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Full text of "Practical Ethics"

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THE HOME UNIVERSITY LIBRARY 
OF MODERN KNOWLEDGE 



175 
PRACTICAL ETHICS 



EDITORS OF 

THE HOME UNIVERSITY LIBRARY 
OF MODERN KNOWLEDGE 

PROFESSOR GILBERT MURRAY, O.M., D.C.L., F.B.A. 

PROFESSOR G. N. CLARK, LL.D., F.B.A. 

SIR HENRY TIZARD, K.G.B., F.R.S. 



PRACTICAL 
ETHICS 



VISCOUNT SAMUEL 



OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS 
LONDON NEW YORK TORONTO 



First twblished in 1935 and reprinted in 1945 



CONTENTS 

CHAP. y PAGE 

I. PRELIMINARY 7 

II. ^ THE TEST OF RIGHT AND WRONG . 19 

Iliy SELF AND OTHERS .... 43 

IV., Is THERE FREE WILL ? . . .56 

V. ^ DUTY AND INCLINATION ... 77 

VI. ^ TRAINING AND HABIT ... 93 

VII. Y ' RELIGIOUS INFLUENCES . . . 101 

VIII. ^REWARDS AND PENALTIES . . 113 

IX. j SOCIAL ETHICS . . . .129 

X. SOME CURRENT QUESTIONS . -139 

XI. THE NATION AND THE WORLD . .162 

XII. MEN AND ANIMALS . . . .186 

XIII. y CONSCIOUS EVOLUTION . . . 200 

XIV. SUMMARY 217 

NOTES AND REFERENCES . . . 239 
NOTES ON BOOKS . . . -251 
INDEX 253 



The master said : "If the things be kept simple, 
we shall seldom lose our way." 

The Sayings of Confucius 



CHAPTER I 

PRELIMINARY 

ETHICS seeks to answer two questions 
What is to be regarded as right and as 
wrong ? and Why should people do what 
is right and not do what is wrong ? In 
other words, the questions are What is 
the content of morality ? and What is the 
sanction for morality ? 

It may be said that both these ques- 
tions are within the province of Religion 
and that Philosophy need not concern her- 
self with them. But mankind is divided 
among the adherents of many religions ; 
while their teachings often coincide, often 
also they diverge. If Moslems and Hin- 
dus, Christians and Jews, Protestants and 
Catholics, have different ideas of the right 
and the wrong of a given case, what is 
to be the outcome ? Are opposite lines 

7 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

of conduct to be held to be right in the 
same circumstances for different people ? 
Or is there need of some further test, of 
some other authority to give judgement ? 
Even among adherents of the same creed, 
when a conflict arises in some matter of 
moment, each side will claim a religious 
sanction for its view. 

" The will of God prevails. No doubt, no doubt 
Yet, in great contests, each side claims to act 
In strict accordance with the will of God. 
Both may, one must be wrong. x 

Further, as civilization develops, many 
of the rules of conduct in a country will 
gradually change, although the same re- 
ligion may be professed throughout. New 
discoveries set new problems, and new 
ideas bring about new customs. One age 
will approve, and its religion will not 
condemn, slavery, or duelling, or war, 
while a later age may abhor them. Mor- 
ality evolves. There can be no absolute 
standard, ordained, unchanging. 

1 For the sources of quotations see list of references, 
p. 241. 

8 



PRELIMINARY 

Again, there are some people almost 
everywhere who do not accept the cur- 
rent theological beliefs, or who, accepting 
them formally, are not effectively influenced 
by them in their daily lives. If mor- 
ality rested upon those beliefs alone, these 
people would have no basis for a moral 
code or reason for moral conduct. 

The religions clearly have a great part 
to play in the realm of ethics. But, for 
the reasons that have been given, Philo- 
sophy cannot withdraw from that field, in 
the conviction that it is fully covered, and 
to the satisfaction of all mankind, by her 
sister Religion. 

Nor can Reason surrender the field in 
favour of Intuition. There are some who 
hold that there is a natural instinct im- 
planted in human beings, of which con- 
science is the spokesman, and which is an 
infallible guide to right and wrong. They 
say of morality, 'as St. Augustine said 
of Time, " I know what it is when you 
do not ask me/' If this theory wexe true, 

9 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

mankind would be unanimous as to what 
constitutes right conduct ; but experience 
shows that this is very far from the case. 
For one man's " intuition " contradicts 
another man's "intuition." One person 
will be a " conscientious objector " to 
some law which his neighbour accepts as 
obviously right. When this happens, what 
guidance can we get from this principle ? 
" When private emotion is regarded as the 
test of truth," controversies arise which 
are intractable. 

Besides, since one age will unanimously 
condemn actions which, in another age, 
had been approved by most people's con- 
sciences almost without question, how can 
individual conscience be accepted as an 
absolute standard, not open to challenge ? 
History may turn her pages almost hap- 
hazard and will show a hundred instances 
of deeds done by excellent men from the 
most conscientious motives which later 
times have stigmatized as acts of cruel 
persecution or ruthless barbarism. It is 
recognized that conscience may err. But 



PRELIMINARY 

if conscience is itself the final authority, 
who is to detect the error, and remedy it ? 

Some of our primeval instincts may be 
rather the survivals of animal impulses 
which were better eradicated than authori- 
tative guides to a true morality. Evolution 
shows us how tendencies that have been in- 
herited from millions of years of animal and 
primitive human ancestry have been carried 
forward into present society. " Mankind 
is the animal at the head of the Primates, 
and cannot escape habits of mind which 
cling closely to habits of body." " Man's 
habits change more rapidly than his in- 
stincts. To-day we are born with instincts 
appropriate to our palaeolithic ancestors, 
and when we follow our instincts alone we 
behave in a palaeolithic manner. " 

We cannot find in intuition, conscience, 
instinct, a reliable and universally accept- 
able criterion of right and wrong. 

In the eighteenth century the somewhat 
similar doctrine of " Natural Rights " 
played a considerable part, particularly in 

ii 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

the sphere of politics. It was asserted that 
each man came into the world endowed, 
not only with certain physical qualities, 
but also with certain social rights. Laws 
and customs must conform to those rights, 
for they took priority. They set the 
standards of right and wrong. In the 
preamble to the American Declaration of 
Independence of 1776 stood the famous 
words, " We hold these truths to be self- 
evident, that all men are created equal, 
that they are endowed by their Creator 
with certain unalienable Rights, that among 
these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit 
of Happiness." Thirteen years later the 
French National Assembly declared, " The 
end of all political associations is the pre- 
servation of the natural and imprescriptible 
rights of man ; and these rights are liberty, 
property, security, and resistance of op- 
pression." A truth, however, is not " self- 
evident " unless it is such that no sane 
man at any time will deny it. But these 
principles have constantly been denied. 
Indeed at the time that the Declaration 

12 



PRELIMINARY 

of Independence was promulgated, negro 
slavery an obvious contradiction to its 
terms was an established institution in 
America, and it remained so for nearly a 
century. In many parts of Europe in our 
own day the claim to liberty has been chal- 
lenged by philosophers and rejected by 
dictators. The " natural and imprescrip- 
tible right of property " is repudiated by a 
hundred and twenty millions of people in 
Russia. Assertion is not enough. It is 
not enough to proclaim that this or that 
is " self-evident." If someone says that, 
for him, it is not self-evident, what then ? 

In the nineteenth century many thought 
that a firm basis for ethics had at last been 
furnished by the newly discovered prin- 
ciple of evolution. Again it was " Nature " 
that was invoked. It had been found to 
be her law that through ceaseless com- 
petition, through a constant struggle for 
existence, the fittest should survive and 
become predominant. Harsh in its imme- 
diate results, the process, it was said, was 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

ultimately beneficent. In the long run 
everywhere and automatically it brought 
progress in the vegetable world, among 
animal species, among the races and com- 
munities of men. A true morality must 
consist, therefore, in non-interference with 
a fundamental and useful natural process. 
Attempted interference must in any event 
be futile. The doctrine was held to justify 
in the social sphere an unlimited com- 
petition between individuals, and in the 
international sphere a ruthless competition 
between states. It turned industrial op- 
pression into a virtue and war into an 
ordained instrument of human progress. 
Closer thinking, however, soon showed 
that all this was fallacious. In the first 
place, as Huxley pointed out, " survival of 
the fittest " does not mean survival of the 
best ; it means no more than " the sur- 
vival of those best fitted to cope with their 
circumstances. " It has therefore no con- 
nection with the moral problem at all. 
Nor does the competition which exists 
under natural conditions bear any resem- 

H 



PRELIMINARY 

blance, either in methods or in results, 
to the practice of organized war between 
human communities. 1 

Secondly, biology did not endorse the 
claim that evolution guaranteed progress. 
True that there is evident through the ages 
a general upward trend ; but in particular 
cases survival may be achieved through de- 
generation ; some types even survive only 
through becoming parasitical on others ; 
while vast numbers, of course, fail to sur- 
vive and become extinct. Among human 
societies history gives no warrant for any 
faith that progress is certain and auto- 
matic. Periods of greatness in nations are 
not regularly followed by periods of en- 
hanced greatness, but often by decadence. 
There is no straight line of excellence run- 
ning parallel with the forward and upward 
line of Time. 

Thirdly, the evolutionary process does 
not work only through competition and 
strife, destruction and elimination. Co- 
operation is equally an element* As Dar- 

1 This point is further discussed in Chapter XI. 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

win said, " the soft lining of the nest is its 
instrument as well as the sharpening of 
teeth and claws." At the dim beginning 
of organic life stands the impulse of single 
cells to combine in forming higher units. 
Among its latest manifestations there is 
conspicuous the habit of co-operation in 
many species of insects, of birds, and of 
mammals. The ants, bees, and wasps are 
the best-known examples. Many animals 
hunt together in packs, or form groups 
for mutual defence. The bee that stands 
at the entrance of the hive and whirrs its 
wings to ventilate the passages ; the star- 
ling that combines with others to drive off 
a hawk ; the deer that takes position as 
sentinel for the herd each of these is 
moved by a primary impulse. It is an 
impulse not less powerful, not less a part 
of the evolutionary process, than that which 
creates conflict, impelling colonies of ants 
to attack one another, or birds to quarrel, 
or stags to fight to the death. The im- 
pulse of co-operation is implanted deep in 
nature ; and in human nature with the 

16 



PRELIMINARY 

rest. The family, the tribe, spring from a 
tendency which is innate. " Men/' said 
Emerson, " as naturally make a state, or a 
church, as caterpillars a web." 

But if evolution gives no guarantee for 
the production of the best ; if it gives no 
assurance of continuous progress ; and if 
it works not through one principle, com- 
petition, but through co-operation as well, 
balancing one against the other then 
clearly it is useless to hope that we can 
find there any guidance in our search for 
standards of right and wrong. 

There is yet another possible basis for 
an ethical code, seldom advocated nowa- 
days, but accepted in earlier times almost 
universally the custom of the community. 
" Originally," said Bergson, " custom is 
the whole of morality, and as religion for- 
bids departure from custom, morality is 
co-extensive with religion." The idea is 
enshrined, for example, in the ancient 
Hindu laws of Manu : " the custom handed 
down in regular succession since time im- 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

memorial is called the conduct of virtuous 
men/' But this involves the conclusion 
that whatever are the laws and customs of 
a particular society at a particular time 
must be accepted in perpetuity. It would 
compel us to believe that " cannibalism is 
moral in a cannibal country. " Ethics be- 
comes a stereotyped code, and no genera- 
tion may ever seek a higher standard of 
conduct than its predecessor. We need 
hardly stay to examine more closely that 
creed. 

After so many negatives where shall we 
find our positive ? If neither theology, nor 
intuition, nor natural rights, nor the prin- 
ciple of evolution, nor established custom, 
can give full and satisfactory answers to 
our questions, where shall we find the 
answers ? 



18 



CHAPTER II 

THE TEST OF RIGHT AND WRONG 

IT will be convenient now to separate 
our two problems, postponing till later the 
question Why people should act rightly, 
and considering first the question What 
right action is. 

Different schools of philosophy will give 
different answers. I do not propose to 
discuss here the various views, but would 
offer for consideration a statement of the 
one which I suggest is acceptable. It is 
the doctrine that is founded upon the broad 
principle that actions must be judged by 
their consequences. 

All attempts to find any a priori test 
have, I believe, failed ; to continue them 
would be unlikely to lead to any better out- 
come. We must therefore proceed a pos- 
teriori. Ideas, principles, laws, customs, 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

deeds, are to be weighed by their results. 
They are to be accounted right if they will 
conduce to human welfare, and wrong if 
they will not. 

At once the question arises What is 
meant by " welfare " ? And to this no 
simple reply can be given ; for it is plain, 
on looking around us, that welfare is not 
a single thing, but consists in a combination 
of many. 

Moral philosophers have spent much 
labour in attempting to define " The 
Good " ; but no definition has yet been 
proposed which commands general agree- 
ment. May not the reason be that " the 
Good " is merely " a fictional abstraction," 
that it corresponds to nothing actual in the 
universe or in human society ? 

So, also, theologians and philosophers 
have discussed through the centuries what 
is termed " the problem of Evil/' and 
have found it insoluble. It may be sug- 
gested that it is insoluble for the simple 
reason that it does not exist. There is 
no such thing as " a problem of Evil." 

20 



THE TEST OF RIGHT AND WRONG 

Evils there are in the world, obvious and 
numerous enough evils of disease, acci- 
dent, crime, vice ; evils springing from 
wrong social systems or war, from fire or 
storm, drought or flood. Each one has to 
be confronted by such means as man 
can command, and experience shows that 
they may often be confronted with suc- 
cess. The particular evils present their 
particular problems ; but there is no one 
Problem of Evil. That is merely an in- 
vention of the sophisticated human in- 
tellect. It is the same with " The Good," 
The question in what it consists cannot be 
answered, if there is no such thing. You 
cannot give a right answer to a wrong 
question. 

Philosophy will stand on a firm founda- 
tion only if it is built, not on reasoning 
based on reasoning, but on the facts of 
the universe, of nature and of human life. 
We see plainly enough in the world around 
us that there are a number of different 
things generally agreed to be good. Some 

21 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

arise out of ouri physical characters. Health 
rather than sickness, a meal when one 
is hungry, a rest when one is tired, a 
shelter from inclement weather that these 
are " goods " is indeed self-evident, because 
this at least no sane man would deny. 
There are other satisfactions that are almost 
universally felt, satisfactions derived from 
sympathy and love and sense of duty. 
There are pleasures, such as viewing 
splendid scenery or beautiful sunsets. 
There are the many gifts of art and of 
science, the many achievements of a high 
civilization. It is not possible to bring 
all these into a single definition of " the 
Good." Any definition wide enough to 
be complete would be so vague as to be 
useless. " Human welfare " can only be 
defined, then, as the collective name for a 
vast number of things, each one of which 
in its turn is beneficial. 

Other questions arise as soon as we 
examine this doctrine of consequences. 
Consequences of what kind and to whom ? 

22 



THE TEST OF RIGHT AND WRONG 

Are we to take account only of immediate 
results, or should we include also indirect 
effects upon habits, customs, laws ? Does 
" human welfare " mean the welfare of the, 
whole race, regardless of the interest of 
the individual ? The answer to these ques- 
tions must clearly be that the consequences 
are the total consequences of the act 
direct and indirect, immediate and remote, 
to the agent and to others. 

On this the objection will spring to mind 
that, if each person on every occasion has 
to consider afresh the ultimate and uni- 
versal consequences of any particular action 
that he may be contemplating, the result 
would be moral chaos. The task would be 
far beyond the powers of the deepest and 
quickest thinker, much more of ordinary 
men and women. But that, of course, is 
not the position. Happily we do not " start 
from scratch. " In the progress of the 
centuries particular " goods " come to be 
grouped together ; general rules of con- 
duct are deduced ; creeds, codes, customs 
develop. The lesson of ages of experience 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

in countless households may be formulated 
in a proverb ; the wisdom crystallized in it 
is the popular guide in similar cases. A 
great religious teacher or a great poet may 
in a flash sum up the diffused, and per- 
haps, unrealized, experience of generations. 
His insight is recognized ; his teaching is 
accepted ; his authority afterwards points 
the way. Truthfulness, honesty, courage, 
chastity, are ranked among the things that 
are good and are counted as virtues ; their 
opposites are bad and are vices. Habits 
are formed in individuals by inherited 
qualities, by training in childhood, by the 
influence of the community. The normal 
person in the ordinary circumstances of 
daily life does not ponder and balance at 
every moment what is right and what is 
wrong, he acts by habit and as a matter of 
course. But when the individual is not 
normal, or has not been subjected to the 
usual influences, or when marginal ques- 
tions arise, or when there is reason to 
think that the customary code is in error 
and should be revised then there has to 

24 



THE TEST OF RIGHT AND WRONG 

be a valuation of " consequences " ; then 
we must go back to more fundamental 
principles ; then we must try to gauge 
what will best promote the welfare, now 
and in the long run, of the individuals 
directly concerned and of the community. 

Experience is the guide ; the test of trial 
and error, discussion, example, are the 
means. Ancestral experience, its lessons 
transmitted as tendencies innate in later 
generations ; experience of individuals, re- 
membered by themselves, their families, 
their neighbours ; the experience of nations, 
recorded in history all come into the 
process. The deliberate judgements of 
individuals and the diffused common sense 
of the society make the decision. 

Let me give one or two examples of this 
process as it has operated in practice. 

If a man is insulted or injured, is it right 
or is it wrong for him to challenge his 
opponent to fight ? In earlier centuries the 
answer would unhesitatingly be given that 
it is right. It would have been regarded 
as fundamental to human nature that a 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

man who was wronged should vindicate 
his honour or his interest by fighting. 
To do otherwise would be condemned as 
cowardice. An elaborate code of duelling 
was developed in Europe, and, among large 
classes of society, became as binding as a 
law, or more binding. Then doubts began 
to arise. As the result, perhaps, of religious 
influences, or the spread of rationalism, or 
the establishment of impartial law-courts 
to which resort was more easy ; through 
the realization that the more skilful duellist 
usually won even though he was in the 
wrong ; whatever the causes may have 
been, thoughtful men here and there began 
to condemn the duel as an institution. It 
came to be a matter for discussion whether 
it was right or was wrong. In course of 
time more and more people formed the 
opinion that, whatever might be the benefits 
that might attach to duelling, the loss of 
valuable lives, often on account of trifles, 
far outweighed them. Duelling gradually 
fell into disfavour ; at last public opinion 
turned definitely against it ; as the best 

26 



THE TEST OF RIGHT AND WRONG 

means to break the custom, laws were 
passed for its suppression. Then experi- 
ence, in the countries where such laws 
had been enacted, showed that the direct 
consequences were good and that indirect 
consequences for harm had not followed ; 
the standard of courage and honour was 
not found to have been lowered. The 
example was followed elsewhere, and where 
it was not, the countries concerned were 
regarded by the rest of mankind as having 
fallen behind, in that particular, in the 
forward march of civilization. Over the 
greater part of the world the rightness or 
wrongness of duelling ceased to be a ques- 
tion for discussion. The argument that it 
sprang from an ineradicable impulse in 
human nature was quietly dropped when 
the practice itself disappeared. Through 
experience, discussion and the influence of 
common sense, followed by changes in law 
and in custom, the action of offering and 
accepting challenges to duels has, almost 
everywhere, been taken out of the category 
of right and put into the category of wrong. 

27 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

Sometimes a general change of stand- 
point, sometimes a new discovery of 
science, will alter the judgement of right 
and wrong in a particular case. For 
instance, in primitive times the killing of 
insects wantonly would not have aroused 
comment or question. In a humanitarian 
age a different feeling prevails ; children 
are taught not to do it ; " he would not 
hurt a fly " becomes a form of praise for a 
kindly disposition. But later still, science 
having discovered that house-flies carry 
disease, to destroy them becomes a moral 
act. Sterne described Uncle Toby, when 
he released out of the window the fly 
which had buzzed about his nose all 
dinner-time and which he had at last 
caught, saying, with an amiable sentimen- 
tality that has been quoted for nearly two 
hundred years, "Go, poor devil, get thee 
gone, why should I hurt thee ? This 
world surely is wide enough to hold both 
thee and me." But he did not know that 
if that fly had happened to be a carrier of 
the germs of typhoid fever, the action 

28 



THE TEST OF RIGHT AND WRONG 

would have been as wrong morally as open- 
ing a tiger's cage in a crowded Zoological 
Garden. In progressive countries the Pub- 
lic Health Authorities, the schools, private 
associations, make known the importance 
of destroying the flies where they exist and 
of getting rid of their breeding-places. 
The results are found to be beneficial, in 
that the prevalence of certain diseases is 
lessened ; children and adults who would 
have sickened, and perhaps died, remain 
in health. A new item has been added to 
the code of right conduct. 

Numberless examples might be given. 
By such processes as these, working through 
long periods of time, the ways of life of men 
living in communities have been evolved. 

The consequences to be taken into 
account are the total consequences of an 
act, including the results to the agent him- 
self. There is no reason to omit any parti- 
cular group of consequences. This is an 
essential point, especially when the effects 
of the act influence character. 

29 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

Experience shows that nothing conduces 
more to welfare than that combination of 
qualities which is called good character. 
A " man of character " is one who has 
adopted for himself certain rules of life, 
which he may be relied upon to follow on 
any occasion that may arise. 

A man's character, such as it is at any 
moment, is largely the outcome of his own 
deeds in the past. Every act has its recoil 
upon the agent. "It is right to say/ 1 as 
Professor Bergson put it, " that what we do 
depends on what we are ; but it is neces- 
sary to add that we are, in some measure, 
what we do, and that we are creating our- 
selves continually/' And a man's deeds 
are the direct outcome of his thoughts. A 
thought also is an event ; it is, in a sense, 
an act. There is truth in the saying, 
4 * Your thoughts are making you." 

In this connection the question of 
Motives has to be considered. It is uni- 
versally agreed that good motive is an 
essential part of morality. There are some 
who say that this rules out the principle of 

30 



THE TEST OF RIGHT AND WRONG 

consequences as the ultimate test in ethics, 
since motive is one thing and results are 
another. Let us examine this contention. 

It is no doubt true that if an act, to- 
gether with the motive that inspires it, is 
taken in isolation, the motive would be the 
starting-point. If the motive is bad the 
man is acting, in that respect, immorally. 
The consequences of the act may be good, 
but nevertheless the motive is bad, and 
the good consequences do not alter that 
fact. Therefore, it may be said, the doc- 
trine of consequences as the test of right- 
ness does not apply in such cases, and 
for that reason it must be rejected as 
unsatisfactory. 

That conclusion would certainly follow 
in the conditions given ; it being as- 
sumed that the act and its motive are to 
be considered in isolation. But those are 
not the conditions of actual life. Those 
are only the conditions of the philosopher's 
laboratory, so to speak. In actual life the 
motive of any particular act is part of the 
agent's character, and his character is the 

3 1 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

result of prior influences, which include 
his own previous acts. The motive is no 
doubt a starting-point in respect of the act 
in question, but it is a culminating-point 
when seen from the standpoint of the man's 
ancestry, his environment and his previous 
actions. So viewed and this is the only 
view which corresponds with the real situa- 
tion it becomes plain that motives also 
come within the realm of consequences. 

Moral philosophy has been much con- 
cerned with this particular issue how far 
an action is to be considered right if the 
direct results are good but if the motive 
for doing it is corrupt and dishonourable ; 
or, conversely, if the results turn out to 
be harmful although the act itself was well- 
meant. Is the test of Tightness to be 
objective, in relation to the visible results, 
or subjective, in relation to the motives of 
the doer ? There is no agreement among 
philosophers on this point. Here again 
may not the disagreement be due to f the 
fact that the issue is not being fairly put ? 

Suppose the case of a man who learns 
3* 



THE TEST OF RIGHT AND WRONG 

that a murder is being planrted ; he gives 
the information to the person threatened, 
but only after he has successfully imposed 
a condition that a substantial sum of money 
shall be paid him as a reward. The action 
in itself is clearly good, for unless murders 
are prevented welfare will not be served ; 
but the motive is bad, for it is the duty of 
good citizens to join in preventing crime 
independently of the prospect of personal 
advantage. The philosopher in such a case 
finds difficulty in answering the question 
whether the act is right or wrong. But 
the issue is not fairly stated in those terms. 
There is not one question here but two 
first, is it right to give information that 
will prevent crime ? And, second, is it 
right to insist upon a reward for so doing ? 
The answer to the first is in the affirmative, 
and to the second in the negative. If, in 
all such cases, two separate issues are 
confused together no sound answer is 
possible. 

Another aspect of the problem, often 
considered by writers on ethics, is pre- 
33 B 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

sented by the' case of a man who takes all 
possible pains to ensure that his action in 
given circumstances is right ; through no 
fault of his, the results turn out to be 
definitely harmful ; was his conduct, in 
doing what he did, right or wrong ? The 
actual consequences did not " conduce to 
welfare," yet no one would say that the 
man was blameworthy. I think that the 
true answer is that given by Professor 
Moore in his book on Ethics in this Series 
that the action was wrong. It seemed 
at the time that it was right, but the results 
showed that in fact it was wrong. Yet the 
man would not be censured for what he 
did if he had in fact taken all possible pre- 
cautions. 

In practical conditions, however, that is 
seldom the case. When something goes 
amiss the person at fault will often say, 
" I did my best, and one cannot do more." 
And that no doubt is true if, here again, 
the event is considered in isolation. But 
earlier factors cannot be excluded. It is 
not enough for a man to do his best ; it 

34 



THE TEST OF RIGHT AND WRONG 

is also necessary that he should have pre- 
viously made every effort to ensure that his 
best shall in fact be good. A general 
makes certain dispositions of his troops, 
based on the information at his command 
and determined by his own experience and 
training. If he is defeated in the battle, 
he will claim that he has " done his best," 
and that he acted rightly in the circum- 
stances as known to him. Yet a better 
general, who had taken pains to secure 
more reliable information and who had 
made a more correct survey of the position, 
might have won a victory. 

