the law whatever be the
consequences of your action; and "the {273} moral worth of an
action does not lie in the effect expected from it, nor in any
principle of action which requires to borrow its motive from this
expected effect."[33] Hence the moral worthlessness of all
hypothetical imperatives, which say that you ought to do so or so
if you desire such or such an end.[34] Kant's doctrine of moral
imperatives is in agreement with the fact, recognized both by
moralists and common sense, that duties are expressed in rules
which command general obedience, but it is singular in its
insistence that there must be no modification of these rules to
meet exceptional cases. Even Schleiermacher, who tried to organize
ethically the whole of life, had to refrain from formulating
precepts applicable in all situations.[35] That Kant refused to
allow any exceptions to moral rules was due to his peculiar idea
that they could have no other ground but the individual's desire
to modify the rule in his own favour. He says that the specific
criterion of categorical as distinguished from hypothetical
imperatives is that all interest is renounced.[36]

[Footnote 32: _Kritik der praktischen Vernunft_, i. 1. 1. 7 (v.
32; Abbott, p. 121).]

[Footnote 33: _Grundlegung_, sec. i. (iv. 401; Abbott, p. 17).]

[Footnote 34: _Ibid._, sec ii. (iv. 414, 427, 428, 441, 444;
Abbott, pp. 31, 45, 46, 60, 63). _Kritik der praktischen
Vernunft_, i. 1. 1. 1. (v. 20; Abbott, p. 106).]

[Footnote 35: F. Schleiermacher, _Grundlinien einer Kritik der
bisherigen Sittenlehre_ (Berlin, 1834), p. 110. _Cf._ E. Laas,
_Idealismus und Positivismus_, ii. (Berlin, 1882), p. 259. H.
Driesch (_Die sittliche Tat_ [Leipzig, 1927], pp. 67, 77) admits
exceptions to the moral rules, but calls them "excuses"
(_Entschuldigungen_), which means that they are "zwar nicht gut,
aber weniger nicht-gut als das Gegenteil. . . . Denn unerbittlich
ist des Gewissens Sprache."]

[Footnote 36: _Grundlegung_, sec. ii. (iv. 431; Abbott, p. 50).
_Cf._ _ibid._, sec. ii. (iv. 424; Abbott, p. 42).]

As the content of the categorical imperative Kant gives the
formula, "Act only on that maxim whereby thou canst at the same
time will that it should become a universal law."[37] What is
meant here by the word "will"? If Kant {274} has used it in its
ordinary psychological sense the consequences are appallingly
inconsistent with the most fundamental principle of his ethical
theory. One person may will that one maxim should become a
universal law and another person may will that the opposite maxim
should become so, and if anybody's will in that respect is
recognized as a criterion of duty, both the conflicting maxims are
right. In other words, whatever any one thinks is right is right,
and there is no objectively valid moral law at all.[38] In the
argument by which Kant tries to show that it is impossible to
adopt the egoistic maxim as a universal law, he evidently speaks
of will as a psychological fact. He maintains that the very
selfishness of men, for whom happiness is by nature the first and
unconditional object of their desire,[39] must make them wish to
act altruistically. Although it is possible that a universal law
of nature might exist in accordance with the maxim that each
should be left to take care of himself without the assistance of
others, "it is impossible to _will_ that such a principle should
have the universal validity of a law of nature. For a will which
resolved this would contradict itself, inasmuch as many cases
might occur in which one would have need of the love and sympathy
of others, and in which, by such a law of nature, sprung from his
own will, he would deprive himself of all hope of the aid he
desires."[40] What else could Kant in this instance mean by will
but the "elective will," as he calls it, which "implies a wish
that arises from subjective causes, and therefore {275} may often
be opposed to the pure objective determining principle"?[41] A
will whose maxim that one should help others springs from the
selfish wish to be helped by them cannot be said to be a will the
universal legislation of which "is not based on any interest,"[42]
or "an absolutely good will," the principle of which must be a
categorical imperative, and the maxims of which are capable of
making themselves a universal law, "which the will of every
rational being imposes on itself, without needing to assume any
spring or interest as a foundation."[43] Nevertheless, it may very
well be that Kant, when framing his formula, thought of a rational
will, of the capability to act in accordance with practical reason
as the guide of one's action, and in this case there could be
nothing illogical or self-contradictory in one's maxim.[44] This
interpretation is suggested by the formula in _Kritik der
praktischen Vernunft_, "Act so that the maxim of thy will can
always at the same time hold good as a principle of universal

[Footnote 37: _Ibid._, sec. ii. (iv. 421; Abbott, p. 38). _Cf._
_ibid._, sec i. (iv. 402; Abbott, p. 18), sec. ii. (iv. 436 _sq._;
Abbott, p. 55); _Kritik der praktischen Vernunft_, i. 1. 2 (v. 69;
Abbott, p. 161).]

[Footnote 38: _Cf._ H. Sidgwick, _The Methods of Ethics_ (London,
1913), p. 210.]

[Footnote 39: _Von der Einwohnung des bösen Princips neben
dem guten_, Allgemeine Anmerkung (vi. 46 n.; Abbott, p. 355 n.).]

[Footnote 40: _Grundlegung_, sec. ii. (iv. 423; Abbott, p. 41).
See also _Einleitung zur Tugendlehre_, 8 (vi. 393; Abbott, p. 303
_sq._); _Metaphysische Anfangungsgründe der Tugendlehre_,
§ 30 (_Gesammelte Schriften_, vi. [Berlin, 1914], p. 453).]

[Footnote 41: _Kritik der praktischen Vernunft_, i. 1. 1. 7 (v.
32; Abbott, p. 121).]

[Footnote 42: _Grundlegung_, sec. ii. (iv. 432; Abbott, p. 50).]

[Footnote 43: _Ibid._, sec. ii. (iv. 444; Abbott, p. 63).]

[Footnote 44: _Cf._ A. Hägerström, _Kants Ethik_
(Uppsala & Leipzig, 1902), p. 315 _sqq._]

[Footnote 45: _Kritik der praktischen Vernunft_, i. 1. 1. 7 (v.
30; Abbott, p. 119). See also _Einleitung in die Metaphysik der
Sitten_, 4 (_Gesammelte Schriften_, vi. [Berlin, 1914], p. 225;
Abbott, p. 281); _Einleitung zur Tugendlehre_, 5, 9 (vi. 389, 395;
Abbott, pp. 299, 306).]

A host of critics have pointed out the impossibility of deriving
moral obligation from the principle of mere formal
self-consistency.[46] "A principle that is suitable for universal
legislation," said Hegel, "already presupposes a content. . . . The
criterion that there should be no contradiction {276} produces
nothing."[47] Even in the cases which Kant has carefully selected
to demonstrate his principle he cannot help considering human
nature, social conditions, and the consequences of acts, however
much he deprecates a morality that depends on experience.
Lotze[48] and others have remarked that without a consideration of
consequences almost any maxim might be suitable to be presented as
a universal rule; it is its consequences that decide whether it is
suitable or not. Kant says that even common sense considers the
maxim of an action morally impossible if it does not stand the
test of "the form of a universal law of nature";[49] and in a
certain sense he is right. It has been said that the weakness of
his imperative of duty is that it "lacks all organic filling,"
that it is an empty form without contents, an unconditional
command which commands nothing; but, as it seems to me, his fault
was just that he attempted to fill it by deriving from it
particular rules of duty. If he had left it alone it would have
amounted to this: there is a moral law, which like every law has
the character of universality, in so far that what is right or
wrong for me to do is also right or wrong to do for all similar
persons in similar circumstances. This is no discovery of
Kant,[50] it is as old as morality itself. It is an expression of
the disinterestedness or impartiality of the moral emotions, which
distinguishes them from other retributive emotions; and this
characteristic, as we have seen, has its root in primitive custom
as a rule of conduct, in the public indignation aroused by {277}
its transgression. Kant's categorical imperative has thus a deep
foundation in the nature of the moral emotions, and could
therefore serve as a moral law claiming universality. He had
himself the notion that this claim implied a tautology. He wrote,
"A practical law which I recognize as such must be qualified for
universal legislation; this is an identical proposition, and
therefore self-evident."[51]

[Footnote 46: Among the early critics F. E. Beneke deserves
special mention (_Grundlegung zur Physik der Sitten_ [Berlin &
Posen, 1822], p. 27 _sqq._; _Grundlinien des natürlichen
Systemes der praktischen Philosophie_, i. [Berlin, Posen &
Bromberg, 1837], p. 19 _sqq._).]

