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affected by it. Moral duty, therefore, as Bentham defines it, depending on, or rather identical with, the ill-will of one's neighbours, is indefinite and limited in its nature, and can command or sanction no such definite and wide-reaching rule for conduct as that ^a man should always act for the greatest happiness of the greatest number of people whom his action may affect.") Utilitarian conduct, therefore, is neither a political duty nor a moral duty; nor does Bentham follow Paley in insisting upon oo nor init as a religious duty "created by punishment; by a religions punishment expected at the hands of a person duty' certain—the Supreme Being." And "if he persists in asserting it to be a duty—but without meaning it to be understood that it is on any one of these three accounts that he lo'oks upon it as such—all he then asserts is his own internal sentiment; all he means then is that he feels himself pleased or displeased at the thoughts of the point of conduct in question, but without being able to tell why. In this case he should e'en say so; and not seek to give an undue influence to his own single suffrage, by delivering it in terms that purport to declare the voice either of God, or of the law, or of the people."1
This plain piece of advice which Bentham gives to Blackstone is not often neglected by himself. The motive, he once said, of his own exceptional 1 Bentham, Fragment on Government, loc. cit. D
devotion to the interests of the community was that it pleased him. "I am a selfish man," he wrote, "as selfish as any man can be. But in me, somehow or other, so it happens, selfishness has taken the shape of benevolence."1 But when the matter is thus brought back from the regions of political, moral, and religious duty, to the individual ground of "private ethics," we have still to refer to Bentham's own discussion of the question, " What motives (independent of such as legislation and religion may chance to furnish) can one man have to consult the happiness of another ?" 2 Bentham at once replies—and indeed the answer on his principles is obvious enough—that there is no motive which always continues adequate. But yet there are, he says, " no occasions in which a man has not some motives for consulting the happiness of other men." Such are " the purely-social motive of sympathy or benevolence," and " the semi-social motives of love of amity and love of reputation." A man is directly moved to promote the happiness of others through the sympathetic feelings which make the happiness of others in some degree pleasurable to himself; and he is indirectly moved to promote their happiness through his desire of their friendship and good opinion. So far, therefore, it is quite true that "private ethics "—or what Ben
1 Works, xi. 95 ; cf. J. Qrote, Utilitarian Philosophy, p. 137.
2 Principles of Morals and Legislation, ch. xix. (xvii.), § 7 if.
tham regards as such—" concerns every member— that is, the happiness and the actions of every member of any community that can be proposed." 1 It certainly concerns their happiness, but only in so far as this is a means to the happiness of the agent. So that when Bentham says that "there is no case in which a private man ought not to direct his own conduct to the production of his own happiness and of that of his fellow-creatures," he should rather say that a man will2 only direct his conduct to the happiness of his fellow-creatures in so far as such action leads to his own happiness. Private ethics, therefore, has to do with the happi- which can ness of others only so far as this reacts on the topTMhappiness of self; or, as Bentham ultimately defines denoe" it, in terms to which no exception can be taken: "Private ethics teaches how each man may dispose himself to pursue the course most conducive to his own happiness by means of such motives as offer of themselves."3
Under Bentham's hands "private ethics" is thus 3. Ben
. tham's treat
reduced to prudence, at the same time that the mentex
author has failed to show why the general happi- haU8tlve
1 Loc. cit., § 8, p. 144.
a "Ought" is inappropriate here according to Bentham's principles, since there is no question of punishment inflicted by a political or social or religious superior.
3 Loc. cit., § 20, p. 148.
from his ness is to be aimed at by the individual as a reli«°ew! °f gious or political or moral duty. Nor is this failure due to any lack of skill in following out the consequences which his premisses involved. The arguments used against him have thus an equally valid application to all who adopt the same general line of thought. For Bentham appears to have seen as clearly as any of his disciples the difficulty of bringing the egoistic basis of his theory of human nature into harmony with the universal reference required by his ethics. And the criticism already offered of the way in which Bentham attempts to bring about this connection may be shown not to be restricted to his special way of putting the case.
It is necessary to remember that throughout this chapter we are looking from the individual's point of view, and inquiring how far it is possible to work from it in the direction of utilitarianism. Now it is admitted that, in pursuing his own happiness, he is sometimes led, and may be led on the whole, to neglect the general happiness. A sufficient reason for following the latter—or an obligation to do it—can therefore only come either from the supreme power or from one's fellow-men, and from the latter either as organised in the State, and expressing themselves by its constituted authorities, or else by the vaguer method of social praise and blame. Bentham's classification of the possible sources or kinds of duty into religious, political,
and moral [or social], is therefore a natural consequence of the individualistic system.
The first of these possible sources of duty is in- (a) The redeed only mentioned by Bentham, and then passed sanc' by. And yet it might seem that the religious sanction is a more efficient motive-power than the social, while it applies to regions of conduct which legal enactment cannot reach. Without question, the operation of such a motive is capable of bringing egoistic conduct into harmony with utilitarianism, or with any other principle of action to which the sanction may be attached. "Private happiness is relied on by
our motive, and the will of God our rule," says Paley;1 and in this case such conduct will be obligatory as the rule may arbitrarily determine; while, whatever it may be, there will be a strong enough motive to follow it. The whole fabric of a moral philosophy such as Paley's, therefore, rests on two theological propositions—that God has ordained the general happiness as the rule of human conduct, and that He will punish in another life those who disregard that rule. The basis of morality is laid in a divine command enforced by a divine threat. Perhaps it will be generally agreed that Bentham acted wisely in not laying stress on this application of the " religious sanction." Even those least inclined to theological agnosticism would reject any such rough-and-ready solution of the
1 Moral and Political Philosophy, book ii. chap. iii.