It is hardly necessary to point out that 
" consequences," in this connection, must 
be events integrally related to the act itself. 
Something which may chance to happen 
after the act has been done, affecting in 
some manner the persons concerned in it, 
does not enter into the question of the 
Tightness or wrongness of the act itself. 
A station-master dispatches a train at the 
usual time in the usual way ; on its journey 
it meets with an accident, which the station- 

35 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

master could not possibly have foreseen. 
It is true that, if for some reason he had 
not sent off the train, the accident would 
not have happened ; and it might be sug- 
gested that the principle that actions must 
be judged right or wrong according to 
their results is thereby proved unsound. 
But it cannot be seriously contended that 
the accident was " the consequence of " 
the station-master dispatching the train 
on that day, just as he had dispatched it 
on every other day. The accident was 
the consequence of quite other events, 
and the case put is not relevant to the 
issue. 

Before we pass on, there is another 
criticism still to be considered. It is some- 
times said that, if we confess ourselves 
unable to find any single criterion by which 
" goods " can be valued in comparison 
with one another, we shall be putting them 
all on the same level. What is noble or 
holy or inspiring would be ranked with 
what is physically satisfying ; they all con- 

36 



THE TEST OF RIGHT AND WRONG 

duce to welfare in some fashion ; the prin- 
ciple that things are good or bad according 
to their consequences gives no reason 
for preferring the higher goods to the 
lower. 

It is difficult to see the ground for 
this objection. There may be a scale of 
" goods," and some may be recognized as 
in a higher category than others. Pre- 
cisely the same process as enables us to say 
that this is good and that is bad, enables 
us also to say that this other is better and 
that one is best of all. 

There are indeed many cases in which 
it makes no difference what the choice is ; 
for example, a preference for one flavour 
or one odour, for one kind of music or 
one kind of scenery. Individual taste is 
then the final arbiter and no question of 
ethics arises. But where different results 
do follow from the nature of the choice, 
ethics cannot allow the subjective element 
to be conclusive. It must find a test which 
will decide, not only what is good or bad, 
but also what is better and best. The 

37 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

results to be expected must be weighed. 
Ethics cannot go beyond that general 
principle. It would be putting forward 
pretensions that would not stand the test 
of practical application if it claimed that it 
could ever provide a scale-balance which 
would automatically decide in any given 
case what is good or bad, or which is the 
greater good or the lesser. 

The Utilitarian School endeavoured to 
provide such a balance. They accepted 
the primary principle that " ethical pre- 
cepts must be judged in the light of the 
consequences which result from the prac- 
tice of them." But in the endeavour to 
obtain precision, Bentham and the thinkers 
who followed him adopted also two second- 
ary principles : first, that the consequences 
to be taken into account had relation only 
to " happiness " ; second, that happiness 
was to be measured by the attainment of 
" pleasure " and the avoidance of " pain." 
Bentham himself held, further, that there 
could be drawn up a sort of calculus of 
pleasures and pains ; that these could be 

38 



THE TEST OF RIGHT AND WRONG 

divided, so to speak, into lots, be multiplied 
by the number of people affected, and the 
totals balanced against one another ; the 
result would show, almost mathematically, 
which of two courses would produce the 
greatest happiness of the greatest number 
and ought therefore to be preferred. 

In spite of the brilliant qualities of 
the Utilitarian group their teaching 
has not survived. It was seen that the 
words " utility," " happiness," " pleasure," 
" pain," could only be accepted as the 
basis for a moral code if they included 
very many things which the words did not 
usually imply. The martyr who rightly 
went to the stake rather than deny his 
faith might be said, in a sense, to do so 
for a useful purpose, to be promoting his 
own happiness, and to find in his act 
pleasure rather than pain ; but the mean- 
ing of the words is being stretched so 
wide that the result is merely confusing. 
" Utility " does not ordinarily connote 
various things which are highly to be de- 
sired beauty, for example. It is of course 

39 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

possible to say, with Victor Hugo, " the 
beautiful is as useful as the useful " ; but 
that would be to empty both words of 
their distinctive meanings, and would leave 
us with no more guidance than if we had 
used neither. 

This criticism has been regarded almost 
universally as conclusive ; but it does not 
touch the primary principle from which 
the Benthamites had started. It was effec- 
tive against their methods of applying that 
principle, but not against the principle it- 
self. We may start again from the same 
point that things are good or bad accord- 
ing to their total consequences but may 
follow afterwards a different course. We 
may turn aside from the too narrow paths 
of Utility, Happiness, Pleasure and Pain 
and enter the open country. 

It is true that when we do that we have 
to take the responsibility of finding our 
own way. Philosophy can tell us the des- 
tination, and the points of the compass, 
and the experiences of other travellers ; 

40 



THE TEST OF RIGHT AND WRONG 

we have to discover for ourselves the roads 
that are practicable. But is not that the 
province of ordinary life rather than of 
philosophy ? To decide from day to day 
and from generation to generation what 
particular aims are good, and then to act 
so as best to attain them the science and 
art of living are just that and nothing else. 
The general guidance which philosophic 
thought can give was summed up long 
ago by the Buddha. It is recorded that 
on a certain occasion some inhabitants of 
Kalama came to him and said : " Many 
Brahmins and ascetics come to us and pro- 
pound their different systems. This raises 
doubts in us and we do not know what 
to believe/' Thereupon the Buddha said : 
' ' It is proper and very natural that doubts 
should arise in you ; blind belief is to be 
rejected. Do not judge by hearsay, nor 
by tradition, nor on mere assertion, nor on 
the authority of so-called sacred writings, 
nor by logical deductions, nor by method- 
ical derivation, nor by the mere evidence 
of the senses, nor by long-accustomed 

41 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

opinions and conceptions ; do not judge 
according to appearances, nor believe any- 
thing because an ascetic or teacher has 
said it. But when you yourselves per- 
ceive : ' these things are wrong, these 
things are objectionable, these things when 
done produce woe and suffering for us and 
others/ then reject them. But when you 
perceive : ' these things are right, these 
things are unobjectionable, these things 
when done produce weal and happiness 
for us and others/ then adopt them and 
act accordingly." 



CHAPTER III 

SELF AND OTHERS 

THE proposition which I would offer in 
this chapter is that welfare is promoted 
both by self-interest and by social interest, 
each in its proper measure ; a sound sys- 
tem of ethics will approve both egoism 
and altruism, and its practical task is to 
find the right balance between them. 

There are, however, many writers on 
moral philosophy who take a different view. 
Kant held that an action only acquires real 
moral worth when it is done from duty 
and not from inclination. In our own day 
Professor Hobhouse speaks of self-interest 
as " something essentially non-moral." 
Westermarck says much the same. And 
Mr. Walter Lippmann says : "It can 
be shown, I think, that those qualities 
which civilized men . . . have agreed 

43 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

to call virtues, have disinterestedness 
as their inner principle. ... It is not 
accounted a virtue if a man eats when 
he is hungry or goes to bed when he is 
ill." 

This view, I suggest, is not to be 
accepted. There are duties which are not 
the less duties because it is to our interest 
to perform them. A sound popular in- 
stinct says, " a man has duties to himself." 
If a hungry man perversely refused to eat, 
or a sick man to go to bed, we should 
tell him, and rightly, that it was his duty 
to do so. " No one," says Spinoza, " can 
desire to be happy, to act well and live 
well, who does not at the same time 
desire to be, to act and to live, that 
is to say, actually to exist. No virtue 
can be conceived prior to this, the en- 
deavour, namely, after self-preservation." 
And Herbert Spencer, asserting that the 
preservation of health is a duty, declares 
that " there is such a thing as physical 
morality." 

It is obvious that there are forms of 
44 



SELF AND OTHERS 

self-interest which are anti-social, but there 
are others which are not. By seeking his 
own interest, as embodied in his own 
health, education, efficiency, in the realiza- 
tion of full personality the individual is 
serving the community as well. As John 
Stuart Mill expressed it : " In proportion 
to the development of his individuality, 
each person becomes more valuable to 
himself, and is therefore capable of being 
more valuable to others. There is a greater 
fulness of life about his own existence, and 
when there is more life in the units there 
is more in the mass which is composed of 
them." Parents do not help their children 
best by sacrificing altogether their own 
standards of living in the hope of raising 
theirs. A generation which sought to pro- 
mote the welfare of the next generation 
by never caring for its own, would fail 
in its aim. The people of the nine- 
teenth century would have been of little 
service to the twentieth if they had 
not developed their own civilization for 
their own sakes. Each age is momentous 

45 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

to itself, and each individual to himself 
also. 

Further, the doctrine that my duty is 
to be found in seeking only my neighbour's 
welfare, and not my own, is irrational. 
The same rule must apply to my neigh- 
bour also ; he has a duty to promote my 
welfare. But why should he do so, unless 
my welfare is a good thing in itself ? And 
if it is, have not I too the duty to pro- 
mote it ? 

The command of the Old Testament 
" Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, " 
with its endorsement in the New Testa- 
ment " Whatsoever ye would that men 
should do to you do ye even so to them," 
has been accepted by the greater part of 
civilized mankind as the highest of ethical 
precepts ; but that precept does not ex- 
clude a legitimate care for one's own rights 
and interests. It does not say thou shalt 
care for thy neighbour and not for thyself. 
It says precisely the opposite ; it takes 
love for oneself, and what one would wish 
others to do for one's own benefit, as the 

46 



SELF AND OTHERS 

very standard of duty to the others. Self- 
interest^ in fact, is made the measure of 
altruism. 

True that religious teachers and moral- 
ists of all schools have always emphasized 
the " other-regarding virtues " rather than 
the " self-regarding virtues." Men have 
so strong a natural tendency to seek what- 
ever their own immediate interest requires 
that it is the other part of their duties 
which most needs support from outside. 
It is not necessary to educate people to 
do what they already wish to do because 
they expect to gain a direct advantage by 
it ; what is necessary is to teach them that 
they ought sometimes to do things which 
they do not wish to do, and from which 
they will gain no immediate advantage. 
None the less there are many occasions 
on which an action which one wishes to 
take, and which will bring a direct benefit, 
is in fact a good action, and one that ought 
to be taken. Ethics is concerned with 
right conduct not one part of right con- 
duct but the whole of it, and must not 

47 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

take into account only that part of con- 
duct which needs the support of moral 
propaganda. It is amusing, but untrue, 
to say, " La morale, c'est faire les choses 
ennuyeuses." 

It is clear, however, that this is only part 
of the picture. " Man/' as Aristotle said, 
" is a social animal." We can hardly en- 
visage a human individual at all except 
in relation to a society. The man is de- 
pendent upon the community physically, 
because it nurtures him, and because it 
may expose him to disease or save him 
from it ; mentally, because it gives him 
access to knowledge ; economically, be- 
cause of the division of labour. If social 
relationships were absent " the life of man 
would be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish 
and short." But a community cannot exist 
unless its members are ready to accom- 
modate themselves to one another, and to 
subordinate, when necessary, personal in- 
terest to the general interest. If each 
pushed to the extreme his own advantage, 

48 



SELF AND OTHERS 

the community would fall and the welfare 
of everyone would perish with it. 

The view prevailed widely in the nine- 
teenth century that a regard for self-interest 
alone would in practice work out favour- 
ably to social interest ; but experience 
showed that that was not so. As Professor 
Whitehead says, " the mere doctrines of 
freedom, individualism, and competition, 
had produced a resurgence of something 
very like industrial slavery at the base 
of society." Generations grew up, illiter- 
ate, overworked, poverty-stricken. Towns 
grew up, ugly and mean, inconvenient and 
unhealthy. Life tended to become more 
and more materialized and commercialized. 
Those who ranked economic values above 
intellectual or spiritual, meeting no check in 
any quarter, became predominant. Egoism 
did not in fact work out as altruism. Wel- 
fare in the total was not being served. The 
conclusion became clear that, if you could 
not shut out self-interest, so also you could 
not leave it unguided and uncontrolled. 
Social interest must enter also, and the only 

49 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

question is how each may best serve the 
other. 

Let us consider one or two examples of 
the inter-relation of egoism and altruism. 

A man walking along the sea-shore sees 
a child struggling in shallow water and in 
danger of being drawn out by the tide ; 
he can save the child's life at no greater 
cost to himself than a wetting ; it is obvious 
that it is his duty to do so. Egoism hardly 
comes into the matter and altruism is pre- 
dominant. But suppose that the child is 
already some way out ; the passer-by is 
an average swimmer but no more ; there 
is some risk that he may himself be carried 
out to sea ; self-interest pulls one way, 
sympathy and humanity the other. There 
would probably be a consensus of opinion 
that it would be right for him to make 
the attempt and to run the risk. Consider 
now a third case ; a storm is raging ; a 
crowd of people are watching a vessel with 
sailors on board, which has been driven 
on to the rocks ; no human being could 

50 



SELF AND OTHERS 

possibly swim with a rope through the 
breakers ; if one of the crowd, animated 
by a complete disregard of self, were to 
volunteer to attempt it, the judgement 
should clearly be that, in the conditions 
stated, his proposed action would be 
wrong ; he would be merely sacrificing 
yet another life ; his deed might be heroic 
but would be irrational ; it would be the 
duty of the bystanders to restrain him. 
If, however, he persisted and they did not 
stop him and he was drowned, as it was 
clear that he would be, his action might 
be admired as courageous but would be 
condemned as morally wrong. Altruism 
would have been carried too far. 

Consider the exceptional case of a man 
who has in him a capacity for leadership 
or powers of original genius. It is his 
duty to make his abilities known and to 
win scope for his activities. For him, 
self-realization rather than self-sacrifice is 
to be counted virtuous. The spirit ex- 
pressed by Blake or Carlyle is more proper 
in his case than a spirit of renunciation. 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

Egoism not indeed uncontrolled, not ex- 
pressing itself in ways that are injurious 
to society may be the quality best 
justified in his case, may best conduce to 
the welfare of a community which 
perhaps is starved for genius and for 
leadership. 

In politics issues are continually arising 
as to the extent to which the individual 
citizens may rightly be called upon to 
sacrifice their personal welfare to what is 
regarded as the welfare of the community. 
Not every call is to be accepted. History 
is full of examples of bad rulers summon- 
ing their subjects to make sacrifices for 
purposes that are seen afterwards to have 
been unnecessary or harmful ; the citizens 
would have rendered the best service if 
they had refused, had insisted instead 
upon a change of policy, and perhaps a 
change of rulers. And not every call is 
to be rejected, for that, as has been said, 
would mean the dissolution of society. 
It is quite clear that individual cases must 
be judged upon their merits, and politics 

5* 



SELF AND OTHERS 

largely consists in forming and applying 
such judgements. 

It is sometimes asked whether the object 
to be pursued is the perfection of the in- 
dividual or the perfection of the society. 
But that is an idle question ; just as it 
would be idle to ask whether it is the bulb 
or the soil which produces the flower. It 
is the bulb in the soil, and it is obviously 
the perfection of the individual in the 
society which is the object to be pursued. 

Yet in the final analysis it is the in- 
dividual alone that is in question ; we seek 
to perfect society for his sake and not the 
other way about. " Society " is indeed no 
more than a word which conveniently ex- 
presses the notion of persons organized 
together in a certain way for common 
purposes. Without that organization they 
themselves, it is true, would be different 
and inferior ; but apart from the persons 
the society does not exist. It is not pos- 
sible here to pursue a subject which opens 
up a wide field of philosophical controversy. 
I would only express the conviction that 

53 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

the idea that " Society " or " the State " 
is a reality, and is entitled to unlimited 
devotion for its own sake, is merely the pro- 
duct of the imagination of metaphysicians 
running loose in a vacuum, and has no 
true relation to the actual life of men 
living in communities. It is an idea, more- 
over, which, so far as it has won accept- 
ance, has done, and is doing, great harm. 
Nor does the term " Society " as used in 
moral philosophy correspond with the term 
" State " as used in politics. The social 
factor may be a different thing in different 
applications. It may be, for example, the 
welfare or reputation of a family, as against 
the immediate interest of one member of 
it ; or it may be the joint interest of some 
corporate body, such as a trade union, or 
a manufacturers' association ; or it may in 
fact be the national interest, with which 
it is often assumed to be identified ; or 
it may pass beyond that and be the in- 
terest of the human race as a whole. In 
the modern world that is often the case, 
and when we speak of social welfare we may 

54 



SELF AND OTHERS 

often mean nothing less than the welfare 
of all mankind. 

The conclusion is, then, that out of the 
mutual inter-action of self-interest and 
social interest comes the moral code. 
There are poets who have clearly dis- 
cerned this. Robert Bridges' great work 
The Testament of Beauty is divided 
into three parts, which he entitles " Self- 
hood/' " Breed " and " Ethick." " Self- 
hood " is the individual factor, " Breed " 
is the social factor, and the theme of 
the poem is that they combine to create 
" Ethick," which is morality. And Pope 
wrote in the Essay on Man : 

So two consistent motions act l the Soul ; 
And one regards Itself, and one the Whole. 
Thus God and Nature link'd the general frame, 
And bade Self-love and Social be the same. 

1 Actuate. 



55 



CHAPTER IV 

IS THERE FREE WILL? 

WE can now pass on from our first 
question, In what does right and wrong 
consist ? and examine the second ques- 
tion, Why should men prefer the one to 
the other ? But when we get to close 
quarters with it we shall soon find our- 
selves in difficulties unless we had already 
dealt with one preliminary point. We are 
obliged first to consider whether men really 
have a moral responsibility for their acts 
at all. May not everything that they do 
be determined by prior causes ? If so, 
is any real choice open between right and 
wrong ? Is conduct of any kind a matter 
for praise or blame ? We cannot escape 
the problem, which has vexed the mind of 
man all through the centuries, of Deter- 
minism and Free Will. 

56 



IS THERE FREE WILL ? 

This is not a mere abstract philosophical 
puzzle which may be the subject of an 
interesting argument in the study. It is a 
living, practical issue. It faces the legis- 
lator, the lawyer, the ordinary citizen, every 
hour. For example, if a man commits a 
crime and it is found that he has lived 
from birth in bad surroundings, it seems 
natural to say, " That man has not had 
a chance ; he has never had a parent's 
control or proper education or a helping- 
hand ; he has never had regular employ* 
ment or a settled home ; how could it 
be expected that he would turn out other 
than he has done ? Society is more to 
blame than he is. To punish him is not 
true justice. " The criminal himself may 
advance that plea. In 1930 the House of 
Commons appointed a Select Committee 
to inquire into the question of Capital 
Punishment ; one of the witnesses before 
the Committee had been a Commissioner 
of Prisons in Scotland ; in the course of his 
evidence he said : " Taking some of the 
young prisoners I have had talks with, 

57 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

they persistently defend their attitude. . . . 
They tell you it is no use talking to them 
about reform. They say : c I didn't make 
myself ; I didn't ask to be brought into 
the world/ and that kind of thing. . . . 
They think they are talking philosophy 
when they are talking nonsense. That is 
a common thing outside prison walls as 
well as in. They are determinists of a 
kind. A man says : ' Well I can't help it : 
that's the way I'm made. I couldn't help 
doing it,' and that sort of thing." The 
witness added : "I say to them : ' I will 
be giving you three days bread and water. 
That's the way I'm made.' And they can 
see that. It is a poor way of answering, 
but when he gets an answer like that he 
can understand it." 

Is there a better answer ? Or must 
it be admitted that there is not any 
rational reply to the defence made by the 
criminal ? The same kind of problem, 
though perhaps not so clear-cut, presents 
itself constantly in all the relations of 
daily life. 

58 



IS THERE FREE WILL ? 

Science, by establishing the Law of 
Causality, laid the foundation for deter- 
minism. Every event is preceded by earlier 
events ; if they had been absent the later 
event would not have occurred ; if they 
had been different, the later event would 
have been correspondingly different ; the 
earlier stand to the later in the relation 
of cause to effect. Further, there has been 
established the Law of Uniformity in 
nature ; the same causes will always pro- 
duce the same effects. 

It is true that there are at the present 
time some physicists, of whom the lead- 
ing representative in Great Britain is Sir 
Arthur Eddington, who deny this uni- 
formity. Basing themselves mainly upon 
some hitherto unexplained facts in the 
behaviour of electrons within the atom, 
they declare that there is at work a " Prin- 
ciple of Uncertainty " ; that chance reigns 
at the heart of nature ; and, further, that 
this has a bearing upon the question of 
human free will. If there is no law, 
says Sir Arthur Eddington, regulating the 

59 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

most elementary processes of nature, why 
should we suppose that there is any law 
regulating the highest and most compli- 
cated processes ? But other physicists, of 
at least equal authority, by no means accept 
this proposition. Professor Einstein, the 
originator of the Theory of Relativity ; 
Professor Planck, the originator of the 
Quantum Theory ; Lord Rutherford, the 
pioneer in the discoveries of the structure 
of the atom ; Sir Oliver Lodge and many 
more, consider it either unsound or un- 
proven. The layman has been given as 
yet no sufficient reason to abandon the 
principle of the uniformity in the sequence 
of events in nature, a principle that has 
been tested by innumerable experiments in 
every field of science during centuries of 
investigation, without a single exception 
having been established until now. 

If that be accepted as the starting-point 
given by science, the question that arises 
for philosophy is whether the human mind 
and human conduct are to be regarded as 
within " nature " ; whether the Law of 

60 



IS THERE FREE WILL ? 

Causality and the Law of Uniformity apply 
in that sphere as they apply elsewhere. 
There is a strong prejudice against be- 
lieving that they do. Yet it is difficult 
I think it is impossible to find any rational 
support for a negative view. The universe 
includes mind and nature includes man. 
You cannot divide the universe or nature 
into two parts, saying that in one part 
everything that happens is the outcome of 
causes and under the rule of law, and that 
in the other part events may happen which 
are uncaused, spontaneous, autonomous, 
arbitrary. He would be a rash man who 
would venture to say where the boundary 
would lie between them. 

Nevertheless, the great majority of man- 
kind do undoubtedly believe that, in some 
mysterious, and indeed inexplicable, fashion 
the human will is free, in the sense that 
human actions are exempt from causation. 
At the same time they do not act upon 
that belief. Take again the example of 
crime. Experience shows us that if a 
nation gives to its children a good general 

61 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

education and a sound moral training, and 
secures to its adults a regular livelihood 
in comfortable circumstances, fewer in- 
dividuals in that nation will choose to com- 
mit crimes than if the conditions were 
otherwise. A wise society sets to work 
to establish such conditions so far as prac- 
ticable, with the expectation that conduct 
will in fact prove itself amenable to causes 
and that crime will diminish. So with 
regard to social effort in general. If we 
really believed that every human action 
was the outcome of an undetermined 
choice, uninfluenced by prior causes, what 
would be the use of the training of infants, 
of school education, of religious discipline, 
of the inculcation of good habits of any 
kind ? Why should we attach importance 
to eugenics, or to any measures of social 
reform ? With it all, on this theory, each 
individual would act in the same way as 
without it. 

And yet ... 

We feel sure that we do in fact choose 
freely between this and that from hour to 

62 



IS THERE FREE WILL ? 

hour and from minute to minute. We feel 
sure that we could, if we had wished, have 
taken a course on any occasion different 
from that which we did take. We cannot 
doubt that there must be some answer to 
the criminal who repudiates personal re- 
sponsibility and claims to escape punish- 
ment because he had acted from necessity, 
We see that if such claims were once 
admitted, the whole social system would 
collapse. Common sense is with Dr. John- 
son when he said, " Sir, we know the will 
is free, and there's an end on't." 

That is our problem. It seems as though 
an irresistible argument Determinism 
is meeting an immovable fact Free Will. 
What is to happen ? Until we have 
decided whether men, in any event, have 
or have not the power to act rightly it is 
useless to discuss for what reasons they 
should act rightly. 

If here again we treat in isolation the 
act and the choice which precedes it, the 
dilemma is indeed insoluble. If, as is 

63 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

usually done in this discussion, a section 
is cut, so to speak, in the continuous flow 
of events at a particular moment in time 
when a choice is being made, and the 
problem is supposed to originate as from 
that moment, then we cannot expect to 
arrive at a satisfactory result. But as we 
saw when we were discussing " motives " 
and " consequences " any such limitation 
is artificial ; it is an arbitrary departure 
from the facts of actual life. We are en- 
titled for that reason to refuse to accept the 
conditions in which the problem is usually 
set. The choice which precedes the act is 
not the real starting-point. We must go 
farther back, and when we do that we may 
find the way of escape from the dilemma. 
A person chooses between this and that, 
and when he does so his will is acting 
freely. Let that be accepted. But what 
is this Personality, what is this Will, that 
choose and act ? They are themselves the 
result of prior causes. You say, " I have 
freedom of choice/' and that is quite true. 
But what is the meaning of " I " ? 

64 



IS THERE FREE WILL ? 

Geological causes have produced the 
globe on which we live, and biological 
causes the human race to which we be- 
long ; we are bound to act as men, and 
are not free to act as the insects, or the 
birds, or the beasts of the forest and the 
field. Historical causes have produced the 
nation of which we are members, and have 
endowed us with the characteristics of 
that nation. Genealogical causes give each 
of us our family characteristics, and will 
tend to make us act in accordance with 
them. Our environment, our education, 
our wealth or our poverty, help to mould 
us. Each human personality, then, is the 
outcome of causes of thousands, millions 
of causes, spreading out and stretching 
back through time, beyond the range of 
computation and even of imagination ; 
crowding upon each other and inter- 
mingling ; sometimes reinforcing one 
another, sometimes in mutual opposition ; 
some powerful, some weak ; some bene- 
ficial, some harmful. What a man does 
depends upon what he wills. What he 

65 c 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

wills depends upon what he is. What he 
is depends upon these prior causes, infinite 
in number. 

But this is not to say that a personality 
is a mere bundle of effects. It is some- 
thing very different. The effects subsist, 
but they have been fused into a new 
entity. There is nothing there but the 
product of a multitude of prior causes ; 
yet that product has a unity of its own ; it 
is a new " whole " ; it becomes, itself, a 
cause of other effects. Viewing the matter 
forward from the moment of choice and 
looking into the future, we see the operation 
of a free will ; but viewing it backward 
from the moment of choice, and looking 
into a limitless past, we see the operation 
of causality. The present is both effect 
and cause. It is the effect of all the past. 
It is the cause of all the future. 