[Footnote 47: Hegel, _The Philosophy of Right_ (London, 1896),
§ 135, p. 129.]

[Footnote 48: Lotze, _Grundzüge der praktischen Philosophie_
(Leipzig, 1884), § 5, p. 10.]

[Footnote 49: _Kritik der praktischen Vernunft_, i. 1. 2 (v. 69
_sq._; Abbott, p. 161).]

[Footnote 50: Professor Th. Lipps (_Die ethischen Grundfragen_
[Leipzig & Hamburg, 1912], p. 171) calls Kant's supreme law of
morality an important discovery, the most important one ever made
by him.]

[Footnote 51: _Kritik der praktischen Vernunft_, i. 1. 1. 4 (v.
27; Abbott, p. 115).]

Very different from what Kant calls "the general formula of the
categorical imperative" is another which he thinks he can deduce
from it, namely, "So act as to treat humanity, whether in thine
own person or in that of any other, in every case as an end
withal, never as means only."[52] The former is a purely formal
law of logical consistency, the latter is a special rule of duty,
which enjoins a certain course of conduct and requires experience
for its observance. If interpreted as an injunction referring to
one's action in a given situation only, it is a rule which is
neither followed nor regarded as a duty by anybody. As Professor
Laird says, "when I send letters by the post, letter-sorters and
engine-drivers _are_ mere instruments so far as I am concerned, and
similarly I may make a mere instrument of myself."[53] Against
this it has been argued that "I am not treating postmen and
sorters as _mere_ tools when I post a letter, as is sufficiently
proved by the consideration that we should all refuse to staff the
Post Office with public slaves to be used up, regardless of
humanity, for our own convenience."[54] This implies {278} that
they are recognized by me as persons having certain claims to
consideration or rights, and, although this recognition can hardly
be said to form part of my treatment of them when I post my
letter, Kant would no doubt have accepted such an interpretation
of his formula. It was the expression of a broad humanitarian
feeling, which was in agreement with the spirit of an age
profoundly influenced by the teaching of Rousseau and the new
ideas of human worth and dignity and rights as something belonging
to every man independently of his station.[55] Kant's endeavour to
found it upon a purely rational principle[56] cannot conceal its
eudemonistic origin. In one place he himself recognizes a
connection between his conception of humanity as an end in itself
and the duty of promoting the happiness of others, though he
deduces the latter from the former: the natural end which all men
have is their own happiness, and "the ends of any subject which is
an end in himself, ought as far as possible to be _my_ ends

[Footnote 52: _Grundlegung_, sec ii. (iv. 429; Abbott, p. 47). See
also _Kritik der praktischen Vernunft_, i. 1. 3 (v. 87; Abbott, p.
180 _sq._); _Einleitung zur Tugendlehre_, 9 (vi. 395; Abbott, p.

[Footnote 53: Laird, _A Study in Moral Theory_ (London, 1926), p.

[Footnote 54: A. E. Taylor, "Critical Notice" on Laird's _A Study
in Moral Theory_, in _Mind_, N. S. xxxv. (London, 1926), p. 488.
Kant's formula has been criticized from various points of view,
_e.g._, by Schopenhauer, _Die Grundlage der Moral_, § 8
(_Sämmtliche Werke_, iv.^2 [Leipzig, 1916], p. 160 _sq._);
Sidgwick, _op. cit._, p. 390; D. G. Ritchie, _Natural Rights_
(London, 1895), p. 152 _sq._; C. D. Broad, _Five Types of Ethical
Theory_ (London, 1930), p. 132; W. Freytag, _Die Aufgaben der
Ethik_ (Halle a. S., 1916), p. 149 _sqq._ The last-mentioned
writer raises the question whether it is possible to use another
person merely as means. He argues that if I want to induce some
one to render me a service, I can succeed in doing so only if he
consents, and his consent implies that he directly or indirectly
pursues some end of his own.]

[Footnote 55: F. Paulsen, _Immanuel Kant_ (Stuttgart, 1899), p.

[Footnote 56: On his failure to do so see Hägerström,
_op. cit._, p. 416 _sqq._; H. Höffding, _Den nyere Filosofis
Historie_, ii. (Köbenhavn, 1904), p. 83. In _Kritik der
praktischen Vernunft_ (i. 1. 1. 3 [v. 87; Abbott, p. 180 _sq._])
he has made no such attempt.]

[Footnote 57: _Grundlegung_, sec. ii. (iv. 430; Abbott, p. 48

In spite of his aversion to eudemonism, Kant cannot keep out the
notion of happiness as an end. He describes it as "the general
well-being and contentment with one's {279} condition,"[58] or as
"a rational being's consciousness of the pleasantness of life
uninterruptedly accompanying his whole existence,"[59] or as a
man's "satisfaction with his condition, with certainty of the
continuance of this satisfaction."[60] To be happy is necessarily
the wish of every man,[61] and pure practical reason does not
require that we should renounce all claim to happiness, but only
that the moment duty is in question we should take no account of
happiness.[62] On the other hand, to seek one's own happiness is
not an end that is also a duty. A command that every one should
try to make himself happy would be foolish, for one never commands
any one to do what he of himself infallibly wishes to do.[63] Such
a thing does not come under the notion of duty at all, because
this is a constraint to an end reluctantly adopted, and it is
therefore a contradiction to say that a man is in duty bound to
advance his own happiness.[64] At the same time he may be
indirectly bound to do so: discontent with one's condition, under
a pressure of many anxieties and amidst unsatisfied wants, might
easily become a great temptation to transgression of duty, and in
order to remove such hindrances to morality it may be our duty to
promote our own happiness. In that case the end is not happiness
but the morality of the agent, and his conduct acquires true moral
worth {280} only if he secures his happiness not from inclination
but from duty.[65]

[Footnote 58: _Ibid._, sec i. (iv. 393; Abbott, p. 9).]

[Footnote 59: _Kritik der praktischen Vernunft_, i. 1. 1. 3 (v.
22; Abbott, p. 108).]

[Footnote 60: _Einleitung zur Tugendlehre_, 5 (vi. 387; Abbott, p.

[Footnote 61: _Kritik der praktischen Vernunft_, i. 1. 1. 3 (v.
25; Abbott, p. 112). _Einleitung zur Tugendlehre_, 4_sq._ (vi.
356_sq._; Abbott, pp. 296, 298). _Supra_, pp. 268, 274.]

[Footnote 62: _Kritik der praktischen Vernunft_, i. 1. 3 (v. 93;
Abbott, p. 186). _Einleitung in die Metaphysik der Sitten_, 2 (vi.
216; Abbott, p. 271).]

[Footnote 63: _Kritik der praktischen Vernunft_, i. 1. 1. 8 (v.
37; Abbott, p. 126).]

[Footnote 64: _Einleitung zur Tugendlehre_, 4 (vi. 386; Abbott, p.

[Footnote 65: _Grundlegung_, sec. i. (iv. 399; Abbott, p. 15).
_Einleitung zur Tugendlehre_, 5 (vi. 388; Abbott, p. 298 _sq._).]

