according as we would wish to see the person whom it concerns compelled or only

According as we would wish to see the person whom it

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according as we would wish to see the person whom it concerns, compelled or only persuaded and exhorted, to act in that manner.* This, therefore, being the characteristic difference * See this point enforced and illustrated by Professor Bain, in an admirable chapter (entitled " The Ethical Emotions, or the Moral Sense ") of the second of the two treatises composing his elaborate and profound work on the Mind.
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74 UTILITARIANISM. which marks off, not justice, but morality in general, from the remaining provinces of Expediency and Worthiness ; the character is still to be sought which distinguishes justice from other branches of morality. Now it is known that ethical writers divide moral duties into two classes, denoted by the ill-chosen ex pressions, duties of perfect and of imperfect obliga tion ; the latter being those in which, though the act is obligatory, the particular occasions of performing it are left to our choice ; as in the case of charity or beneficence, which we are indeed bound to practise, but not towards any definite person, nor at any pre scribed time. In the more precise language of philo sophic jurists, duties of perfect obligation are those duties in virtue of which a correlative right resides in some person or persons; duties of imperfect obligation are those moral obligations which do not give birth to any right. I think it will be found that this distinc tion exactly coincides with that which exists between justice and the other obligations of morality. In our survey of the various popular acceptations of justice, the term appeared generally to involve the idea of a personal right a claim on the part of one or more individuals, like that which the law gives when it confers a proprietary or other legal right. Whether the injustice consists in depriving a person of a pos session, or in breaking faith with him, or in treating him worse than he deserves, or worse than other people who have no greater claims, in each case the supposi tion implies two things a wrong done, and some assignable person who is wronged. Injustice may also be done by treating a person better than others ; but the wrong in this case is to his competitors, who
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HOW CONNECTED WITH JUSTICE. 75 are also assignable persons. It seems to me that this feature in the case a right in some person, correlative to the moral obligation constitutes the specific dif ference between justice, and generosity or beneficence^ Justice implies something which it is not only right to do, and wrong not to do, but which some individual person can claim from us as his moral right. No one has a moral right to our generosity or beneficence, be cause we are not morally bound to practise those virtues towards any given individual. And it will be found, with respect to this as with respect to every correct definition, that the instances which seem to conflict with it are those which most confirm it. For if a moralist attempts, as some have done, to make out that mankind generally, though not any given individual, have a right to all the good we can do them, he at once, by that thesis,
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