violates our standard of right and which if we do nevertheless violate that

Violates our standard of right and which if we do

This preview shows page 57 - 60 out of 141 pages.

violates our standard of right, and which, if we do nevertheless violate that standard, will probably have to be encountered after wards in the form of remorse. Whatever theory we have of the nature or origin of conscience, this is what essentially constitutes it. The ultimate sanction, therefore, of all morality (external motives apart) being a subjective feeling in our own minds, I see nothing embarrassing to those whose standard is utility, in the question, what is the sanction of that particular standard ? We may answer, the same as of all other moral standards the con scientious feelings of mankind. Undoubtedly this
Image of page 57
ITS SANCTIONS. 43 sanction has no binding efficacy on those who do not possess the feelings it appeals to ; but neither will these persons be more obedient to any other moral principle than to the utilitarian one. On them morality of any kind has no hold but through the external sanctions. Meanwhile the feelings exist, a fact in human nature, the reality of which, and the great power with which they are capable of acting on those in whom they have been duly cultivated, are proved by experience. No reason has ever been shown why they may not be cultivated to as great in tensity in connection with the utilitarian, as with any other rule of morals. There is, I am aware, a disposition to believe that a person who sees in moral obligation a transcendental fact, an objective reality belonging to the province of " Things in themselves," is likely to be more obedient to it than one who believes it to be entirely sub jective, having its seat in human consciousness only. But whatever a person's opinion may be on this point of Ontology, the force he is really urged by is his own subjective feeling, and is exactly measured by its strength. No one's belief that Duty is an objective reality is stronger than the belief that God is so . yet the belief in God, apart from the expectation of actual reward and punishment, only operates on conduct through, and in proportion to, the subjective religious feeling. The sanction, so far as it is disinterested, is always in the mind itself; and the notion, 4herefore, of the transcendental moralists must be, that this sanction will not exist in the mind unless it is believed to have its root out of the mind ; and that if a person is able to say to himself, That which is restraining
Image of page 58
44 UTILITARIANISM. me, and which- is called my conscience, is only a feeling in my own mind, he may possibly draw the conclu sion that when the feeling ceases the obligation ceases, and that if he find the feeling inconvenient, he may disregard it, and endeavour to get rid of it. But is this danger confined to the utilitarian morality ? Does the belief that moral obligation has its seat outside the mind make the feeling of it too strong to be got rid of ? The fact is so far otherwise, that all moralists admit and lament the ease with which, in the generality of minds, conscience can be silenced or stifled. The question, Need I obey my conscience ?
Image of page 59
Image of page 60

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