If happiness, then, is in question, which it is to be my duty to
promote as my end, it must be the happiness of other men, whose
permitted end I hereby make also mine. It still remains left to
themselves to decide what they shall reckon as belonging to their
happiness; "only that it is in my power to decline many things
which _they_ so reckon, but which I do not so regard, supposing
that they have no right to demand it from me as their own."[66]
Kant's doctrine of duties is thus to a large extent utilitarian.
But at the same time it differs in various points from the theory
which generally goes under the name of utilitarianism, according
to which it is a duty for each person to aim at the greatest
amount of happiness on the whole, taking into account all whose
happiness is affected by the conduct and his own happiness also,
though only as an element of the whole. As we just saw, Kant does
not regard it as a duty at all to promote one's own happiness as
an end in itself. In his argument that one does not command
anybody to do what he of himself inevitably wishes to do, he fails
to notice that people do not always will to do what is most
conducive to their greatest happiness; that for the sake of the
latter they may have to sacrifice their immediate happiness; and
that this even may require such reluctance and self-restraint as
is implied in his own notion of duty. In his denial of any
obligation to promote one's own happiness as an end in itself Kant
differs from the morality of common sense; but the difference
between the latter and the orthodox utilitarian view which puts
the hedonistic duty which a man owes {281} to himself on a par
with that which he owes to others, is more striking. It is, on the
other hand, doubtful whether Kant would have assented to the
utilitarian demand that I am not _allowed_ to prefer my own lesser
happiness to the greater happiness of another man. In the examples
he gives to demonstrate the inconsistency of the egoistic maxim he
only speaks of assistance in distress or help in case of
necessity, and his argument could not possibly be used to prove
that we are morally bound to regard the happiness of other
individuals as much as we regard our own. Indeed, he says
expressly that "many a one would gladly consent that others should
not benefit him, provided only that he might be excused from
showing benevolence to them."[67] In his _Tugendlehre_ he writes
that it is impossible to assign definite limits how far I am bound
to sacrifice to others a part of my own welfare without hope of
recompense. "Much depends on what would be the true want of each
according to his own feelings, and it must be left to each to
determine this for himself. For that one should sacrifice his own
happiness, his true wants, in order to promote that of others,
would be a self-contradictory maxim if made a universal law. This
duty, therefore, is only indeterminate; it has a certain latitude
within which one may do more or less without our being able to
assign its limits definitely."[68] As another instance of an
indeterminate duty--by which he means the permission to limit one
maxim of duty by another--he mentions the permission to limit the
general love of our neighbour by the love of parents,[69] without
any attempt to justify it by its effect upon the general
happiness. In his doctrine of the duty to contribute to the
happiness of others there is no {282} reference to the greatest
happiness on the whole. Sidgwick imputes to Kant the view that "it
can only be stated as a _duty_ for me to seek my own happiness so
far as I consider it as a part of the happiness of mankind in
general";[70] but there is nothing whatever to show that he ever
held such a view. He says that we may be indirectly bound to
secure our own happiness in order to avoid "temptation to
transgression of duty" or to remove "hindrances to morality," not
in order to increase the happiness of mankind.

[Footnote 66: _Ibid._, 5 (vi. 388; Abbott, p. 298).]

[Footnote 67: _Grundlegung_, sec. ii. (iv. 430 n.*; Abbott, p. 48
n. 1).]

[Footnote 68: _Einleitung zur Tugendlehre_, 8 (vi. 393; Abbott, p.

[Footnote 69: _Ibid._, 7 (vi. 390; Abbott, p. 300).]

[Footnote 70: Sidgwick, _op. cit._, p. 386.]

I have already, in another connection, stated Kant's attempt to
establish the duty of beneficence by alleging that the egoistic
maxim would contradict itself.[71] Every man in need wishes for
the aid of others, and it is therefore impossible for any one to
will that each should be left to take care of himself without such
assistance. He maintains that the duty of beneficence may
consequently be deduced from the imperative, "Act only on that
maxim whereby thou canst at the same time will that it should
become a universal law." In one place he has deduced the duty to
promote the happiness of others from his conception of "humanity
as an end in itself,"[72] but this deduction is quite inconsistent
with his denial of any obligation to promote one's own happiness;
for humanity, according to his definition, comprises both one's
own person and that of any other, and "the natural end which all
men have is their own happiness." But who could believe that the
duty of beneficence really was an inference from the categorical
imperative? Kant, like everybody else, found the notion of it in
his moral consciousness, and he had to explain it, to the best of
his ability, in accordance with his general principle of morality;
it was not the principle that led him to that notion. It is
vaguely {283} or distinctly found, though greatly varying in
comprehensiveness, in the moral consciousness of all men, because
it springs from emotions common to them all.

[Footnote 71: _Supra_, p. 274.]

[Footnote 72: _Supra_, p. 278.]

Another notion in Kant's ethics, of which the idea of happiness is
a component part, has obviously a similar origin. Although he
declares, in the opening sentence of his _Grundlegung_, that
"nothing can possibly be conceived in the world, or even out of
it, which can be called good without qualification, except a good
will,"[73] he found that there is something still better, namely,
the _summum bonum_, which is a combination of two elements,
morality and happiness, the latter as conditioned by and
proportioned to the former.[74] This combination is recognized as
_a priori_, and therefore as practically necessary: it is
indispensably required by practical reason, which cannot assume
the one of these elements without the other also being attached to
it. Now an accurate correspondence between happiness and moral
worth is not to be expected, but must on the contrary be regarded
as impossible, in a mere course of nature in the world; the
possibility of the _summum bonum_ can therefore only be admitted
on the supposition of a moral and all-powerful Supreme Being who
establishes such correspondence. But "although the conception of
the _summum bonum_ as a whole, in which the greatest happiness is
conceived as combined in the most exact proportion with the
highest degree of moral perfection (possible in creatures),
includes my own happiness, yet it is not this that is the
determining principle of the will which is enjoined to promote the
_summum bonum_, but the moral law, which on the contrary limits by
strict conditions my unbounded desire of happiness. Hence also
{284} morality is not properly the doctrine how we should _make_
ourselves happy, but how we should become _worthy_ of happiness
. . .; for it has to do simply with the rational condition (_conditio
sine qua non_) of happiness, not with the means of attaining
it."[75] The virtuous man is thus in a very precarious position.
Even though he know that he is worthy of happiness, and even may
hope to participate in it,[76] he must not allow any such hope to
slip in as a motive for his conduct; for if he does so he ceases
to be virtuous and will not get the happiness he hopes for.

[Footnote 73: _Grundlegung_, sec. i. (iv. 393; Abbott, p. 9).]

[Footnote 74: _Kritik der praktischen Vernunft_, i. 2. _passim_
(v. 107 _sqq._; Abbott, p. 202 _sqq._).]

[Footnote 75: _Kritik der praktischen Vernunft_, i. 2. 5 (v. 129
_sq._; Abbott, p. 227).]

[Footnote 76: _Kritik der reinen Vernunft_, Transcendentale
Methodenlehre, ii. 2 (_Gesammelte Schriften_, iii. [Berlin, 1911],
p. 525 _sqq._).]

