Moral Science; a Compendium of Ethics eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 487 pages of information about Moral Science; a Compendium of Ethics.

We now summarize the opinions of Jouffroy:—­

I.—­The Standard is the Idea of Absolute Good or Universal Order in the sense explained by the author.  Like Cousin, he identifies the ‘good’ with the ‘true.’  What, then, is the criterion that distinguishes moral from other truths?  If obligation be selected as the differentia, it is in effect to give up the attempt to determine what truths are obligatory.  The idea of ‘good’ is obviously too vague to be a differentia.  How far the idea of ‘Universal Order’ gets us out of the difficulty may be doubted, especially after the candid admission of the author, that it is an idea of which the majority of men have never any very clear notions.

II.—­The moral faculty is Reason; Conscience is hardly more than a confused feeling of obligatoriness.

Sympathy is one of the primitive tendencies of our nature.  Jouffroy’s opinion on the subject is open to the objections urged against Butler’s psychology.

He upholds the freedom of the Will, but embarrasses his argument by admitting, like Reid, that there is a stage in our existence when we are ruled by the passions, and are destitute of liberty.

III.—­The Summum Bonum is the end of every creature; the passions ought to be subordinated to self-interest, and self-interest to morality.

In regard to the other points, it is unnecessary to continue the summary.


[Footnote 1:  Duties strictly so called, the department of obligatory morality, enforced by punishment, may be exemplified in the following classified summary:—­

Under the Legal Sanction, are included; (A) Forbearance from (specified) injuries; as (a) Intentional injury—­crimes, (b) Injury not intentional—­wrongs, repaired by Damages or Compensation. (B) The rendering of services; (a) Fulfilling contracts or agreements; (b) Reciprocating anterior services rendered, though, not requested, as in filial duty; (c) Cases of extreme or superior need, as parental duty, relief of destitution.

Under the Popular Sanction are created duties on such points as the following:—­(1) The Etiquette of small societies or coteries. (2) Religious orthodoxy; Sabbath observance. (3) Unchastity; violations of the etiquette of the sexes, Immodesty, and whatever endangers chastity, especially in women. (4) Duties of parents to children, and of children to parents, beyond the requirements of the law. (5) Suicide:  when only attempted, the individual is punished, when carried out, the relatives. (6) Drunkenness, and neglect of the means of self-support. (7) Gross Inhumanity.  In all these cases the sanction, or punishment, is social; and is either mere disapprobation or dislike, not issuing in overt acts, or exclusion from fellowship and the good offices consequent thereon.]

[Footnote 2:  Optional Morality, the Morality of Reward, is exemplified as follows:—­

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