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section i: The Principal Distinctions of Duty or Virtue - David Fordyce, The Elements of Moral Philosophy 
The Elements of Moral Philosophy, in Three Books with a Brief Account of the Nature, Progress, and Origin of Philosophy, ed. Thomas Kennedy (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2003).
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The Principal Distinctions of Duty or Virtue
We have now considered the Constitution and Connections of Man, and on these erected a general System of Duty, or MoralObligation, consonant to Reason, approved by his most sacred and intimate Sense, suitable to his mixed Condition, and confirmed by the Experience of Mankind. We have also traced the finalCauses of his Moral Faculties and Affections to those noble Purposes they answer both with regard to the private and the public System.
General Division of DutyFrom this Induction it is evident, that there is one Order or Class of Duties which Man owes to himself. Another to Society. And a third to God.
Duties to one’s selfThe Duties he owes to himself are founded chiefly on the defensive and private Passions, which prompt him to pursue whatever tends to private Good or Happiness, and to avoid, or ward off whatever tends to private Ill or Misery. Among the various Goods which allure and solicit him, and the various Ills which attack or threaten him, “To be intelligent and accurate in selecting one, and rejecting the other, or in preferring the most excellent Goods, and avoiding the most terrible Ills, when there is a Competition among either, and to be discreet in using the best Means to attain the Goods and avoid the Ills, is what we call Prudence.” This, in our inward Frame, corresponds to Sagacity, or a Quickness of Sense in our outward.—“To proportion our defensivePassions, to our Dangers, we call Fortitude;” which always implies “a just Mixture of calm Resentment and Animosity, and well-governed Caution.” And this Firmness of Mind answers to the Strength and Muscling of the Body.—And “duly to adjust our privatePassions to our Wants, or to the respective Moment of the Good we affect or pursue, we call Temperance;” which does therefore always imply, in this large Sense of the Word, “a just Balance or Command of the Passions,” and answers to the Health and sound Temperament of the Body.*
Duties to SocietyThe second Class of Duties arises from the public or socialAffections, “the just Harmony or Proportion of which to the Dangers and Wants of others, and to the several Relations we bear, commonly goes by the Name of Justice.” This includes the Whole of our Duty to Society, to its Parent, and the general Polity of Nature; particularly Gratitude, Friendship, Sincerity, natural Affection, Benevolence, and the other social Virtues: This being the noblest Temper and fairest Complexion of the Soul, corresponds to the Beauty and fine Proportion of the Person. The Virtues comprehended under the former Class, especially Prudence and Fortitude, may likewise be transferred to this; and according to the various Circumstances in which they are placed, and the more confined or more extensive Sphere in which they operate, may be denominated Private, Oeconomical, or CivilPrudence, Fortitude, &c. These direct our Conduct with regard to the Wants and Dangers of those lesser or greater Circles with which we are connected.
Duties to GodThe third Class of Duties respects the Deity, and arises also from the publicAffections, and the several glorious Relations which he sustains to us, as our Creator, Benefactor, Law-giver, Judge, &c.
MethodWe chose to consider this Set of Duties in the last place, because, though prior in Dignity and Excellency, they seem to be last in Order of Time, as thinking it the most simple and easy Method to follow the gradual Progress of Nature, as it takes its Rise from Individuals, and spreads through the social System, and still ascends upwards, till at length it stretches to its all-mighty Parent and Head, and so terminates in those Duties which are highest and best.
PietyThe Duties resulting from these Relations, are Reverence, Gratitude, Love, Resignation, Dependence, Obedience, Worship, Praise; which, according to the Model of our finite Capacities, must maintain some sort of Proportion to the Grandeur and Perfection of the Object whom we venerate, love and obey. “This Proportion or Harmony, is expressed by the general Name of Piety or Devotion,” which is always stronger or weaker, according to the greater or less apprehended Excellency of its Object. This sublime Principle of Virtue, is the enlivening Soul which animates the moral System, and that Cement which binds and sustains the other Duties which Man owes to himself and to Society. From hence, as will appear afterwards, they derive not only the firmest Support, but their highest Relief and Lustre.