We have previously heard from Kant that the desire for happiness,
which springs from our sensuous nature, is the great obstacle to
morality, and now happiness has been raised to the rank of an
element of the _summum bonum_, side by side with morality itself.
Nay more, their combination is said to be recognized _a priori_,
as indispensably required by practical reason. Paulsen remarks
that this is an inconsistency to which it would be difficult to
find a parallel in the whole history of philosophical thought.[77]
Yet there must be some explanation of it. The following passages
are significant:--"Virtue (as worthiness to be happy) is the
supreme condition of all that can appear to us desirable, and
consequently of all our pursuit of happiness, and is therefore the
supreme good. But it does not follow that it is the whole and
perfect good as the object of the desires of rational finite
beings; for this requires happiness also, and that not merely in
the partial eyes of the person who makes himself an end, but even
in the judgment of an impartial reason, which regards persons in
{285} general as ends in themselves. For to need happiness, to
deserve it, and yet at the same time not to participate in it,
cannot be consistent with the perfect volition of a rational being
possessed at the same time of all power, if, for the sake of
experiment, we conceive such a being."[78] Why can it not be
consistent with it? The answer is not far to seek: such a being
would naturally feel the moral emotion of retributive kindliness
towards a virtuous person worthy of happiness and, being not only
perfectly good but also all-powerful, would distribute to him
happiness in proportion to his virtue. The emotional background is
visible in the following statement:--"The sight of a being who is
not adorned with a single feature of a pure and good will,
enjoying unbroken prosperity, can never give pleasure to an
impartial rational spectator. Thus a good will appears to
constitute the indispensable condition even of being worthy of
happiness."[79] Kant takes care to point out that the happiness
attached to virtue in the _summum bonum_ is not a reward based on
the justice of God, but a favour due to his goodness and love.
Even the best man only does his duty and has therefore no claim to
divine benevolence: "a remunerative justice (_iustitia
brabeutica_) is in God's relation to men a contradiction."[80]
Nevertheless, in one place he says exactly the reverse, namely,
that a disproportion between virtue and happiness is contrary to
the divine justice.[81] His feelings seem to have got the upper
hand of his theory.

[Footnote 77: Paulsen, _op. cit._, p. 327.]

[Footnote 78: _Kritik der praktischen Vernunft_, i. 2. 2 (v. 110;
Abbott, p. 206).]

[Footnote 79: _Grundlegung_, sec. i. (iv. 393; Abbott, p. 9).]

[Footnote 80: _Metaphysische Anfangungsgründe der
Tugendlehre_, Schlussanmerkung (vi. 489). "Über das
Misslingen aller philosophischen Versuche in der Theodicee," in
_Gesammelte Schriften_, viii. (Berlin, 1912), p. 258 n.]

[Footnote 81: _Ibid._, viii. 261 _sq._]

{286} In any case the justice of God requires that the wicked
shall be punished.[82] Punishment "is a physical evil, which,
though it be not connected with moral evil as a natural
consequence, ought to be connected with it as a consequence by the
principles of a moral legislation."[83] The sole object of
punishment is retribution. Juridical punishment "can never be
administered merely as a means for promoting another good, either
with regard to the criminal himself or to the civil society, but
must always be inflicted only because he has committed a
crime. . . . The penal law is a categorical imperative; and woe to
him who creeps through the serpent-windings of the happiness theory
in order to discover something which, in virtue of the advantage it
promises, may release him from the duty of punishment or even from
a fraction of it."[84] Kant asks what principle should be followed
in fixing the kind and degree of punishment, and his answer is: no
other principle but that of requital (_jus talionis_), which
requires equivalence both in quality and quantity. Thus the only
rightful punishment for murder is death. Even if a civil society
decides to dissolve itself with the consent of all its members,
the last murderer lying in the prison ought to be executed before
the resolution is carried out. If several persons are implicated
in a murder, including any one who has been an accessory to it,
they shall all die; this is decreed by justice as represented by
the judicial power, "in accordance with universal laws which have
_a priori_ origin."[85] Yet we are told that in one case this
categorical imperative may be suspended out of utilitarian
considerations: if the number {287} of offenders is so large that
the infliction of the death-penalty might be very dangerous to the
State, the sovereign must be entitled, in agreement with his right
of pardon, to substitute some other penalty.[86] In two other
cases, where a person's honour is concerned, Kant doubts whether
the law is justified in applying capital punishment: the one is
the duel, the other is infanticide committed by the mother of an
illegitimate child. In the latter case one might suppose that the
motive for relinquishing the law of talion was pity felt for the
unfortunate mother, but the categorical imperative could, of
course, never allow such a feeling to interfere with its command;
so Kant had to devise another explanation, which better agreed
with its rationality. He argues that the infant has been born
outside the law, and consequently is not protected by the law. It
has, as it were, crept into the community as contraband
(_verbotene Waare_), and as it should not be there at all, the
community may ignore both its existence and its destruction.[87]
Kant has to admit that there are cases in which the punishment
cannot be exactly equivalent to the crime, as in bestiality, for
instance. It should then be equivalent according to the spirit of
law: the man whose offence has reduced him to the level of an
animal should be expelled from civil society and deprived of human
rights, as he is unworthy to be treated as a human being. Rape and
pederasty, again, should be punished with castration.[88] Here we
have a revival of the savage custom of punishing the offending
member; for the principle that the sole object of punishment is
retribution excludes the idea of using it as a means for
preventing the possibility of a repetition of the crime.

[Footnote 82: _Ibid._, viii. 261. _Metaphysische
Anfangungsgründe der Tugendlehre_, Schlussanmerkung (vi.

[Footnote 83: _Kritik der praktischen Vernunft_, i. 1. 1. 8 (v.
37; Abbott, p. 127).]

[Footnote 84: _Metaphysische Anfangungsgründe der
Rechtslehre_, § 49 (_Gesammelte Schriften_, vi. [Berlin,
1914], p. 331).]

[Footnote 85: _Ibid._, § 49 (vi. 332 _sq._).]

[Footnote 86: _Ibid._, § 49 (vi. 334).]

[Footnote 87: _Ibid._, § 49 (vi. 335 _sq._).]

[Footnote 88: _Ibid._, Anhang (vi. 363).]

{288} When Kant says that punishment can never be administered
merely as a means for promoting another good, either with regard
to the criminal himself or to the civil society, he evidently
bases his doctrine of retribution on one of his formulas of the
categorical imperative, although it is difficult to see that the
retributive theory itself treats the criminal as an "end in
himself"; on the contrary, even though his punishment is not used
as a means either of reforming him or of deterring anybody else,
it is nevertheless actually a means of gratifying the resentful
feelings of the community. But Kant has not made any attempt to
show why practical reason requires punitive justice at all, and
least of all why it requires the rule of tit for tat. His theory
of punishment is simply an expression of the emotion of moral
resentment of a more primitive type than that which is embodied in
the criminal legislation of our own time. Amongst other things, he
has in view only the external resemblance between the injury done
by the offender and the nature of the punishment inflicted on him,
without trying to correlate the pain with the real inward

[Footnote 89: _Cf._ A. C. Ewing, _The Morality of Punishment_
(London, 1929), p. 15.]

Kant's ethics is the most gigantic attempt ever made to found a
theory of morals on reason alone. He has not resorted to the
convenient method adopted by many other moralists of simply
appealing to intuitions in order to establish the objective
validity of their propositions. He has endeavoured to derive the
rules of duty by a mere logical process from a supreme moral law
the essence of which is formal self-consistency. He says himself
that he has not thought of introducing "a new principle of
morality," just as if all the world before him were ignorant what
duty {289} was or had been in thorough-going error;[90] the
knowledge of what every man is bound to do, and therefore also to
know, is within the reach of every man, even the commonest.[91] He
has only wanted to set forth a "new formula." But with the deepest
regard for the tremendous earnestness of his purpose, I cannot but
think that his struggle to harmonize the moral experience of
mankind with his own rational deductions has been a colossal
failure. I have tried to show that in his alleged dictates of
reason the emotional background is transparent throughout. And if
I have succeeded in such an attempt in the case of the greatest of
all moral rationalists, I flatter myself with the belief that I
have, in no small measure, given additional strength to the main
contentions in this book: that the moral consciousness is
ultimately based on emotions, that the moral judgment lacks
objective validity, that the moral values are not absolute but
relative to the emotions they express.

[Footnote 90: _Kritik der praktischen Vernunft_, Vorrede (v. 8 n.*;
Abbott, p. 93 n. 1).]

[Footnote 91: _Grundlegung_, sec. i. (iv. 404; Abbott, p. 20).]

