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Sect. I.: Of the Moral Sense by which we perceive Virtue and Vice , and approve or disapprove them in others . - Lewis Amherst Selby-Bigge, British Moralists, being Selections from Writers principally of the Eighteenth Century, vol. 1 
British Moralists, being Selections from Writers principally of the Eighteenth Century, edited with an Introduction and analytical Index by L.A. Shelby-Bigge in two volumes (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1897). Vol. 1.
Part of: British Moralists, being Selections from Writers principally of the Eighteenth Century, 2 vols.
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OftheMoral Senseby which we perceiveVirtueandVice, and approve or disapprove them in others.
73 I. That the Perceptions of moral Good and Evil, are perfectly different from those of natural Good, or Advantage every one must convince himself, by reflecting upon the different Manner in which he finds himself affected when these Objects occur to him. Had we no Sense of Good distinct from the Advantage or Interest arising from the external Senses, and the Perceptions of Beauty and Harmony; our Admiration and Love toward a fruitfull Field, or commodious Habitation, would be much the same with what we have toward a generous Friend, or any noble Character; for both are, or may be advantageous to us: And we should no more admile any Action, or love any Person in a distant Country, or Age, whose Influence could not extend to us, than we love the Mountains of Peru, while we are unconcern'd in the Spanish Trade. We should have the same Sentiments and Affections toward inanimate Beings, which we have toward rational Agents; which yet every one knows to be false. Upon Comparison, we say, 'Why should we admire or love with Esteem inanimate Beings? They have no Intention of Good to us; their Nature makes them fit for our Uses, which they neither know nor study to serve. But it is not so with rational Agents: they study our Interest, and delight in our Happiness, and are Benevolent toward us.' 74 We are all then conscious of the Difference between that Love and Esteem, or Perception of moral Excellence, which Benevolence excites toward the Person in whom we observe it, and that Opinion of natural Goodness, which only raises Desire of Possession toward the good Object. Now 'what should make this Difference, if all Approbation, or Sense of Good be from Prospect of Advantage? Do not inammate Objects promote our Advantage, as well as Benevolent Persons who do us Offices of Kindness, and Friendship? Should we not then have the same endearing Sentiments of both? or only the same cold Opinion of Advantage in both?' The Reason why it is not so, must be this, 'That we have a distinct Perception of Beauty, or Excellence in the kind Affections of rational Agents; whence we are determin'd to admire and love such Characters and Persons.'
Suppose we reap the same Advantage from two Men, one of whom serves us from Delight in our Happiness, and Love toward us; the other from Views of Self-lnterest, or by Constraint: both are in this Case equally beneficial or advantageous to us, and yet we shall have quite different Sentiments of them. We must then certainly have other Perceptions of moral Actions than those of Advantage: And that Power of receiving these Perceptlons may be call'd a Moral Sense, since the Definition agrees to it, viz. a Determination of the Mind, to receive any Idea from the Presence of an Object which occurs to us, independent on our Will.
75 This perhaps will be equally evident from our Ideas of Evil, done to us designedly by a rational Agent. Our Senses of natural Good and Evil would make us receive, with equal Serenity and Composure, an Assault, a Buffet, an Affront from a Neighbour, a Cheat from a Partner, or Trustee, as we would an equal Damage from the Fall of a Beam, a Tile, or a Tempest and we should have the same Affections and Sentiments of both. Villany, Treachery, Cruelty, would be as meekly resented as a Blast, or Mildew, or an overflowing Stream. But I fancy every one is very differently affected on these Occasions, the there may be equal natural Evil in both. Nay, Actions no way detrimental, may occasion the strongest Anger, and Indignation, if they evidence only impotent Hatred, or Contempt. And, on the other hand, the Intervention of moral Ideas may prevent our Hatred of the Agent, or bad moral Apprehension of that Action, which causes to us the greatest natural Evil. Thus the Opinion of Justice in any Sentence, will prevent all Ideas of moral Evil in the Execution, or Hatred toward the Magistrate, who is the _mmediate Cause of our greatest Sufferings.
