Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XV.: REJECTION INSTEAD OF AMENDMENT—( ad judicium. ) - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 2
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CHAPTER XV.: REJECTION INSTEAD OF AMENDMENT—( ad judicium. ) - Jeremy Bentham, The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 2 
The Works of Jeremy Bentham, published under the Superintendence of his Executor, John Bowring (Edinburgh: William Tait, 1838-1843). 11 vols. Vol. 2.
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REJECTION INSTEAD OF AMENDMENT—(ad judicium.)
Exposition.—This fallacy consists in urging, in the character of a bar, or conclusive objection against the proposed measure, some consideration which, if presented in the character of a proposed amendment, might have more or less claim to notice.
It generally consists of some real or imaginary inconvenience, alleged commonly, but not necessarily, as eventually to result from the adoption of the measure.
This inconvenience, supposing it real, will either be preponderant over the promised benefit, or not preponderant.
In either case, it will be either remediable or irremediable.
If at the same time irremediable and preponderant, then it is, and then only, that in the character of an objection it is of itself conclusive.
By him in whose mind discernment and candour are combined, this distinction will be not only felt, but brought to view. If in respect of adequate discernment there be a failure, it will not be felt: if in respect of candour only, it will have been felt, but it will not be brought to view.
The occasion by which opportunity is afforded for the working of this fallacy, is the creation of any new office, including the mass of emolument which, without inquiry into the necessity, or any means taken for keeping down the quantum of it within the narrowed limits which the good of the service admits of, is, by the union of habit with the sinister interest that gave birth to it, annexed as of course, upon their creation, to all new offices.
The fallacy,—what there is of fallacy in the case, consists in the practice of setting up the two universally applicable objections, viz. need of economy, and mischief or danger from the increase of the influence of the crown, in the character of peremptory bars to the proposed measure.
Exposure.—The ground on which an objection of this stamp may with propriety be considered and spoken of under the denomination of a fallacy, is where the utility of the proposed new establishment is left unimpeached, and the sole reason for the rejection proposed to be put upon the proposed measure, consists in the above topics, or one of them.
In such case, on the part of him by whom any objections so inconclusive in their nature are relied on, the reliance placed on them amounts to a virtual acknowledgment of the utility of the proposed new establishment: inasmuch as in an address from one rational being to another, nothing seems, upon the face of the statement at least, more unnatural, than that if a man could find any objection that would apply to the particular establishment in question, in contradistinction to all others, he should confine himself to an objection which applies alike to almost all existing establishments; that is, to almost the whole frame of the existing government.
Such is the case where the two commonplace objections in question, or either of them, are brought out in the character of objections by themselves, and without being accompanied by any specific ones.
But even when added to specific ones, an objection thus inconclusive in its nature, if urged in a direct way, and dwelt upon with any emphasis, can scarcely—at least while there remain any useless places unabolished, or any overpaid places, from which the overplus of emolument remains undefalcated—be exempted from the imputation of irrelevancy.
At any rate, wherever it happens that a minister at present in office sees opposite to him in the House another person who has at any time been in office, it seems an observation not very easy to answer in the character of an argument ad hominem, should it be said, “When you were in office, there were such and such offices which were of no manner of use; these you never used your endeavours to abolish, notwithstanding the use that would have resulted from the abolition, in the shape of diminution of needless expenditure and sinister influence: yet now, when a set of offices is proposed, for which you cannot deny but that there is some use, your exertions for the benefit of economy are reserved to be directed against these useful ones.”
No doubt but that, on the supposition that the two opposite masses of advantage and disadvantage being completely in equilibrio,—advantage in the shape of service expected to be rendered in the proposed new offices on the one hand, disadvantage in the shape of expense—of the emolument proposed to be attached to them on the other,—a weight much less than that of the mischief from the increase of sinister influence, would suffice to turn the scale.
Take also another supposition. Suppose (what is not in every case possible) that the value of the service expected to be obtained by means of the proposed new offices is capable of being obtained, and has accordingly been obtained in figures. Suppose, on the other hand (what will very frequently be feasible,) that the expense of the establishment may with sufficient precision be obtained in figures—and being so obtained, on striking the balance, found to be less than the advantage so expected from the service. Suppose, lastly (what is impossible,) that the value of the mischief which, in the shape of introduction of additional influence, were with sufficient precision capable of standing expressed in figures, had been so expressed—and being so expressed, the quantity of mischief in this shape were found sufficient to turn the scale on the side of disadvantage.
Here would be a sufficient reason for the rejection of the proposed establishment, and thence a sufficient warrant for bringing into the field the argument in question, commonplace as it is. But in regard to this last supposition, at any rate, how far it is from being capable of being realized, is but too evident.
Upon the whole, therefore, so far at least as concerns the objection drawn from the increase that would result to the sinister influence of the crown, it may be said, that whatsoever time is spent in descanting upon this topic, may be set down to the account of lost time.