{291} INDEX

Abbott, T. K., 37, 40-42, 53, 55, 91, 125, 137, 160, 265-281,
283-286, 289

Accident, injuries due to, 163-168, 173, 176, 180; benefits due
to, 175, 176

Acts, as subjects of moral judgments, 148, 149

Adultery, 244-246

Aeschylus, 71

Aesthetic judgments, supposed objectivity of, 48, 145

Albee, E., 17, 18, 232

Alexander, S., 140, 154, 158, 210

Altruism, 26, 27, 208, 209, 224-227, 268, 272, 274, 275, 280-283.
_See_ "Benevolence," Teleological theories of ethics

Altruistic sentiment, the, 8, 71, 73, 74, 87, 88, 97, 98, 100-105,
200, 205, 207-210, 213, 217, 229, 268, 272, 283

Alverdes, R, 101-103

Anger, 62-69. _See_ Rage, Resentment, non-moral

Animals, men's feelings and conduct towards, 10, 11, 32, 207,
209-213; self-feeling in, 66; retributive kindly emotion in, 87,
88; disinterested resentment in, 98-100, 106; the parental
instinct among, 100-103; injuries committed by, 157, 168-170, 174;
revenge taken upon, 168, 169; subject to regular punishment, 169,
170; regarded as responsible beings, 169, 170

Aristippus, 222

Aristotle, 44, 71, 76, 81, 82, 124, 151, 186, 190, 191, 233, 245

Athenaeus, 241

Athenagoras, 257

Augustine, _Saint_, 190, 225

Austin, J., 154, 155, 157

Aversions, influencing moral ideas by giving rise to disinterested
resentment, 59, 107, 108, 104, 201, 226, 234, 235, 240, 241, 243,
248, 249, 257-259, 262

Bacon, _Lord_, 66, 82, 157

"Bad," analysis of the concept of, 126

Bain, A., 64, 68, 107, 120, 259

Baldwin, J. M., 51

Balfour, A. J., 179

Bang, N. H., 53, 119

Beauty, supposed objectivity of. _See_ Aesthetic judgments

Beneke, F. R, 178, 275

"Benevolence, the principle of rational," 9-15, 30, 32, 33, 43,
208, 281

Benoit, 170

Bentham, J., 5, 6, 10, 19, 124, 157, 211, 213, 221, 232, 233

Bestiality, 287

Binding, K., 154

Birch-Reichenwald Aars, K., 202

Birds, the parental instinct restricted to the male in a few
species of, 102, 103

Blood, pollution of, 165, 166

-- -feud, collective responsibility in the, 66

Bohlin, T., 55, 202

Bonar, J., 38, 70

Bonaventura, 165

Bradley, F. H., 28-30, 121, 125, 134, 135, 151, 210

Brehm, A. E., 99, 101

Brentano, F., 61, 218

{292} Broad, C. D., 38, 125, 153, 160, 262, 278

Brown, J., 16

Browne, T., 72, 73

Brunner, H., 244

Buckle, H. T. 200, 203, 215

Buddha, 51, 75

Burgh, W. G. de, 119

Butler, J., 37, 38, 51, 54, 64, 259

Carelessness, 154-156, 167, 175

"Categorical imperative," Kant's, 55, 91, 124, 264, 266, 272-278,
282, 286, 288

Cato, the elder, 237

Celibacy, 243, 250; religious, 238, 253-257. _See_ Marriage,
regarded as a duty

Character, as the subject of moral judgment, 158, 159, 171, 172;
why moral judgments are passed on conduct and, 172-177; non-moral
resentment not indifferent to the injurer's, 175; distinction made
in moral valuation between the innate and the acquired, 178, 179;
in the very strictest sense of the term, the proper subject of
moral valuation is the innate, 179

Chastity, the origin of the duty of, 235-258

Children, injuries committed by, 157, 168, 170, 174; killing or
exposure of new-born, 185-187, 287; illegitimate, 238, 242, 243,

Chimpanzees, disinterested resentment in, 99, 106; social
conditions of, 100, 103

Cicero, 71, 109, 133, 222, 234, 237, 239

Clark, E. C, 157

Clarke, S., 15, 39, 40, 91

Clifford, W. K., 176, 224

Cnut, _King_, 189

Cobbe, F. P., 212

Cohn, G., 14

Compatriots, distinction between harm done to strangers and
injuries committed against, 197-208

Compulsion, acts performed under, 150, 151, 174, 176, 178, 179;
confounded with causation, 181

"-- by necessity," 151, 170, 232

Conduct, as subject of moral judgment, 148-159, 172-177

Confucius, 51, 92

Conjugal affection, 100, 104

Conscience, 35, 37-39, 51-55, 94, 95, 113

Cosmopolitanism, 199, 200, 202-205

Courage, admiration of, 108

Cowardice, 194, 212, 234, 235

Coyness, female, 240, 241

Curses, materialistic conception of, 166

Customs, rules of duty, 50, 109-111, 162, 276; at the foundation
of ancient law-books, 162

Cynics, 200

Cyprian, _Saint_, 255

Cyrenaics, 222

Darwin, Ch., 99, 100, 101, 103

Demosthenes, 245

Denis, J., 237

Determinism, 179-182

Deutsch, E, 74

Dewey, J., 137

Diogenes Laertius, 123, 222

Disinterestedness, a characteristic of moral judgments, 11, 12,
90, 91, 205, 206; of the moral emotions, 12, 91, 108-112, 205,
228, 229, 276

Dislikes, sentimental. _See_ Aversions

Dogs, self-feeling in, 66; disinterested resentment in, 99, 100,

Driesch, H., 273

Durkheim, E., 80, 120, 191, 192

{293} "Duties, conflicting," 125

"Duty, for duty's sake," 27, 119, 267-272; competing with
"goodness" for supremacy or priority, 119-122, 272; the whole
field of morality reserved for, 119, 120, 272; confusion between
what ought to be done and the concept of, 120, 121; analysis of
the concept of, 122-126; antagonism between inclination and, 124,
125, 265, 268-272, 279, 280; "corresponding" to a "right," 129,
130; relation between "virtue" and, 138, 139; between "merit" and,
139, 140; Kant's conception of, 265-272

Egoism, 8, 26, 27, 33, 95, 97, 110, 208, 209, 273-275, 279, 282

Egoistic energism, 26

-- hedonism, 7, 17-20, 90, 91, 208, 221-223, 274, 282

Eicken, H. von, 254

Emotions, determined by cognitions, 59, 60, 147, 180, 216; moral
judgments said to be passed on, 159-161. _See_ special headings

Energism, 26-28, 260, 261

Envy, 98, 159, 160, 231

Epictetus, 204

Epicurus, 222

Equivalence, the rule of, in retaliation, 72, 73, 286, 287

Ethical subjectivism, supposed danger of, 57-60

Ethics, normative, chap. I. _sq._, _passim_; the emotional
background of, chap. VIII. _sq._

--, scientific, 61

Eudemonism, 260, 261, 270, 278

Evolutionary hedonism or utilitarianism, 20-25

Exogamous rules, 246-250

Expansion of the moral rules, 197-208

Exposure of new-born children, 185-187

Ewing, A. C, 78, 153, 214, 288

Family, the, 100, 103

Fatalism, 181, 182

Feuerbach, L., 53

Feuerbach, P. J. A. von, 94

Fichte, J. G., 225, 234, 235

Field, G. C., 116, 178

Filial affection, 104

Fishes, the parental instinct restricted to the male among some,

Fison, L., 104, 105

Fleming, W., 89

Forbearances, as subjects of moral judgments, 154, 157

Forgiveness, 74-76, 81, 82, 151, 175

Fowler, F. G., 144

Fowler, H. W., 144

Fowler, T., 38, 52, 53, 70, 89

Free-will, moral valuation and, 179-182

Freudenberg, G., 54

Freytag, W., 278

Frogs, the parental instinct restricted to the male among some,

Fustel de Coulanges, N. D., 252

Gay, J., 16, 18

General rules in morality, necessity of, 231, 232, 273; relaxation
of the, 232, 273