76 II. In our Sentiments of Actions which affect ourselves, there:s indeed a Mixture of the Ideas of natural and moral Good, which reqmre some Attention to separate them. But when we reflect upon the Actions which affect other Persons only, we may observe the moral Ideas unmix'd with those of natural Good, or Evil. For let it be here observ'd, that those Senses by which we perceive Pleasure in natural Objects, whence they are constituted Advantageous, could never raise in us any Desire of publick Good, but only of what was good to our selves in particular. Nor could they ever make us approve an Action because of its promoting the Happiness of others. And yet as soon as any Action is represented to us as flowing from Love, Humanity, Gratitude, Compassion, a Study of the good of others, and a Delight in their Happiness, although it were in the most distant Part of the World, or in some past Age, we feel Joy within us, admire the lovely Action, and praise its Author. And on the contrary, every Action represented as flowing from Hatred, Delight in the Misery of others, or Ingratitude, raises Abhorrence and Aversion.
77 It is true indeed, that the Actions we approve in others, are generally imagin'd to tend to the natural Good of Mankind, or of some Parts of it. But whence this secret Chain between each Person and Mankind? How is nay Interest connected with the most distant Parts of it? And yet I must admire Actions which are beneficial to them, and love the Author. Whence this Love, Compassion, Indignation and Hatred toward even feign'd Characters, in the most distant Ages, and Nations, according as they appear Kind, Faithful, Compassionate, or of the opposite Dispositions, toward their Imaginary Contemporaries? If there is no moral Sense, which makes rational Actions appear Beautiful, or Deform'd; if all Approbation be from the Interest of the Approver,
What's Hecubato us, or we toHecuba?1
78 III Some refin'd Explainers of Self-Love may tell us, 'That we hate, or love Characters, according as we apprehend we should have been supported, or injur'd by them, had we liv'd in their Days.' But how obvious is the Answer, if we only observe, that had we no Sense of moral Good in Humanity, Mercy, Faithfulness, why should not Self-Love, and our Sense of natural Good engage us always to the victorious Side, and make us admxre and love the successful Tyrant, or Traitor? Why do not we love Sinon, or Pyrrhus, in the Æneid? for had we been Greeks, these two would have been very advantageous Characters. Why are we affected with the Fortunes of Priamus, Polites, Chor(ebus or Æneas? It is plain we have some secret Sense which determines our Approbation without regard to Self-Interest; otherwise we should always favour the fortunate Side without regard to Virtue, and suppose our selves engaged with that Party.
Suppose any great Destruction occasion'd by mere Accident, without any Design, or Negligence of the Person who casually was the Author of it: This Action might have been as disadvantageous to us as design'd Cruelty, or Mahce; but who will say he has the same Idea of both Actions, or Sentiments of the Agents? 'Whence then this Difference?'
And further, Let us make a Supposition, which perhaps is not far from Matter of Fact, to try if we cannot approve even disadvantageous Actions, and perceive moral Good in them. A few ingenious Artisans, persecuted in their own Country, flee to ours for Protection; they instruct us in Manufactures which support Millions of Poor, Increase the Wealth of almost every Person in the State, and make us formadable to our Neighbors. In a Nation not far distant from us, some resolute Burgomasters, full of Love to their Country, and Compassion toward their Fellow-Citizens, opprest in Body and Soul by a Tyrant, and Inquisition, with indefatigable Diligence, public Spirit, and Courage, support a tedious perilous War against the Tyrant, and form an industrious Republick, which rivals us in Trade, and almost in Power. All the World sees whether the former or the latter have been more advantageous to us: and yet let every Man consult his own Breast, which of the two Characters he has the most agreeable Idea of? whether of the useful Refugee, or the public-spirited Burgomaster, by whose I ove to his own Country, we have often suffer'd in our Interests? and I am confident he will find some other Foundation of Esteem than Advantage, and will see a just Reason, why the Memory of our Artisans is so obscure among us, and yet that of our Rivals is immortal. 79 IV. Some Morahsts, who will rather twist Self-Love into a thousand Shapes, than allow any other Principle of Approbation than Interest, may tell us, 'That whatever profits one Part without detriment to another, profits the Whole, and then some small Share will redound to each Individual; that those Actions which tend to the Good of the Whole, if universally perform'd, would most effectually secure to each Individual his own Happiness; and that consequently, we may approve such Actions, from the Opinion of their tending ultimately to our own Advantage.
