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section ii: Concerning that Character of Virtue and Vice, The Fitness or Unfitness of Actions. - Francis Hutcheson, An Essay on the Nature and Conduct of the Passions and Affections, with Illustrations on the Moral Sense 
An Essay on the Nature and Conduct of the Passions and Affections, with Illustrations on the Moral Sense, ed. Aaron Garrett (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2002).
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Concerning that Character of Virtue and Vice, The Fitness or Unfitness of Actions.
The Fitness and Unfitness in Morals.[245/250] We come next to examine some other Explications of Morality, which have been much insisted on of late.* We are told, “that there are eternal and immutable Differences of Things, absolutely and antecedently: that there are also eternal and unalterable Relations in the Natures of the Things themselves, from which arise Agreements and Disagreements, Congruities and Incongruities, Fitness and Unfitness of the Application of Circumstances, to the Qualifications of Persons; that Actions agreeable to these Relations are morally Good, and that the contrary Actions are morally Evil.” These Expressions are sometimes made of the same Import with those more common ones: “acting agreeably to the eternal Reason and Truth  of Things.” ’Tis is asserted, that  “God who knows all these Relations, &c. does guide his Actions by them, since he has no wrong Affection” (the Word [wrong] should have been first explained): “And that in like manner these Relations, &c. ought” (another unlucky Word in Morals) “to determine the Choice of all Rationals, abstractly from any Views of Interest. If they do not, these Creatures are insolently counteracting their Creator, and as far as they can, making things to be what they are not, which is the greatest Impiety.”
That Things are now different is certain. That Ideas, to which there is no Object yet existing conformable, are also different, is certain. That upon comparing two Ideas there arises a relative Idea, generally when the two Ideas compared have in them any Modes of the same simple Idea, is also obvious. Thus every extended Being may be compared to any other of the same Kinds of Dimensions; and relative Ideas be formed of greater, less, equal, double, triple, subduple, &c. with infinite variety. This may let us see that Relations are not real Qualities inherent in external Natures, but only Ideas necessarily accompanying our Perception of two Objects at once, and comparing them. Relative Ideas do continue, when the external  Objects do not exist, provided  we retain the two Ideas. But what the eternal Relations in the Natures of Things do mean, is not so easy perhaps to be conceived.
Three sorts of Relationsconsidered.To shew particularly how far Morality can be concerned in Relations, we may consider them under these Three Classes. 1. The Relations of inanimate Objects, as to their Quantity, or active and passive Powers, as explained by Mr. Locke.”432. The Relations of inanimate Objects to rational Agents, as to their active or passive Powers.3. The Relations of rational Agents among themselves, founded on their Powers or Actions past or continued.44 Now let us examine what Fitnesses or Unfitnesses arise from any of these sorts of Relations, in which the Morality of Actions may consist; and whether we can place Morality in them, without presupposing a moral Sense. ’Tis plain, that ingenious Author says nothing against the Supposition of a moral Sense: But many do imagine, that his Account of moral Ideas is independent upon a moral Sense, and therefore are less willing to allow that we have such an immediate Perception, or Sense of Virtue and Vice.45 What follows is not intended to oppose his Scheme, but rather to suggest what seems a necessary Explication of it; by shewing that it is no otherwise intelligible, [248/253] but upon Supposition of a moral Sense.
None of them explain Morality without a Sense.1. Relations of inanimate Objects being known, puts it in the Power of a rational Agent often to diversify them, to change their Forms, Motions, or Qualities of any kind, at his pleasure: but no body apprehends any Virtue or Vice in such Actions, where no Relation is apprehended to a rational Agent’s Happiness or Misery; otherwise we should have got into the Class of Virtues all the practical Mathematicks, and the Operations of Chymistry.
2. As to the Relations of inanimate Objects to rational Agents; the Knowledge of them equally puts it in one’s Power to destroy Mankind, as to preserve them. Without presupposing Affections, this Knowledge will not excite to one Action rather than another; nor without a moral Sense will it make us approve any Action more than its contrary. The Relation of Corn to human Bodies being known to a Person of kind Affections, was perhaps the exciting Reason of teaching Mankind Husbandry: But the Knowledge of the Relations of Arsenick would excite a malicious Nature, just in the same manner, to the greatest Mischief. A Sword, an Halter, a Musket, bear the same Relation  to the Body of an Hero, which they  do to a Robber. The killing of either is equally agreeable to these Relations, but not equally goodin a moral Sense. The Knowledge of these Relations neither excites to Actions, nor justifies them, without presupposing either Affections or a moral Sense. Kind Affections with such Knowledge makes Heroes; malicious Affections, Villains.
3. The last sort of Relations is that among rational Agents, founded on their Actions or Affections; whence one is called Creator, another Creature; one Benefactor, the other Beneficiary (if that Word may be used in this general Sense;) the one Parent, the other Child; the one Governor, the other Subject, &c. Now let us see what Fitnesses or Unfitnesses arise from these Relations.