Gibbon, E., 192

God, the goodness of, 56

Gods, attaching undue importance to the outward aspect of conduct,
164-166; resentment attributed to, 166, 188, 189

Goethe, J. W., 55, 56

Goldscheid, R., 231

"Good," supposed to be undefinable, 44; analysis of the concept
of, 134-137; relation between "right" and, 135-137

{294} "Goodness," competing with "duty" for supremacy or priority,
119, 122, 272; excluded from the sphere of morality, 119, 120

Göpfert, F. A., 154

Gorillas, social conditions of, 100, 103

Gratian, 245

Gratitude, 62, 63, 70, 86-88, 98, 175, 176

Green, T. H., 120

Gregariousness, 87, 88, 100, 103, 104, 200

Gregory of Nyssa, 254

Griffis, W. E., 124, 236

Groenewegen, H. Y., 125

Grote, J., 224

Grotius, H., 157

Guenther, A. C. L. G., 102

Guests, privileges granted to, 198

Hägerström, A., 41, 275, 278

Hallucinations, 28, 216

Hansard, T. C., 211

Happiness, defined, 4, 28, 29, 32, 260, 278, 279; desired by
everybody, 268, 274, 279. _See_ Psychological hedonism; connection
between moral valuation and, recognized in normative theories of
ethics, 278-285. _See_ Teleological theories of ethics; an element
in the _summum bonum_, 283-285

Hartley, D., 17, 70, 100, 174

Hartmann, E. von, 87

Hartmann, N., 214

Hebler, C, 60

Hegel, G. W. F, 29, 54, 55, 100, 275, 276

Hedonism, 4-6, 43, 270. _See_ Egoistic hedonism, Evolutionary
hedonism or utilitarianism, Psychological hedonism, Utilitarianism
or universalistic hedonism

Heedlessness, 155

Heyde, J. E, 224

Heymans, G., 57, 61, 194, 214, 250

Hobbes, T., 17, 54, 55, 77, 92, 107, 117, 134

Hobhouse, L. T., 31-33, 60, 63, 122

Höffding, H., 60, 61, 205, 208, 260, 278

Holiness, affected by sexual pollution, 255, 256

Holmes, S. J., 106

Holy persons, sexual intercourse with, 195

Homicide, unintentional, 163-166

Homosexual practices, 192-196, 248, 250, 257, 287

Horace, 237

Horwicz, A., 87

Hospitality, 198

Howitt, A. W., 105

Human sacrifice, 187-189

Hume, D., 17, 48, 49, 91, 134, 159, 248

Hutcheson, F., 14, 36, 37, 51, 52, 135, 176, 224, 231

Idiots, injuries committed by, 157, 168

Im Thurn, _Sir_ E. F., 73

"Impartial spectator," the, 70

Impartiality, real or apparent, a characteristic of moral
judgments, 11, 12, 33, 93, 205, 206; of the moral emotions, 12,
93, 94, 108-112, 205, 228, 229, 276; emphasized in the concept of
"justice," 131-133

Inanimate things, not subject to deliberate retributive emotions
nor to moral praise or blame, 172, 173, 176, 179

Incest. _See_ Exogamous rules

Inclination, antagonism between duty and, 124, 125, 265, 268-272,
279, 280

Infanticide, 185-187, 287

Ingram, J. K., 225

{295} "Injustice," analysis of the concept of, 122-134

Insects, disinterested resentment among, 106

Intellectual considerations, influencing moral judgments, 37, 50,
59, 147, 165-172, 183-196, 203-207, 209-213, 233, 234, 258, 259;
influencing non-moral retributive emotions, 172-176. _See_ Reason,
Religious or superstitious beliefs

-- disability, agents under. _See_ Animals, Children, Idiots,

Intentions, as subjects of moral judgments, 148, 149, 152; not to
be confounded with "known concomitants of acts," 156, 157

Intuition, moral, 9-15, 22-24, 30, 38, 41-43, 59, 61, 208, 216,
261-264. _See_ Self-evidence

Intuitionism, unphilosophical, 34, 42, 43

Isaeus, 252

Jägerskiöld, L. A., 102, 103

Jamblichus, 237, 256

Jealousy, 98, 231, 240

Jesus, 51, 76

Jhering, R. von, 224

Joachim, H. H., 44, 218

John of Damascus, 254

"Just," motives not considered in the case of conduct called, 152

Justice, utilitarian explanation of, 78, 180, 232

"--," the so-called "principle of," 11, 12, 30, 91; analysis of
the concept of, 130-134

Justinian, 130

Kames, _Lord_, 211

Kant, I., 15, 28, 37, 40-42, 51-53, 55, 56, 91, 119, 124, 125,
137, 160, 161, 193, 208-210, 235, 265-289

Katz, E., 238

Killing, or abandoning of old parents, 184, 185; or exposure of
new-born children, 185-187, 287. _See_ Homicide

King, W., 16

Kissing, 238

Known concomitants of acts, influencing moral judgments, 156-158

Köhler, W., 99, 106

Kropotkin, P., 103, 104

Laas, E, 125, 273

Lagerborg, R, 120

Laird, J., 60, 62, 121, 122, 193, 214, 277

Lane-Poole, S., 74

Language, a communicator of retributive emotions, 107, 108; an
expression of moral concepts, 118; a rough generalizer, 118, 119,

Lao-Tsze, 75

Law, E., 16

Laws, as expressions of moral ideas, 162, 163; founded on customs,

Lecky, W. E. H., 253

Legge, J., 92, 236

_Lex talionis_. _See_ Equivalence

Lichtenstein, H., 173

Likings, sentimental, influencing moral ideas by giving rise to
disinterested retributive kindly emotion, 59, 108, 226, 257-259

Lipps, Th., 39, 178, 214, 276

Locke, J., 84, 134, 214

Lotze, H., 276

Lunatics, injuries committed by, 157, 168, 170, 174, 176, 180, 181

Luther, M., 56

Lysias, 243

McDougall, W., 57, 62-68, 87, 89, 96, 102, 115, 158, 200, 259, 261

Mackenzie, J. S., 38, 121, 148

Mackintosh, _Sir_ James, 215

Mackintosh, R. J., 215

{296} Madness. _See_ Lunatics

Maier, H., 60, 261

Malinowski, B., 194

Mandeville, B. de, 222, 223

Marcus Aurelius, 204

Marriage, the origin of, 240, 242; by purchase, 241, 242; regarded
as a duty, 251-253; forbidden to persons whose function it is to
perform religious or magical rites, 253-256; considered impure,
254; between a god and his priestess, 254, 255

Marsden, W., 111

Martineau, J., 113, 170, 218

Maternal affection, 100-102

Maurer, K., 71

Mead, Margaret, 194

Medwin, T., 99

Mehlis, G., 257

"Merit," analysis of the concept of, 139, 140; relation between
"duty" and, 139, 140; in the ethics of Kant, 272

Methodists, 210

Migne, J. P., 255

Mih-tsze, 199

Mill, James, 176, 177

Mill, J. S., 4, 6-8, 10, 17, 19, 20, 22, 25, 26, 31, 92, 177, 180,
211, 229, 258, 259

Modesty, female, 240, 241

Mommsen, Th., 198, 252

Monkeys, self-feeling in, 66; sympathetic resentment in, 99, 100;
adopted offspring among, 101. _See_ Chimpanzees, Gorillas