We need not trouble these Gentlemen to shew by their nice Train of Consequences, and Influences of Actions by way of Precedent in particular Instances, that we in this Age reap any Advantage from Orestes's killing the treacherous Ægysthus, or from the Actions of Codrus or Decius. Allow their Reasonings to be perfectly good, they only prove, that after long Reflection, and Reasoning, we may find out some ground, even from Ymws of Interest, to approve the same Actions which every Man admires as soon as he hears of them; and that too under a quite different Conception.
Should any of our Travellers find some old Grecian Treasure the Miser who hid it, certainly perform'd an Action more to the Traveller's Advantage than Codrus or Orestes for he must have but a small Share of Benefit from their Actions, whose Influence is so dispers'd, and lost in various Ages, and Nations: Surely then this Miser must appear to the Traveller a prodigious Hero in Virtue! For Self-interest will make us only esteem Men according to the Good they do to our Selves, and not give us high Ideas of public Good, but in proportion to our Share of it. But must a Man have the Reflection of Cumberland, or Puffendorf, to admlre Generosity, Faith, Humanity, Gratitude? Or reason so nicely to apprehend the Evil in Cruelty, Treachery, Ingratitude? Do not the former excite our Admiration, and Love, and Study of Imitation, wherever we see them, almost at first View, without any such Reflection; and the latter, our Hatred, Contempt, and Abhorrence? Unhappy would it be for Mankind, if a Sense of Virtue was of as narrow an Extent, as a Capacity for such Metaphysicks.
80 V. This moral Sense, either of our own Actions, or of those of others, has this in common with our other Senses, that however our Desire of Virtue may be counterballanc'd by Interest, our Sentiment or Perception of its Beauty cannot; as it certainly might be, if the only Ground of our Approbation were Views of Advantage. Let us consider this both as to our own Actions and those of others.
A Covetous Man shall dislike any Branch of Trade, how useful soever it may be to the Publick, if there is no Gain for himself in it; here is an Aversion from Interest. Propose a sufficient Premium, and he shall be the first who sets about it, with full Satisfaction in his own Conduct. Now is it the same way with our Sense of moral Actions? Should any one advise us to wrong a Minor, or Orphan, or to do an ungrateful Action toward a Benefactor; we at first View abhor at: Assure us that it will be very advantageous to us, propose even a Reward our Sense of the Action is not alter'd. It is true, these Motives may make us undertake it; but they have no more Influence upon us to make us approve it, than a Physician's Advice has to make a nauseous Potion pleasant to the Taste, when we perhaps force our selves to take it for the Recovery of Health.
81 Had we no Notion of Actions, beside our Opinion of their Advantage, or Disadvantage, could we ever chuse an Action as Advantageous, which we are conscious is still Evil? as it too often happens in human Affairs. Where would be the need of such high Bribes to prevail with Men to abandon the Interests of a ruin'd Party, or of Tortures to force out the Secrets of their Friends? Is it so hard to convince Mens Understandings, if that be the only Faculty we have to do with, that it is probably more advantageous to secure present Gain, and avoid present Evils, by joining with the prevalent Party, then to wait for the remote Possibility of future Good, upon a Revolution often improbable, and sometimes unexpected? And when Men are overpersuaded by Advantage, do they always prove their own Conduct? Nay, how often is their remaining Life odious, and shameful, in their own sense of it, as well as in that of others, to whom the base Action was profitable?