Divisions of ConscienceThis then is the general Temper and Constitution of Virtue, and these are the principal Lines or Divisions of Duty. To those good Dispositions, which respect the several Objects of our Duty, and to all Actions which flow from such Disposition, the Mind gives its Sanction or Testimony. And this Sanction or Judgment concerning the moral Quality, or the Goodness of Actions or Dispositions, Moralists call Conscience. When it judges of an Action that is to be performed, it is called an antecedent Conscience; and when it passes Sentence on an Action which is performed, it is called a subsequent Conscience.Goodness of an Action The Tendency of an Action to produce Happiness, or its external Conformity to a Law, is termed its material Goodness.Material But the good Dispositions from which an Action proceeds, or its Conformity to Law in every respect, constitutes its formal Goodness.Formal
Natural and MoralSome Moralists of no mean Figure, reckon it necessary to constitute the formal Goodness of an Action, that we reflect on the Action “with Moral Complacency and Approbation. For mere Affection, or a good Temper, whether it respects others, or ourselves, they call natural or instinctive Goodness, of which the Brutes are equally capable with Man. But when that Affection or Temper is viewed with Approbation, and made the Object of a new Affection, this, they say, constitutes MoralGoodness or Virtue, in the strict Sense of the Word, and is the Characteristic of Moral or Rational Agents.”5
Whether Approbation is necessary to complete the Idea of VirtueIt must be acknowledged, that Men may be partially good, i.e. may indulge some kind Affections, and some kind Actions, and yet may be vitious, or immoral on the Whole. Thus a Man may be affectionate to his Child, and injurious to his Neighbour; or compassionate to his Neighbour, and cruel to his Country; or zealous for his Country, yet inhuman to Mankind. It must also be acknowledged, that to make every Degree and Act of good Affection the frequent Object of our Attention,—to reflect on these with Moral Approbation and Delight,—to be convinced, on a full and impartial Review, that Virtue is most amiable in itself, and attended with the most happy Consequences, is sometimes a great Support to Virtue, in many Instances necessary to complete the virtuous Character, and always of use to give Uniformity and Stability to virtuous Principles, especially amidst the numberless Trials to which they are exposed in this mixed Scene of human Life. Yet how many of our Fellow-Creatures do we esteem and love, who perhaps never coolly reflected on the Beauty or fair Proportions of Virtue, or turned it into a Subject of their Moral Approbation and Complacency! Philosophers, or contemplative Men, may very laudably amuse themselves with such charming Theories, and often do contemplate every the minutest Trace of Virtue about themselves, with a parental Fondness and Admiration, and by those amiable Images, reflected from themselves, they may perhaps be more confirmed in the Esteem of whatever is honest and praise-worthy. However, it is not generally among this recluse Set of Men, that we expect to find the highest Flights of Virtue; but rather among Men of Action and Business, who, through the Prevalence of a natural good Temper, or from generous Affections to their Friends, their Country, and Mankind, are truly and transcendently good. Whatever that Quality is which we approve in any Action, and count worthy our Esteem, and which excites an Esteem and Love of the Agent, we call the Virtue, Merit, or formal Goodness of that Action. And if Actions, invested with such a Quality, have the Ascendant in a Character, we call that Character virtuous or good. Now it is certain that those Qualities or Principles mentioned above, especially those of the public and benevolent kind, how simple, how instinctive soever, are viewed with Approbation and Love. The very Nature of that Principle we call Conscience, which approves these benevolent Affections, and whatever is done through their Influence, intimates that Virtue or Merit is present in the Mind before Conscience is exercised, and that its Office is only to observe it there, or to applaud it. For if Virtue is something that deserves our Esteem and Love, then it must exist before Conscience is exerted, or gives its Testimony. Therefore to say that the Testimony of Conscience is necessary to the Being or Form of a virtuous Action, is, in plain Terms, to affirm, that Virtue is not Virtue, till it is reflected on and approved as Virtue. The proper Business of Reason, in forming the virtuous Character, is to guide the several Affections of the Mind to their several Objects, and to direct us to that Conduct or to those Measures of Action, which are the most proper Means of acquiring them. Thus, with respect to Benevolence, which is the Virtue of a Character, or a principal Ingredient of Merit, its proper Object is the public Good. The Business of Reason then is to inform us wherein consists the greatest public Good, what Conduct and which Actions are the most effectual Means of promoting it. After all, the Motions of the Mind are so quick and imperceptible, and so complicated with each other, that perhaps seldom do any indulge the virtuous or good Affections without an approving Consciousness; and certainly the more that Virtue is contemplated with Admiration and Love, the more firm and inflexible will the Spectator be in his Attachment to it.