Montaigne, M. de, 109, 174

Montefiore, C. G., 164

Moore, G. E., 41-44, 49, 120, 121, 142-146, 153, 160, 177

Moral approval, the nature of, 63, 88, 91-95; the origin of,
95-98, 108, 109, 111-113; moral concepts springing from, 134-139;
resemblance between the phenomena that give rise to gratitude and
those which call forth, 175, 176; at the bottom of Kant's notions
of duty and the _summum bonum_, 271, 285

Moral axioms. _See_ Self-evidence

-- concepts, the, ultimately based on, chap. V., 60, 90

-- disapproval, the nature of, 63, 69-86, 91-95; the origin of,
95-113; expressed in custom, 109-111, 162, 276, 277; moral
concepts springing from, 122-134; expressed in law, 162, 163;
resemblance between the phenomena that give rise to deliberate
non-moral resentment and those which call forth, 172-175

-- emotions, the, chap. III. _sq._; the origin of, 95-113; the
moral concepts ultimately based on, chap. V.; resemblance between
the phenomena that give rise to deliberate non-moral retributive
emotions and those which call forth, 172-177; not determined by
the cognition of free-will, 180-182; quantitative differences of,
218, 219; at the background of normative theories of ethics, chap.
VIII. _sq._; correlation between moral intuitions and, 261-263

"-- enlightenment," 147

-- evolution, 112, 147

-- experts, 12-15, 42-44

-- ideals, 140, 141

"-- insanity," 28, 77

-- judgments, the supposed objective validity of, chap. I. _sq._,
see Objective validity of moral judgments; the predicates of,
chap. V.; the subjects of, chap. VI.; the variability of, chap.
VII.; the emotional origin of, 60, 90, 114-117, _passim_;
disinterestedness, a characteristic of, _see_ Disinterestedness;
impartiality, a characteristic of, _see_ Impartiality; the
influence of {297} intellectual considerations on, _see_
Intellectual considerations; reason as the ultimate source of,
_see_ Reason; the supposed universality of, how far affected by
their variability, _see_ Universality

Moral law, the supposed supremacy of the, 51-55

"-- reason," 35, 40, 261, 262

-- rules, expansion of the, 197-208; necessity of general, 231,
232, 273; relaxation of the general, 232, 273

"-- sense," the, 22, 35-37, 70

"-- truth," 60, 141, 142, _passim_

Morbid impulses, injuries committed under the influence of, 151,

Morrison, W. D., 80

Motives, 17-20, 26, 27, 150-155, 170, 171, 174, 176, 177, 259,
260. _See_ "Duty, for duty's sake"

Muir, J., 92

Müller-Freienfels, R., 60

Münsterberg, H., 54, 60, 119

Musonius Rufus, 237

Mutual aid, among social animals, 103; among savages, 104

Nationality, the feeling of, 200-202

Negative commandments, why more prominent than positive ones, 171;
universal duties as a rule expressed by, 207, 208

Negligence, 154, 155

Neo-Platonists, 237

Neo-Pythagoreans, 237

New or unusual, antipathy felt against anything, 107

Oaths, materialistic conception of, 166

Objective validity of moral judgments, the supposed, chap. I.
_sq._, 114, 115, 141-147, 264, 266, _passim_; how far affected by
their variability, 183-219

Objectivity, attributed to aesthetic and other non-moral judgments
based on subjective experience, 48, 142-145

Ogden, C. K., 134

Omissions, 154-158, 175

"Opinion," the meaning of the word, 143-146

Opinions, as subjects of moral judgments, 161, 162

"Ought," utilitarian interpretation of, 5; different meanings of,
118, 119; analysis of the concept of, as a moral concept, 122-126.
_Cf._ "Duty"

Owen, R., 179, 180

Pain, the view that the motive of all action is a desire to feel
pleasure or to avoid, _see_ Psychological hedonism; the view that
every desire aims directly at an objective end and not at the
feeling of pleasure or the relief from, 259; the frustration of a
desire accompanied with, 261; connection between moral valuation
and the production of, _see_ Moral disapproval; such connection
recognized in normative theories of ethics, _see_ Hedonism,

Pains and pleasures, supposed commensurability of, in the moral
valuation of conduct, 230, 231

Paley, W., 16, 18

Parental instinct, the, restricted to the male in certain species
of animals, 102, 103

Parents, killing or abandoning of old, 184, 185

Paternal affection, 100-104

Paul, St., 210, 254

Paulsen, F., 26-28, 55, 278, 284

{298} Pederasty. _See_ Homosexual practices

Peel, _Sir_ Robert, 211

Planert, W., 118

Plato, 44, 71, 75, 190, 225, 238, 248

Plautus, 245

Pleasure, qualitative or only quantitative differences of, 25, 26,
31, 268; the view that the motive of all action is a desire to
avoid pain or to feel, _see_ Psychological hedonism; the view that
every desire aims directly at an objective end and not at relief
from pain or the feeling of, 259-261; the fulfilment of a desire
accompanied with, 261; connection between moral valuation and the
production of, _see_ Moral approval; such connection recognized in
normative theories of ethics, 278-285, _see_ Teleological theories
of ethics

Pleasures and pains, supposed commensurability of, in the moral
valuation of conduct, 230, 231

Plutarch, 66, 204, 234, 245

Pollution, of blood, 165, 166; sexual, 255, 256

Pollux, 252

Polybius, 70

Positive commandments, why less prominent than negative ones, 171

Positivism, 224, 225

"Practical reason," 35, 40, 41, 261, chap. IX., _passim_

Price, R., 39, 40, 262

Prostitutes, intercourse with, 237, 239, 243. _See_ Prostitution,

Prostitution, religious, of women and men, 187, 195

"Prudence, the principle of," 11, 30

Psychological hedonism, 259, 260, 268, 269

Public approval, the prototype of moral approval, 50, 111, 112

-- disapproval, the prototype of moral disapproval, 50, 109-112

Punishment, revenge succeeded by, 73; essentially an expression of
the moral indignation of the society that inflicts it, 75-78,
80-84, 132, 133; theories as to the proper object of, 77-86;
regarded as a means of eliminating the criminal, 77, 78; as a
deterrent, 77-79; as a means of reforming the criminal, 77, 79,
80; the social use fulness of, 84, 85; a source of moral
disapproval, 107; of accidental injuries, 163-167; inflicted on
animals, 169, 170; of injuries committed by children, 170; by
lunatics, 170; from a deterministic point of view, 179, 180;
Kant's view of, 286-288

Pythagoras, 237

Quakers, 210

Rage, injuries committed in a, 151, 170, 171, 174

Rape, 242, 287

Rashdall, H., 11, 30, 31, 37, 41, 46, 47, 49, 52, 55, 57, 58, 60,
146, 147, 206, 214, 262

Rashness, 155

Read, Carveth, 45, 46, 79, 80

Reason, as the ultimate source of moral judgments, 32, 35, 38,
39-41, 50, 213-215, 261-263. _See_ Intellectual considerations,
Intuition, "Moral reason," "Practical reason"

Reflex action, 68

Rehmke, J., 55

Reid, L. A., 218

Reid, T., 39

{299} Rejoicing at another person's misfortune, 160, 161

Religion, alliance between morality and, 15-20, 51, 55-58, 221

Religious or superstitious beliefs, influencing moral ideas, 59,
165-167, 186-193, 195, 196, 202, 203, 209-211, 238, 239, 243, 245,
251-257. _See_ Religion

Remorse, 94, 95

Repentance, 81, 82, 175

Resentment, non-moral, 63-69, 72, 73, 105, 230; attributed to
gods, 164, 166, 188, 189; to the souls of dead persons, 165, 166;
resemblance between the phenomena that give rise to moral
disapproval and those which call forth deliberate, 172-175; not
determined by the cognition of free-will, 180, 181

-- moral. _See_ Moral disapproval

Retributive emotions, 63. _See_ Moral approval, Moral disapproval,
Resentment, Retributive kindly emotion