If any one becomes satisfy'd with his own Conduct in such a Case, upon what Ground is it? How does he please himself, or vindicate his Actions to others? Never by reflecting upon his private Advantage, or alledging this to others as a Vindication but by gradually warping into the moral Principles of his new Party for no Party is without them. And thus Men become pleas'd with their Actions under some Appearance of moral Good, distract from Advantage.
82 It may perhaps be alledg'd, 'That in those Actions of our own which we call Good, there is this constant Advantage, superior to all others, which is the Ground of our Approbation, and the Motive to them from Self-love, viz. That we suppose, the Deity will reward them.' This will be more fully consider'd 1 afterwards: At present it is enough to observe, that many have high Notions of Honour, Faith, Generosity, Justice, who have scarce any Opinions about the Deity, or any Thoughts of future Rewards and abhor any thing which is Treacherous, Cruel, or Unjust, without any regard to future Punishments.
But further, the these Rewards, and Punishments, may make my own Actions appear advantageous to me, and make me approve them from Self-Love, yet they would never make me approve, and love another Person for the like Actions, whose Merit would not be imputed to me. Those Actions are advantageous indeed to the Agent; but his Advantage is not my Advantage: and Self-Love could never influence me to approve Actions as advantageous to others, or to love the Authors of them on that account.
83 This is the second thing to be consider'd, 'Whether our Sense of the moral Good or Evil, in the Actions of others, can be over-ballanc'd, or brib'd by Views of Interest.' Now I may indeed easdy be capable of wishing, that another would do an Action I abhor as morally Evil, if it were very Advantageous to me: Interest in that Case may overballance my Desire of Virtue in another. But no Interest to my self will make me approve an Action as morally Good, which, without that Interest to nay self, would have appear'd morally Evil; if, upon computing its whole Effects, it appears to produce as great a moment of Good in the Whole, when it is not beneficial to me, as it did before when it was. In our Sense of moral Good or Evil, our own private Advantage of Loss is of no more moment, than the Advantage or Loss of a third Person, to make an Action appear Good or Evil. This Sense therefore cannot be over-ballanc'd by Interest. How ridiculous an Attempt wou'd it be, to engage a Man by Rewards, or to threaten him into a good Opinion of an Action, which was contrary to his moral Notions? We may procure Dissimulation by such means, and that is all.
84 VI. A late witty Author1 says, 'That the Leaders of Mankind do not really admire such Actions as those of Regulus, or Declus, but only observe, that Men of such Dispositions are very useful for the Defence of any State and therefore by Panegyricks, and Statues, they encourage such Tempers in others, as the most tractable, and useful.' Here first let us consider, If a Traitor, who would sell his own Country to us, may not often be as advantageous to us, as a Hero who defends us: And yet we can love the Treason, and hate the Traitor. We can at the same time praise a gallant Enemy, who is very pernicious to us. Is there nothing in all this but an Opinion of Advantage?
Again, upon this Scheme what could a Statue or Panegyrick effect?—Men love Praise—They will do the Actions which they observe to be pralsed.—Pralse, with Men who have no other Idea of Good but Self-Interest, is the Opinion which a Nation or Party have of a Man as useful to them—Regulus, or Cato, or Decius, had no Advantage by the Actions which profited thelr Country, and therefore they themselves could not admire them, however the Persons who reap'd the Advantage might praise such Actions. —Regulus or Cato could not possibly praise or love another Hero for a virtuous Action; for this would not gain them the Advantage of Honour; and their own Actions they must have look'd upon as the hard Terms on which Honour was to be purchas'd, without any thing amiable in them, which they could contemplate or reflect upon with Pleasure.—Now how unhke is this to what the least Observation would teach a Man concerning such Characters?
