utilitarian doctrine Utilitarians are quite aware that there are other

Utilitarian doctrine utilitarians are quite aware

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utilitarian doctrine. Utilitarians are quite aware that there are other desirable possessions and qualities besides virtue, and are perfectly willing to allow to all of them their full worth. They are also aware that a right action does not necessarily indicate a virtuous character, and that actions which are blame- able often proceed from qualities entitled to praise. When this is apparent in any particular case, it modi-
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30 UTILITARIANISM. fies their estimation, not certainly of the act, but of the agent. I grant that they are, notwithstanding, of opinion, that in the long run the best proof of a good character is good actions ; and resolutely refuse to consider any mental disposition as good, of which the predominant tendency is to produce bad conduct. This makes them unpopular with many people ; but it is an unpopularity which they must share with every one who regards the distinction between right and wrong in a serious light ; and the reproach is not one which a conscientious utilitarian need be anxious to repel. If no more be meant by the objection than that many utilitarians look on the morality of actions, as measured by the utilitarian standard, with too exclu sive a regard, and do not lay sufficient stress upon the other beauties of character which go towards making a human being loveable or admirable, this may be ad mitted. Utilitarians who have cultivated their moral feelings, but not their sympathies nor their artistic perceptions, do fall into this mistake ; and so do all other moralists under the same conditions. What can be said in excuse for other moralists is equally available for them, namely, that if there is to be any error, it is better that it should be on that side. As a matter of fact, we may affirm that among utili tarians as among adherents of other systems, there is every imaginable degree of rigidity and of laxity in the application of their standard : some are even puri tanically rigorous, while others are as indulgent as can possibly be desired by sinner or by sentimentalist. But on the whole, a doctrine which brings prominently forward the interest that mankind have in the re-
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ITS MEANING. 31 pression and prevention of conduct which violates the moral law, is likely to be inferior to no other in turning the sanctions of opinion against such violations. It is true, the question, What does violate the moral law? is one on which those who recognise different standards of morality are likely now and then to differ. But difference of opinion on moral questions was not first introduced into the world by utili tarianism, while that doctrine does supply, if not always an easy, at all events a tangible and intelli gible mode of deciding such differences. It may not be superfluous to notice a few more of the common misapprehensions of utilitarian ethics, even those which are so obvious and gross that it might appear impossible for any person of candour and intelligence to fall into them : since persons, even of considerable mental endowments, often give them selves so little trouble to
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