There is certainly, independently of Fancy or Custom, a natural Tendency in some Actions to give Pleasure, either to the Agent or to others; and a contrary Tendency in other Actions to give Pain, either to the Agent or others: This sort of Relation of Actions to the Agents or Objects is indisputable. If we call these Relations Fitnesses, then the most contrary Actions have equal Fitnesses for contrary Ends; and each one is unfit for the End of  the other. Thus Compassion is fit to make others happy, and unfit to make others miserable. Violation of Property is fit to make Men miserable, and unfit to make them happy. Each of these is both fit and unfit, with respect to different Ends. The bare Fitness then to an End, is not the Idea of moral Goodness.
Perhaps the virtuous Fitness is that of Ends. The Fitness of a subordinate Endto the ultimate, cannot constitute the Action good, unless the ultimate Endbe good. To keep a Conspiracy secret is not a good End, tho it be fit for obtaining a farther End, the Success of the Conspiracy. The moral Fitness must be that of the ultimate Enditself: The publick Goodalone is a fit End, therefore the Means fit for this Endalone are good.
What means the Fitness of an ultimate End? For what is it fit? Why, ’tis an ultimate End, not fit for any thing farther, but absolutely fit. What means that Word fit? If it notes a simple Idea it must be the Perception of some Sense: thus we must recur, upon this Scheme too, to a moral Sense.*
Agreement with Relations presupposes also a moral Sense. If Fitness be not a simple Idea, let it be defined. Some tell us, that it is “an Agreement of an Affection, Desire,  Action, or End, to the Relations of Agents.”46 But what means Agreement? Which of these four Meanings has it? 1. We say one Quantity agrees with another of equal Dimensions every way. 2. A Corollary agrees with a Theorem; when our knowing the latter to be Truth, leads us to know that the former is also a true Proposition.3.Meat agrees with that Body which it tends to preserve.4. Meat agrees with the Taste of that Being in whom it raises a pleasant Perception. If any one of these are the Meanings of Agreement in the Definition, then one of these is the Idea of Fitness.1. That an Action or Affection is of the same Bulk and Figure with the Relation. Or, 2. When the Relation is a true Proposition, so is the Action or Affection. Or, 3. The Action or Affection tends to preserve the Relation; and contrary Actions would destroy it: So that, for instance, God would be no longer related to us as Creator and Benefactor, when we disobeyed him. Or, 4. The Action raises pleasant Perceptions in the Relation. All these Expressions seem absurd.*
 These Gentlemen probably have some other Meanings to these Words Fitness or Agreement. I hope what is said will shew the need for Explication of them, tho they be so common. There is one Meaning  perhaps intended, however it be obscurely expressed, That “certain Affections or Actions of an Agent, standing in a certain Relation to other Agents, is approvedby every Observer, or raises in him a grateful Perception, or moves the Observer to love the Agent.” This Meaning is the same with the Notion of pleasing a moral Sense.
Whoever explains Virtue or Vice by Justice or Injustice, Right or Wrong, uses only more ambiguous Words, which will equally lead to acknowledge a moral Sense.
[*] See Dr. Samuel Clarke’s Boyle’s Lectures; and many late Authors.
[43.]As Locke does not emphasize the relation of quantity in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, it is likely that Hutcheson means only to refer to the doctrine of active and passive powers, which Locke discusses at length in the chapter “Powers” (Essay, II.XXI). Although powers are simple modes and not relations, they are the basis for countless relations, such as the active power that fire has to melt gold is related to the passive power gold has to be melted by fire; this is the relation of cause and effect (Essay, II.XXI §1). For Locke, though, we only have very obscure notions of active powers of bodies; active powers are usually referred to the volitions of thinking beings (Essay, II.XXI §4).
[44.]This division is derived from Samuel Clarke, A Discourse Concerning the Unchangeable Obligations of Natural Religion, 46–47.
[45.]Burnet argues that although “Reason and Pleasure may both of them be properly enough … Moral Senses” (Burnet [ed.], Letters, 11), the sense of pleasure which we feel upon observing a moral action is a consequence of our rational judgment that an act is true or right. Thus for Burnet, Hutcheson’s moral sense is mediated by reason which in turn is not immediate but is the “Sense of the Agreement or Disagreement of our Simple Ideas, or the Combinations of them” (ibid.). Wollaston would concur (cf. Religion of Nature Delineated, 23, 41–45).
[*] A late Author who pleads that Wisdom is chiefly employed in choosing the ultimate Ends themselves, and that Fitness is a proper Attribute of ultimate Ends, in answer to this short Question, “What are they fit for?” “answers, they are fit to be approved by all rational Agents.” Now his meaning of the word [Approved] is this, discerned to be fit. His Answer then is “they are fit to be perceived fit.” When Words are used at this rate one must lose his Labour in Replies to such Remarkers. See a Paper called Wisdom the sole Spring of Action in the Deity.
[46.]Hutcheson likely has the pre‐1728 writings of Balguy in mind here.
[*] Several Gentlemen who have published Remarks or Answers to this Scheme, continue to use these words Agreement, Conformity, Congruity, without complying with this just Request of explaining or fixing precisely the meaning of these words, which are manifestly ambiguous.