It is a topic, the importance of which is surely sufficient to entitle it to be considered by itself. The influence of the crown, it ought always to be remembered, can no otherwise receive with propriety the epithet sinister, than in so far as, by being directed to and reaching a member of parliament or a parliamentary elector, it affects the purity of parliament. But by a system of measures properly directed to that end, the constitution of parliament might be effectually guarded against any degree of impurity capable of being productive of any sensible inconvenience, whatsoever were the lucrativeness of the utmost number of offices, for the creation or preservation of which so much as a plausible reason could be found: and were it otherwise, the proper remedy would be found, not in the refusal to create any new office, the service of which was understood to over-balance in any determinate and unquestionable degree the mischief of the expense, but in the taking the nomination out of the hands of the crown, and vesting it in some other and independent hands.
The putting all places in these respects upon the same footing,—necessary and unnecessary ones—properly paid and overpaid ones,—wears out and weakens that energy which should be reserved for, and directed with all its force against, unnecessary places, and the overplus part of the pay of overpaid ones.
Another occasion on which this fallacy is often wont to be applied, is the case in which, from the mere observation of a profit as likely from any transaction to accrue to this or that individual, a censure is grounded, pronouncing it a job.
The error in case of sincerity, the fallacy in case of insincerity, consists, in forgetting that individuals are the stuff of which the public is made; that there is no way of benefiting the public but by benefiting individuals; and that a benefit which, in the shape of pleasure or exemption from pain, does not sooner or later come home to the bosom of at least some one individual, is not in reality a benefit—is not entitled to that name.
So far then from constituting an argument in disfavour of the proposed measure, every benefit that can be pointed out as accruing, or likely to accrue, to any determinate individual or individuals, constitutes, as far as it goes, an argument in favour of the measure.
In no case whatsoever—on no imaginable supposition—can this consideration serve with propriety in the character of an argument in disfavour of any measure. In no case whatsoever—on no imaginable supposition—can it, so far as it goes, fail of serving with propriety in the character of an argument in favour of the measure. Is the measure good?—it adds to the mass of its advantages. Is the measure upon the whole a bad one?—it subtracts, by the whole amount of it, from the real amount of the disadvantages attached to the measure.
At the same time, in practice, there is no argument, perhaps, which is more frequently employed, or on which more stress is laid, without doors at any rate, if not within doors, than this, in the character of an argument in disfavour of a proposed measure—no argument which, even when taken by itself, is with more confidence relied on in the character of a conclusive one.
To what cause is so general a perversion of the faculty of reason to be ascribed?
Two causes present themselves as acting in this character:—
1. It is apt to be received (and that certainly not without reason) in the character of evidence—conclusive evidence—of the nature of the motive, to the influence of which the part taken by the supporters of the measure, or some of them (viz. all who in any way are partakers of the private benefit in question,) ought to be ascribed.
In this character, to the justness of the conclusion thus drawn, there can in general be nothing to object.
But the consideration of the motive in which the part taken, either by the supporters or the opposers of a measure, finds its cause, has elsewhere been shown to be a consideration altogether irrelevant;* and the use of the argument has been shown to be of the number of those fallacies, the influence of which is in its natural and general tendency unfavourable to every good cause.
The other cause is, the prevalence of the passion of envy. To the man to whom it is an object of envy, the good of another man is evil to himself. By the envy of the speaker or writer, the supposed advantage to the third person is denounced in the character of an evil, to the envy of the hearers or the readers:—denounced, and perhaps without any perception of the mistake, so rare is the habit of self-examination, and so gross and so perpetual the errors into which, for want of it, the human mind is capable of being led.
In speaking of the passion or affection of envy, as being productive of this fallacious argument, and of the error but for which shame would frequently restrain a man from the employment of it,—it is not meant to speak of this passion or this affection as one of which, on the occasion in question, the influence ought to be considered as pernicious on the whole.
So far from being pernicious, the more thoroughly it is considered, the more closely it will be seen to be salutary upon the whole; and not merely salutary, at least in the best state of things that has yet been realized, but so necessary, that without it, society would hardly have been kept together.
The legislator who resolves not to accept assistance from any but social motives—from none, save what in his vocabulary pass under the denomination of pure motives, will find his laws without vigour and without use.
The judge who resolves to have no prosecutors who are brought to him by any but pure motives, will not find that part of his emolument which, under the present system of abuse, is composed of fees, and may save himself the trouble of going into court—of sitting on penal causes. The judge who should determine to receive no evidence but what was at the same time brought to him, and, when before him, guided by pure motives, need scarcely trouble himself to hear evidence.
The practical inference is—that, if he would avoid drawing down disgrace upon himself instead of upon the measure he is opposing, a man ought to abstain from employing this argument in confutation of the fallacy; since, in as far as he employs it, he is employing in refutation of one fallacy (and that so gross an one, that the bare mention of it in that character may naturally be sufficient to reduce the employer to silence,)—he is employing another fallacy, which is of itself susceptible of a refutation no less easy and conclusive.
It is only by the interests, the affections the passions—(all these words mean nothing more than the same psychological object appearing in different characters)—that the legislator, labouring for the good and in the service of mankind, can effect his purposes. Those interests, acting in the character of motives, may be of the self-regarding class, the dissocial, or the social:—the social he will, on every occasion where he finds them already in action, endeavour not only to engage in his service, but cherish and cultivate: the self-regarding and the dissocial, though his study will be rather to restrain than encourage them, he will at any rate, wherever he sees them in action or likely to come into action, use his best endeavours to avail himself of directing their influence, with whatever force he can muster, to his own social purposes.
[* ]See Part II. Chap. I. Personalities.