But says he1 , These wondrous cunning Governours made Men beheve, by their Statues and Panegyncks, that there was publick Spirit, and that this was in it self Excellent; and hence Men are led to admire it in others, and to mfitate it in themselves, forgetting the Pursmt of their own Advantage.' So easy a matter it seems to him, to quit judging of others by what we feel in our selves!—for a Person who is wholly selfish, to imagine others to be publick-spmted!—for one who has no Ideas of Good but In his own Advantage, to be led, by the Persuasions of others, into a Conception of Goodness in what is avowedly detrimental to himself, and profitable to others; nay so entirely, as not to approve the Action thorowly, but so far as he was conscious that it proceeded, from a disinterested Study of the Good of others:—Yet this it seems Statues and I'anegyricks can accomplish!
Nil intra est oleam, nil extra est in nuce auen!1
85 It is an easy matter for Men to assert any thing in Words but our own Hearts must decide the?,latter, 'Whether some moral Actions do not at first View appear amiable, even to those who are uneoncern'd in their Influence? Whether we do not sincerely love a generous kind Friend, or Patriot, whose Actions procure Honour to him only, without any Advantage to our selves?' It is true, that the Actions which we approve, are useful to Mankind; but not always to the Approver. It would perhaps be useful to the Whole, that all Men agreed in performing such Actions and then every one would have his Share of the Advantage: But this only proves, that Reason and calm Reflection may recommend to us, from Self-Interest, those Actions, which at first View our moral Sense determines us to admire, without considering this Interest. Nay, our Sense shall operate even where the Advantage to our selves does not hold. We can approve the Justice of a Sentence against our selves: A condenm'd Traitor may approve the Vigilance of a Cmero in discovering Conspiracies, the it had been for the Traitor's Advantage, that there never had been in the World any Men of such Sagacity. To say that he may still approve such Conduct as tending to the publick Good, is a Jest from one whose only Idea of Good is Self-Interest. Such a Person has no Desire of publick Good further than it tends to his own Advantage, which it does not at all in the present Case.
86 VII. If what is said makes it appear, that we have some other amiable Idea of Actions than that of Advantageous to our selves, we may conclude, 'That this Perception of moral Good is not deriv'd from Custom, Education, Example, or Study.' These give us no new Ideas: They might make us see Advantage to our selves in Actions whose Usefulness did not at first appear; or give us Opinions of some Tendency of Actions to our Detriment, by some nice Deductions of Reason, or by a rash Prejudice, when upon the first View of the Action we should have observ'd no such thing: but they never could have made us apprehend Actions as amiable or odious, without any Consideration of our own Advantage.
87 VIII. It remains then, 'That as the Author of Nature ha_ determin'd us to receive, by our external Senses, pleasant or disagreeable Ideas of Objects, according as they are useful or hurtful to our Bodys and to receive from uniform Objects the Pleasures of Beauty and Harmony, to excite us to the Pursmt of Knowledge, and to reward us for it; or to be an Argument to us of his Goodness, as the Uniformity:t self proves his Exmtenee, whether we had a Sense of Beauty in Uniformity or not: in the same manner he has given us a Moral Sense, to direct our Actions, and to give us still nobler Pleasures; so that while we are only intending the Good of others, we 'undesignedly promote our own greatest private Good.'
88 We are not to imagine, that this moral Sense, more than the other Senses, supposes any innate Ideas, Knowledge, or prachcal Proposition: We mean by it only a Determination of our Minds to receive amiable or disagreeable Ideas of Actions, when they occur to our Observation, antecedent to any Opinions of Advantage or Loss to redound to our selves from them even as we are pleas'd with a regular Form, or an harmonious Composition, without having any Knowledge of Mathematicks, or seeing any Advantage in that Form, or Composmon, different from the immediate Pleasure.
 Tragedy of Hamlet
 See Sect, ii. Art. 7.
 See the Fable of the Bees, pages 34, 36, 3rd Ed.
 See the same Author in the same Place.
 Hoi. Ep. 1. Lib. 2. v. 31.