Divisions of ConscienceWhen the Mind is ignorant or uncertain about the Moment of an Action, or its Tendency to private or public Good, or when there are several Circumstances in the Case, some of which being doubtful, render the Mind dubious concerning the Morality of the Action, this is called a doubtful or scrupulous Conscience; if it mistakes concerning these, it is called an erroneous Conscience. If the Error or Ignorance is involuntary or invincible, the Action proceeding from that Error, or from that Ignorance, is reckoned innocent, or not imputable. If the Error or Ignorance is supine or affected, i.e. the Effect of Negligence, or of Affectation and wilful Inadvertence, the Conduct flowing from such Error, or such Ignorance, is criminal and imputable. Not to follow one’s Conscience, though erroneous and ill-informed, is criminal, as it is the Guide of Life; and to counteract it, shews a depraved and incorrigible Spirit. Yet to follow an erroneous Conscience is likewise criminal, if that Error which misled the Conscience was the Effect of Inattention, or of any criminal Passion.*
How Conscience is to be rectifiedIf it be asked, “How an erroneous Conscience shall be rectified, since it is supposed to be the only Guide of Life, and Judge of Morals?” We answer, in the very same way that we would rectify Reason, if at any time it should judge wrong, as it often does, viz. By giving it proper and sufficient Materials for judging right, i.e. by enquiring into the whole State of the Case, the Relations, Connections, and several Obligations of the Actor, the Consequences, and other Circumstances of the Action, or the Surplusage of private or public Good which results, or is likely to result, from the Action or from the Omission of it. If those Circumstances are fairly and fully stated, the Conscience will be just and impartial in its Decision. For by a necessary Law of our Nature, it approves, and is well affected to the Moral Form; and if it seems to approve of Vice or Immorality, it is always under the Notion or Mask of some Virtue. So that strictly speaking, it is not Conscience which errs; for its Sentence is always conformable to the View of the Case which lies before it; and is just, upon the Supposition that the Case is truly such as it is represented to it. All the Fault is to be imputed to the Agent, who neglects to be better informed, or who, through Weakness or Wickedness, hastens to pass Sentence from an imperfect Evidence. Thus, he who persecutes another for the Sake of Conscience, or a Mistake in religious Opinion, does not approve of Injustice, or Cruelty, any more than his mistaken Neighbour who suffers by it; but thinking the Severity he uses conformable to the Divine Will or salutary to the Patient, or at least to the Society of the Faithful, whose Interest he reckons far preferable not only to the Interest of so small a Part, but to all the vast Remainder of Mankind; and thinking withal, that Severity is the only Means of securing that highest Interest, he passes a Sentence as just, and consequential from those Principles, as a Physician, who to save the whole Body, orders the Amputation of a gangrened Limb, thinking that the only Remedy. Perhaps, in the latter Case, an able Practitioner might have accomplished the Cure by a less dangerous Operation; and in the former, a better Casuist, or a greater Master in spiritual Medicine, might have contrived a Cure, full as sure, and much more innocent.
Having now given the general Divisions of Duty or Virtue, which exhibit its different Faces and Attitudes, as it stands directed to its respective Objects, let us next descend into Particulars, and mark its most minute Features and Proportions, as they appear in the Detail of human Life.
[*] Vid. Tim. Locr. de Anima Mundi. [On the Nature of the World and the Soul was originally attributed to Timaeus of Locri, a fifth-century b.c. Greek writer from southern Italy upon whose thought Plato was said to have based his Timaeus. Contemporary scholars agree that it is a work of Middle Platonism, c. first century b.c. or first century a.d., and derived from Plato’s work, rather than a source for it. In paragraphs 78–86 the author discusses the virtues and the health of body and soul. See Timaios of Locri, On the Nature of the World and the Soul, trans. and ed. Thomas H. Tobin, Texts and Translations Graeco-Roman Religion Series, no. 8 (Chico, Calif.: Scholars Press, 1985).]
[5.]For example, Bishop Butler writes in the first paragraph of his A Dissertation of the Nature of Virtue, appended to his Analogy of Religion (London, 1736), “Brute creatures are impressed and actuated by various instincts and propensions: so also we. But additional to this, we have a capacity of reflecting upon actions and characters, and making them an object of our thought: and on doing this, we naturally and unavoidably approve some actions, under the peculiar view of their being virtuous and of good dessert; and disapprove others, as vicious and of ill dessert….”
[*] Vid. Hutch. Mor. Inst. Lib. II. Cap. 3. [Francis Hutcheson, Philosophiae moralis institutio compendiaria (1742), 2nd ed., Glasgow, 1745. Following his death, Hutcheson’s “Compends” were translated into English as A Short Introduction to Moral Philosophy in Three Books, Containing the Elements of Ethics and the Law of Nature (1747).]