« VorigeDoorgaan »
Universal Human Reason, common to all men, so far as it is unfolded, and to which each man's reason must conform; so is there a Universal Moral Sympathy, common to all men, so far as it is unfolded; a Conscience of mankind, to which each man's Conscience must conform.
But in order to arrive at such Moral Rules as we have spoken of, we must proceed by a series of several steps, and upon this course we now enter.
RIGHT, ADJECTIVE, AND RIGHT, SUBSTANTIVE
70. In order to establish Rules of human ac. tion we must consider more exactly the import of the terms right and wrong, which we have already used (56).
It has been said (18) that Rules of Action may direct actions to be performed as means to an end. Examples of such Rules are these: Be temperate, in order to be healthy: Labour, that you may gain money.
The adjective right signifies conformable to Rule ; and is used with reference to the object of the Rule. To be temperate, is the right way to be healthy. To labour, is the right way to gain money.
In these cases the adjective right is used relatively; that is, relatively to the object of the Rule.
71. It has been said also (19) that we may have a Series of actions, each of which is a means to the next as an end. A man labours, that he may gain money he wishes to gain money, that he may educate his children: he would educate his children, in order that they may prosper in the world.
In these cases, the inferior ends lead to higher ones, and derive their value from these. Each subordinate action aims at the end next above it, as a good (37). In the series of actions just mentioned, a man's gain is regarded as a good, because it tends to the education of his children. Education is considered as valuable, because it tends to prosperity.
And the Rules which prescribe such actions, derive their imperative force and validity, each from the Rule above it. The Superior Rule supplies a reason for the inferior. The Rule, to labour, derives its force from the Rule, to seek gain: this Rule receives its force (in the case we are considering) from the Rule, to educate our children: this again has for its reason, to forward the prosperity of our children.
72. But besides such Subordinate Rules, there must be a Supreme Rule of Human Action. For the succession of Means and Ends, with the corresponding series of subordinate and superior Rules, must somewhere terminate. And the inferior ends would have no value, as leading to the highest, except the highest end had a value of its own. The superior Rules could give no validity to the subordinate ones, except there were a Supreme Rule from which the validity of all of these were ultimately derived. Therefore there is a supreme rule of Human Action. That which is conformable to the Supreme Rule, is absolutely right; and is called right, simply, without relation to a special end. The opposite to right is
73. The Supreme Rule of Human Action may also be described by its Object.
The Object of the Supreme Rule of human action is spoken of as the True End of human action, the Ultimate or Supreme Good, the Summum Bonum.
74. There are various other ways of expressing the opposition of right and wrong, and the Supreme Rule of Human Action; namely, the Rule to
do what is right and to abstain from doing what is wrong. We say, we ought to do what is right; we ought not to do what is wrong. To do what is right is our Duty; to do what is wrong is a transgression, an offence; a violation of our Duty.
75. The question Why? respecting human actions, demands a reason, which may be given by a reference from a lower Rule to a higher. Why ought I to be frugal or industrious? In order that I may not want a maintenance. Why must I avoid want? Because I must seek to act independently. Why should I act independently? that I may act rightly.
Hence, with regard to the Supreme Rule, the question Why? admits of no further answer. Why must I do what is right? Because it is right. Why should I do what I ought? Because I ought. The Supreme Rule supplies a reason for that which it commands, by being the Supreme Rule.
76. Rightness and Wrongness are, as we have already said, the Moral qualities of actions. The rules which, in subordination to the Supreme Rule, determine what is right and what is wrong, are Moral Rules. The doctrine which treats of actions as right and wrong, is Morality.
77. Since, as we have seen (58), Moral Rules are necessary, according to the constitution of human nature; Man is necessarily a Moral Being.
78. We have now to establish Moral Rules; and for that purpose, we must consider in what kind of Terms they must be expressed. Among those Terms must be Rights; and Rights must exist, as we proceed to show.
Rules of human action must be expressed by means of words denoting those abstract and general Conceptions which include the principal objects of human desire and affection. And, in order that these Conceptions may regulate men's actions, they must be Conceptions of something which really exists among
men. If they are not this, they cannot, by their operation, balance, moderate, check and direct the desires and affections which tend to really existing objects. For instance, my desire to possess what another has, may be checked and controlled by the Conception of Property; by my looking upon it as his Property. But this could not happen, if there were no such thing as Property. If Property had not been a reality among men, the Conception of it could never have had the power, which in human Society it constantly has had, to suppress or moderate the greater part of the acts to which the bodily desires, and the desire of having, would naturally impel men. In like manner, the Conceptions of Promises, of Contract, of Marriage, and the like, restrain or limit most of the acts to which the uncontrolled desires and affections would give rise. This must necessarily be, in order that Rules of action may operate upon men; but this could not be, if the things thus conceived did not really exist among men.
Further the conceptions on which Rules of action depend must not only be realized among men, but their results must also be assigned and appropriated to particular men. The realities which are conceived as Property, as Personal Security, as Contract, as Marriage, must be attached to persons, and vested in them, as attributes or possessions. We must be able to conceive such things, as being one man's or another man's: as my property, your debt, his wife. Without this condition, the Rules of which we speak could not produce their effect of counteracting and balancing the Desires and Affections. For the Desires and Affections are tendencies to action residing in Persons. Each Person's Desires have a tendency to himself: the Affections have Persons for their objects; the Desires of things also give rise to Affec tions towards Persons. Since all these tendencies to action are thus directed to and from Persons, the
Rules of action, which balance these tendencies, must also point to Persons. My desire to take away what another man has, and my anger against him for withholding it from me, must be balanced by the thought that it is his Property. To use a mathematical image, the centres of the forces, attractive and repulsive, which we have termed Spings of Action, are in Persons; and therefore the Conceptions by which these forces are kept in equilibrium must also point to Persons.
The Rules of Action, being Moral Rules, must necessarily be subordinate to the Supreme Rule of human action and combining this condition with the two others of which we have spoken, we are led to this conclusion: That in order that Moral Rules may exist, there must be abstract Conceptions, including the principal objects of human desire and affection; which abstract Conceptions must be Realities, vested in particular Persons as attributes or possessions, according to Rules subordinate to the Supreme Rule of Human Action.
But Abstractions vested in particular Persons, as possessions, by Rules subordinate to the Supreme Rule, are Rights; and our conclusion may be expressed by saying, That in order that Moral Rules may exist, Men must have Rights.
We have already given examples of Rights; such as a man's Right to his Personal Safety, to his Property, to his Debts, to his Wife. Without supposing the existence of such Rights, no Moral Rules can be given.
79. What has been said in general (65 and 78), to prove the necessary existence of Moral Rules, and therefore, of Rights, among men; may be further illustrated by considering, separately, the principal Springs of Action of which we have spoken; and especially the Mental Desires; for these include the Appetites and the Affections (49). It is evident that