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And however much selfishness may prevail in action; man cannot be an animal entirely selfish, when all men conspire to put a high estimation upon generosity, benevolence, and other social virtues: even the most selfish are disgusted with selfishness in others, and endeavour to hide it in themselves. The most zealous patron of the selfish principle, will not venture to maintain, that it renders us altogether indifferent about our fellow-creatures. Laying aside self-interest with every connection of love and hatred, good fortune happening to any one gives pleasure to all, and bad fortune happening to any one is painful to all. On the other hand, the system of universal benevolence, is no less contradictory to experience; from which we learn, that men commonly are disposed to prefer their own interest before that of others, especially where there is no strict connection: nor do we find that such bias is condemned by the moral sense. Man in fact is a complex being, composed of principles, some benevolent, some selfish and these principles are so justly blended in his nature, as to fit him for acting a proper part in society. It would indeed be losing time to prove, that without some affection for his fellow-creatures, he would be ill qualified for
selfish principle. Nothing is more common, than mutual good-will and fondness between children; which must be the work of nature; for to reflect upon what is one's interest, is far above the capacity of children.
for society. And it will be made evident afterward*, that universal benevolence would be more hurtful to society, than even absolute selfishness +.
We are now prepared for investigating the laws that result from the foregoing principles. The several duties we owe to others shall be first discussed, taking them in order according to the extent of their influence. And for the sake of perspicuity, I shall first present them in a general view, and then proceed to particulars. Of our duties to others, one there is so extensive, as to have for its object all the innocent part of mankind. It is the duty that prohibits us to hurt others: than which no law is more clearly dictated by the moral sense; nor is the transgression of any other law more deeply stamped with the character of wrong. A man may be hurt externally
+ "Many moralists enter so deeply into one passion or bias "of human nature, that, to use the painter's phrase, they
quite overcharge it. Thus I have seen a whole system of "morals founded upon a single pillar of the inward frame; "and the entire conduct of life and all the characters in it "accounted for, sometimes from superstition, sometimes from "pride, and most commonly from interest. They forget "how various a creature it is they are painting; how many
springs and weights, nicely adjusted and balanced, enter "into the movement, and require allowance to be made for "their several clogs and impulses, ere you can define its ope"ration and effects." Enquiry into the life and writings of Ho
nally in his goods, in his person, in his relations, and in his reputation. Hence the laws, Do not steal; Defraud not others; Do not kill nor wound; Be not guilty of defamation. A man may be hurt internally, by an action that occasions to him distress of mind, or by being impressed with false notions of men and things. Therefore conscience dictates, that we ought not to treat men disrespectfully; that we ought not causelessly to alienate their affections from others; and, in general, that we ought to forbear whatever may tend to break their peace of mind, or tend to unqualify them for being good men and good citi
The duties mentioned are duties of restraint. Our active duties regard particular persons; such as our relations, our friends, our benefactors, our masters, our servants. It is our duty to honour and obey our parents; and to establish our children in the world, with all advantages internal and external: we ought to be faithful to our friends, grateful to our benefactors, submissive to our masters, kind to our servants; and to aid and comfort every one of these persons when in distress. To be obliged to do good to others beyond these bounds, must depend on positive engagement; for, as will appear afterward, universal benevolence is not a duty.
This general sketch will prepare us for particulars. The duty of restraint comes first in view, that
that which bars us from harming the innocent; and to it corresponds a right in the innocent to be safe from harm. This is the great law preparatory to society; because without it, society could never have existed. Here the moral sense is inflexible: it dictates, that we ought to submit to any distress, even death itself, rather than procure our own safety by laying violent hands upon an innocent person. And we are under the same restraint with respect to the property of another; for robbery and theft are never upon any pretext indulged. It is indeed true, that in extreme hunger I may lawfully take food where it can be found; and may freely lay hold of my neighbour's horse, to carry me from an enemy who threatens death. But it is his duty as a fellow-creature to assist me in distress; and when there is no time for delay, I may lawfully use what he ought to offer were he present, and what I may presume he would offer. For the same reason, if in a storm my ship be driven among the anchor-ropes of another ship, I may lawfully cut the ropes to get free. But in every case of this kind, it would be a wrong in me to use my neighbour's property, without resolving to pay the value. If my neighbour be bound to aid me in distress, conscience binds me to make up his loss *.
This doctrine is obviously founded on justice; and yet, in the Roman law, there are two passages which deny any recompence in such cases. Item Labeo scribit, si cum
The prohibition of hurting others internally, is perhaps not essential to the formation of societies, because
"vi ventorum navis impulsa esset in funes anchorarum "alterius, et nautæ funes præcidissent; si nullo alio modo, "nisi præcisis funibus, explicare se potuit, nullam actio "nem dandam;" l. 29. § 3. ad leg. Aquil. "Quod dici"tur damnum injuria datum Aquilia persequi, sic erit ac"cipiendum, ut videatur damnum injuria datum quod cum "damno injuriam attulerit; nisi magna vi cogente, fuerit "factum. Ut Celsus scribit circa eum, qui incendii ar"cendi gratia vicinas ædes intercidit; et sive pervneit ig"nis, sive antea extinctus est, existimat legis Aquiliæ ao" tionem cessare;" l. 49. § 1. eod. [In English thus: "In the opinion of Labeo, if a ship is driven by the vio"lence of a tempest among the anchor-ropes of another (6 ship, and the sailors cut the ropes, having no other means "of getting free, there is no action competent.-The A"quilian law must be understood to apply only to such ́da
mage as carries the idea of an injury along with it, un"less such injury has not been wilfully done, but from "necessity. Thus Celsus puts the case of a person who, "to stop the progress of a fire, pulls down his neighbour's "house; and whether the fire had reached that house "which is pulled down, or was extinguished before it got "to it, in neither case, he thinks, will an action be com"petent from the Aquilian law."-These opinions are undoubtedly erroneous. And it is not difficult to say
what has occasioned the error: the cases mentioned are treated as belonging to the lex Aquilia; which being confined to the reparation of wrongs, lays it justly down for a rule, That no action for reparation can lie, where there is