trusts him is guilty of a crime even if his object be to serve another friend

Trusts him is guilty of a crime even if his object be

This preview shows page 41 - 44 out of 141 pages.

trusts him, is guilty of a crime, even if his object be to serve another friend to whom he is under greater obligations.* But to speak only of actions * An opponent, whose intellectual and moral fairness it is a pleasure to acknowledge (the Rev. J. Llewellyn Davis), has objected to this passage, saying, " Surely the rightness or wrongness of sav ing a man from drowning does depend very much upon the motive with which it is done. Suppose that a tyrant, when his enemy
Image of page 41
ITS MEANING. 27 done from the motive of duty, and in direct obedience 1 to principle : it is a misapprehension of the utilitarian mode of thought, to conceive it as implying that people should fix their minds upon so wide a generality as the World, or society at large. The great majority of good"1' actions are intended, not for the benefit of the world, but for that of individuals, of which the good of the world is made up ; and the thoughts of the most vir- _ tuous man need not on these occasions travel beyond jumped into the sea to escape from him, saved him from drowning simply in order that he might inflict upon him more exquisite tor- tures, would it tend to clearness to speak of that rescue as 'a morally right action ? ' Or suppose again, according to one of the stock illustrations of ethical inquiries, that a man betrayed a trust received from a friend, because the discharge of it would fatally injure that friend himself or some one belonging to him, would utilitarianism compel one to call the betrayal ' a crime ' as much as if it had been done from the meanest motive ? " I submit, that he who saves another from drowning in order to kill him by torture afterwards, does not differ only in motive from him who does the same thing from duty or benevolence ; the act itself is different. The rescue of the man is, in the case supposed, only the necessary first step of an act far more atrocious than leaving him to drown would have been. Had Mr. Davis said, " The right- ness or wrongness of saving a man from drowning does depend very much " not upon the motive, but "upon the intention," no utilitarian would have differed from him. Mr. Davis, by an over sight too common not to be quite venial, has in this case confounded the very different ideas of Motive and Intention. There is no point which utilitarian thinkers (and Bentham pre-eminently) have taken more pains to illustrate than this. The morality of the action de pends entirely upon the intention that is, upon what the agent wills to do. But the motive, that is, the feeling which makes him will so to do, when it makes no difference in the act, makes none in the morality : though it makes a great difference in our moral estimation of the agent, especially if it indicates a good or a bad habitual disposition a bent of character from which useful, or from which hurtful actions are likely to arise.
Image of page 42
28 UTILITARIANISM.
Image of page 43
Image of page 44

You've reached the end of your free preview.

Want to read all 141 pages?

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern

Stuck? We have tutors online 24/7 who can help you get unstuck.
A+ icon
Ask Expert Tutors You can ask You can ask You can ask (will expire )
Answers in as fast as 15 minutes
A+ icon
Ask Expert Tutors