In other words, my choice now is free, 
but the " I " that chooses is the result 
of past causes. My choice is the out- 
come of my character, and my character 
has been determined by those past causes. 

66 



IS THERE FREE WILL ? 

As Schopenhauer expressed it, " A man 
can surely do what he wills to do, but he 
cannot determine what he wills." That is 
to say, the will which chooses is as much 
the product of causes as anything else. 

Are we then reduced to saying that 
the freedom of the will is an illusion an 
illusion from which we may not be able 
to escape, but still an illusion ? I do not 
think so. It is real for us, and in the 
practical conditions of our daily lives. 

Our bodies for us are solid flesh and 
bone, and that is not illusion. Yet we 
have learnt to know that they are in fact 
made up of infinitesimal electric charges 
revolving with inconceivable rapidity ; 
they are as easily penetrable by X-rays 
or by wireless rays as the " solid " glass 
of a window is penetrable by rays of light. 
When we sit down we know that we are 
stationary, and that is really so for us. 
Yet all the time we are travelling with 
the earth through space a hundred times 
faster than the speed of a rifle bullet. 
So we conduct our lives on the basis that 

67 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

the will is free and so it is, relatively 
to ourselves and to our conduct to one 
another. 

We are obliged in ordinary conditions 
to treat each person as though he were, so 
to speak, " a fresh start." When we meet 
a friend in the street we do not stay to 
analyse the causes which have made him 
what he is. We say here is John Smith. 
We carry on relations with him from that 
as a starting-point. We cannot attempt 
to go into the immense complex of prior 
causes ; we do not know, except quite 
generally, what they are ; nor does he, 
As a rule we cannot predict nor can he 
what their outcome will be when he 
chooses between particular courses on a 
particular occasion. It is because of that 
ignorance and that inability that the choice 
for John Smith for his own personality, 
such as it is, at that moment is an 
open one. If he had been omniscient, as 
to his own origin, his own past, his own 
character, the choice would not have been 
" free." But he is not omniscient. As 

68 



IS THERE FREE WILL ? 

Spinoza said, " Man thinks himself free 
because he is conscious of his wishes and 
appetites, whilst at the same time he is 
ignorant of the causes by which he is led 
to wish and desire, not dreaming what they 



are." 



Let us examine this point a little more 
closely. "As a rule" we cannot predict 
the choice that will be made. But some- 
times we can ; or at all events we can say 
what are the probabilities. Sometimes we 
may succeed in disentangling one set of 
influences from the rest, and identifying 
certain results that usually follow from 
them ; and we are accustomed to do 
that in practice when we are able. For 
example, national characteristics and train- 
ing play an important part in determining 
action. In a shipwreck, if the crew con- 
sists of men of one nationality, with certain 
race characteristics and a certain training, 
we may expect them to act with courage 
and resource and without panic ; if they 
are of another nationality, lacking those 
qualities, the conduct may be expected to 

69 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

be different. Each man in either crew has 
free choice as to his actions, but most of 
the individuals belonging to one set would 
in fact be found to act in one way, most 
of the others in a different way. Two 
armies confront one another, one drawn 
from a soldierly race, well trained and dis- 
ciplined, the other drawn from a race 
without martial qualities and consisting of 
raw recruits ; each soldier in each army 
will either fight or run ; but everyone can 
tell beforehand that the one army will 
advance and the other will retreat. 

So in an individual case. I meet John 
Smith and I may be considering whether I 
should enter into some business trans- 
action with him. I know that, as a human 
being, he can choose freely whether to 
treat me honestly or dishonestly ; but if 
I am aware that he is one of a family with 
a bad commercial reputation and that he 
himself has been a fraudulent bankrupt, I 
should be inclined to say that he may very 
possibly choose to treat me dishonestly ; 
someone else, who did not have those dis- 

70 



IS THERE FREE WILL ? 

abilities, would be less likely to do so. I 
might prove to be wrong. There is no 
certainty about the matter. If the trans- 
action were entered into, he might perhaps 
carry it out quite conscientiously. But the 
probabilities seem to be the other way ; and 
I should in fact prefer to make the contract 
with another person. 

It is because of considerations such as 
these that it is worth while to train children, 
to carry out any kind of social activity. 
Although we cannot be sure on account 
of the fact of free will that in the case of 
any particular individual such influences 
will have the effect that is desired, yet 
we know from experience that, we are 
originating sets of causes, which will 
work in with many others, and will 
play their proportionate part in moulding 
the characters which will decide the 
acts. 

There are two valid answers that may 
be given to the young criminal who says 
that he is merely the product of circum- 
stances, that he has not been able, and 

7* 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

will in future not be able, to do other 
than he is doing, and that it is both useless 
and unjust to subject him to punishment. 
The first answer is that what he says is 
untrue. Prior causes have given him a 
character that has made him yield to the 
temptation to commit crimes, but they 
have also given him a conscious will which, 
by an effort, might enable him to resist 
the temptation. As likely as not his own 
brother, with a similar inheritance and a 
similar environment, is not a criminal. 
Very many people, who have committed 
crimes, do in fact liberate themselves 
from their past and change their way of 
life. 

The second answer is that the probable 
consequences of an action form one of the 
factors in the matter. The anticipation of 
those consequences affects the mind of the 
agent prior to the action. The influence 
may be strong or weak, decisive or not, 
according to the circumstances and to the 
person's character ; but the influence is 
there. Imagine a man of the criminal 

72 



IS THERE FREE WILL i 

type contemplating a burglary. If he can 
be quite sure that he will not be caught 
and sent to prison, we may suppose that 
he will certainly do it ; if there is a serious 
risk, he will hesitate, and may commit the 
burglary or not ; if there is a certainty that 
he will be caught and punished, he will not 
commit it. There is no room to doubt 
that, if police forces were to be abolished, 
and if no one were ever prosecuted for an 
offence and no one ever sentenced, the 
number of persons who in the exercise of 
their freedom of choice, would choose to 
commit crimes would be far greater then 
than it is now ; the general welfare 'would 
suffer in consequence. When it is said that 
the existence of the police and of the penal 
law did not stop A B from choosing to 
commit a crime, to which he was impelled 
by prior causes and on account of which 
he is now serving a term of imprisonment, 
it may be answered that that is quite true ; 
but that C D and E F have not com- 
mitted crimes, and that the existence of 
the police and of the penal law has been 

73 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

part of the complex of causes which 
has led them to choose not to commit 
crimes. 

It is often thought that to admit any 
element of determinism is to accept a creed 
of fatalism. But it will be seen that the 
position taken here is not fatalist. It is 
the very opposite of fatalist. It holds that 
human conduct, like physical events, is the 
result of prior causes, but it does not 
accept the deduction that individual men 
are mere flotsam on an ocean of necessity, 
rising and falling with the tides, drifting 
with the currents here and there. It holds, 
on the contrary, that out of the vast con- 
geries of prior causes which includes the 
whole evolution of the human race there 
have emerged conscious will, character, 
power of choice ; there has emerged the 
capacity to set on foot new causes, which 
in their turn will achieve, for good or ill, 
further results. Individual moral responsi- 
bility remains. " You talk of Fate ! " 
said Meredith, "It is the seed we sow 

74 



IS THERE FREE WILL ? 

individually or collectively. " " Character 
is Fate," said Novalis. 

But the emphasis laid upon the fact of 
ultimate causation makes it clear why it is 
right and why it is useful to secure, so 
far as we can, that the social causes which 
help to mould the future shall be well 
planned and beneficent. Those who accept 
the principles here advanced would find in 
them, not a justification for a fatalistic 
apathy, but rather a spur to a more intense 
activity. 

Nor is the position truly open to the 
charge, sometimes made, that it is a re- 
version to a materialist philosophy now 
generally discredited. To hold that mind 
is within the universe and man part of 
nature, and that both are subject to the 
Laws of Causality and of Uniformity, is 
not to hold that there is no difference 
between mind and matter and that human 
conduct is subject merely to physical forces. 
The influences which affect thought and 
conduct are themselves largely mental, and 
often operate from within ; the forces 

75 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

which affect matter are purely physical and 
external. But there may be causality in 
the one case as in the other. To argue 
convincingly against materialism is not to 
prove a case against the universality of 
causation. The two questions are separ- 
ate. And to say matter is subject to 
causation ; mind and conduct are different 
from matter ; therefore mind and conduct 
are not subject to causation that would be 
the most obvious of logical fallacies. 



76 



CHAPTER V 

DUTY AND INCLINATION 

COMING now to the question why people 
should do what is right and not do what 
is wrong, we see at once that there is no 
difficulty in giving the answer as respects 
one large class of right actions. They are 
the actions which will conduce to the im- 
mediate advantage of the person concerned. 
Examples have been given of acts which 
bring benefit to oneself and which it is 
also one's duty to do. They need not 
occupy us here ; since it is to the interest 
of the agent to act rightly and he has no 
inducement to do otherwise, the reason 
for right action is self-evident. 

The problem for consideration is why 
people should act rightly in that class of 
cases where it is not to their direct advan- 
tage to do so, where it may even be to 

77 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

their disadvantage. In seeking an answer 
we shall be well advised, here again, not 
to try to create out of our own reasoning 
some a priori theory, but rather to go to 
life as it is lived. Let us see why it is 
that men do in practice often, though not 
always, behave rightly, when they might 
gain an immediate advantage by doing 
otherwise. 

At once it becomes apparent that it is 
not a single motive which influences them 
but a variety of motives. Some of these 
will be accounted worthy and some un- 
worthy ; some will have influence with 
one man and some with another ; some- 
times one among them will predominate 
and settle the matter ; sometimes there 
will be a combination of motives, and 
sometimes a conflict, when the resultant 
of several forces pulling different ways 
will decide the outcome. 

Let us take a concrete illustration. Con- 
sider a form of dishonesty .which used 
formerly to be fairly common, the adul- 
teration of foods. No one will doubt that 

78 



DUTY AND INCLINATION 

it is wrong for a tradesman to put water 
into the milk he sells, or sand into the sugar. 
Nevertheless, some tradesmen have done so. 
Others have not. Why have they not ? 

With one man the sufficient reason will 
be that he is honest. He knows that it is 
dishonest to make a profit by deceiving his 
customers, and selling them articles which 
are not what they think they are buying, 
which are inferior and may be deleterious. 
His inheritance, his training, perhaps his 
religious beliefs, lead him to value honesty 
for its own sake. He would be ashamed 
to do a dishonourable thing. Without 
considering the matter from any other 
point of view, that is enough for him. 
He does not sell adulterated goods be- 
cause he is "a man of principle." 

His competitor in the next street may 
also be honest in his trading, but for a 
different reason. He believes that honesty 
pays. He belongs to the large class of 
people who accept the maxim that 
" honesty is the best policy/ 3 and act 
upon it. In other words, he is ready to 

79 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

sacrifice any immediate financial advant- 
age to himself that might be gained by 
selling adulterated goods for the sake of 
some greater advantage to himself that 
will be gained by not doing so. Such 
benefit may be of various kinds. It may 
be financial ; he may think his business 
will prosper best if he is relied upon 
as an honest man ; selling bad goods 
might prove to be the road to ruin. It 
may be social ; he may care about his 
reputation, with his family, his friends, 
the people of the town ; honesty will bring 
its reward in the respect of others, pos- 
sibly in the conferment of positions of 
dignity ; dishonesty, sooner or later, would 
forfeit esteem, with consequences which 
he would regret. Or the benefit may be 
connected with his religious faith ; he may 
believe that honesty will be rewarded and 
dishonesty penalized in some metaphysical 
manner, either in this world or in another 
world, or in both ; he, personally, will 
gain or lose accordingly. 

A third tradesman would be dishonest if 
80 



DUTY AND INCLINATION 

he dared. He is restrained mainly by the 
laws against adulteration. He is of the 
class who, before such laws were passed, 
did in fact put water into the milk and 
sand into the sugar. Now he is afraid of 
being detected and prosecuted. If that 
were to happen he would not only have to 
pay a fine, but in addition his business might 
be seriously injured by the publicity and the 
discredit, and he might lose his livelihood. 
The motives, then, are various. There 
is simple virtue caring for good for its 
own sake. And there are the several forms 
of indirect self-interest ; a later benefit is 
expected which will more than compensate 
for the immediate sacrifice. That benefit 
may be material ; or it may be social, 
springing from care for reputation or 
" love of fame " ; or it may be conferred 
through a supernatural agency ; or it may 
be security from punishment at the hands 
of the law. 

Is it possible to simplify the matter by 
resolving all these various motives into 

81 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

one ? There is a " philosophic craving for 
unity " which has always striven to do 
that. Philosophers have tried to find " the 
basis for ethics," as though it must neces- 
sarily be single, in the same way that they 
have tried to define " the good." Some 
would persuade us as has already been 
mentioned that the sole motive for moral 
action is to be found in promoting the wel- 
fare of others, and that actions taken in 
one's own interest, however legitimate they 
may be, must therefore be considered, for 
the sake of the theory, not to be " moral." 
It is as though one should say that an 
action which benefits oneself directly, and 
does no harm to others, which everyone 
agrees to be right and which everyone does 
as a matter of course, is, for that very 
reason, not to be considered right in a 
philosophical sense ! Other writers take 
the opposite view, and seek to find an 
indirect egoistic motive for every altruistic 
act ; they seek to show that duty and 
interest are the same, because every duty 
is really an interest. But this theory also 

82 



DUTY AND INCLINATION 

does not conform to the facts which we 
see about us. 

It is true to say that it is to the interest 
of " the individual " to do all that is in his 
power to promote the welfare of society ; 
but we are speaking there of a generalized 
abstract " individual," not of any particular 
person on any particular occasion. There 
may be persons who have to be called upon 
definitely to sacrifice their own advantage, on 
certain occasions, for the sake of society. 
That is perfectly understood and constantly 
done. To say that they are really promoting 
their own interests by sacrificing them is a 
straining of words. It is like the pro- 
visions in the constitution of a certain 
imaginary country drawn up by a modern 
satirist : " The citizens must understand 
that they exist only to do service to the 
State ; for the State is themselves. They 
must be prepared to sacrifice their liberty 
of action and opinion to it both in peace 
and war. In peace the citizens must con- 
sent to surrender all their possessions, if 
required, for the benefit of the State, which 

83 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

is (in a larger sense) their own benefit ; 
and in war they must be content to be 
killed as the best means (in the wider out- 
look) of self-preservation." 

When we ask why people should do that 
which they ought to do, it is useless, in 
many cases, to answer that we are appealing 
only to the motive of self-interest. If that 
motive were adequate, no one would ever 
do wrong. While in the study we may 
be thinking of the interest in the long run 
of an abstract citizen animated by en- 
lightened motives, in the street and the 
market-place we have to deal in practice 
with the interests of ordinary persons, as 
they themselves see them, and as affecting 
them in the short run. There is often a 
discordance between the two, and our 
immediate problem arises out of that dis- 
cordance. If a man who is poverty- 
stricken has the chance of stealing some 
article of value without risk of detection, 
it is his duty not to steal. It is also, no 
doubt, his ultimate interest not to steal ; 
partly owing to the effect of an act of dis- 

84 



DUTY AND INCLINATION 

honesty on his dwn character and self- 
esteem, partly because he will prosper best 
in a society of honest men, and such a 
society requires that all the members of 
it, of whom he is one, should be honest. 
But his immediate interest is to relieve his 
poverty by stealing. At all events, he may 
think so, with the result that sometimes 
men do in fact steal. 

There is constantly a difference between 
Duty and Inclination, between doing what 
we ought to do and doing what we would 
like to do ; and it is mere sophistry to 
say that, " in the long run," or " rightly 
viewed," the two are identical. That may 
often be true, but sometimes it is not. 
And where it is true, the motive is fre- 
quently not adequate to control conduct. 

The argument sometimes takes a more 
subtle form. It is said : " Anything that I 
do is what I have decided to do ; what 
I decide to do can only be what I wish to 
do ; and whatever I wish to do must be 
for my own advantage, as I interpret that 
advantage at the time, for otherwise I 

85 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

should not be wishing it." Such reasoning 
would lead to the conclusion that a man 
who, in a shipwreck, gives up his place 
in a boat to a woman, or a martyr who 
goes to the stake rather than recant his 
faith, are acting out of regard for their 
own interests. This offends against com- 
mon sense, and philosophies based upon 
these principles have never won the assent 
of the ordinary man. 

It is difficult to see the reason for these 
attempts repeated again and again from 
the time of Plato to our own to force the 
facts to fit a preconceived theory of unity. 
Why need we assume that all the influences 
that prompt to right action can ultimately 
be resolved into one ? Why should we 
feel obliged to show, either that all altruism 
is really a form of egoism ; or else that all 
egoism is really a form of altruism (or, if 
it is not, that it is to be excluded, for that 
reason, from the purview of ethics alto- 
gether) ? Both may be valid ; both may 
be real " in their own right." Just as, 
when we were considering the various 

86 



DUTY AND INCLINATION 

kinds of " goods/' we found that some 
actions were good because their results 
were beneficial to the agent and some 
because their results were beneficial to 
others, and that, for many purposes, the 
two could be considered separately, so now 
we may reach the conclusion that the 
reasons why men should act rightly may 
be broadly grouped into two similar cate- 
gories. Egoism and altruism are both 
fundamental to morals. It is true that 
several motives which appear at first sight 
to be altruistic, and are constantly so con- 
sidered are really egoistic such as the 
conviction that " honesty is the best 
policy," or the righteousness that springs 
from the hope of a divine reward and from 
the fear of retribution. But not all can 
be so resolved. Unification would do 
violence to the facts, and it must there- 
fore be surrendered. 

Innate, not only in human, but in 
animal nature generally, are both the in- 
stinct of self-preservation or self-advantage, 

87 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

and the instinct of affection, sympathy, 
self-sacrifice. Animals will fly from 
danger, for the sake of self-preservation ; 
but if they have young they will often 
stand and face the danger. They will run 
risks in the endeavour to protect their off- 
spring, although as individuals they have 
nothing to gain, directly or indirectly, by 
their action. Ants and bees will sacrifice 
themselves unhesitatingly for the sake of 
the colony or the hive. Birds build nests, 
and it is difficult to discover any egoistic 
motive which would account for their doing 
so. In a previous chapter I have recalled 
the fact that co-operation, equally with 
competition, is integral to the evolutionary 
process. Those individuals that lack the 
instinct of altruism, at all events in its 
most primitive form of the care for off- 
spring, do not, from the nature of the case, 
leave progeny that survive, and cannot 
therefore be progenitors of a species. In 
the course of evolution this instinct is 
carried forward into man. 

" When we come to human society/ 1 
88 



DUTY AND INCLINATION 

says Professor Hobhouse, " we find the 
basis for a social organization of life 
already laid in the animal nature of man. 
Like others of the higher animals, man is 
a gregarious beast. . . . His loves and 
hates, his joys and sorrows, his pride, his 
wrath, his gentleness, his boldness, his 
timidity all these permanent qualities, 
which run through humanity and vary 
only in degree, belong to his inherited 
structure. Broadly speaking, they are of 
the nature of instincts. " 

Among these, sociality is one of the most 
powerful and most significant. The social 
instinct reveals itself at once in the affections 
of infancy and childhood. Overlaid though 
it often is by the sophistications of civilized 
societies, the instinct persists. It runs 
through life side by side with the instinct of 
self-preservation and self-interest. The 
moral philosopher must accept them both as 
given facts ; as the physiologist must accept 
as given the facts that we have two eyes 
or two hands, or that there are two sexes. 

It may be asked whether what is said 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

here with regard to the importance of 
instincts is not in contradiction with what 
was said earlier as to the non-acceptance 
of intuition which is a form of instinct 
as a determining factor in right conduct. 
No contradiction need be admitted. In- 
stinct cannot be a safe guide in the intricate 
complexities of social relations. We recog- 
nize that it is the initial force in our 
activities, but we recognize also that, in 
most cases, it can and it ought to be 
controlled and directed by reason. Experi- 
ence, reflection, training enter in. In- 
stinct is not a power which is autocratic 
and irresistible. A man, describing some 
emergency, will often say, " I was instinc- 
tively inclined to do so-and-so, but a 
moment's reflection showed me that it 
would be a mistake." All considered 
action, indeed all civilization, is the modifi- 
cation of instinct by reason. Subtract that 
control and man reverts to the animal level. 

Seeking why it is that men do act 
rightly when they do we may arrive, 

90 



DUTY AND INCLINATION 

then, at these conclusions. Right actions 
may be divided into three classes. There 
are those which bring immediate benefit 
to the agent ; he will do such actions for 
that reason. There are those which are 
not to his immediate benefit, but which he 
believes will bring him some kind of 
indirect gain that, in his opinion, will more 
than outweigh any direct loss ; he will do 
such actions also from an egoistic motive. 
And there are those which will bring him, 
personally, no benefit that he can perceive, 
direct or indirect, immediate or ultimate, 
or which will even cause him evident harm ; 
he will do these actions if he does 
them from motives of affection, sym- 
pathy, goodwill, sense of duty, from the 
altruistic motive, whatever form it may 
take. 

It should be added that there are 
obviously many actions which partake 
partly of one character and partly of 
another, and that a man will often take a 
right course from mixed motives. And 
acts of passion or unreason have not been 

9 1 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

included in this analysis ; they stand on a 
different footing. 

We may now go forward to the next 
stage in the inquiry. The problem for 
ethics now becomes this How can the 
various influences which lead to right con- 
duct be strengthened, and those which 
lead to wrong conduct be weakened or 
eliminated, so that welfare may be pro- 
moted ? 



92 



CHAPTER VI 

TRAINING AND HABIT 

THE chief means upon which mankind 
may rely to promote good conduct and 
to deter from bad, is training. Youth is 
plastic and even age can learn. From the 
day of birth, through infancy, childhood 
and adolescence, all kinds of influences 
are brought to bear upon the individual ; 
some are continued into maturity and 
on into old age. There are the direct 
influences of the family, the school, the 
church, the occupation ; there are the 
diffused, pervasive, influences of news- 
papers, broadcasting, books, entertainments 
all the various means by which a com- 
munity, deliberately or at haphazard, 
impresses ideas upon its members. All 
of them together set a standard of conduct. 
The standard may be high or low ; if it 

93 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

is high it will produce a worthy civilization, 
and the average citizen will be of good 
conduct ; and the opposite if the social 
standard is low. 

Of great importance in this connection 
is Habit. Psychologists have shown us that 
a large part of our actions are directed by 
functions in our minds which are sub- 
conscious ; and indeed this is plain from 
ordinary observation. When we walk, or 
eat, or speak, the conscious will determines 
where we walk, what we eat or what we 
say, but the physical movements them- 
selves take place " automatically " ; that 
is to say they are controlled by brain- 
functions which do not call into play our 
conscious will. Any action continually 
repeated, becomes a matter of habit ; it 
passes into the subconscious ; we act 
without giving attention to our action. 
There is a physical reason for this : " our 
nervous system grows into the modes in 
which it had been exercised/' 

The same " force of habit " appears in 
matters much less elementary than walking, 

94 



TRAINING AND HABIT 

eating or speaking. An English motorist 
will drive as a matter of course on the left 
side of the road without thinking about it, 
just as a French motorist will drive on the 
right. If either goes for a motor tour in 
the other country, he has to make a 
deliberate effort of will to change his prac- 
tice ; he must continue to give conscious 
attention to the point until he has become 
accustomed to the different rule ; his action 
then again becomes habit, though a differ- 
ent habit ; it reverts to the sub-conscious. 
A company of soldiers at the end of 
three years' training is very different from 
what it was at the beginning. The men 
may be the same persons, but the constant 
drill, the continual repetition of the same 
actions in obedience to the same com- 
mands, the custom of acting together as 
one body these influences have formed 
habits. The result of the military dis- 
cipline is that the men move at command 
" almost instinctively." So also, in large 
measure, with the moral discipline that is 
given in childhood and youth. 

95 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

The ordinary person, trained in a family, 
a school, a social environment, in which 
honesty is a normal condition, becomes 
himself honest as a matter of habit. If he 
happens to see some passer-by with a note- 
case protruding from his pocket, he does 
not begin to cogitate whether it would or 
would not be safe to steal it. He either 
does nothing, or he warns the passer-by 
that he may be losing his note-case. But 
another person, who has been brought up 
under different influences, with whom 
honesty has not become a sub-conscious 
habit, who may indeed himself have com- 
mitted thefts already, will begin to think 
whether it is safe to steal the note-case, and 
may decide to do so. 

A proverb says truly that habit is second 
nature. It may be a force of gre&t social 
value. As Professor Bergson wrote, " The 
habit of forming habits is at the base of 
societies and a condition of their existence ; 
its force is comparable to that of instinct. " 

But there is another side to be considered 
also. The formation of good habits, re- 

96 



TRAINING AND HABIT 

suiting in right actions, is by no means the 
only thing that is necessary to well-being. 
Everyone recognizes that character is of 
prime importance ; and there are many 
other elements in character besides a 
response to discipline and a capacity to 
absorb into the subconscious the results of 
past influences. Self-reliance, initiative, the 
power to choose the right course by one's 
own knowledge and to follow it by one's 
own volition, these also are elements, and 
prime elements, in well-being. A form of 
training which eliminated these, in order 
to make certain of good conduct, would 
clearly be harmful on balance. A social 
system that succeeded in making its people 
well behaved at the cost of keeping them 
enslaved, ignorant and apathetic, would be 
a bad social system. It may be argued 
that at all events it would be inducing men 
to act so as to bring good results and not 
bad, and that therefore the " doctrine of 
consequences " should justify it. To this 
the answer is obvious the very production 
of a population of a degraded type would 

97 D 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

have been in itself the worst of conse- 
quences ; to continue to produce further 
generations that were no better would 
lessen human welfare and not increase it. 
Goods and bads must be weighed against 
each other. Sparta had elements of great- 
ness, but her system had elements of base- 
ness also. The civilization of Athens was 
richer and nobler. Our own civilization 
will not reach the heights of well-being 
until there come the generations 

" With flame of freedom in their souls 
And light of knowledge in their eyes." 