Retributive kindly emotion, non-moral, 63, 86-88, 98, 230;
resemblance between the phenomena that give rise to moral approval
and those which call forth deliberate, 175, 176; not determined by
the cognition of free-will, 180, 181. _See_ Gratitude

-- moral. _See_ Moral approval

Revenge, the feeling of, 63-69, _see_ Resentment, non-moral;
regarded as a duty, 71, 72, 105; regulated by the rule of
equivalence, 72, 73; succeeded by punishment, 73; condemned,
74-76; taken upon animals, 168, 169

Reward, an outward manifestation of moral approval, 88; a source
of moral approval, 108; as required by justice, 132, 285

Ribot, Th., 64, 69, 96

Richards, I. A., 134

"Right" as an adjective, utilitarian interpretation of, 4, 5;
analysis of the concept of, 126-128; relation between "good" and,
135-137; epithet given to conduct independently of its motive,
152, 153

"Rights," analysis of the concept of, 128-130; relation between
"duties" and, 129, 130; motives not considered in the case of, 152

Ritchie, D. G., 210, 278

Romanes, G. J., 99

Rorarius, H., 170

Ross, W. D., 89, 134, 135, 144-146, 216

Roth, W. E., 105

Rousseau, 278

Russell, B., 44, 116, 119

Sainte-Palaye, De la Curne de, 233

Scheler, M., 53, 158

Schiller, F., 55, 56

Schleiermacher, F., 273

Schmidt, L., 71, 98, 243, 245

Schopenhauer, A., 55, 159, 179, 193, 277, 278

Schrader, O., 244

Scotists, 164

Scott, _Sir_ Walter, 234

Scott, W. R., 37

Seeley, J. R., 171

Self-approval, 94, 95

-- -evidence, the supposed, of moral propositions, 9-15, 18, 30,
34, 40-45, 61, 121, 262. _See_ Intuition

-- -feeling, 62, 64-69, 87

-- -realization, 29, 30, 261

-- -regarding duties and virtues, 27, 221, 223-227, 274, 279-282

Seneca, 66, 75, 174, 204, 222

Sexual desire, regarded as sinful in the unmarried, 238;
associated {300} with affection, 243, 244

Sexual intercourse, with a holy person, 195; between unmarried
persons, 235-244; with a prostitute, 237, 239; regarded as a
consequence of Adam's sin, 254; supposed to have been originally
free from all carnal desire, 254; considered polluting and in
certain circumstances a mysterious cause of evil, 255, 256;
regarded as a transmitter of hereditary sin, 256. _See_ Adultery,
Homosexual practices, Incest, Rape, Virginity

Shaftesbury, Antony, _Earl of_, 35, 36, 56, 57, 64, 84, 137

Shakespeare, W., 175

Shand, A. F, 64, 68, 69, 96, 99, 101

Shipwrecked persons, treatment of, 198, 203

Sidgwick, H., 8-19, 33, 34, 41-45, 48, 121, 143, 148, 154, 156,
177, 180, 207, 208, 211, 213, 230, 232, 274, 282

Simmel, G, 137

Smith, Adam, 51, 70, 71, 82, 131, 168, 175

Socrates, 75, 190

Sodomy. _See_ Homosexual practices

Solon, 123

Sophists, 58

Sorley, W. R., 46, 49, 60, 116, 117, 135, 142, 203, 204, 214, 215

Spalding, S., 36

Spencer, H., 20-24, 100

Spinoza, B. de, 134

Stanley, H. M., 173

Stapledon, W. O., 30, 121

Staudinger, F., 125

Steinmetz, S. R., 65, 67

Stephen, _Sir_ J. F., 4, 5, 84

Stephen, _Sir_ L., 24, 25, 45, 53, 70, 146, 178

Stewart, Dugald, 51

Stirner, M., 223

Stobaeus, 237

Stoics, 75, 190, 200, 204. _See_ Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius,

Stout, G. F, 96, 261

Strangers, distinction between injuries committed against
compatriots and harm done to, 197-208

Stumpf, G, 57

Suicide, 189-192, 225, 226

_Summum bonum_, Kant's notion of the, 283-285

"Superobligatory," the, 126, 140, 141

Superstitious or religious beliefs, influencing moral ideas. _See_
Religious or superstitious beliefs

Sutherland, A., 102, 103

Sympathy, 95-98. _See_ Altruistic sentiment

Taboo, 166

Taste, variability of, 37, 50, 52, 107

Taylor, A. E., 38, 194, 202, 250, 277

Teleological theories of ethics, 28-33. _See_ Energism,
Eudemonism, Hedonism, Utilitarianism, Welfare theory

Theological ethics, 15-20, 55-58, 221

Thilly, F., 26, 123

Thomas Aquinas, 57, 76, 161, 162, 165, 191, 238, 243, 254

Thouless, R. H., 63, 150

Tolerance, moral, 59

Truth, the notion of, 3, 12, 42, 183, 217, 218. _See_ "Moral

Tucker, A., 108

Unbelief, as a subject of moral judgment, 161, 162

Universalistic energism. _See_ Energism

{301} Universalistic hedonism. _See_ Utilitarianism

Universality, of truth, 183, 217, 218; the presumed, of moral
judgments, how far affected by their variability, 183-219

Utilitarianism or universalistic hedonism, 6-20, 36, 92, 208, 209,
211, 213, 221, 226-260, 280-282. _See_ Evolutionary hedonism or

Valerius Maximus, 237

Validity of moral judgments. _See_ Objective validity of moral

Variability of moral judgments, chap. VII.

Veracity, the origin of the duty of, 232-235

Vinnius, A., 245

Virginity, not required of a bride, 235; required of unmarried
women, 235-239; preference given by men to, 240, 241; required of
priestesses, 253, 254; religious veneration of, 254

"Virtue," analysis of the concept of, 137-139; relation between
"duty" and, 138, 139

Vivisection, 212

Volitions, as subjects of moral judgments, 148-154; absence of, a
subject of moral judgments if attributed to a defect of the will,
154-158; as a source of non-moral retributive emotions, 172-175;
absence of, a cause of non-moral retributive emotions, 175, 176

Wallace, W., 222

War, 199

Wardlaw, R., 162

Waterland, D., 18, 19

Watson, J., 60

Webb, C. C. J., 124

Welfare theory, the, 26-28, 260, 261

Whewell, W., 39

Wilda, W. E., 244

"Will, the," as the subject of moral judgment, _see_ Character;
not only intentions but deliberate wishes expressions of, 150;
moral blame also concerned with not-willing when attributed to a
defect of, 154, 155; the conception of, in the ethics of Kant,
265, 266, 273-275, 283

Williams, Ch., 99

Wilson, J. M., 38, 70, 89

Wishes, deliberate, as subjects of moral judgments, 149, 150

Wright, W. K, 261

"Wrong," utilitarian interpretation of, 4, 5; analysis of the
concept of, 126-128; motives considered in the case of conduct
called, 153, 154

Wundt, M., 222

Wundt, W., 109

Xenophon, 71, 238

Young, T., 210

Ziegler, Th., 124, 176

       *       *      *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes

Page numbers are included in {} with spaces either side, even if
this infringes a normal PG convention. In the original text, page
numbers at the start of chapters etc. are placed at the foot of the
page. Footnotes are placed at the end of each paragraph to which
they are attached. They are numbered as in the original text.

In addition to the usual PG conventions for accents, [(] is used
for the semi-ring used to transcribe Semitic 'ayin.

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accent (each written after the relevant vowel).

Corrections to the Text

Corrections are marked with ** before the corrected item. They are:

Page           Text                Correction
vii            telelogical         teleological
18 n. 43       Works               _Works_
53 n. 54       initial " and closing ) omitted
56             externally          eternally
118            the the             the
130 n. 29      _Instutiones_       _Institutiones_
208            critized            criticized
214 n. 51      1829                1929
267 text to note 13, end quotation mark omitted

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