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acts of the mind. Intention refpects the effect: Will refpects the action that is exerted for producing the effect. It is my intention, for example, to relieve my friend from distress: upon feeing him, it is my Will to give him a fum for his relief: the external act of giving follows; and my friend is relieved, which is the effect intended. But thefe internal acts, tho' in their nature different, are always united: I cannot will the means, without intending the effect ; and I cannot intend the effect, without willing the means *.

Some effects of voluntary action follow neceffarily: A wound is an effect that neceffarily follows the stabbing a perfon with a dagger: death is a neceffary effect of throwing one down from the battlements of a high tower. Some effects are probable only: I labour in order to provide for my family; fight for my country to rescue it from oppreffors; take phyfic for my health. In fuch cafes, the event intended does not neceffarily nor always follow.

A man, when he wills to act, must intend the necessary effect: a perfon who ftabs, certainly intends to wound. But where the effect is probable only, a man may act without intending the effect that follows: a stone thrown by me at random into the market-place, may happen to wound a man without my intending it. One acts by instinct, without either will or intention: voluntary actions that neceffarily produce their effect, imply intention: voluntary actions, when the effect is probable only, are sometimes intended, fometimes not.

Human actions are distinguished from each other by certain qualities, termed right and wrong. But as these make the cornerstone of morality, they are referved to the following section.

*To incline, to refolve, to intend, to will, are acts of the mind relative to external action. Thefe feveral acts are well understood; tho' they cannot be defined, being perfectly fimple.


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Divifion of Human Actions into RIGHT, WRONG, and INDIF


THE qualities of right and wrong in voluntary actions, are univerfally acknowledged as the foundation of morality; and yet philofophers have been strangely perplexed about them. The history of their various opinions, would fignify little but to darken the subject: the reader will have more fatisfaction in feeing these qualities explained, without entering at all into controverfy.

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No perfon is ignorant of primary and secondary qualities, a diftinction much infifted on by philofophers. Primary qualities, fuch as figure, cohesion, weight, are permanent qualities, that exist in a subject whether perceived or not. Secondary qualities, fuch as colour, tafte, fmell, depend on the percipient as much as on the subject, being nothing when not perceived. Beauty and uglinefs are qualities of the latter fort: they have no existence but when perceived; and, like all other fecondary qualities, they are perceived intuitively; having no dependence on reafon nor on judgement, more than colour has, or smell, or taste (a).

The qualities of right and wrong in voluntary actions, are secondary, like beauty and ugliness, and the other fecondary qualities mentioned. Like them, they are objects of intuitive perception, and depend not in any degree on reafon or on judge

(a) Elements of Criticifm, vol. 1 p. 207. edit. 5.



No argument is requifite to prove, that to rescue an innocent babe from the jaws of a wolf, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, are right actions: they are perceived to be fo intuitively. As little is an argument requifite to prove, that murder, deceit, perjury, are wrong actions: they are perceived intuitively to be fo. The Deity has bestow'd on man, different faculties for different purposes. Truth and falfehood are investigated by the reafoning faculty. Beauty and ugliness are objects of a sense, known by the name of taste. Right and wrong are objects of a sense termed the moral fenfe or confcience. And fuppofing these qualities to be hid from our perception, in vain would we try to discover them by any argument, or process of reasoning: the attempt would be abfurd; no lefs fo than an attempt to discover colour, by reasoning, or tafte, or smell *.


Right and wrong, as mentioned above, are qualities of voluntary actions, and of no other kind. An instinctive action is beneficial, is agreeable; but it cannot properly be denominated either right or wrong. An involuntary act is hurtful to the and disagreeable to the fpectator; but in the agent it is neither right nor wrong. Thefe qualities alfo depend in no degree on the event. Thus, if, to fave my friend from drowning, I plunge into a river, the action is right, tho' I happen to come too late.

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*Every perception must proceed from fome faculty or power of perception, termed fenfe. The moral fenfe, by which we perceive the qualities of right and wrong, may be confidered either as a branch of the fenfe of feeing, by which we perceive the actions to which these qualities belong, or as a fenfe diftinct from all others. The fenfes by which objects are perceived, are not feparated from each other by diftinct boundaries; and the forting or clafling them, feems to depend more on tafte and fancy, than on nature. I have followed the plan laid down by former writers; which is, to confider the moral fénfe as a fenfe diftinct from others, because it is the cafieft and cleareft manner of conceiving it.


And if I aim a stroke at a man behind his back, the action is wrong, tho' I happen not to touch him.

The qualities of right and of agreeable, are infeparable; and fo are the qualities of wrong and of difagreeable. A right action, accordingly, is agreeable, not only in the direct perception, but equally fo in every fubfequent recollection. And in both circumftances equally, a wrong action is disagreeable.

Right actions are diftinguished by the moral fenfe into two kinds, viz. what ought to be done, and what may be done, or left undone. Wrong actions admit not that distinction: they are all prohibited to be done. To fay that an action ought to be done, means that we are tied or obliged to perform; and to fay that an action ought not to be done, means that we are restrained from doing it. Tho' the neceffity implied in the being tied or obliged, is not phyfical, but only what is commonly termed moral; yet we conceive ourselves deprived of liberty or freedom, and neceffarily bound to act or to forbear acting, in oppofition to every other motive. The neceffity here described is termed duty. The moral neceffity we are under to forbear harming the innocent, is a proper example: the moral fenfe declares the reftraint to be our duty, which no motive whatever will excufe us for tranfgreffing.

The duty of performing or forbearing any action, implies a right in fome person to exact performance of that duty; and accordingly, a duty or obligation neceffarily infers a correfponding right. A promise on my part to pay L. 100, confers a right to demand performance. The man who commits an injury, violates the right of the person injured, which entitles him to demand reparation of the wrong.

Duty is twofold; duty to others, and duty to ourselves. With respect to the former, the doing what we ought to do, is termed just: the doing what we ought not to do, and the omitting what


we ought to do, are termed unjuft. With refpect to ourselves, the doing what we ought to do, is termed proper: the doing what we ought not to do, and the omitting what we ought to do, are termed improper. Thus, right, fignifying a quality of certain actions, is a genus; of which juft and proper are fpecies: wrong, fignifying a quality of other actions, is a genus; of which unjust and improper are species.

Right actions left to our free will, to be done, or left undone, come next in order. They are, like the former, right when done; but they differ, in not being wrong when left undone. To remit a just debt for the fake of a growing family, to yield a fubject in controverfy rather than go to law with a neighbour, generously to return good for ill, are examples of this fpecies. They are univerfally approved as right actions: but as no person has a right or title to oblige us to perform fuch actions, the leaving them undone is not a wrong: no perfon is injured by the forbearance. Actions that come under this clafs, fhall be termed arbitrary, for want of a more proper defignation.

So much for right actions, and their divifions. Wrong actions are of two kinds, criminal and culpable. What are done intentionally to produce mifchief, are criminal: fuch rafh or unguarded actions as produce mischief without intention, are culpable. The former are restrained by punishment, to be handled in the 5th fection; the latter by reparation, to be handled in the 6th.

The divifions of voluntary actions are not yet exhausted. Some there are that, properly speaking, cannot be denominated either right or wrong. Actions done merely for amufement or paftime, without intention to produce good or ill, are of that kind; leaping, for example, running, jumping over a stick, throwing a ftone to make circles in the water. Such actions are neither approved nor disapproved: they may be termed indifferent.

There is no caufe for doubting the existence of the moral fenfe, VOL. II.

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