Training, then, must not sacrifice, for 
the sake of forming good habits, the native 
energy and power of will which each 
personality brings with him into the world. 
The best father is not he who guides every 
step of his child and shields him from all 
possibility of harm. He is not the best 
schoolmaster who adopts the methods of 
the drill-sergeant. Nor is it the best form 
of government which imposes efficiency at 
the cost of liberty. 

98 



TRAINING AND HABIT 

Here we approach the problem which 
is the province of the educationist. The 
task of the schoolmaster was regarded in 
the eighteenth century as consisting almost 
entirely in the imparting of knowledge ; 
in order to ensure that the teaching should 
not be wasted it was chiefly necessary to 
instil into the pupils the habit of industry 
in the learning of their lessons. In the 
nineteenth century it was realized that the 
all-round training of character was of equal, 
and perhaps of greater, importance. In the 
twentieth, we are coming to see that, for 
right character, the development of full and 
free individuality is essential. A right action 
is not rightly done unless it is freely done. 

A good system of education, then, must 
combine these various factors the im- 
parting of knowledge, the formation of 
habits, the preservation of self-reliance 
and initiative. How in practice to blend 
them in their right proportions is the 
question to which in these days many 
devoted educationists, in all countries, are 
actively addressing their minds. 

99 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

Among the influences which society can 
bring to bear in order to promote good 
conduct and discourage bad, four stand 
out predominant. One is the home ; to 
this reference will be made later. Another 
is the school. *>The third is religion. The 
fourth consists in rewards conferred and 
penalties imposed, either formally by the 
State or informally by the members of the 
community themselves. 



IOC 



CHAPTER VII 

RELIGIOUS INFLUENCES 

LOOKING back over the history of man- 
kind it will be plain that the chief agent 
in promoting morality has been religion. 
If the child, the youth, the man have to 
be taught to form habits of right action, 
to take the long view, to forgo immediate 
personal gain for the sake of a more 
distant common advantage, it has been the 
religious organizations that have been the 
principal teachers. Among all the races 
of men, from primitive times on into the 
modern world, religion has striven to 
point the way and to strengthen the 
impulse to moral conduct. 

But in our own age this force has 
clearly been weakening. East or West, 
wherever we look, we see a growing 
divorce between religion and daily life. 

101 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

The hold of the creeds upon conduct has 
been loosening. Vast numbers of people, 
indeed, have not felt the change, but vast 
numbers have felt it. If we compare, in 
most countries, the influence to-day of 
the church, the temple, the mosque, the 
synagogue, with what it was two hundred 
years ago, or even one hundred years ago, 
we cannot fail to note the difference. 
Thoughtful men will not ignore this fea- 
ture in the contemporary world, or under- 
estimate its importance. It cannot fail 
to be a cause of grave anxiety ; not only 
to the leaders of the religious organiza- 
tions, but to everyone. If the ancient 
buttress of morality is weakening, how 
can it be strengthened ? Or is there a 
substitute ? Philosophy cannot neglect 
facts that are patent and profoundly sig- 
nificant, and look the other way as though 
the matter were not her concern. A 
survey of practical ethics would be in- 
complete indeed which took no acccount 
of the past and the present of the greatest 
of ethical forces. 

102 



RELIGIOUS INFLUENCES 

The chief reason for the existing situa- 
tion is plain enough. The new factor 
which has come in, and has made the 
difference, is modern science. There is 
a field in which the spheres of religion 
and science have overlapped. So far as 
the creeds have dealt with the nature of 
the universe, its origins or its history, 
with the history of man, or with par- 
ticular events in the realm of nature, they 
occupy ground which science also occu- 
pies ; they have felt the impact of the 
discoveries of astronomy and geology, of 
physics and biology. The acceptance 
by the scientific world of the Law of 
Causality, the Law of Uniformity and 
the Principle of Evolution has inevitably 
had a profound effect upon certain of the 
beliefs, dating from earlier times, which 
had been regarded as integral parts of 
the several religions. There arose what 
has been called " the conflict between 
Science and Religion. " It is this con- 
flict which, more than any other one 

cause, has thrown the modern world into 

103 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

the state of intellectual confusion in which 
it finds itself. 

It cannot be ended by saying that what 
science declares does not matter to 
religion, and what religion declares does 
not matter to science. As the Italian 
philosopher, Professor Aliotta, puts it, 
" It is a false way of understanding the 
spiritual life, to claim to divide the soul 
into various compartments, in one of 
which, for example, would stand philo- 
sophy, in another religion, in another art, 
and so on. The spirit is entire in all its 
functions. " " Reality is one/' says Pro- 
fessor Pringle-Pattison, " and, after all, 
the human mind is also one, and not a 
bundle of unconnected and conflicting 
faculties. " 

Nor can the conflict be ended by 
emphasizing the limitations and they are 
real of science. We may agree that a 
vast province lies beyond the domain of 
human knowledge. We may agree that 
the things that we know are things as we 

104 



RELIGIOUS INFLUENCES 

know them ; " the eye sees only what it 
brings with it the power of seeing " ; 
what our minds perceive must be con- 
nected with reality, but is not likely to 
be identical with reality. We may readily 
admit that what is held in one age to have 
been proved as true is often found by 
later discovery not to be true. Many 
times science has offered a theory which 
the world too soon has acclaimed as a 
fact, and disillusionment has followed. 
" No man of science," says Professor 
Whitehead, " could subscribe without 
qualification to Galileo's beliefs, or to 
Newton's beliefs, or to all bis own scien- 
tific beliefs of ten years ago/ But with 
all caution and with every allowance for 
error, there remain many things, lying 
well within the present sphere of human 
knowledge, which the mind is bound to 
accept as true. If the exponents of a 
particular creed deny these, they will 
succeed only in alienating numbers of 
clear-sighted and intellectually honest 
men. 

105 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

And the conflict could not be ended, 
on the other hand, by claims to be all- 
comprehending, which, in an earlier day, 
were sometimes made on behalf of science. 
Such claims are not now heard. It is 
recognized that, since the universe, as 
we know it through science, is not self- 
explanatory or self-sufficient, there must 
of necessity be something outside it or 
within it, of which science does not tell 
us, but which is fundamental. 

Analyse as far as you will the things 
about us. See the human body as a 
complicated congeries of cells, each cell 
as an organization of chemical atoms, 
each atom as a system of electrons mov- 
ing at immense speeds. See the stars 
as blazing, swirling masses of gas ; 
destined to cool, to divide possibly into 
suns and planets, to produce earths like 
this, even to evolve in some cases, in a 
billion years, some kind of living occu- 
pants. Accept, if you will, the Einsteinian 
theory that space is curved and returns 
on itself and the universe is finite. We 

1 06 



RELIGIOUS INFLUENCES 

are still only at the beginning. Even if 
a perfected knowledge traces some day 
the whole course of development, from 
the simplest elementary stuff to the 
highest manifestations of mind " the 
evolution of gas into genius " the ques- 
tion will remain, whence the gas ; whence 
its capacity so to evolve ? Even if dis- 
covery succeeds in breaking down the 
distinction between living and not living, 
and it is found that there is one continuous 
whole still will remain the problem of 
the existence of that whole, and of the 
existence of its qualities. We have come 
to know that much that earlier genera- 
tions were called upon to believe is not 
credible. But that there is nothing to 
be believed that would be the most 
incredible of all. 

This book is not a treatise on religion ; 
and it is not within my function to dis- 
cuss how far present currents of thought 
tend towards a reconciliation between 
religion and science or in what way an 
adjustment may be reached. But it is 

107 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

impossible for any writer on practical 
ethics in these times not to express a 
deep concern lest the influence which 
has been the main support of a sane 
morality among the hundreds of millions 
of human beings living together on this 
planet, should be weakened, and totter, 
and fall. 

Nor could any writer on ethics accept 
the position that this disaster should be 
avoided by the rejection or the sub- 
ordination of truth. Fatal would be the 
dilemma offered by any who would say 
that, since beliefs which reason must 
reject are integral parts of their creeds, 
and since their creeds are the essential 
foundation of morality, we must accept 
what we are convinced is false rather than 
lose what we know is good. Whitehead 
has stated the position in powerful langu- 
age : " When we consider what religion 
is for mankind, and what science is, it is 
no exaggeration to say that the future 
course of history depends upon the 
decision of this generation as to the 

108 



RELIGIOUS INFLUENCES 

relations between them. We have here 
the two strongest general forces (apart 
from the mere impulse of the various 
senses) which influence men, and they 
seem to be set one against the other the 
force of our religious intuitions, and the 
force of our impulse to accurate observa- 
tion and logical deduction. " 

Most precious among the treasures of 
man are both Goodness and Truth. Is 
he to be told that he may have Goodness 
only if he is ready to surrender Truth, or 
else Truth, but only at the sacrifice of 
Goodness ? A sound ethic must insist 
that these shall not be made the subject 
of an impossible choice. Whatever may 
be the means and the method, it is vital 
to the well-being of mankind that the two 
shall merge. 

There are, of course, other causes for 
the weakening of religious influences be- 
sides the impact of the new science on 
the old theologies. Powerful and wide- 
spread in the modern world is the move- 

109 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

ment among the peoples for the improve- 
ment of the standards of living. A just 
discontent with poverty, insecurity, in- 
feriority of status, bad environment, is the 
underlying force which impels hundreds 
of millions of the working-classes, and 
vast numbers of others who think them 
right, to strive, with unceasing effort, 
towards better conditions. The move- 
ment, taking various forms, industrial and 
political, permeates all the progressive 
countries of the world. From the time 
of the French Revolution, which was 
largely a social upheaval, the movement 
found itself not everywhere, but almost 
everywhere either actively opposed, or 
at the least discountenanced, by the ecclesi- 
astical organizations. Enthusiastic social 
reformers, animated by what they were 
convinced was a deeply moral purpose, 
were alienated when they found, ranked 
among the defenders of existing abuses, 
or forming part of that vast mass of inert 
indifference which was so hard to move, 
those whose functions made them the 

no 



RELIGIOUS INFLUENCES 

official exponents of the accepted creeds. 
Religion and social progress, which should 
have been allies, appeared to be enemies. 
The division sometimes hampered social 
progress ; more often it injured the cause 
of religion. In the latter part of the nine- 
teenth century and during the present 
century, there has been a change in many 
countries. The churches are no longer, 
for the most part, a merely conservative 
force. But some effect remains from the 
earlier conflict. 

Further, there has come in recent years 
the moral shock of the Great Wars. Since 
1914, multitudes of people, who would 
not ordinarily pay much attention to the 
deeper questions of life and morality, have 
been forced, by their own experiences 
and the experiences of those nearest to 
them, to think about fundamental things. 
The contrast between what they have 
been taught and what they have seen, 
between a divine and loving ordering of 
the world and " the senseless abomination 
of modern war," is so glaring that the 

in 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 



new generation stands bewildered. It 
awaits some fresh interpretation. 

But these also are matters which would 
take us too far afield. 



112 



CHAPTER VIII 

REWARDS AND PENALTIES 

EVERY man is moved partly by self- 
interest and partly by altruism ; the pro- 
portions vary in individuals according to 
their characters, but both motives are 
always present. Moralists may rank the 
altruistic as the higher, but they cannot 
dispense with the egoistic. A system of 
ethics which relied solely upon sympathy 
and the good will to ensure right conduct 
would be regarded as unpractical, and 
justly so. Any nation which abolished 
straightway all restraints upon bad action 
and all rewards for good action, in the 
hope that every man would do right for 
the sake of the right, would collapse. 
Those conditions are the ideal ; we may 
advance towards them ; we dare not act 
as though they had already been achieved. 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

Rewards and penalties, apart from those 
which religion offers, are of various kinds. 
There is one system established by the 
State ; men may be influenced by the 
hope of honours and dignities that Govern- 
ment can confer and by the fear of punish- 
ments imposed by the law. This is the 
special province of politics, which includes 
jurisprudence. There is a second system 
which is the outcome of the economic 
organization of society. If a man shows 
qualities of industry, enterprise and re- 
liability he expects to be rewarded with a 
comfortable livelihood, or even, under the 
existing order of society, with affluence ; 
if he lacks those qualities he may expect 
to be penalized by poverty or destitution. 
This is the province of economics. And 
there is a third system which is founded on 
public opinion. The community can give 
praise or blame, can confer rewards of its 
own for merit and inflict penalties of its 
own for wrong-doing. 

The three systems are inter-connected. 
No clear dividing-line can be drawn 

114 



REWARDS AND PENALTIES 

between them. But since one of them 
primarily belongs to politics and one to 
economics, I propose to limit myself here 
to the third, and to invite consideration 
of the part played by public opinion as a 
sanction for morality. 

Because man is a social being he cares 
for the judgement of his fellows. He is 
gratified by praise and hurt by blame. To 
possess a good reputation with family, 
neighbours, friends, to avoid social con- 
demnation or ostracism, is undoubtedly a 
motive for good conduct. Pliny stated the 
case with substantial truth, though perhaps 
with some exaggeration, when he said, 
" How few there are who preserve the 
same delicacy of conduct in secret as when 
exposed to the view of the world. The 
truth is, the generality of mankind stand 
in awe of public opinion, while conscience 
is feared only by the few." Huxley ex- 
pressed much the same view : "It is need- 
ful only to look around us to see that 
the greatest restrainer of the anti-social 

"5 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

tendencies of men is fear, not of the law, 
but of the opinion of their fellows. The 
conventions of honour bind men who 
break legal, moral, and religious bonds ; 
and while people endure the extremity of 
physical pain rather than part with life, 
shame drives the weakest to suicide/' A 
saying of the Arabs puts the point with 
cynical brevity : " In a town where you 
know no one, do whatever you like." 

Every- day observation shows that where 
there is no effective public opinion, morals 
more easily become lax. A description of 
a riverside street in a port in the north- 
east of England gives a typical example. 
"It is a street in which one feels in- 
creasingly as one approaches the ferry that 
riverside quality into which the quarters 
of every town that lie near the wharves and 
banks always seem to deteriorate. There 
is something in the intercourse of sailors 
from other ports who come and go, no- 
madic, unvouched for, who appear and 
disappear, with no responsibility for their 
words or their deeds, that seems to bring 

116 



REWARDS AND PENALTIES 

to the whole world a kinship of lawless- 
ness and disorder. " Against such things 
society seeks to defend itself, in the first 
instance, by publicity. " As gas-light," 
said Emerson, " is found to be the best 
nocturnal police, so the universe protects 
itself by pitiless publicity." 

The process is necessary, but it has its 
dangers. It is necessary because the other 
means of defence in the hands of society 
the penal law cannot in practice be ap- 
plied in many cases of wrong-doing ; it is 
too clumsy and too rigid ; its weapon is 
force rather than persuasion, and force may 
easily go too far and destroy a proper inde- 
pendence of thought and action. The law 
may become " puritanical." Yet society 
cannot consent to see moral order limited 
within the narrow territories that may 
be controlled by the penal law, leaving 
anarchy everywhere outside. 

The process has its dangers as well, 
because the coercion of public opinion 
may also be excessive, or it may be wrongly 
directed. It will often take the easy 

117 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

course of declaring that whatever is 
customary is therefore right, and mobiliz- 
ing public disapproval against everything 
that is unconventional. 

In a well-directed community this danger 
is recognized. Toleration of other people's 
opinions and actions, so long as they are 
not obviously injurious, is regarded as 
right. We are tolerant, partly because we 
can never be altogether sure that our own 
opinions are sound ; at all events not so 
sure as to allow us to feel that it would 
be quite safe in the general interest to 
suppress the other opinions. There is a 
possibility, even though it may seem re- 
mote, that it would be found afterwards 
that we had made a mistake, and had 
suppressed something that might have been 
useful. We are tolerant also because of 
the faith that liberty is a good thing in it- 
self, and that people should not be robbed 
of it unless they are so using their liberty 
as to injure the welfare of others. 

But even toleration may bring in turn 
dangers of its own. In the modern world 

118 



REWARDS AND PENALTIES 

there are few signs that toleration is likely 
to go too far, but there are signs that 
toleration may be confused with agree- 
ment. To say, for example, that another 
person has the same claim to practise his 
religion as I have to practise mine is one 
thing, but to say that all religions are 
equally right is a different thing altogether. 
Many people seem inclined to let the one 
attitude slip into the other. There is a 
danger that an age of toleration may prove 
to be an age of indifference. To renounce 
the power of compulsion does not remove 
the duty of persuasion. The world cannot 
advance if liberty of thought and action is 
held to justify wrong thought and wrong 
action. 

Society, then, is faced by the problem 
how to secure that the individual shall do 
what will conduce to well-being on the 
whole rather than what will conduce to his 
own immediate well-being, as he would be 
disposed to see it. To this end it seeks, 
and rightly seeks, to make use of the motive 

119 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

of self-interest itself. The question is how 
the individual can be led to prefer duty 
to inclination, and the answer is that one 
method though not the only method is 
to give him an inducement to change the 
original inclination into a different inclina- 
tion which will correspond with the duty. 
In other words he may be brought to do 
what he ought, instead of what he would 
like, by his duty being made advantage- 
ous to him. And this can be achieved, not 
merely by waiting till the occasion arises 
and then offering some inducement, but 
by establishing a state of things beforehand 
which, so far as may be, will bring personal 
interest, as the individual understands it, 
into correspondence with general interest. 
Society tries to accomplish this, some- 
times through inculcating a sense of re- 
ligion with its own system of rewards and 
punishments ; sometimes through the force 
of law or other State influences ; sometimes 
through economic rewards or penalties ; 
sometimes through the pressure of public 
opinion. But, as we saw earlier, the pur- 

120 



REWARDS AND PENALTIES 

pose cannot always be accomplished by 
any of these methods. There will remain 
a margin of cases in which the only valid 
reason that can be given for preferring 
duty to inclination is some form of altruism, 
and not self-interest at all. The smaller 
this margin can be made, the more likely 
the community will be to secure in prac- 
tice, among ordinary men, a high average 
level of right action. 

Moralists of all creeds and in all ages 
have emphasized the connection between 
good conduct and its reward and bad con- 
duct and its punishment, and they have 
not limited the connection to another world 
after death. " Evil pursueth sinners ; but 
to the righteous good shall be repaid," 
says the Book of Proverbs. In the Budd- 
hist Dhammapada it is written : " If a man 
speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain 
follows him, as the wheel follows the foot 
of the ox that draws the carriage. ... If 
a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, 
happiness follows him, like a shadow that 

121 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

never leaves him." And in the Chinese 
Yi-King : " The family that accumulates 
goodness is sure to have superabundant 
happiness ; the family that accumulates 
evil is sure to have superabundant misery." 
In our own time a writer such as Huxley 
was able to say : " The absolute justice of 
the system of things is as clear to me as 
any scientific fact. The gravitation of sin 
to sorrow is as certain as that of the earth 
to the sun, and more so for experimental 
proof of the fact is within reach of us all 
nay, is before us all in our own lives, if 
we had but the eyes to see it." 

None, however, would venture to con- 
tend that the reward or the punishment 
always accrues to the person himself who 
acts, or that it follows directly upon the 
action. It is obvious that it does not. 
The connection is some time and some- 
how, on the whole and in the long run. 
But that there is such a connection is clear. 

The reason is not far to seek. We have 
supported the view that mankind have re- 
garded as good such conduct as will bring 

122 



REWARDS AND PENALTIES 

well-being, and as bad such as will bring 
harm. They may often not have been 
aware that they were doing so. They 
may even have repudiated any such prin- 
ciple. They may have declared that they 
regarded as good only such conduct as 
had been ordained by a particular religious 
creed, without realizing that the creed 
itself had so ordained for the reason that 
the conduct was thought to be such as 
would bring well-being. Often mistakes 
have been made, and moral codes have 
prescribed as duties various kinds of action 
which experience showed to result not in 
good but in harm. But if it is true that 
actions on the whole are accounted good 
or bad according to their consequences, 
then it is quite clear why conduct, which 
we term good, somehow and some time 
brings rewards, and conduct which we 
term bad brings penalties. If those were 
not to be the results we should not so term 
them. If " evil pursueth sinners," it is 
precisely because " sin " is that which evil 
pursues . If evil did not follow it we should 

123 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

not rank it as sin, Schweitzer says of 
Marcus Aurelius that he is " an enthu- 
siastic utilitarian, like the rationalists of 
the eighteenth century, because he, like 
them, is convinced that nature herself has 
created an indissoluble connection between 
morality and those tendencies which are 
beneficial both to the individual and to the 
community. " And to quote Huxley again, 
he held that " there is a fixed order of 
nature which sends social disorganization 
upon the track of immorality, as surely as 
it sends physical disease after physical tres- 
passes." But it is not necessary to assume 
some metaphysical agent called " nature " 
which has created the connection. The 
matter is far simpler. " Morality " con- 
sists of those tendencies which are bene- 
ficial ; " immorality " is that which causes 
social disorganization ; just as " physical 
trespasses " are called so because they are 
those habits or negligences which do bring 
about disease. 

" The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices 
Make instruments to plague us." 
124 



REWARDS AND PENALTIES 

But it is not a question of justice of " the 
gods ". The simple fact is that when our 
pleasures are such as to bring consequences 
that plague us they are for that reason 
classed as " vices." 

The ordinary view on these matters 
appears to see things that exist, but in- 
verted. In the same way, before the estab- 
lishment of the principle of evolution, the 
current opinion as to man's relation with 
nature was an inversion of the facts. It 
held that man had been created by a 
single, definite act ; his mind and body 
had been adapted to the physical conditions 
about him, and those conditions to his 
mind and body ; the adaptation appeared 
as a marvel of adjustment. There were 
lungs able to breathe the air that was pro- 
vided ; there was air ready to supply the 
lungs. There were digestive organs able 
to use the foodstuffs that existed, and 
foodstuffs such as could nourish the organs. 
And so throughout. Then it was found 
that the world came first, and that man 
was gradually developed in such form as 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

would fit the world. The adjustment is 
not less perfect, the process is not less 
marvellous than at first appeared ; it may 
be judged far more marvellous. But, given 
the process, the outcome was inevitable ; 
in the sense that man is inevitably a creature 
who must suit his environment. If he had 
not been so, he would not have come into 
existence, just as countless varieties of 
creatures, which the imagination might 
conceive, have not come into existence. 

So in the sphere of morals it has been 
currently thought that there is some mys- 
terious, transcendental adjustment between 
the moral code and the rewards that seem, 
as a rule, to be won by those who obey 
it, the penalties that seem, as a rule, to 
fall on those who break it. The adjust- 
ment is there. But it is inevitable. It is 
part of the very nature of the case. It 
arises from the fact that the moral code 
is made up of injunctions that have been 
selected for the very reason that those are 
believed to be the rules, obedience to which 
brings welfare and disobedience suffering 

126 



REWARDS AND PENALTIES 

either directly and immediately, or 
indirectly and ultimately. 

There is a second reason for the con- 
nection. A community which wishes to 
promote good conduct need not, as we 
have seen, limit itself to appeals to pure 
altruism. It may also invoke the motive 
of egoism. Every community in fact does 
so. The way of the transgressor is hard, 
because society sets out to make it hard. 
" The family that accumulates goodness " 
has happiness because society tries so to 
shape its laws and customs that those who 
are good shall be happy. Obviously the 
adjustment is often imperfect. On the 
whole and in the long run the connection 
holds, but for particular individuals and 
in the short run it constantly does not. 
Cases continually occur in actual life which 
offend our sense of justice, precisely be- 
cause the general rule that good conduct 
should be followed by well-being does not 
work out in practice. The cause some- 
times lies in the fact that a mistake has 

127 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

been made in thinking that a certain course 
of action will bring good results and is to 
be classed as good. Experience shows 
later that it has brought bad results and 
should in future be classed as bad. Some- 
times and very often the cause lies in 
an imperfect social system, which has not 
succeeded in properly adjusting its rewards 
and its penalties to the needs of the case. 
A sound ethics will lay great stress on the 
need of finding a cure for those imper- 
fections. 



128 



CHAPTER IX 

SOCIAL ETHICS 

AN answer has now been offered to 
the second of the two questions which 
we took as our starting-point. In seeking 
the reasons why men should act rightly, 
we held that the best course would be to 
find what are the actual reasons which, in 
ordinary life, lead men to act rightly, so 
far as they do so. We found that they 
were various, and that prominent among 
them were social influences of several kinds. 
But the conditions all about us show that 
those influences often are wrongly directed 
or ineffective for their purpose. So we 
come to the question of the right direction 
and the strengthening of those social in- 
fluences, that is to say, to Social Ethics. 

Moral Philosophy began as a study of 
personal obligation, but it has found that 

129 E 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

it is bound to concern itself also with 
social obligation, since the two cannot be 
separated. They can no more be con- 
sidered apart from one another by ethics 
than the organism and its environment 
can be considered apart from one another 
by biology ; and for similar reasons. 
When, therefore, man sets out to consider 
what he ought to do in order to promote 
welfare, both his own and other people's, 
he finds at once that a large part of his 
duties concern him as one of a family, an 
occupation, a church, a neighbourhood, a 
country, or as a member of the human 
race. 

And each of those entities exercises upon 
him and others all kinds of. influences ; 
among them the influences that tend to 
good conduct or bad. They are the agen- 
cies through which public opinion acts. 
Each of them from the family up to the 
human race consists of the person him- 
self and others like himself, and of nothing 
else. If he and others cease to take part 
in their activities, they will have no activi- 

130 



SOCIAL ETHICS 

ties ; if he and others do not direct them 
rightly, they will be directed wrongly. 
There are duties which must be performed 
with regard to each of them, and it is 
obvious that a share of those duties rests 
upon this man, in common with everyone 
else concerned. 

It is impossible to find any reason for 
exempting anyone from performing social 
duties according to his capacity. No one 
may escape responsibility for wrongs com- 
mitted by any organization of which he 
is a unit, by saying that he had taken no 
part in the matter and had had no share 
in the action. To decide to do nothing 
is itself a decision ; to remain inactive 
is also an act. Whoever, for example, 
acquiesces in autocracy must accept a share 
of responsibility for the deeds of the auto- 
crat. Whoever withdraws from the con- 
cerns of his family, or occupation, or city, 
or state, is plainly guilty of a dereliction of 
duty. If he recognizes no need to act, why 
should anyone else do so ? If no one 
acts, social influences disappear. With 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

their disappearance, the most powerful 
safeguards of morality go as well, and with 
morality goes human welfare. Individual 
obedience to the requirements of social 
ethics is the foundation on which all else 
is built. 

