involves the notion of desert the question arises what constitutes desert

Involves the notion of desert the question arises

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involves the notion of desert, the question arises, what constitutes desert? Speaking in a general way, a person is un derstood to deserve good if he does right, evil if he does wrong ; and in a more particular sense, to de
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HOW CONNECTED WITH JUSTICE. 67 serve good from those to whom he does or has done good, and evil from those to whom he does or has done evil. The precept of returning good for evil has never been regarded as a case of the fulfilment of justice, but as one in which the claims of justice are waived, in obedience to other considerations. Fourthly, it is confessedly unjust to break faith with any one : to violate an engagement, either ex press or implied, or disappoint expectations raised by our own conduct, at least if we have raised those expectations knowingly and voluntarily. Like the other obligations of justice already spoken of, this one is not regarded as absolute, but as capable of being overruled by a stronger obligation of justice on the other side ; or by such conduct on the part of the person concerned as is deemed to absolve us from our obligation to him, and to constitute a forfeiture of the benefit which he has been led to expect. Fifthly, it is, by universal admission, inconsistent with justice to be partial ; to show favour or pre ference to one person over another, in matters to which favour and preference do not properly apply. Impartiality, however, does not seem to be regarded as a duty in itself, but rather as instrumental to some other duty ; for it is admitted that favour and pre ference are not always censurable, and indeed the cases in which they are condemned are rather the ex ception than the rule. A person would be more likely to be blamed than applauded for giving his family or friends no superiority in good offices over strangers, when he could do so without violating any other duty ; and no one thinks it unjust to seek one person in preference to another as a friend, connexion, or p 2
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68 UTILITARIANISM. companion. Impartiality where rights are concerned is of course obligatory, but this is involved in the more general obligation of giving to every one his right. A tribunal, for example, must be impartial, because it is bound to award, without regard to any other consideration, a disputed object to the one of two parties who has the right to it. There are other cases in which impartiality means, being solely in fluenced by desert ; as with those who, in the capacity of judges, preceptors, or parents, administer reward and punishment as such. There are cases, again, in which it means, being solely influenced by considera tion for the public interest ; as in making a selection among candidates for a Government employment. Impartiality, in short, as an obligation of justice, may be said to mean, being exclusively influenced by the considerations which it is supposed ought to influence the particular case in hand ; and resisting the solici tation of any motives which prompt to conduct dif ferent from what those considerations would dictate.
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