If that obedience is to be demanded and 
obtained, it is essential that what is pre- 
sented as a duty shall really be such. The 
action which the individual is called upon 
to take must truly be conducive to welfare, 
so far as can be ascertained. If he dis- 
covers it to be no more than a matter of 
conforming to a routine or a convention, 
or of obeying some ancient authority of 
doubtful validity, with results which are 
valueless or even harmful, then he finds 
himself misled ; then the true duty is to 
refuse the alleged duty. 

This brings us to a subject to which 
incidental reference has been made already, 
the fact that morality is not static. The 
ethical code changes, and should change, 
with the development of ideas, with dis- 

13* 



SOCIAL ETHICS 

coveries, with changes of environment. 
Civilization emerges from barbarism pre- 
cisely through the discovery that the right 
is not identical with the customary. 

It appears that in primitive societies, so 
far as we are able to observe them, custom 
is supreme and is rigid. It is perpetuated 
through the training of the young ; it is 
enforced by violence when necessary, or 
by supernatural terrors invented to guard 
it, such as the primitive mind will not 
venture to challenge. But in course of 
time, custom is undermined, modified or 
overthrown by circumstances. The great 
religions establish their codes. Innovators 
at first and revolutionary, they too tend 
with the centuries to rigidity. What is 
right comes to be identified with what is 
orthodox. 

Then it is realized that this also does not 
conduce to welfare. Experience shows that 
harm is being done. " Human nature need 
not be supposed to change/' said Samuel 
Alexander, " but the enlargement of social 
relations and the complexity of living mean 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

a constant revision of moral standards 
and a change in the system of conduct." 
Sometimes this is effected suddenly and 
by a violent convulsion ; far more often 
it is effected gradually and almost imper- 
ceptibly. Orthodoxy itself may change. 
" The orthodoxy of one generation is never 
precisely that of the next," The laws of 
the State, also, adapt themselves, and with 
greater ease. In every country the statute- 
book of the nineteen-thirties was very differ- 
ent from that of the eighteen-thirties. 
And social conventions change even more 
easily still. 

Original and courageous minds strike 
out along new paths. Careless of obloquy 
or derision, brushing aside obstruction, 
they insist that their ideas shall be put to 
the test. They succeed or they fail ; they 
win fame as benefactors, or they are for- 
gotten. Succeed or fail, such are the salt 
of the earth. 

The old is not the best because of its 
age ; but neither is the new the best be- 



SOCIAL ETHICS 

cause of its novelty. In each generation 
young people may be tempted to think 
that it is. They see with a fresh eye the 
laws and customs of the society into which 
they are born ; they perceive the futility 
of many of the conventions which their 
elders expect them to observe. If an ap- 
peal is addressed to them on the ground 
that everything which is customary is 
prima facie right, they may be inclined 
to decide that, since that is false, the 
opposite may be true, and that everything 
which is customary is prima facie wrong. 
Opinions will differ, according to tem- 
perament, as to which of these errors is 
the worse, but that both are errors is 
certain. 

" * Old things need not be therefore true,' 
O brother men, nor yet the new." 

Change is not necessarily progress. 
Every pioneer was regarded at first as a 
crank ; but not every crank comes to be 
regarded as a pioneer. Innovation must 
justify itself. It is right that innovation 

'35 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

should have to overcome difficulties. 
There should be friction enough to pre- 
vent incessant motion, while not enough 
to make motion too slow or impossible. 
A volatile community, without any firm 
basis of principle, taking no account at all 
of its own traditions, with its ideas in con- 
stant flux, would not serve its members 
best. 

Because a custom originated long ago, 
had been justified on grounds now held 
to be untenable, and endured because it 
was protected by primitive taboos, it does 
not follow that it is a bad custom. One 
day's rest in seven, for example, is not to 
be advocated nowadays on the ground that 
the earth was made in six days, that the 
Creator rested on the seventh, and that 
therefore we should do the same ; but the 
custom itself may be found by experience 
to be most beneficial ; it may be quite 
right to maintain it, and even to safeguard 
it by law. The calendar of the French 
Revolution, which established a week of 
ten days, partly for the sake of a con- 

136 



SOCIAL ETHICS 

venient arithmetical division of the month, 
and partly in order to effect a change from 
the ordinances of the Church, was found not 
to be an improvement. The value of any 
institution or rule or custom is not decided 
by the history of its origins. 

Every sound social system has in it an 
element of conservatism. There is need of 
caution against the too hasty acceptance 
of plausible ideas which would in fact 
prove harmful. What habit is to the in- 
dividual, custom is to the community. It 
is well to revise one's habits, and if need 
be to change them, but not to go through 
life without any settled rules. " The world 
is born and advances by means of the 
inventions of liberty ; it is preserved and 
assured by the inertia of habits." Or as 
William James expressed it, " Habit is the 
enormous fly-wheel of society." 

So here once more the question, at 
bottom, is one of balance. Self-assertion 
and discipline, progress and stability, each 
is needed in its right proportion ; and to 
find what is the right proportion, in all the 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 



infinite variety of occasions that present 
themselves, is the daily problem of the 
society and the individual, of citizen and 
State. 



138 



CHAPTER X 

SOME CURRENT QUESTIONS 

" THERE are two sides to every ques- 
tion " and this is very true, for the simple 
reason that " a question " is that to which 
there are two sides. When there are no 
longer two sides there ceases to be a ques- 
tion. And this constantly happens. It is 
a mistake to suppose that the truth of 
this saying implies that no question is ever 
settled. 

If a book such as this were being written 
in England a hundred years ago, and if the 
writer wished to discuss some of the issues 
which then occupied the minds of thought- 
ful and public-spirited people, he would 
have to consider a number of matters 
which are not topics of discussion to-day. 
They are for us dead controversies ; the 
arguments, the disputes, the passions they 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

aroused are a matter of history. They are 
settled questions. 

We may take a few instances. The 
duel a conspicuous example has been 
already mentioned. A hundred years ago 
people were still debating whether negro 
slavery could be justified ; whether men 
ought to be hanged if found guilty of 
any one of a large variety of crimes besides 
murder ; whether child offenders should 
be sent to the ordinary prisons ; whether 
discipline in the army and navy should 
be maintained by flogging. It was still 
an open question in all classes of society 
whether drunkenness was to be regarded 
as a vice or as an amiable foible, a matter 
rather for laughter than for censure. 
People argued whether it was better 
that the children of the working-classes 
should remain illiterate, or whether schools 
ought to be provided for them. If they 
were provided, would it be right for the 
law to punish parents who sent their 
children to work and not to school ? 
Should Nonconformists be admissible to 

140 



SOME CURRENT QUESTIONS 

the Universities ? And should burial in 
the old churchyards be allowed to them ; 
or should the law insist that they should 
still be buried only in separate cemeteries ? 
Ought a man to be excluded from Parlia- 
ment because he was a Jew ? The nation 
was just emerging from a bitter conflict 
over the question whether political power 
should be kept in the hands of the aristo- 
cracy and the well-to-do, or should be 
shared by the body of the nation. It was 
still a matter of hot debate whether trade 
unions should continue to be banned by 
the law ; whether factory-owners and mine- 
owners should have absolute control over 
conditions of work, or whether the State 
should intervene to secure safety, sanitary 
conditions, reasonable hours of labour. 
There had been a long controversy whether 
the right way to deal with unemployed 
workers was, or was not, to offer the 
employers a subsidy in aid of wages if 
they would employ them again. Ought 
there to be a code of law to compel people 
to take such measures in their own houses 

141 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

as were required in order to safeguard 
public health ? It was discussed whether 
marriage ought to be regarded as a con- 
tract, terminable on certain grounds by 
a judicial procedure, or as a sacrament, 
and of such a kind as never to be revoc- 
able ; whether married women should 
be entitled to own property in their 
own right ; whether women should be 
admitted to the professions. 

It is worth while to set out these in- 
stances of what were then " questions " 
but have ceased to be so, as a reminder 
that progress may in fact be achieved ; as 
an answer to the assertion sometimes made 
that, in a community such as ours, there is 
incessant talk with nothing accomplished ; 
as a refutation of the shallow witticism 
" plus a change, plus c'est la meme 
chose." 

Sometimes it may be necessary to reopen 
some issue that had been regarded as 
closed. A slip-back in moral standards in 
a neighbouring country may, for example, 
revive interest here in the question whether 

142 



SOME CURRENT QUESTIONS 

duelling is right or wrong. Or the diffi- 
culty of finding a solution to intractable 
problems of unemployment may lead men 
to ask whether, after all, some kind of 
subsidy in aid of wages might not provide 
the way. But, when all allowance is made 
for such cases, it is clear that each genera- 
tion inherits a vast body of law and of 
custom which has been built up, piece by 
piece, by the earlier generations, and which 
is accepted as established. It is just for 
that reason that it invites little attention. 
Historians and students of history may go 
into these things, but not the ordinary 
men in ordinary course. He has to con- 
cern himself with old issues that are still 
unsettled, or with the new issues which 
changed conditions have raised. As Pro- 
fessor Schiller says, " It is precisely our 
doubtful beliefs that loom so large in our 
intellectual landscape, for it is upon these 
that mental activity is actually engaged." 
And this sometimes gives rise to the false 
impression that all beliefs are doubtful, 
that everything is still a " question " with 

H3 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

its two sides, either of which may perhaps 
be right. 

Morality is not static ; the vast pro- 
cess goes on continually all over the 
world through which the ethical code 
evolves. By private and public discussion, 
by political or religious controversy, by ex- 
periment, men seek to find out, point by 
point, in what it is that well-being really 
consists and how to secure it. Our for- 
bears a hundred years ago were called upon 
to wrestle with the problems of their time, 
and we in our time must wrestle with 
ours. 

Many of the problems that chiefly vex 
our minds to-day are the outcome of the 
invention of the steam-engine, of the elec- 
tric motor and of the internal-combustion 
engine, and arise out of the transformation 
of industrial methods that has followed. 
Our age has to cope with a vast series of 
social questions, complex and difficult, 
springing from the separation between 
manual labour and the ownership of the 

144 



SOME CURRENT QUESTIONS 

means of production. They are made 
urgent by the fact that the people of a 
hundred years ago admitted democracy, 
and also laid the foundations of universal 
education ; the classes directly concerned 
have now political power and the know- 
ledge to use it ; they insist that these 
questions shall not be ignored or evaded. 
The practical solution of the problems 
is indeed the province of politics and 
economics. But ethics has to set the 
goal. 

Is it right or is it wrong that vast numbers 
of people, of character no worse than the 
average, should live in poverty should not 
have incomes enough to provide, for them- 
selves and their families, the requirements 
of physical health and comfort, with proper 
opportunities for culture and recreation ? 
If. it is held that this is morally wrong, for 
the reason that such conditions are hostile 
to well-being, then it is for the politician 
and the economist to find the way of re- 
dress. They must not choose their course 
lightly, and so as to discover in the end 

MS 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

that they have in fact increased the evils 
they set out to cure. They must be careful 
not to frame their measures so that, by 
lessening industrial enterprise and produc- 
tivity and the facilities for the exchange 
of goods, poverty is extended in one 
direction as much as it is diminished 
in another. But neither must they be 
diverted by a care for individual or class 
interests to the detriment of the general 
interest. 

Is it right or wrong that a community 
should recognize and perpetuate class dis- 
tinctions with different grades of educa- 
tion, of income, of manners, possibly of 
character ? Is luxury defensible on the 
ground that to attain it gives an incentive 
to effort, or on the ground that it makes 
possible the emergence of new inventions 
and conveniences which afterwards become 
accessible generally ? Or is luxury, on 
balance, to be condemned, for the reason 
that it is demoralizing to those who are 
surrounded by it, and offensive to the vast 
majority who cannot share it ? If there is 

146 



SOME CURRENT QUESTIONS 

to be a greater measure of social equality, 
can this be reached by giving to youth an 
equality of opportunity, educational and 
industrial ? Or must that be supple- 
mented by a levelling-down of wealth ? 
In that event, must not society con- 
sider one condition which is essential, 
expressed by Matthew Arnold : " Many 
are to be made partakers in well-being, 
true ; but the ideal of well-being is 
not to be, on that account, lowered and 
coarsened " ? 

Such are some of the questions, still 
unsettled, which are posed by ethics. 
According to the answers that are given, 
the lines of political and economic action 
will be determined. 

There is another group, attracting much 
attention in the present generation, which 
belongs more definitely to the ethical field 
the questions that are concerned with 
the relations between the sexes. 

Here again several causes have combined 
in these days to compel attention. The 
weakening of religious control among 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

large classes of the population in most 
countries has brought into the field of 
discussion many matters and these 
among them which had formerly been 
looked upon as governed by ecclesias- 
tical authority, according to rules which 
were fixed. Secondly, the movement for 
women's emancipation, successful over a 
large part of the civilized world, and cul- 
minating in the establishment of women 
suffrage, has placed many of these questions 
in a new aspect. Thirdly, the invention of 
methods of birth control, and of steriliza- 
tion, together with the importance which 
social science attaches to eugenics, has 
raised issues which did not formerly exist 
at all. The modern world is confronted 
with the problems whether the tradi- 
tional attitude towards marriage should be 
changed ; whether facilities for divorce 
should be enlarged or should be restricted ; 
what should be the attitude of public 
opinion towards irregular unions and pros- 
titution ; whether birth-control ought to 
be stigmatized as immoral, or whether it 

148 



SOME CURRENT QUESTIONS 

is the rejection of birth-control which is 
immoral. 

The answers to these and analogous 
questions must largely depend upon the 
view taken with respect to the family, as 
an institution. This is a matter of imme- 
diate and fundamental importance ; it 
touches every home ; its handling may 
have profound effects upon a nation's 
character ; it demands a fuller and more 
careful consideration than is often allowed 
to it. 

In primitive societies the grouping in 
families is all-important. The family is 
responsible collectively for the good con- 
duct, and for the protection, of each of 
its members. Where there are no police 
and no magistrates this system is the only 
preventive of crime and security for order, 
It may still be seen in full vigour among, 
for example, the migratory Beduin. In a 
race easily roused to passion, if a man is 
tempted to kill another, the only effective 
restraint may be the certainty that the 

149 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

relatives of the murdered man would 
sooner or later take revenge, by the 
killing either of the murderer or of his 
own relatives. The blood-feud is really 
a protection for the peaceful against 
the violent. It is based entirely upon 
the family principle, and depends upon 
that. 

As civilization advances and the com- 
munity becomes better organized, law- 
courts and police-forces are established ; 
other means of protection, less crude and 
less unjust in their working, become avail- 
able. The family ceases to be of essential 
importance ; its maintenance is no longer 
a matter of life and death. Ties are re- 
laxed ; individuals drop away. 

Further, in earlier times, and in more re- 
cent times as well, the family was the only 
refuge in disaster. For the vast majority 
of mankind, life is full of insecurity. Sick- 
ness, loss of employment, old age, may 
bring anyone face to face with destitution. 
The family is a simple system of mutual 
insurance. The parents maintain the chil- 

150 



SOME CURRENT QUESTIONS 

dren in their youth, and the children main- 
tain the parents, if necessary, in their old 
age. Every member of the family feels 
himself one of a group, each of whom 
recognizes a moral obligation to come to 
the help of any other who may need it. 
But in many countries of the modern world 
a vast system has been devised of State 
assistance, and of assistance through all 
kinds of voluntary associations, which 
lessens the need for family solidarity. The 
individual finds his guarantee of security 
more and more in the general com- 
munity and less and less in the family 
group. 

The fact that vast numbers of people 
spend their working lives, no longer in 
domestic surroundings, but as units in 
great agglomerations of workers in fac- 
tories or mines, stores or offices, is another 
influence in the same direction. The cus- 
tom among the well-to-do classes of sending 
their children away from home to boarding- 
schools and universities tends the same 
way. So it is that the idea of the family 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

recedes into the background. Writers and 
speakers on social issues usually start with 
the assumption that they have to deal 
with two primary factors the individual 
and the State or community. They are 
inclined to forget a third, which comes 
between the family. 

It needs no searching inquiry to show 
that, even in the present-day world, the 
institution of the family still has great 
services to render services that are indeed 
indispensable. With regard to the nur- 
ture and training of children this is obvious. 
A stable, tranquil, friendly home is the 
right environment for childhood. There 
can hardly be a happy childhood without 
it. Psychological research reveals the pro- 
found importance to adult character of the 
influences that surround the child. And 
later, the adolescent feels that in his family 
he has a background ; a base from which 
he can sally out into the world, and to 
which, if need be, he can retreat. In 
youth and in adult life each one feels that 
he is not a solitary unit, confronted by 



SOME CURRENT QUESTIONS 

alien conditions that may sometimes be too 
hard for him. No matter how complete 
may be the systems which society provides 
for assistance in times of difficulty, there is 
still need for a helping hand, nearer and 
more sympathetic, than any that can be 
offered by a distant and impersonal social 
organization. And men and women need 
affection and companionship. They need 
in fact all that is associated with the word 
" home." 

There is a further consideration, con- 
necting directly with the discussions in the 
previous chapters. Society has to find 
some means of inducing its individual 
members to act rightly when they are in- 
clined to act wrongly. The influence of 
public opinion is one means among others. 
And the opinion of the family is a form 
of public opinion. Its scale is small, but 
on the other hand, acting at close range, it 
may be very effective. The man without 
family connections is deprived of a check 
upon conduct which others find, from 
time to time, of great value. It may be 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

inconvenient, but it is a salutary in- 
convenience. 

Over that large part of the sphere of 
conduct where police and law-courts do not 
operate, mankind still lives in conditions 
much the same as those of primitive com- 
munities. We still have to resort some- 
times to the principle of collective responsi- 
bility. If one member of a family does a 
dishonourable thing, all the others feel a 
reflected disgrace. If one wins merited 
distinction, the others feel a reflected glory. 
And each person knows that this will be 
so ; that there is a group of people, who 
have been connected with him intimately 
from his childhood, who are certain to feel 
distress if he does ill, pride if he does well. 
The solitary man loses both a restraint and 
a stimulus. " The existence of each family 
group," says Whitehead, " involves a mix- 
ture of love, dependence, sympathy, per- 
suasion, and compulsion." 

The more the individual is accustomed 
to identify himself with his family, and his 
own interest with theirs, the more he will 

'54 



SOME CURRENT QUESTIONS 

be ready to act on a long view rather than 
on a short view. To induce him to do that 
is the aim of morality. What Burke said 
of the State is true also of the family ; it 
is " a partnership not only between those 
who are living, but between those who are 
living, those who are dead, and those who 
are to be born." A man who is tempted 
to do wrongly has an additional motive 
for refraining, if he feels that his conduct 
will be a discredit to the traditions left by 
his ancestors and a reproach to his descend- 
ants. Family honour is a stand-by for 
social morality. 

History shows us that peoples which 
have attained majesty and stability have 
done so largely because of the strength 
among them of the family system. It 
was a principal foundation of the great- 
ness of Rome, of the permanence of China, 
of the efficiency of Japan. It was, and 
still is, one of the main factors in such 
successes as have been won by the Jewish 
people. 

Its claims, of course, are not absolute 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

any more than the claims of the individual 
or the claims of the community. All 
three have to work in with one another. 
There are countries in the East, in which 
the idea of patriotism has been little 
developed while the idea of family has 
been powerful from times immemorial, 
where public welfare suffers severely as 
a consequence. Nepotism is rife in the 
administration. When there is a conflict 
between duty to the family and duty to 
the public, the former is ranked first, 
almost as a matter of course. And every- 
where there are individual cases where the 
plea of family obligation, pushed too far, 
may destroy well-being ; cases of elderly 
people who are parasitic on their children, 
and suck their lives to nourish their own ; 
or of young people who ruthlessly use their 
relatives' sense of obligation to serve their 
own pleasures. But it must be held that 
normally, and rightly directed, the institu- 
tion of the family is of fundamental 
importance to individual and social 
welfare. 

156 



SOME CURRENT QUESTIONS 

This conclusion must be a leading factor 
when we come to form judgements on 
many of the questions, now widely de- 
bated, which arise out of the relations 
between the sexes. Stable marriage is, of 
course, the essence of the family. A secure 
home, a reliable affection, are only pos- 
sible if there is a lasting companionship. 
Unions, whether licit or illicit, lightly made 
and lightly broken, cannot make for well- 
being. And of forms of marriage, in those 
countries where polygamy still prevails, it is 
being increasingly recognized by thought- 
ful men and women, that the system of 
monogamy is the best. 

If these views are sound, then those who 
depreciate the institution of marriage, who 
wish to see it weakened and perhaps ultim- 
ately disappear, would be directing us to 
the wrong path. The proper grounds for 
divorce are a matter for close consideration, 
and a large body of opinion in Great 
Britain supports their extension ; but those 
who would stretch them so wide that to 
enter upon marriage would no longer be a 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

grave act, but something to be undertaken 
light-heartedly because easily revocable 
are not necessarily, as they themselves sup- 
pose, pioneers of progress. 

The moral duty of choosing wife or 
husband with due regard to the trans- 
mission to the next generation of good 
qualities, and the elimination of hereditary 
taints, is closely connected with the ques- 
tion of the family, but may be considered 
more conveniently in a subsequent chapter. 
There are economic questions that are 
also connected ; particularly whether the 
wage system ought to include an element 
of " family allowances/' as is usual in 
unemployment benefits or in the payments 
to soldiers and to sailors in the navy. 
This touches the conflict that exists in 
the political and industrial sphere between 
those who say that justice requires that 
all employees, both men and women, should 
be regarded as individuals and should re- 
ceive equal pay for equal work ; and those 
who say that justice requires that the in- 

158 



SOME CURRENT QUESTIONS 

stitution of the family should be taken 
into account, and that men workers, who 
usually have responsibility for maintaining 
a family, should receive from society a 
larger income than women workers, who 
usually have not. But to discuss this 
would carry us outside the scope of this 
book. 

Many examples might be given of other 
questions under debate nowadays, which 
raise ethical issues but which also extend 
into other more specialized domains. How 
far does the penal law still stand in need 
of reform, so as to make it conform with 
modern ideas of humanity without leading 
to an increase of crime ? The principle of 
the sacredness of all human life having 
been much shaken by the Great Wars and 
the accompanying increase in many kinds 
of violence, ought a deliberate effort to be 
made to reassert it as a universal rule ? 
Is suicide to be condemned in all cases 
without exception, and if not, what 
should be the exceptions ? The growth of 
irrational superstition in the present day 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

attracts attention ; is this to be accepted 
as quaint and amusing, or condemned as 
demoralizing ? Is gambling to be re- 
garded as a harmless recreation or as a 
vice ? How far are the questions it raises 
to be considered as personal, and how far 
as social ? Is " art for art's sake " a sound 
rule for the artist to follow ; or must 
art, as well as science and all other forms 
of human activity, take its due place in a 
co-ordinated system of life ? To what ex- 
tent is it a duty to promote social ameni- 
ties ? Ought it to be regarded as immoral 
to build an ugly house ? What is to be 
said about the intrusion of advertisement, 
the spoiling of the beauty of the country- 
side ? And about the infliction of unneces- 
sary noise ? How far should society try 
to secure that the influence of the Press, of 
literature, of the theatre, the cinema, broad- 
casting, should be wholesome and not 
harmful ? And should this be done, if at 
all, only through public opinion ? Or 
should law be invoked, and if so, to what 
extent ? 

1 60 



SOME CURRENT QUESTIONS 

If another book such as this comes 
to be written a hundred years from now, 
I wonder how many of these questions 
will then be regarded as settled and 
settled rightly. 



161 



CHAPTER XI 

THE NATION AND THE WORLD 

MORE momentous and more urgent 
than any other moral issue under debate 
in our age is the question whether a 
nation has any duties to other nations, 
and if it has, in what they consist. 

" Among uncivilized races intra- tribal 
theft is carefully distinguished from extra- 
tribal theft. Whilst the former is for- 
bidden, the latter is commonly allowed, 
and robbery committed on a stranger is 
an object of praise." Is this right or 
wrong ? And does it differ in any essen- 
tial from the principle still maintained in 
many countries, that a State has no duties 
except to its own members, and need not 
scruple to make war upon other peoples 
if it thinks that it is in its own interest to 
do so ? 

162 



THE NATION AND THE WORLD 

This is the doctrine known in Italy 
as " il sacro egoismo nazionale." It is the 
doctrine of Fichte : " Always," he said, 
" without exception, the most civilized 
State is the most aggressive." It is the 
doctrine of Treitschke, for many years a 
leading professor in the University of 
Berlin, who wrote : " War will endure to 
the end of history. The laws of human 
thought and of human nature forbid any 
alternative, neither is one to be wished 
for." It is the creed of Nietzsche : 
" Man," he said, " shall be trained for 
war, and woman for the recreation of the 
warrior ; all else is folly." It is the creed 
of militarism always and everywhere. It 
is the greatest peril that faces the modern 
world. 

When it is said that this view is im- 
moral, its advocates answer that the State 
need have no concern with morality. 
" The State," says Hegel, " is the divine 
idea as it exists on earth." " It is," he 
says again, " the absolute power on earth : 
it is its own end and object. It is the 

163 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 



ultimate end which has the highest right 
against the individual/* " Hegel permits 
the State, as the highest expression of 
social morality, to escape from any moral 



restrictions." 



If it is said that this view is irrational, 
because in the long run it works 
injury both to the particular State itself 
and to its neighbours, it is answered that 
there is no need to be rational. That is 
merely " modern intellectualism." Emo- 
tion should be the stimulus, intuition the 
guide and force the instrument. If, in- 
deed, importance is attached to " wel- 
fare," this school holds that welfare is 
not to be found in material comfort or 
in the pleasures of mind or spirit ; it is 
to be found only in the " will-to-power/' 
in struggle and in victory. When it is 
asked why these doctrines should be 
accepted, an answer is refused. " It is 
so ; and if you do not accept them you 
shall be conquered by those who do." 
Such an attitude obviously takes the whole 
subject of social action outside the range 

164 



THE NATION AND THE WORLD 

of discussion. It is no more possible on 
that basis to consider intelligently any 
question of national or international 
politics than it would be to argue about 
the desirability of law and order with a 
gangster armed with a machine-gun. But 
law and order may be desirable, none the 
less. 

The basis of this school of thought is 
the Hegelian doctrine of the reality and 
supremacy of " The State/' This doctrine 
itself rests on nothing but an arbitrary and 
unconvincing assertion. " The State " is 
no more a reality apart from a people 
than a swarm is a reality apart from the 
bees. It is the fact that men, like bees, 
have an innate tendency to co-operate, 
but this does not confer " reality " upon 
the forms which they may adopt to that 
end. The State, as has already been 
urged, is nothing but a number of men 
and women organized for certain purposes 
of common action. Any metaphysical 
doctrine of the State as "an entity real 
in its own right " can be no other than 

165 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

a delusion. And we can find no reason 
for thinking that the men and women, 
when they act together as a community, 
can have any different morality from that 
which they accept when they act separ- 
ately as individuals. 

Leaving now that extreme expression of 
the militarist creed, we come to those who 
do not hold it as avowedly non-moral and 
non-rational, but would offer a defence for 
it on ethical and rational grounds. Several 
defences are offered. 

It is said that international conflicts evoke 
supreme efforts, unlimited self-sacrifice, 
qualities of heroism ; they give a great 
impetus to efficiency ; they stir mankind 
from sloth. This is certainly true. But 
we must ask at what cost ? And is there 
no other way ? We do not set fire to our 
houses in order that the firemen may 
show their bravery, or wreck our ships 
to give opportunities to the lifeboatmen. 
The immeasurable physical suffering, the 
anguish of mind, the devastating economic 

1 66 



THE NATION AND THE WORLD 

ruin, which are the features of modern 
war, far outweigh in the scales of human 
welfare any such benefits. Nor have eras 
of peace been the least fruitful in material 
and intellectual gains. The seething 
activities of modern life give ample scope 
for all the virtues. Men may touch moral 
greatness elsewhere than on the battle- 
field. It is not in this plea that we can 
find a justification for war. 

Evolution is said to offer one. War is to 
be regarded as nature's way of eliminating 
the unfit and ensuring progress. Plants 
and animals are engaged in a constant 
struggle for existence ; nations make war 
upon one another ; it is assumed that the 
one process is analogous to the other. A 
brief reference was made in the first 
chapter of this book to the relation of the 
principle of evolution to morals in general ; 
but it is desirable here to draw attention 
to some further considerations. 

War, in the modern world, does not 
exterminate. If it did, war might perhaps 
receive some sort of sanction from biology. 

167 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

But ruthlessness cannot now be carried to 
that point. Not even a Treitschke would 
assert that the ideal nation was one that 
had not scrupled to destroy physically 
every other. Unless, however, the less 
fit are exterminated they will continue to 
survive, side by side with the fitter. Con- 
sider the many wars that have been waged 
in Europe and Asia during the last hun- 
dred years . In which of them has the result 
borne any resemblance to the replacement 
of one species by another such as takes 
place in nature ? 

That replacement is not brought about 
by events that are in any way akin to 
human warfare. It is the result of com- 
petition or conflict between individuals, 
not of battles between opposing forces. 
As Sir Peter Chalmers Mitchell says, 
" One species is not supposed to advance 
in serried ranks against another, wolves 
against bears, eagles against vultures, 
firs against beeches, and so forth. The 
competition is internal, amongst the in- 
dividuals of a species.^ 

168 



THE NATION AND THE WORLD 

So far as a war has any biological effect 
upon the survival of the fittest it is usually 
unfavourable rather than favourable. 
Both in the nation that is successful and 
in the one that is defeated, numbers of 
the fittest are killed off. The method, 
approved by this theory as nature's means 
of raising physical standards, in practice 
results in the disappearance of some 
thousands, or millions, as the case may 
be, of the strongest and bravest. Let the 
process only be repeated often enough, 
and populations of old men, cripples, and 
women would survive as evidence of the 
value of war in promoting virility. 

And here more than ever the fallacy 
is plain of supposing that " fittest to 
survive " is the same as " best/' Even 
if it were the case, which it clearly is not, 
that war eliminated the defeated, the out- 
come would be merely the survival of 
those who had shown themselves the best 
fitted to conquer. They, no doubt, would 
regard this as proof of an all-round superi- 
ority. But that is by no means self- 

169 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

evident. Ability to conquer is one thing ; 
a high place in the human scale may be 
another. When the Tartars or the Turks 
swept over great portions of the civilized 
world, it is far from certain that progress 
was served. Evolution through war may 
encourage and establish a fitness merely 
of barbarism. If in any country all the 
restraints of morality and of law were 
abolished and social relations were left to 
be settled by ruthless brute force, those 
who were the fittest to cope with the new 
conditions would no doubt survive and 
become predominant. But they would 
not be the best. They would be those 
whom we now call criminals. It is no 
different with nations. 

Sometimes the argument drawn from 
evolution takes another form. It is said 
that war is not indeed part of a biological 
process, but that it is part of the process 
by which ideas compete with one another, 
by which social organizations are tested 
and the character of peoples is put to the 
proof ; through the conflict, the best 

170 



THE NATION AND THE WORLD 

among these become predominant, and 
by this means the world advances. But 
in this form the argument has no connec- 
tion with natural evolution and can claim 
no support from the authority of science. 
The process is not biological but social ; 
the competing units are not physical 
organisms but ideas or characteristics ; 
the outcome is not survival and replace- 
ment but predominance and influence. 
Darwinism has nothing to do with it. 
The issue is reduced to simple questions 
of fact : Does war promote the influence 
and diffuse the methods of the more pro- 
gressive peoples ? If so, does the advan- 
tage outweigh the cost ? Are there other 
less costly ways of achieving the same 
result ? Each person will answer these 
questions according to his own reading of 
history and his own deductions from the 
experience of our times. The more far- 
sighted will, I believe, give the answers 
that in some directions war has proved 
to be a stimulus ; that, here again, the 
enormous losses in other directions far 

171 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

outweigh the gain ; that different and 
better modes exist for ensuring the spread 
throughout the world of useful ideas, 
methods and characteristics. 

The advocate of the other view may 
raise a specific case and ask whether this 
can hold good where an inferior race 
occupies a vast territory to the exclusion 
of a superior. Would it have been to 
the advantage of mankind, for example, 
to have left the whole of America north 
of Mexico, to the half-million of Red 
Indians, who were the only occupants 
four centuries ago of that area ; or the 
whole of Australia to the 150,000 of 
Black-fellows who were there at the end 
of the eighteenth centuiy ? A candid 
answer can only be that it would not 
have been to their advantage. The ter- 
ritories were far more extensive than 
those populations needed. They could 
not put them to the best use, measured 
by the results to human welfare. So also 
it was not defensible that in a newly 
colonized country a small number of the 

172 



THE NATION AND THE WORLD 

settlers should monopolize, for themselves 
and their descendants, vast areas of cultiv- 
able land. Laws to ensure closer settle- 
ment were held to be justified in Australia 
and New Zealand, for example, the original 
settlers being allotted such compensation 
as was considered fair. If they had 
refused to submit, the law would have 
compelled them. In such cases the con- 
flict of interest has been between people 
of the same race. The moral position is 
essentially the same when the conflict has 
been between people of different races. 
The real question that arises in connec- 
tion with European settlement, in America 
and Australia and elsewhere, is not whether 
it was justified in itself, but whether 
its methods were right and the treatment 
of the aborigines was fair. In general, 
the special case of colonization does not 
support the militarist philosophy of the 
advantage to mankind of recurring war. 
The advocate has one further argument, 
usually regarded as the strongest. Always, 
he says, there have been wars, and, in 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

spite of the efforts of amiable idealists, 
there probably always will be. They 
spring from causes deep-rooted in human 
nature, and human nature does not change. 
The fact may be regrettable, but it is a 
fact none the less. And since wars, he 
says, are sure to come in the future, no 
matter what we in our own country may 
do, it is as well to take measures before- 
hand to ensure that, when they come, 
our own country shall not lose but shall 
profit. Some would add that it is as 
well to take any favourable opportunity 
to forestall the possible launching of war 
by others, by initiating it ourselves. And 
as the citizen of each country usually 
shares the common vanity of thinking 
that his own people, their customs and 
ideas, are the best of any, he will satisfy 
his conscience by believing that in the 
long run such a policy will work out to 
the general advantage. 

In every theatre of action in all times 
such voices have been heard. Had they 
been listened to we might still be in the 



THE NATION AND THE WORLD 

conditions of the Stone Age. Certainly 
we should still be practising piracy on 
the sea and slave-raiding on land ; sacri- 
ficing on our altars the enemies we had 
captured in incessant tribal fighting, or 
being sacrificed on the altars of the 
enemy gods. We may be sure that each 
of these customs had its defenders in 
its day, and that each was claimed to 
be a natural practice, which always had 
existed and always would. If anyone 
were now to seek to restore those customs, 
he would be regarded as not less mad 
than the reformers were doubtless regarded 
who were the first, in some distant age, 
to dream of destroying them. Human 
nature, after all, is not something mysteri- 
ous, extraneous and fixed ; it is nothing 
else than our own nature, our own 
opinions and habits, and the opinions and 
habits of other men and women not very 
different from ourselves. We know, from 
the reading of history and from observa- 
tion, that these are open to change ; 
slowly, perhaps, and reluctantly, but still 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

open to change. So also with regard to 
the impulse to war. 

The history of England records that, 
during the period of 126 years from 1689 
to 1815, the country was at war, against 
peoples of European race, in sixty-three of 
those years exactly one year in every two. 
Then there came a change of ideas, a 
change of constitution and a change in the 
principles of British foreign policy, and 
in the ninety-nine years between 1815 
and 1914 there were five years of war and 
ninety-four years of peace. Human nature 
presumably remained much the same. Yet 
wars, such as in the seventeenth and 
eighteenth centuries were regarded as 
" inevitable/' were found in the nine- 
teenth century not to be so. Nor are we 
obliged to say that, because the Great 
Wars did in fact take place, they therefore 
could not have been avoided by greater 
wisdom and goodwill in those quarters 
where they had been lacking. Man is 
not so weak a creature that he need wait 
passively for the outbreak of other wars ; 

176 



THE NATION AND THE WORLD 

helplessly cowering under the advancing 
shadow of some sinister " Necessity/' 
There is no " Necessity." There is only 
ourselves, and our own will-to-peace or 
will-to-war. Those who say that wars 
are inevitable, and who act accordingly, 
are themselves the cause which may make 
them so. 

It may be asked, What is the bearing of 
principles such as these upon the idea of 
Patriotism ? Always regarded hitherto as 
among the chief of the virtues, is 
patriotism still to be so regarded ? Or 
is it to be looked upon as inseparably 
connected with militarism, and therefore 
to be condemned ? 

The individual man, in his relations 
with his neighbours, is moved by two 
main influences, self-interest and sym- 
pathy ; rightly directed, each helps the 
other ; morality consists in maintaining 
a due balance between them. When he 
is acting as a citizen, sharing in directing 
the policy of a country, the position can 

177 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

be no different. Persons combined to- 
gether as a nation have duties to them- 
selves in that capacity, just as individually 
they have duties to themselves as indi- 
viduals. And they have also, as members 
of the nation, duties to their neighbours, 
of the same order as the individual's duties 
to his neighbours. For ethics, the con- 
ception of neighbour cannot be limited 
to those who live within the same political 
frontiers ; no valid reason can be given 
for doing so. Both egoism and altruism, 
therefore, have their part to play where 
nations are the units, as where persons 
are the units. And here also each, rightly 
directed, helps the other. To raise the 
standards of civilization in one's own 
country helps the well-being of the world ; 
and the greater the well-being of the world, 
the better for one's own country. Inter- 
national morality consists neither in a 
complete sacrifice of national interest for 
the sake of international, nor in the 
ignoring of international interest for the 
sake of national, but in the right balance 

178 



THE NATION AND THE WORLD 

between them. Patriotism ranks as a 
virtue when, and only when, it conforms 
to this fundamental rule. 

The revulsion from militarism leads 
some thinkers to condemn the idea of 
country altogether ; they would discard 
it in favour of a complete cosmopolitanism. 
But they forget valid facts on the other 
side. 

The world, with its two thousand 
millions of inhabitants, is obviously too 
vast and too varied to be ruled as one 
state. If only for convenience of govern- 
ment it must be divided into political 
units. That being so, each unit should 
be of such a kind that service is enlisted, 
self-sacrifice is evoked, cohesion and 
stability are maintained. To that end 
affection and enthusiasm will powerfully 
contribute ; and all history shows that 
the spirit of patriotism is the most potent 
agent in inspiring those emotions. 

Secondly, the existence of national 
units, in between the individual and 
mankind, meets a psychological need. 

179 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

u Patriotism/' as Karl Pearson said, " seems 
to be based on the reasonable acknowledge- 
ment of two facts in our nature : that we 
owe a duty to our fellow-men, and that 
we cannot adequately perform it to the 
race at large." Nationality puts the aver- 
age man into touch with something which 
is greater than himself, yet not too vast 
and too complex for his imagination easily 
to grasp. To destroy it would leave a void. 
The world's variety, again, is a good thing 
in itself. It adds to the true wealth of 
mankind. If all the peoples were moulded 
to a single pattern, life would be the 
poorer. It is fortunate that there still 
exist these differences of characteristics, 
transmitted to us from diverse origins and 
through diverse histories. So long as the 
characteristics are not harmful in them- 
selves they should be cherished, for the 
sake of their very diversity. Nationality 
is the chief preserver of distinctive qualities 
and customs, institutions and literatures, 
arts and crafts. It saves the world from 
a flat and dull uniformity. 

1 80 



THE NATION AND THE WORLD 

Lastly, separate countries do in fact 
exist ; some of them have been animated 
by the philosophy of militarism, and may 
be again. In this situation, what should 
be the attitude of the other countries ? 
Because they condemn force, must they 
passively acquiesce in the domination of 
the world, themselves included, by those 
who do not condemn force, but who are 
ready to use it ? Must their very hatred 
of militarism bring them to surrender to 
militarism ? "It must be remembered/ 5 
said Dean Inge, " that, in spite of the pro- 
verb, it takes in reality only one to make 
a quarrel. It is useless for the sheep to 
pass resolutions in favour of vegetarianism, 
while the wolf remains of a different 
opinion." With the world as it is, self- 
defence is a duty, and to inspire that 
defence patriotism is the stimulus. 

I have suggested that egoism and 
altruism, each in its measure, serve one 
another, among peoples as among indi- 
viduals ; but this has not been the 

181 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

accepted opinion. Nationalism and inter- 
nationalism have been regarded as mutu- 
ally exclusive. " All cannot be happy at 
once/' said Sir Thomas Browne, " for 
the glory of one state depends upon 
the ruin of another. " And Voltaire ex- 
pressed the current view when he said, 
" Such is the condition of human affairs, 
that to wish for the greatness of one's 
own country, is to wish for the harm of 
its neighbours." 

If this has ever been true, it is certainly 
not true in the modern world. We know 
from the clear lessons of experience that 
an active international commerce increases 
the wealth of all countries and the comfort 
of their peoples. The exchange of ideas 
in religion and philosophy, science and 
art, medicine, law and industry, benefits 
all who participate. All share in the risks, 
and in the consequences, of war. Man- 
kind is inter-dependent as never before. 
Each country prospers best in a prosperous 
world. The ruin of one is not the glory 
of another but its loss, and the level of 

182 



THE NATION AND THE WORLD 

civilization anywhere depends upon the 
level of civilization everywhere. 

Egoism unbalanced by altruism hurts 
the egoist himself, whether he be a person 
or a State. It degrades his own moral 
character, and leads to actions which his 
conscience must condemn ; with loss of 
self-respect comes loss of effectiveness. 
And it is certain to provoke resentment in 
others. A country which seeks only its 
own aggrandizement arouses abroad a 
general hostility, which sooner or later, as 
all history shows, will bring it to disaster. 
An aggressive patriotism does not serve 
the ends of patriotism, and so is not 
patriotism at all. 

Any sound system of ethics must con- 
demn war. It is self-evident that, directly, 
warfare does not promote welfare, for its 
methods are death and destruction. Such 
advantages as it may bring indirectly 
cannot be shown to outweigh its essential 
evils. How it is to be prevented ; what 
better methods can be provided for settling 

183 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

disputes between nations ; how antagon- 
isms between races are to be avoided ; by 
what machinery world order can be sub- 
stituted for world anarchy these are 
political questions. They are outside the 
scope and the capacity of philosophy. 
But it is for philosophy to show to 
mankind why the ideas of the militarist, 
which claim a philosophic foundation, are 
wrong. 

By militarist, let it be repeated, is not 
meant one who is ready to take up arms 
for the protection of his country when 
attacked, or who is willing to risk his life, 
if need be, to defend liberty or to penalize 
aggression. For such no tribute of grati- 
tude can be too great. By militarist is 
meant one who holds the creed that a 
State has the right to pursue its own 
aggrandizement by force regardless of the 
well-being of any other State ; who glori- 
fies war for its own sake, and regards 
greatness as identical with conquest. 
Whoever holds that view adopts, in the 
community of nations, the same position 

184 



THE NATION AND THE WORLD 

morally as the criminal adopts in the social 
community, and the public opinion of the 
world should not hesitate to declare him 
such. 



185 



CHAPTER XII 

MEN AND ANIMALS 

BEFORE we proceed to our conclusions, 
there still remains to be considered an im- 
portant group of questions, quite separate 
from those discussed in the preceding 
chapters. They are the questions that 
arise from the relations between men and 
animals. 

It will not at first sight be clear how 
these are to be connected with our original 
starting-point. We defined good actions 
as those that conduced to welfare, and we 
defined welfare as consisting of a great 
variety of " goods, " all of which served, in 
one way or another, to promote human 
well-being. But what of animal well- 
being ? Are we to say that that is outside 
the purview of ethics ; that there is no 
reason why we need consider at all the 

186 



MEN AND ANIMALS 

happiness or the suffering of any kind of 
animal ; that we should feel free to inflict 
upon them, with complete indifference, any 
degree of pain ? That would certainly not 
fit our conceptions of morality ; it would 
conflict with all our ideas of " goodness." 
If our first principle led to that as its 
conclusion, the principle itself would have 
to be rejected. 

There are some who, starting from a 
basis of intuition or of sovereign conscience, 
declare that animals have " rights " ; that 
these are fundamental, and on a par with 
those of men ; that " both are equally 
God's creatures," and that it is for that 
reason that consideration is due to animals. 
I do not think that our original proposition 
is open to the objection stated ; nor that 
this alternative can be sustained. 

It cannot be sustained, first because of 
the insecure foundation which intuition 
offers for morality ; this point has already 
been discussed. Secondly, the idea of 
" rights " is itself unsound ; a claim of 
right rests merely upon assertion, and can 

187 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

be met by counter-assertion ; we did not 
admit a theory of " the natural rights of 
man," we can admit even less a theory 
of the natural rights of animals. And, 
thirdly, if accepted with sincerity and 
applied with consistency, this alternative 
principle must lead to results that would 
be disastrous in practice. 

If animals have equal rights with men 
because they are equally God's creatures, 
then it must be as wrong, morally, to take 
the life of an animal as it would be to 
take the life of a man. All conscious life 
must be regarded as sacred. This is the 
position taken by certain sects of Hindus. 
It cannot be limited to the higher animals 
to the mammals, or even to the verte- 
brates ; the principle itself allows us no 
ground for any such distinction. It would 
involve that if, for example, a whole coun- 
try is faced with famine through the threat- 
ened destruction of its crops by an invasion 
of locusts, the human population must not 
defend itself by destroying the locusts. It 
would involve surrendering our houses to 

188 



MEN AND ANIMALS 

the mice and the cockroaches, our food 
to the ants and the flies, our beds to the 
fleas, and our fields to the birds and the 
rabbits. But if this extreme view is re- 
jected as absurd, then the principle itself 
goes with it. Animal rights are no longer 
regarded as absolute. Human welfare is 
admitted as a factor. 

The question then becomes a different 
one whether it is to be the only factor ; 
or whether there is to be a kind of balance, 
in which human well-being and animal 
well-being are to be regarded as equally 
valid fundamentally ; and are to be weighed 
one against the other, on some scale of 
values. I can see no logical basis for such 
a proposition, which is really the doctrine 
of " abstract rights " in a slightly different 
form. Nor is it necessary to have recourse 
to it, for the objection raised against our 
original principle does not hold. 

It is not the case that to connect the 
idea of goodness, or right conduct, with 
human well-being involves the exclusion 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

of animal well-being. And this is not only 
because many animals are useful to man, 
and the better they are treated the greater 
will be his advantage. That reason is valid 
so far as it goes, but it would be quite 
inadequate. It would permit any degree 
of cruelty to non-domestic animals, or in 
the slaughtering of animals for food, or in 
many other ways. There is another and 
a wider reason. It was expressed by Kant 
when he said, " Violence and cruelty to 
animals is quite contrary to the duty of 
man to himself/' 

The reason is, as Kant pointed out, that 
" thereby sympathy with the sufferings of 
animals is blunted in man." The motive 
of sympathy, the emotion of pity, are 
themselves elements in human character, 
the development of which make for man's 
good ; practices which blunt them are pro 
tanto bad ; unless they are adopted for the 
sake of some greater good of a different 
kind, they must be accounted wrong. 

Nor may the individual man claim that 
his actions in this sphere are a matter for 

190 



MEN AND ANIMALS 

his own judgement. If someone might 
say the animal has no abstract rights of 
its own, and if he himself does not happen 
to feel sympathy or pity in the particular 
case, it is not the concern of anyone else 
whether he does or does not commit what 
others may choose to call an act of cruelty. 
But the matter is not solely individual. It 
raises social issues. A man who treats an 
animal cruelly not only degrades his own 
character, and thereby makes himself a less 
valuable member of the community, but 
also, if it is known, offends the feelings of 
numbers of other people, and so commits 
an anti-social act. " Cruelty to animals, " 
as Professor Ritchie said, " is rightly sup- 
posed to be an offence against humanitarian 
feeling. Our duty to the animals is a 
duty to the human society. It is an offence 
against civilized life to cause any unneces- 
sary suffering, or to do any unnecessary 
damage ' unnecessary ' meaning unneces- 
sary for human well-being/' 

Humanitarianism has developed rapidly 
in modern times, and it is easy to see the 

191 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

causes. Primitive man felt himself in con- 
stant danger from the animal world, and 
at the same time he largely depended for 
his food on attacks upon it, in which almost 
every male took part. Life was spent in a 
constant mutual hostility. The position 
still remains much the same in countries 
untouched by civilization ; but elsewhere 
the control of man is now so complete 
that this reason for antipathy has dis- 
appeared. There remains an exception 
with regard to creatures which are classed 
as " vermin/' because they are still a source 
of injury. 

Secondly, the establishment of the prin- 
ciple of natural evolution has had effects 
upon the feelings of mankind towards the 
rest of the animate world. On the one 
hand, some have been influenced in their 
ideas by the fuller revelation of the ruth- 
less preying of one species upon another ; 
they may have been disposed to say, if 
nature is " red in tooth and claw/' why 
need man be so squeamish ? But on the 
other hand, this has been far outweighed 

192 



MEN AND ANIMALS 

by the general sense of the civilized world 
which refuses to accept the law of the 
sea, the swamp and the jungle as its own 
moral standard. And the discovery that 
man is not the product of a special act 
of creation and separate in kind from the 
lower animals, but is allied to them physi- 
cally and in some degree mentally, has given 
rise to a certain sense of kinship, and 
with it to a feeling of greater sympathy. 
Westermarck, in his Origin and Develop- 
ment of the Moral Ideas, lays stress upon 
this ; and he adds the further point, " apart 
from any theory as regards human origins, 
growing reflection has also taught men to 
be more considerate in their treatment of 
animals by producing a more vivid idea of 
their sufferings. " 

And the increasing complexity of modern 
society has brought with it the practical 
need for new rules of social conduct ; this 
in turn makes it necessary to emphasize 
the duties of the individual to the com- 
munity, and this renders it essential to 
foster the motive of sympathy. The aee 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

is compelled to stress our duties to our 
fellow-citizens, to all our fellow-men. The 
same impulse which has intensified the 
humanitarian spirit has also widened its 
scope. The effect of the impulse has not 
stopped at the boundaries of the human 
race, it embraces the animal world also ; 
and the wanton infliction of any suffering 
anywhere has come to be banned by 
the more sensitive conscience of modern 
man. 

The change of view in modern times 
compared with ancient may be illustrated 
from the custom of animal sacrifice. No 
one who would seek to initiate a religious 
movement nowadays could possibly per- 
suade the general body of opinion that the 
killing of animals as part of a ceremonial 
could have any religious value. Such a 
practice would be regarded, on the 
contrary, as fatal to genuine religious 
emotion. 

If these principles are sound, each person 
will try to apply them, according to the 

194 



MEN AND ANIMALS 

best judgement he can form of the facts, in 
each actual case that presents itself. He 
has to decide whether it is ever right, and 
if so in what circumstances, to make use of 
animals for labour, for food, for adorn- 
ment, for sport, or for purposes of scientific 
research. Acute controversies have arisen 
on some of these points. The subject of 
vivisection is a conspicuous instance, and 
we may briefly consider it as an example. 
With vivisection is to be included in- 
oculations of animals by research workers, 
causing pain or disease. 

Here it is necessary first of all to estab- 
lish the facts. Is it, or is it not, the case 
that vivisection has assisted the develop- 
ment of medicine and surgery in the past, 
and is there reason to expect that it will 
do so in the future ? If the answer is 
negative, then the practice clearly cannot 
be justified ; for man would be causing 
suffering to animals without benefit to 
them or to himself. But if the answer 
is in the affirmative, then it may be a 
choice between, on the one hand, inflicting 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

suffering, during the periods of research, 
upon a number of mice or guinea-pigs, or 
other animals, and, on the other hand, 
leaving various human diseases unpre- 
vented and uncured. In that case there 
would be involved sufferings as great, or 
perhaps much greater, on the part of a 
far larger number of more sensitive beings 
over the whole future of the human race. 
There is little doubt which choice would 
be the more humane. But whether the 
facts themselves will support the one view 
or the other is in dispute ; if anyone is to 
form an opinion on the main issue he is 
clearly under an obligation to ascertain to 
the best of his ability to which conclusion 
they point. It is common ground in any 
case that, if vivisection is to be practised 
at all, avoidable suffering should always 
be obviated by insisting upon the use of 
anaesthetics wherever practicable, and by 
the imposition of such other conditions as 
the case may require. 

The baiting, the chasing or the killing 
196 



MEN AND ANIMALS 

of animals for the amusement of men and 
women raises, of course, different con- 
siderations. In England, for many cen- 
turies, setting dogs to fight bulls or bears, 
or setting cocks to fight each other, were 
popular sports. They came to be offensive 
to public feeling, and Parliament enacted 
laws which suppressed them. Similar laws 
have been passed in almost all civilized 
states ; bull-fighting in the Spanish-speak- 
ing countries is a conspicuous exception. 
There the predominant public opinion 
holds that the display of courage and 
grace, of agility and skill on the part of 
the bull-fighters, and the interest and ex- 
citement aroused among the spectators, 
more than justify the suffering inflicted 
upon the bulls and the horses. The effect 
of the spectacle upon the character of the 
nation itself does not yet appear to be 
taken into serious account ; just as the 
Romans did not realize the effect upon 
their own characters of the gladiatorial 
games. It will be for the Spanish- 
speaking peoples to decide whether the 

197 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

public exhibition of animals, unable to 
escape, being goaded to charge at men 
and to gore horses, and finally being 
killed in the sight of the audience 
whether such exhibitions, whatever may 
be the pomp and circumstance of their 
ceremonial, are consistent with a worthy 
civilization. 

How far considerations of a similar order 
apply to other sports in other countries ; 
how far distinctions should be drawn be- 
tween sports that involve animals of com- 
paratively high mental development such 
as deer, foxes and hares, and those that 
affect fishes ; whether it is legitimate for 
civilized man to give vent to the primi- 
tive hunting instinct, in cases where the 
animals would in any event be killed, 
either to supply food or because they 
are dangerous or destructive ; whether 
the training of animals of various kinds 
to perform tricks in circuses is open 
to reasonable objection these are some 
of the matters now in general debate. 
And there is in addition the wider issue 



MEN AND ANIMALS 



raised by vegetarianism. The application 
of general principles to such specific 
cases is the office of public opinion and 
private judgement. 



199 



CHAPTER XIII 

CONSCIOUS EVOLUTION 

DURING thousands of millions of years 
this earth has been in the making. Over a 
period of millions of years various forms of 
living beings have developed. Man slowly 
emerged many hundreds of thousands of 
years ago. Civilization has arisen within 
the last few thousands. Now we, of the 
living generation, take our place in the 
procession of the ages. But there is one 
difference between our times and all the 
times, remote or near, that have preceded. 
There is now, as never before, a race of 
beings on this planet which is aware of 
part at least of the cosmic process. 

The sciences, with infinite pains, have 
revealed how the present has been evolved 
out of the past. Although so many things 
are still unknown ; although the sciences 

200 



CONSCIOUS EVOLUTION 

have hardly touched the fringe of the 
problems of existence itself, of life and 
mind, and of the Cause moving in the 
universe, still we perceive, at least in 
part, the method that pervades the whole. 
Glimpses had been caught of it, in earlier 
times, by some precursors in the realm 
of thought ; but only in our own era has 
it been made manifest, for the guidance of 
all mankind. 

And, little by little, man has been building 
up the record of his own experience. He 
is now able, if he will, to draw the lessons. 
He may learn, if he will, how his civiliza- 
tion has grown what has helped it and 
what has hindered. The development of 
language, of writing, of printing, has made 
possible the record itself, and its trans- 
mission from one generation to another. 
Libraries are the collective memory of 
mankind. We have at hand the materials 
for our own instruction. 

There has always been evolution. 
Henceforth there may be Conscious Evolu- 
tion. 

201 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

From the beginning, living creatures 
have indeed helped their own develop- 
ment. " It is bad biology to think of the 
struggling organisms as necessarily like 
fishes in a net ; they often share in their 
own evolution, selecting their environment, 
for instance, as well as being selected by 
it." And this, of course, holds true especi- 
ally of human beings. But no creature 
other than man can share in the process 
of evolution with deliberate intention, and 
man has become able to do so only 
now. The moulding of our destinies 
hitherto has been mainly at the hands of 
what Professor Whitehead calls " senseless 
agencies." 

In his notable book, Adventures of Ideas, 
Whitehead summarizes his account of the 
process in the following passage : " We 
have here history on its senseless side, with 
its transitions pushed forward either by 
rainfall and trees, or by brute barbarians, 
or by coal, steam, electricity and oil. 
Yet even the senseless side of history re- 
fuses to accept its own proper category 

202 



CONSCIOUS EVOLUTION 

of sheer senselessness. The rainfall and 
the trees are items in a majestic order 
of nature ; Attila's Huns had their own 
intellectual point of view in some respects 
surprisingly preferable to that of the de- 
generate Romans ; the age of coal and 
steam was pierced through and through 
by the intellectual abilities of particular 
men who urged forward the transition. 
But finally, with all this qualification, rain- 
fall and Huns and steam-engines represent 
brute necessity, as conceived in Greek 
thought, urging forward mankind apart 
from any human conception of an end 
intellectually expressed. Fragmentary in- 
tellectual agencies co-operated blindly to 
turn apes into men, to turn the classic 
civilization into mediaeval Europe, to over- 
whelm the Renaissance by the Industrial 
Revolution. Men knew not what they 
did." 

Amazing has been the advance by 
methods so fortuitous. " A blind man 
may hit the target ; but how many arrows 
wasted ! " The advance may be swifter 

203 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

and more assured now that we have begun 
to know its conditions. 

Embarking upon this great new enter- 
prise of conscious evolution, we need 
to guard ourselves against certain errors. 
It has been thought that, in evolution, 
" Nature " has given us a " law," and 
that our conscious part in the process, if 
any, can only be to discover what its pro- 
visions really are, and to hasten to fall 
in with them. Much confusion has arisen 
from the fact that the word " law " is 
used in two quite different senses one 
in scientific writings, the other in everyday 
life. The Law of Gravity, for example, or 
the Law of the Conservation of Energy, 
or the Law of Evolution, are not in the 
nature of commands ; these are simply de- 
scriptive names for processes, or sequences 
of events ; they have nothing in common 
with a moral law, such as " Thou shalt 
not steal, " or with the laws framed by 
statesmen and legislatures, and enforced 
by penalties. From a theological point of 

204 



CONSCIOUS EVOLUTION 

view the methods of nature may indeed be 
considered as ordinances ; but not from 
the standpoint of science. " Evolution is 
often regarded as a sort of force, instead of 
as the merely descriptive conception which 
it is. If there is an active unity behind 
evolution, it is something inferred, but not 
observed." Man's share in the matter is 
not limited to watching himself being 
evolved by the " senseless agencies " ; his 
conscious participation does not consist 
merely in having ascertained the principles 
by which those agencies act. He has a 
contribution of his own to make, and it 
may be made deliberately. It may be 
framed of set purpose so as to work in 
with, or to modify, what is termed " the 
natural law." 

A second misconception arises from a 
strange theory that human history moves 
in cycles ; that nations, like individual 
organisms, pass through stages of growth, 
maturity, decadence and death, so that 
our efforts, however deliberate, must con- 
form to that fundamental rule, or else be 

205 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

doomed to futility. No valid ground can 
be offered for any such belief. Ingenious 
philosophers, anxious to formulate striking 
generalizations, have given a plausible air 
to the theory by judicious selection of 
historical instances which seem to support 
it, and by equally judicious omission of 
those that do not ; but any close analysis 
will show that it is a superficial plausibility 
and nothing more. There is in the his- 
tory of human affairs no proof of any 
geometrical movement whatever whether 
circular or spiral or rectilinear. Nor is it 
the case that the influences affecting nations 
are the same as those which determine the 
life -cycle of organisms. An analogy can 
no doubt be drawn between certain features 
in the organization of a society and cer- 
tain features in a physical organism, as 
Herbert Spencer pointed out in a well- 
known essay. But to say that a nation 
is in fact an organism, and therefore subject 
to quasi-physiological processes, can only 
be described as an abuse of terms. The 
idea that, do what we may, each nation, or 

206 



CONSCIOUS EVOLUTION 

each order of civilization is doomed sooner 
or later to decadence and extinction, is a 
baseless superstition, unsupported by proof 
and indefensible in argument. 

Those who are temperamentally inclined 
to pessimism find a somewhat better sup- 
port in another direction. So far as our 
present knowledge goes, it has been estab- 
lished that, in course of time, the sun will 
have radiated so much of its heat that 
the earth will be uninhabitable. It will 
become, like the moon, 

" A ruined world, a globe burnt out, 
A corpse upon the road of night." 

With that prospect at the end of the vista, 
what, it is asked, is the value of your 
" conscious evolution " ? Let man strive 
as he will, build up a race as noble, a 
society as majestic, as the most idealistic 
imagination can conceive, it will end at 
last in a frozen desolation, and all is vanity. 
But the astronomers, who tell us of " the 
dying sun," tell us also that, at the present 
rate of diffusion of solar heat, it will take 

207 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

a million million years before the time 
comes when life at the human level will 
be impossible upon this planet. For every 
one year that has elapsed from the Stone 
Age until now, at least one hundred mil- 
lion years will elapse from the present time 
until the end. So that any nervous appre- 
hension on that score seems to be pre- 
mature. 

The principle of conscious evolution 
will take account of three main factors 
first, the physical basis of human life, that 
is the number and the quality of the human 
beings brought into the world ; secondly, 
their physical environment ; thirdly, their 
environment of ideas. 

Nowhere has research been more fruit- 
ful in recent years than in the fields of 
embryology and heredity. The construc- 
tion of microscopes of greater and greater 
power has enabled us to watch the minute 
mechanism by which physical characteris- 
tics are transmitted from one generation to 
the next. The investigation of heredity 

208 



CONSCIOUS EVOLUTION 

along the lines initiated by Mendel has dis- 
closed, also, the rules for selective breeding. 
They have been tested in the breeding of 
domestic animals, food-plants and flowers 
with remarkable results. " Heredity and 
breeding,' 5 says Sir Peter Chalmers Mit- 
chell, " are becoming exact experimental 
sciences. " Efforts are being made to adapt 
the rules, so far as practicable, to man- 
kind. There has arisen the new science of 
Eugenics. 

It tries to find the means by which the 
physical qualities of the human race may 
be improved generation by generation. As, 
gradually, the right rules are established, 
the practice of those rules will become a 
part of the ethical code. There is here an 
example of the way in which moral ideas 
expand and change in consequence of dis- 
coveries by science. Already it has be- 
come a matter of conscience, when choosing 
a wife or husband, for people who are alive 
to social duty to have regard to physical 
and mental qualities for the sake of pos- 
terity ; in particular, not knowingly to 

209 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

perpetuate a strain of mental deficiency or 
instability. It is constantly said, " In view 
of his family history, So-and-so ought not 
to marry and have children " ; and the 
person himself, if the facts are so, usually 
recognizes his obligation. To put debased 
money into circulation is an offence ; it 
is being realized that to put degenerate men 
and women into circulation is a much 
graver offence. How far, if at all, these 
ideas should be embodied in legislation and 
enforced by penalties is a question that is 
under debate in various countries. 

Heredity and environment both play 
their part in the evolutionary process. 
Which is the more important has given rise 
to long, and sometimes lively, controver- 
sies ; but no one doubts that, in whatever 
proportions, each contributes. Conscious 
evolution must stress the need for con- 
tinuous improvement in environment. To 
effect this is less difficult, and quicker of 
accomplishment, than the improvement 
of inherited characteristics. Particularly is 
this so in matters of physical environment. 

210 



CONSCIOUS EVOLUTION 

The great advance in public sanitation has 
been one of the chief successes of modern 
civilization. " Our increased knowledge of 
hygiene," says Professor J. B. S. Haldane, 
" has transferred resignation and inaction, 
in face of epidemic disease, from a religious 
virtue to a justly punishable offence. " 
Large further advances are now within 
reach. As Haldane says again, " There is 
still an immense amount to be learnt about 
health, but if what is at present known to a 
few were part of the general knowledge, 
the average expectation of life in this 
country could probably be increased by 
about ten years." Good planning of the 
cities, proper housing for the workers, 
purification of the atmosphere of industrial 
centres, easy access from the towns to 
the country and to the sea these are 
among the methods which we may 
adopt, with conscious purpose, in order 
to promote the further evolution of the 
race. 

There is also the environment of ideas, 
that vast invisible network of influences, 

211 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

permeating social life, which guides in- 
dividual action. Ethics is an agent of 
conscious evolution, and an agent which 
plays a supremely important part. Reject 
or neglect the moral codes, whether per- 
sonal or social or international, and the 
evolution of man into the future will go 
on, as it must; but it will be towards a 
future not of continuous progress but of 
certain disaster. 

Browning said of his " Grammarian/' 

" Yea, this in him was the peculiar grace. . . . 
That before living he'd learn how to live." 

Peculiar indeed, for it is the exception 
for men to plan their lives. Many are 
like thistle-seeds, casually blown by the 
wind, sprouting where they chance to fall 
if the soil is propitious. Or one may re- 
call Galsworthy's metaphor " like gnats 
above a stagnant pool on a summer even- 
ing man danced up and down without the 
faintest notion why." 

Socrates became a student and a teacher 

212 



CONSCIOUS EVOLUTION 

of philosophy because, after going about 
among the most intelligent men in Athens 
and questioning them on their ideas, he 
found that not one had troubled to study 
the right way to live. After two thousand 
years we, like the Athenians, are all busy, 
intent, purposeful. But on what business 
are we intent ? For what purpose are we 
hurrying ? Racial evolution cannot be 
separated from individual evolution ; if 
the one is to be conscious and not " sense- 
less," so must the other. It is because 
learning how to live remains a grace 
that is peculiar, that, as Emerson said, 
" The appearance strikes the eye every- 
where of an aimless society, of aimless 



nations. " 



Here it is that ethics enters, trying to 
find what things are good, what aims are 
worth pursuit ; teaching that each society 
exists to promote the perfection of its 
members ; that each nation should help, 
and not thwart, the efforts of the rest. It 
sets the goal for politics and economics, 
for all the vast variety of activities which 

213 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

make up the seething life of the modern 
world. 

Religion may powerfully co-operate. 
" The paramount virtue of religion/' says 
Matthew Arnold, " is that it has lighted 
up morality ; that it has supplied the 
emotion and inspiration needful for carry- 
ing the sage along the narrow way per- 
fectly, for carrying the ordinary man along 
it at all." The strongest minds may dis- 
pense with emotion, and, seeing life by 
the clear white light of reason, may go 
along their path unhelped by what they 
may regard as adventitious aids. Not so 
with the average man and woman ; still 
less with the child. Perilous as emotion 
is for guidance, it is invaluable for 
stimulus. It ought never to be the 
substitute for reason, but may always 
serve as an invaluable agent and an 
inspiring ally. 

If conscious evolution is to be taken as 
the ruling principle, it is clearly essential 
that both philosophy and religion should 
do what science has done with such bril- 

214 



CONSCIOUS EVOLUTION 

liant results, and escape from what has 
been called " the backward-looking habit/' 
" No one can walk backwards into the 
future." Philosophy and religion are not 
branches of historical study ; they are, or 
should be, living spirits ; learning indeed 
from the past, but in order to be the 
guides of the present in its march into 
the future. And there need be no diffi- 
dence or humility in setting the aim, 
nor pessimism as to the possibility of 
attaining it. If, as we now know is the 
case, unconscious evolution has enabled 
the lower animals to be the prototypes of 
simian man, and simian man of man in 
civilization, then there is no reason why 
conscious evolution should not raise us, 
and with vastly accelerated speed, to some- 
thing as much higher again in the scale of 
being. 

But however that may be, it may at 
least be possible, under the influence of 
wise ethical ideas, to reach, within a time 
not too distant, a state of society far better 
than that about us in which there shall 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 



be dignity, as well as activity, in private 
life, simplicity in manners, beauty in en- 
vironment, majesty in the State and tran- 
quillity in the world. 



CHAPTER XIV 

SUMMARY 

IT will be understood that, in a book as 
short as this, dealing with a subject so 
wide as Practical Ethics, it is impossible 
to do more than indicate some main lines 
of thought. It must be left to the reader 
to pursue them further, if he will, and 
to seek the answers to the many speci- 
fic questions that arise at every point. 
Doing that, he will find himself led 
insensibly into the spheres of religion, 
of politics and of economics. Each of 
these, in part at least, is or should be 
applied ethics. No fixed boundaries exist 
to separate any one of them from the 
others. 

It may be useful if I end with a review 
and summary of the ideas which have 

217 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

been put forward for consideration, add- 
ing here and there a further point or offer- 
ing a different presentation. 

Ethics asks, in the first place What is 
right and what is wrong ? The history of 
philosophy shows, I submit, that it has 
been found impossible to answer this ques- 
tion by laying down any simple, general 
principle of any kind. There have been 
many attempts, made by some of the 
most acute intellects that the human 
race has produced ; but no formula, and 
no system, has been proposed which has 
won general acceptance. There is no 
agreement upon any definition of " Good- 
ness " as a whole, of which particular 
" goods " may, so to speak, be regarded as 
fractions. 

It is therefore better to begin at the 
other end. It is better to say this parti- 
cular action, or idea, or custom, is good ; 
that other is also good ; there are in fact 
vast numbers of things, each one of which 

in itself is good. We find that many of 

218 



SUMMARY 

these are alike ; they may be grouped into 
classes ; we may say that each of those 
classes is good. For example, it is seen to 
be right to tell the truth on this occasion ; 
it is also right to tell the truth on that 
occasion, and the other ; we may reach 
the generalization that it is right to tell 
the truth on all occasions. Or we may 
possibly find that there are certain excep- 
tional occasions on which it would not 
be right to tell the truth, in which case 
our generalization would be that it is 
almost always right to tell the truth. 
Broadly speaking, to tell the truth is one 
element in goodness. There are other 
elements, built up in the same way. 
Taken all together they make up " Good- 
ness." The perfectly good man would be 
one, all of whose actions would come 
within those classes. Included in actions 
are thoughts ; to think is itself to do 
something. 

In other words, the concept " Good- 
ness " is an ultimate synthesis of parti- 
cular " goods " ; " goods " are not to 

219 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

be reached by analysis of an initial idea of 
" Goodness." 

The question next presents itself How 
are the particular " goods " to be recog- 
nized as such ? 

Various suggested answers must, on 
examination, be rejected. The answer 
cannot be that the decision is to be left to 
the individual conscience. The fact that a 
man holds that " this is a right thing for 
me to do," does not make it so. If an- 
other man says that he is wrong, there 
ought to be some method of deciding be- 
tween them. Unless there is some method, 
it is at all events certain that nothing 
worthy to be called a science of ethics 
can exist. Morality is left anarchic. In- 
dividual conscience, then, cannot be the 
ultimate test of right and wrong. Con- 
science may err. " Although we hold it 
to be wrong of a person to act against his 
conscience, we may at the same time blame 
him for having such a conscience as he 
has." Why can we ever be justified in 

220 



SUMMARY 

blaming him ? There must be some reason 
other than the fact that the dictates of 
our own consciences happen to differ from 
the dictates of his. 

Nor can the answer simply be that 
whatever " the community " holds to be 
right, is so. Such a doctrine would have 
justified every evil custom which has ever 
degraded and disgraced mankind. The 
laws in force at any particular time are not 
to be considered good laws merely for the 
reason that they are in force. If that 
were so, no laws could ever be changed. 
What the community at one period holds 
to be right, is often held at a later period, 
but in similar conditions, to be wrong. 
This is undeniable, and the fact is con- 
clusive against the doctrine that actions 
which are generally approved are thereby 
established as right actions. Ethics is not 
merely an inquiry into what are, actually, 
the feelings or opinions of any set of men, 
any more than into the feelings or opinions 
of the individual man. What is desired 
is one thing, what ought to be desired, is 

221 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

or may be another. " The mere fact 
that a given man or set of men has a given 
feeling or opinion can never be sufficient, 
by itself, to show that an action is right or 
wrong." 

Nor, again, can the answer be that what- 
ever arises in the course of evolution is 
good, relatively to what has gone before. 
It is obvious that the later is not the better 
merely because it is later. 

The answer suggested for acceptance is 
that right actions are those which are con- 
ducive to human welfare. They come to 
be recognized to be so through a vast and 
continuous process of discussion and ex- 
periment. Into this process there enter 
the opinions of individuals ; and these are 
often combined into the judgements of 
communities. Integral to the process are 
the root instincts of human nature. They 
are modified and guided by reason, 
which is itself not less a part of human 
nature ; and reason is directed by its 
own interpretation of the results of 
experience. 

222 



SUMMARY 

The process itself is fallible. Con- 
stantly actions or ideas are held to be good 
which experience shows not to be so. 
Then either nothing is done, on account 
of inertia, and mankind suffers in conse- 
quence ; or else a movement is set on 
foot to effect a change. The movement 
may work through persuasion or through 
force, or through a combination of the 
two. It may sometimes take centuries be- 
fore a change, recognized by the enlight- 
ened to be desirable, is carried into effect. 
A wrong idea or custom may be bound up 
with some political or ecclesiastical or social 
system, which is cherished as valuable in 
itself. If the system is stereotyped and 
unable to change, great difficulties may 
ensue. The most violent controversies 
in human history have arisen from this 
cause. 

But morals are not static. Sooner or 
later, in one place, or in several, or in 
all, the code is modified ; the categories of 
rights and wrongs are changed. Taking a 
retrospect over the centuries it is seen that 

223 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

the ideas of right and wrong, which are 
embodied in customs, in laws, even in 
religious beliefs, differ from one period to 
another. How do they come to differ ? 
In the long run it is through that pro- 
cess of discussion and experiment. In- 
dividuals change their opinions. In time, 
public opinion as a whole is found to 
have changed. Codes, conventions, creeds 
follow suit. 

It is not to be suggested that this is a 
description of the course which human 
history, on its mental side, has actually 
taken with any kind of smoothness or 
uniformity. There have been active, 
at various stages in all parts of the 
globe, all sorts of irrational influences 
superstition, magic, personal ambition 
and love of gain, race conflict, conquest. 
The chequered and blood-stained story 
of mankind is chequered and is blood- 
stained precisely because of that. But 
in so far as reason has been at work 
it has operated through that process ; 
and if we wished that reason should 

224 



SUMMARY 

work more effectively, that would be its 
mode. 

When it is asked whether, in morals, 
it is the right action which counts, or 
the right motive, the answer must be 
both. The right action is one good thing 
and the right motive is another good 
thing. 

If it is asked whether the individual is 
right to seek his own well-being or that of 
the community, the answer must again be 
both. His own welfare is a good in 
itself ; it contributes as well to the good of 
the others. The welfare of the society 
is also a good ; it conduces to the welfare 
of its members, and, as a rule, of this 
particular member among the rest. Where 
the two interests do not coincide, one must 
yield to the other, or a balance has to be 
struck between them. The art of private 
life and of political action consists largely 
in finding, in each case, which should yield 
or what the right balance is. Social pro- 
gress consists in great part in trying to 

225 u 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

reduce these cases of conflict to the smallest 
number. That community would raise its 
organization to the highest pitch which 
was able to secure that every action of 
each individual to promote his own welfare 
would also contribute to the welfare of the 
society, and every action of the society for 
its own good would also promote the good 
of each of its members. Such an ideal 
may not be fully attainable, but the closer 
a community approximates to it, the better 
it is. 

The second problem of ethics is why men 
should pursue goodness. For what reason 
should anyone act rightly at all ? 

But at the outset of that inquiry the 
doubt arises whether men have any real 
power of choice. Has scientific deter- 
minism shown that there is no freedom of 
the human will ? And if free will goes, 
does not morality go with it ? 

To this the answer here suggested is 
that the Law of Causality applies to man 
and to mind, as it applies everywhere else. 

226 



SUMMARY 

Man cannot be excepted from nature, nor 
mind from the universe. In spite of some 
recent theories, there is no valid reason to 
depart from the principle that causality 
applies to all things. The human person- 
ality, with the rest, is the product of causes. 
But one element in the personality so pro- 
duced is a power of choice in accordance 
with its character. The causes that have 
combined to produce an individual char- 
acter are innumerable ; they are to a 
great extent unknown, either to the person 
himself or to others. It is impossible, 
therefore, either for him or for them, to 
predict with certainty what he will do in a 
particular case. But something is known 
of the determining causes ; and more may 
be known, through observation, of his 
character itself ; so that some kind of 
prediction is often possible. But in prac- 
tice, both the individual and his neigh- 
bours must proceed in their relations with 
one another upon the basis that, when he 
makes a choice, he acts spontaneously. 
His personality, product of causes as it is, 

227 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

is an entity in itself ; it must accept 
responsibility for its own acts. And the 
fact that it is required to accept such 
responsibility, is itself one of the in- 
fluences which will determine what course, 
in a given case, the person will actually 
choose. 

Proceeding, then, to consider why men 
should act rightly, we must start from 
primary instincts in human nature, which 
have been brought forward, in the course of 
evolution, from animal nature in general. 
The sentiments of the mind are classified 
by different psychologists in various ways, 
but for the purpose of moral philosophy 
we may consider those which are com- 
monly grouped together under the names 
of egoism and altruism. Both of these 
enter, and should enter, into the guidance 
of conduct. 

Right actions may be divided into three 
classes. There are those which are to the 
direct and immediate interest of the agent ; 
he will do them for that reason. There 

228 



SUMMARY 

are those which he sees, or which he may 
be brought to see, will be to his own in- 
terest ultimately ; he will do them, if at 
all, because of that. And there are those 
which do not in fact conduce to his per- 
sonal interest at all, using that term in the 
sense in which it is ordinarily understood. 
Neither directly nor indirectly, neither now 
nor in any future which can be foreseen 
with assurance, will he as an individual 
derive any benefit. Nevertheless, they are 
actions which it is right for him to do. 
They conduce to the welfare of some other 
persons, or to welfare in general. Unless 
society is maintained, individuals will not 
be able to live well ; and it cannot be 
maintained unless the members are willing, 
when the occasion requires, to make 
sacrifices either small sacrifices, or, if 
need be, great sacrifices for the sake 
of the society, and without expectation 
of ulterior benefit for themselves. The 
individual will perform actions of this class 
if he does perform them because of 
the motives other than self-interest that 

229 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

animate him love, duty, patriotism, the 
altruistic motives. 

It is essential, then, for the welfare of 
the collectivity of persons, which we call 
society, that each one of its members 
should do what is right in those two classes 
of cases in which the individual gains no 
immediate benefit. Where he will gain an 
ultimate benefit, he has to be led to realize 
this. Where he will gain no benefit at all, 
or will suffer injury, he has to be induced 
to act from altruism. 

" What is desired is one thing ; what 
ought to be desired may be another," 
How are the two to be brought into 
line ? How am I to be led, as Goethe 
put it, to " bring my inclinations and my 
reason into perfect harmony " ? 

Society may seek to achieve this through 
all kinds of influences. First comes the 
training of infancy and childhood, with 
family influences extending through ado- 
lescence, and often on into manhood and 
womanhood. There are educational in- 
fluences and religious influences. There 

230 



SUMMARY 

are rewards and penalties, some dispensed 
by the State, some by the economic system 
and some by public opinion. Individual 
character is moulded by all of these, and 
under their influence habits are formed. 
Each person cannot work out for himself a 
right code of conduct applicable to every 
occasion. He must accept unless there is 
good reason to the contrary the judge- 
ment of the community as the ordinary 
guide. Public opinion comes in, not as a 
final and infallible arbiter, but to interpret 
the facts and to indicate conclusions which 
are normally acceptable. In the Epistle 
to the Ephesians they were exhorted 
to seek " whatsoever things are of good 
report." 

Darwin summed up the matter in a 
single sentence remarkably compact and 
comprehensive : " Ultimately our moral 
sense or conscience becomes a highly com- 
plex sentiment originating in the social 
instincts, largely guided by the approbation 
of our fellow-men, ruled by reason, self- 
interest, and in later times by deep religious 

231 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

feelings, and confirmed by instruction and 
habit." 

A system of ethics is not a construction ; 
it is something living, like a tree. It 
should be rooted deep in human life 
and character, drawing its sustenance 
from there and from the air about it. 
Alive, putting forth fresh shoots and 
leaves year by year, it grows into the 
future. 

Looking forward into that future we see 
the vastness of the tasks waiting to be 
done. It is obvious enough it needs no 
proving that men as yet are far from 
having achieved their own complete well- 
being. In moments of pessimism we may 
even be inclined, dwelling upon the evils 
of our times, to ask what is the worth 
of our so-called civilization, to question 
whether, taking things all in all, there has 
been a real progress. Yet there are few 
who, on reflection, would seriously con- 
tend that it would be better for mankind 
to wipe out now the whole of civilization 

232 



SUMMARY 

and to return to conditions of primeval 
savagery. Slowly, painfully, the genera- 
tions that have preceded have brought into 
being the society that we have, full of 
faults and imperfections, but conferring, 
nevertheless, immense and real benefits. 
It is for the present and the future genera- 
tions to endeavour to cure the faults and 
to remove the imperfections. 

Upon us such a duty is even more in- 
cumbent than it ever was upon them, for 
we the first in all history have learnt 
the process of evolution which is at work 
in the universe. We have grasped, in some 
degree, what is our own position as in- 
heritors of the past and progenitors of the 
future. From now on, human evolution 
may become conscious. It need no longer 
be dependent on " senseless agencies." 
The change should greatly quicken the pace 
of progress not only in things material, 
but in all things. And it should inspire a 
far greater confidence. 

Early among the results of the new 
spirit of conscious evolution has been the 

233 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

recognition that the physical material of 
the race can and should be improved. 
The science of eugenics must take an 
increasingly important place among the 
social sciences. As was said by Sir 
Francis Galton, its pioneer, " We of the 
living generation are the dispensers of 
the natural gifts of our successors, and 
we should rise to the level of our high 
opportunities." 

The inter-relations between individual 
and society must also be a principal subject 
of study. A people and its institutions 
are products of each other. A nation in 
one generation establishes a custom, or a 
code, or some new organization, and these 
help to form the nation in its next genera- 
tion. " The individual," says Whitehead, 
" is formative of the society, the society 
is formative of the individual." Their 
relations are determined by politics, and 
politics cannot fail to play a foremost part 
in conscious evolution. 

And not least in the international sphere. 
The philosophic eye, looking back over 

234 



SUMMARY 

history, will see that nothing has so harmed 
men's welfare as the lack of a sound inter- 
national morality universally recognized. 
And nothing has contributed more to the 
disasters and the perils of the modern 
world than the philosophy which teaches 
that there cannot be, and ought not to be, 
such a morality. The Hegelian doctrine is 
that, because there has not hitherto existed 
any super-national power, able to force 
nations to fulfil duties to one another, the 
nations therefore can have no such duties. 
This is equivalent to saying that, if there 
were no police force, it would not be 
immoral to murder and to steal. Nor can 
the citizens of the several States, if they 
retain any religious principles at all, for 
ever acquiesce in " the strange anomaly of 
Christian Europe, a society of nations all 
of which had accepted the religion of peace 
and brotherhood, with its universal ethics, 
yet which were constantly at war with each 
other." 

For guidance in the pursuit of welfare, 
men must mainly rely upon their own 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

experience, and the experience of pre- 
vious generations. Accurate records of the 
present and of the past are vital to progress. 
Exact statistics and true history are the 
materials with which a conscious evolution 
must work. Without them the people have 
not even a chance of learning what the 
results of past experiments have really 
been ; they are robbed of the most reliable 
of all tests in deciding what is right and 
what is wrong. So that those who de- 
liberately falsify history, and, for the sake 
of some political or ostensibly religious 
motive, compel the teaching to children 
of deductions from the past that are un- 
true, commit the worst of all crimes 
against humanity. Ignorant of the facts, 
the new generations can hardly fail to form 
wrong judgements ; wrong judgements 
must necessarily lead to wrong policies ; 
there is no limit to the disasters which 
wrong policies may entail upon a suffering 
mankind. 

An evolution which has become con- 
236 



SUMMARY 

scious will no longer use such terms as " the 
inevitable march of events," or " obedience 
to the spirit of the age." It will be recog- 
nized that there are no such things as 
" events " which " march," or a " spirit " 
which must be " obeyed." These are 
mere figures of speech. They represent 
no reality. There is nothing existent in 
fact but individual men and women, with 
their training, their habits, their ideas, 
their actions ; men and women who vote 
at elections, or do not vote ; who write 
articles in newspapers, or read them, 
approve them or do not approve ; who 
lead movements, or join them, or oppose ; 
who fight or do not fight ; work or stop 
work ; who think about public affairs 
or neglect to think. Apart from them 
there are no " events," no " age " and 
no " spirit." Within the framework set 
by nature, the future evolution of man- 
kind will depend upon the thoughts 
and the deeds of individual men and 
women, and upon nothing else. Each 
private act and each social activity, all the 

237 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 



sciences and all the arts, take their places 
in one great scheme. It is for a wise 
philosophy to bring them into unison. 



238 



NOTES AND REFERENCES 

NOTES ON BOOKS 

INDEX 



NOTES AND REFERENCES 

IN some of the chapters of this book, I 
have reproduced passages from papers and 
addresses which have previously been pub- 
lished ; in particular, " The Dual Basis of 
Conduct," Journal of Philosophical Studies, 
July, 1930 ; " Patriotism and Peace," Con- 
temporary Review, September, 1928 ; and 
three Presidential Addresses to the British 
Institute of Philosophy, subsequently pub- 
lished under the titles of Philosophy and 
the Ordinary Man (Kegan Paul, 1932), The 
Tree of Good and Evil (Peter Davies, 1933), 
and Philosophy, Religion and Present World 
Conditions (Contemporary Review, March, 
1935)- 

The student of philosophy may observe 
that the term Value is not used in any 
definition in this book. Much controversy 

241 



PRACTICAL ETHICS 

has arisen about this conception ; and as 
that controversy has been technical in 
character and inconclusive in result, it 
would be undesirable in a short book of 
this kind to engage in it. Those who are 
interested may find an acute analysis of 
the various views held with regard to 
Value, but again without conclusiveness, 
in The Philosophy of Value , by H. Osborne 
(Cambridge University Press, 1933). 

Some philosophers have engaged also 
in a discussion whether there is a distinction 
to be drawn between " what is good " 
and " what is right," and if so, where the 
distinction lies. To a great extent this 
is the same question as that of the relations 
between the results of an action and the 
motive ; but the inquiry into " good " and 
" right " is too technical and too linguistic 
in character to be entered upon here. 



242 



NOTES AND REFERENCES 
PAGE 

6. Sayings of Confucius (Translated by Leonard 
A. Lyall), p. 15. 

8. The will of God . . . S. V. Benet, John 

Brown's Body, p. 213. 

9. St. Augustine Sir William Collins, The Place 

of Volition in Education, p. 4. 

10. When private emotion . . . Bertrand Rus- 

sell, Scientific Outlook, p. 147. 

11. Mankind is the animal . . . Whitehead, 

Adventures of Ideas, p. 58. 

ii. Man's habits change . . . J. B. S. Haldane, 
Possible Worlds, p. 64. 

14. Huxley See Ritchie, Darwinism and Politics, 

p. 12. 

15. Darwin See Sir J. Arthur Thomson, " A Bio- 

logist's Philosophy " in Contemporary British 
Philosophy, II, p. 331. 

17. Emerson Essay on Worship, Conduct of Life, 

p. 164. 
Bergson Deux Sources de la Morale et de la 

Religion, p. 128. 
Laws of Manu See Westermarck, The Origin 

and Development of the Moral Ideas, Vol. I, 

p. 119. 

1 8. Cannibalism is moral . . . The Note-Books 

of Samuel Butler, p. 29. 

20. Fictional abstraction See Vaihinger, The Philo- 
sophy of As If. 

28. Sterne Tristram Shandy, Book II, Chap. 12. 

30. Bergson U Evolution Crdatrice, p. 7. 

Your thoughts are making you Bishop Steere. 

243 



NOTES AND REFERENCES 
PAGE 

39. Victor Hugo Les Miserable*, I, p. 36. 
41. Buddha C. T. Strauss, The Buddha and His 
Doctrine, p. 101. 

43. Kant The Metaphysic of Ethics, Book I, Chap. 

I, pp. 8 and 18. 

Hobhouse Morals in Evolution, p. 14. 
Westermarck The Origin and Development of 

the Moral Ideas, II, p. 154. 
Lippmann A Preface to Morals, p. 221. 

44. Spinoza Ethic, Part IV, Propositions 21, 22. 

Trans, by Hale White. 
Herbert Spencer Education, p. 189. 

45. J. S. Mill On Liberty, p. 93. 

48. La morale . . . Janet quo. Julian Huxley, 

Essays in Popular Science, p. 179. 
Aristotle Politics, I, i. 9. 
The life of man . . . Hobbes, Leviathan, Part 

I, Chap. 13. 

49. Whitehead Adventures of Ideas, p. 42. 
55. Pope Essay on Man, III, 1. 315. 

57. Select Committee on Capital Punishment, 1930 
Evidence of Dr. J. Devon, Questions 3310, 
etc. 

59. Determinism See Herbert Samuel, " Cause, 
Effect, and Professor Eddington," Nineteenth 
Century and After, April, 1933, and Professor 
Eddington 's reply in the issue of June, 1933. 

67. Schopenhauer quo. by Einstein in Living 
Philosophies, p. 3. 

69. Spinoza Ethic, Part I, Appendix. Trans, by 
Hale White. 

244 



NOTES AND REFERENCES 

PAGE 

74. Meredith quo. Le Gallienne, p. 74. 

75. Novalis quo. by Hardy, The Mayor of Caster- 

bridge, p. 137. 

82. Philosophic craving for unity T. H. Green, 

Prolegomena to Ethics, p. 241. 

83. The citizens must understand . . . Llewellyn, 

Confound their Politics, p. 17. 
Reference may be made, with regard to the 
points raised in this chapter, to a paper by 
Prof. Alexander on " Morality as an Art," 
Journal of Philosophical Studies, April, 1928, 
Vol. Ill, No. 10 ; and to Prof. Prichard's lec- 
ture on " Duty and Interest " (Oxford, 1928). 

88. Hobhouse Morals in Evolution, p. 10. 

94. Our nervous system . . . Dr. Carpenter quo. 
by William James, Principles of Psychology, 
Vol. I, Chap. IV, p. 112. 

96. Bergson Les Deux Sources de la Morale et de 
la Religion, p. 21. 

98. With flame of freedom . . . John Addington 
Symonds. 

104. Aliotta " Science and Religion in the Nine- 

teenth Century " in Science, Religion and 
Reality, p. 180. 
Pringle-Pattison The Idea of God, p. 57. 

105. The eye sees only . . . quo. Thomson and 

Geddes, Evolution, p. 213. 
Whitehead Science and the Modern World, 

p. 262. 

107. The evolution of gas into genius Clodd, Story 
of the Creation, p. 288. 

245 



NOTES AND REFERENCES 

PAGE 

108. Whitehead Science and the Modern World, 

p. 260. 
in. The senseless abomination of modern war 

Field-Marshal Sir William Robertson. 
115. Pliny Letters, III, p. 30. 

115. Huxley Evolution and Ethics, p. 28. 

1 1 6. It is a street . . . Lady Bell, At the Works, 

p. 18. 

117. Emerson The Conduct of Life, p. 180. 

121. Book of Proverbs xiii. 21. 
Dhammapada quo. Westermarck, The Origin 

and Development of the Moral Ideas, Vol. I, 
p. 301. 

122. Yi-King quo. Religious Systems of the World, 

p. 74. 

Huxley Method and Results, p. 317. 
124. Schweitzer Civilization and Ethics, p. 62. 
Huxley Aphorisms, p. 52. 
The gods are just . . . Shakespeare, King Lear. 

133. Alexander Space, Time and Deity, Vol. II, 

p. 282. 

134. The orthodoxy of one generation . . . 

Canon J. M. Wilson, " The Religious Effect/' 
Evolution in the Light of Modern Knowledge, 

P- 485- 

135. Old things need not . . . Clough Ah ! Yet 

Consider It Again. 

137. The world is born . . . Le Roy, Revue de 
Metaphysique et de Morale, July, 1901 quo. 
Aliotta, The Idealistic Reaction against Science, 
p. 144. 

246 



NOTES AND REFERENCES 

PAGE 

137. William James Principles of Psychology, I, 

p. 121. 

143. Schiller Problems of Belief, p. 29. 
147. Matthew Arnold " Equality, " Mixed Essays, 

p. 70. 

154. Whitehead Adventures of Ideas, p. 87. 

155. Burke Reflections on the French Revolution, 

P- H3- 
159. " There has been a marked recrudescence of 

superstition since the Great War, chiefly per- 
haps among the half-educated rich. Miracu- 
lous cures, necromancy, and other forms of 
supernaturalism have now more adherents 
than in the last century/' Inge, The Norman 
Lockyer Lecture, 1927, p. 8. 

162. Among uncivilized races . . . Westermarck, 

The Origin and Development of the Moral 
Ideas, Vol. II, p. 20. 

163. Fichte quo. Inge, Outspoken Essays, II, p. 128. 
Treitschke Lectures on Politics, I, p. 65 quo. 

Balfour, Essays Speculative and Political, 

p. 231. 

Nietzsche Thus Spake Zarathustra, I, p. 18. 
Hegel quo. Inge, Outspoken Essays, II, p. 128. 

164. Hegel permits the State . . . Barker, Political 

Thought in England from Spencer to the Present 

Day, p. 29. 
1 68. Chalmers Mitchell Evolution and the War, 

P- fa. 
172. Aborigines of America J. T. Adams, The Epic 

of America, p. 6. 

247 



NOTES AND REFERENCES 
PAGE 

182. Browne Religio Medici, p. 22. 

Voltaire quo. Westermarck, The Origin and 
Development of the Moral Ideas, Vol. II, 
p. 183. 

190. Kant Jugendlehre, para. 17 quo. Chamber- 

lain, Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, 
II, p. 494. 

" It is not only theological moralists that main- 
tain that animals can have no rights and that 
abstinence from wanton cruelty is a duty not 
to the animal but to man. This view has 
been shared by Kant and by many later philo- 
sophers, e.g. Alexander, Moral Order and Pro- 
gress, p. 281 ; Ritchie, Natural Rights, p. no 
seq." Westermarck, The Origin and Develop- 
ment of the Moral Ideas, Vol. II, p. 508. 

191. Ritchie Natural Rights, Chap. V, p. no. 
193. Westermarck The Origin and Development of 

the Moral Ideas, Vol. II, p. 512. 

200. Geological period Jeans, The Universe Around 
Us, p. 152. Jeffreys, " The Evolution of 
the Earth as a Planet," Evolution in the 
Light of Modern Knowledge : A Collective 
Work, pp. 42-8. 

Antiquity of man G. Elliot Smith, " Anthro- 
pology," in Evolution in the Light of Modern 
Knowledge : A Collective Work, p. 290. 

202. It is bad biology . . . J. Arthur Thomson, 
" A Biologist's Philosophy," in Contemporary 
British Philosophy, II, p. 331. 
Whitehead Adventures of Ideas, pp. 8-9. 

248 



NOTES AND REFERENCES 
PAGE 

203. Un aveugle peut atteindre au but : mais 
que de fleches perdues. Saintine, Picciola, 

P- 37- 

205. Evolution is often regarded . . . Heath, 

" Philosophy and Contemporary Science," 
Science To-Day, p. 388. 

206. Herbert Spencer " The Social Organism," 

Essays, Vol. I. See also Principles of Socio- 
logy, Vol. I. 

207. A ruined world . . . R. Burton, The Kasidah, 

p. 60. 
Duration of man Jeans, The Universe Around 

Us, p. 337. 

209. Chalmers Mitchell Materialism and Vitalism, 
p. 22. 

211. J. B. S. Haldane Daedalus, p. 89. 

J. B. S. Haldane in Living Philosophies, p. 323. 

212. Browning " A Grammarian's Funeral." 
Galsworthy Fraternity, p. 73. 

213. Emerson Nature, p. 459. 

214. Matthew Arnold " Essays on Criticism," 

Marcus Aurelius, I, p. 346. 

215. The backward-looking habit . . . Dr. Singer, 

Science, Religion and Reality, p. 122. 
No one can walk backwards . . . Herge- 
sheimer, The Three Black Penny s, p. 166. 

220. Although we hold it to be wrong . . . Wester- 

marck, The Origin and Development of the 
Moral Ideas, Vol. I, p. 19. 

221, What is desired is one thing . . . See Muir- 

head, Rule and End in Morals, p. 33. 
249 



NOTES AND REFERENCES 
PAGE 

222. The mere fact . . . Moore, Ethics, p. 130. 

230. Goethe Wilhelm Meister, Carlyle's Trans- 

lation, Book VIII, Ch. 5. 

231. Darwin Descent of Man, Part I, Ch. 5. 

234. Whitehead Religion in the Making, p. 75. 

235. The strange anomaly of Christian Europe . . . 

McDougall, Ethics and Modern World 
Problems, p. 18. 



250 



NOTES ON BOOKS 

THE most valuable books on this subject 
written in English in recent years are 
Westermarck, The Origin and Develop- 
ment of the Moral Ideas (Two vols., 
Macmillan), and L. T. Hobhouse, Morals 
in Evolution (Chapman and Hall). Other 
books of special interest are : 

A. N. Whitehead Adventures of Ideas 

(Cambridge). 
A. N. Whitehead Science and the Modern 

World (Cambridge). 
Sorley Moral Values and the Idea of God 

(Cambridge). 
Pringle-Pattison The Idea of God 

(Oxford). 
Lippmann A Preface to Morals (Allen 

and Unwin). 
Bertrand Russell The Scientific Outlook 

(Allen and Unwin). 
J. A. Thomson Science and Religion 

(Methuen). 

251 



NOTES ON BOOKS 

T. H. Huxley's Ethics and Evolution 
(Macmillan) should not be left unread. 
Sir P. Chalmers Mitchell's Evolution and 
the War (Murray) deals with the special 
point indicated in its title. There are 
three useful collective works, in which 
many of the problems of moral philosophy 
and its relations with religion and with 
science are dealt with by a number of 
writers of authority Contemporary British 
Philosophy > edited by Muirhead (Two vols., 
Allen and Unwin) ; Science, Religion and 
Reality, edited by Needham (Sheldon 
Press) ; Evolution in the Light of Modern 
Knowledge (Blackie). 

In the Home University Library is 
Prof. Moore's Ethics. Relevant also to 
the subject, and published in this series, 
are Bertrand Russell, The Problems of 
Philosophy ; McDougall, Psychology ; 
Thomson and Geddes, Evolution ; Carr- 
Saunders, Eugenics ; MacBride, An Intro- 
duction to the Study of Heredity. 



252 



INDEX 



Aborigines, 172 
Alexander, 133 
Aliotta, 104 
Altruism, 43, 81, 121, 

178, 228 
Animals, 186 
Arnold, Matthew, 147, 

214 
Autocracy, 131 

Balance, 55, 137 
Bentham, 38 
Bergson, 30, 96 
Birth Control, 148 
Bridges, 55 

Browne, Thomas, 182 
Browning, 212 
Buddha, 41 
Bull- fighting, 197 
Burke, 155 

Causality, 59, 65, 103, 

226 
Character, 30 



Civilization, 133 
Class Distinctions, 146 
Colonization, 172 
Conscience, 9, 220 
Conscious Evolution , 

200, 232 

Consequences, 19, 123 
Conservatism, 137 
Co-operation, 15, 88 
Cosmopolitanism, 179 
Crime, 57, 61, 71, 84 
Current Questions, 139 
Custom, 17, 133, 221 

Darwin, 15, 231 
Determinism, 56, 226 
Divorce, 148 
Duel, 25, 142 
Duty, 43, 77, 132 

Earth, 207 
Economics, 145, 217 
Eddington, 59 
Education, 99 



253 



INDEX 



Egoism, 43, 8 1, 127, 178, Heredity, 208 



228 

Einstein, 60 
Embryology, 208 
Emerson, 17, 117, 213 
Environment, 208 
Eugenics, 62, 148, 209, 

234 
Evolution, n, 13, 88, 

103, 125, 167, 192, Inclination, 43, 77 

200, 210, 222 Individual, 83 

Evolution of Morals, 8, Innovation, 135 

123, 132, 143, 144, 222 Instinct, n, 87, 228 



History, 205, 224, 236 
Hobhouse, 43, 88 
Home, 152 
Honesty, 78, 96 
Humanitarianism, 28, 

191 
Huxley, 14, 122, 124 



Experience, 25 

Family, 149 

Family Allowances, 158 

Fatalism, 74, 237 

Fichte, 163 

Free Will, 56, 226 

Galsworthy, 212 
Galton, 234 
Goethe, 230 
Golden Rule, 46 
Good, the, 21, 82, 218 

Habit, 94 

Haldane, J. B. S., 211 
Happiness, 38 
Hegel, 163,234 



Internationalism , 1 62 , 

234 
Intuition, 9, 164, 220 

James, William, 137 
Johnson, 63 

Kant, 43, 190 

Lamer -f air e^ 14, 115 
Law, 81, 204 
Liberty, 98, 118 
Lippmann, 43 
Lodge, 60 
Luxury, 146 



Marcus Aurelius, 124 
Marriage, 148 



254 



INDEX 



Materialism, 75 
Mendelism, 209 
Meredith, 74 
Militarism, 162, 180 
Mill,J.S., 4S 
Mitchell, P. Chalmers, 

168, 209 

Mixed motives, 91 
Moore, 34 
Motives, 30, 78, 225 

Nationalism, 162 
Natural Rights, n 
Nature, 13 
Nietzsche, 163 
Novalis, 75 

Patriotism, 156, 177 

Penal Law, 159 

Penalties, 113 

Personality, 64, 227 

Planck, 60 

Pliny, 115 

Politics, 52, 114, 145, 

184, 217 
Pope, 55 

Poverty, no, 145 
Primitive Morality, 17, 

I33 , 149, 192 
Pringle-Pattison, 104 
Progress, 15, 170 



Public Opinion, 115, 130, 
153,231 

Religion, 7, 80, 101, 

217 

Rewards, 113 
Right and Wrong, 7, 19, 

90, 218 

Rights, Natural, n, 187 
Ritchie, 191 
Rutherford, 60 

Sabbath, 136 
Sacrifices, 194 
Schiller, 143 
Schopenhauer, 67 
Science, 103 
Self-interest, 43, 85, 119, 

228 

Sexes, 147 
Sin, 123 
Slavery, 13 
Social Ethics, 129 
Social Interest, 43, 48, 

89, 120, 228 
Society, 53, no, 206, 

226, 230 
Socrates, 212 
Spencer, 44, 206 
Spinoza, 44, 69 
Sport, 196 



255 



INDEX 

State, 54, 83, 134, 162, Utilitarianism, 38 



. 

Sterilization, 148 

Subconscious, 94 
Superstition, 159 



Toleration, 118 
Training, 62,71, 93 
Treitschke, 163 
Truth, 108 



Valuation of Goods, 36 
Vivisection, 195 
Voltaire, 182 



War, in, 162 
Welfare, 20, 23, 222 
Westermarck, 43, 193 

Uncertainty, 59 Whitehead, 49, 105, 108, 

Uniformity, Law of, 59, 154, 202 

103 Women, 147, 158 



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