Front Page Titles (by Subject) chapter v: Social Duties of the private Kind - The Elements of Moral Philosophy
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chapter v: Social Duties of the private Kind - 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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Social Duties of the private Kind
Hitherto we have considered only the Domestic, Oeconomical Duties, because these are the first in the Progress of Nature. But as Man passes beyond the little Circle of a Family, he forms Connections with Relations, Friends, Neighbours, and others; from whence results a new Train of Duties of the more private social kind; as Friendship, Chastity, Courtesy, Good-neighbourhood, Charity, Forgiveness, Hospitality.
Man’s Aptitude for SocietyMan is admirably formed for particular social Attachments and Duties. There is a peculiar and strong Propensity in his Nature to be affected with the Sentiments and Dispositions of others. Men, like certain musical Instruments, are set to each other, so that the Vibrations or Notes excited in one, raise correspondent Notes and Vibrations in the others. The Impulses of Pleasure or Pain, Joy or Sorrow, made on one Mind, are by an instantaneous Sympathy of Nature, communicated in some degree to all; especially when Hearts are (as an humane Writer expresses it) in Unison of Kindness; the Joy that vibrates in one, communicates to the other also. We may add, that tho’ Joy thus imparted swells the Harmony, yet Grief vibrated to the Heart of a Friend, and rebounding from thence in sympathetic Notes, melts as it were, and almost dies away. All the Passions, but especially those of the social kind, are contagious; and when the Passions of one Man mingle with those of another, they increase and multiply prodigiously. There is a most moving Eloquence in the human Countenance, Air, Voice, and Gesture, wonderfully expressive of the most latent Feelings and Passions of the Soul, which darts them, like a subtle Flame, into the Hearts of others, and raises correspondent Feelings there: Friendship, Love, Good-humour, Joy, spread through every Feature, and particularly shoot from the Eyes their softer and fiercer Fires with an irresistible Energy. And in like manner, the opposite Passions of Hatred, Enmity, Ill-humour, Melancholy, diffuse a sullen and saddening Air over the Face, and flashing from Eye to Eye, kindle a Train of similar Passions. By these and other admirable Pieces of Machinery, Men are formed for Society and the delightful Interchange of friendly Sentiments and Duties, to increase the Happiness of others by Participation, and their own by Rebound, and to diminish, by dividing, the common Stock of their Misery.
Duties arising from private RelationThe first Emanations of the Social Principle beyond the Bounds of a Family, lead us to form a nearer Conjunction of Friendship or Good-will with those, who are any wise connected with us by Blood, or Domestic Alliance. To them our Affection does, commonly, exert itself in a greater or less Degree, according to the Nearness or Distance of the Relation. And this Proportion is admirably suited to the Extent of our Powers and the Indigence of our State; for it is only within those lesser Circles of Consanguinity or Alliance, that the Generality of Mankind are able to display their Abilities or Benevolence, and consequently to uphold their Connection with Society and Subserviency to a public Interest. Therefore it is our Duty to regard these closer Connections as the next Department to that of a Family, in which Nature has marked out for us a Sphere of Activity and Usefulness; and to cultivate the kind Affections which are the Cement of those endearing Alliances.
Ingredients of FriendshipFrequently, the view of distinguishing Moral Qualities in some of our Acquaintance may give birth to that more noble Connection we call Friendship, which is far superior to the Alliances of Consanguinity. For these are of a superficial, and often of a transitory Nature, of which, as they hold more of Instinct than of Reason, we cannot give such a rational Account. But Friendship derives all its Strength and Beauty, and the only Existence which is durable, from the Qualities of the Heart, or from virtuous and lovely Dispositions. Or, should these be wanting, they or some Shadow of them must be supposed present. Therefore Friendship may be described to be, “The Union of two Souls, by means of Virtue, the common Object and Cement of their mutual Affection.” Without Virtue, or the Supposition of it, Friendship is only a Mercenary League, an Alliance of Interest, which must dissolve of course when that Interest decays or subsists no longer. It is not so much any particular Passion, as a Composition of some of the noblest Feelings and Passions of the Mind. Good Sense, a just Taste and Love of Virtue, a thorough Candor and Benignity of Heart, or what we usually call a Good Temper, and a generous Sympathy of Sentiments and Affections, are the necessary Ingredients of this virtuous Connection. When it is grafted on Esteem, strengthened by Habit, and mellowed by Time, it yields infinite Pleasure, ever new and ever growing; is a noble Support amidst the various Trials and Vicissitudes of Life, and an high Seasoning to most of our other Enjoyments. To form and cultivate virtuous Friendship must be very improving to the Temper, as its principal Object is Virtue, set off with all the Allurement of Countenance, Air, and Manners, shining forth in the native Graces of manly honest Sentiments and Affections, and rendered visible as it were to the friendly Spectator in a Conduct unaffectedly great and good; and as its principal Exercises are the very Energies of Virtue, or its Effects or Emanations. So that wherever this amiable Attachment prevails, it will exalt our Admiration and Attachment to Virtue, and, unless impeded in its Course by unnatural Prejudices, run out into a Friendship to the Human Race. For as no one can merit, and none ought to usurp, the sacred Name of a Friend, who hates Mankind, so, whoever truly loves them, possesses the most essential Quality of a true Friend.
Its DutiesThe Duties of Friendship are a mutual Esteem of each other, unbribed by Interest, and independent of it, a generous Confidence, as far distant from Suspicion as from Reserve, an inviolable Harmony of Sentiments and Dispositions, of Designs and Interests, a Fidelity unshaken by the Changes of Fortune, a Constancy unalterable by distance of Time or Place, a Resignation of one’s personal Interests to those of one’s Friend, and a reciprocal, unenvious, unreserved Exchange of kind Offices.—But amidst all the Exertions of this Moral Connection, humane and generous as it is, we must remember that it operates within a narrow Sphere, and its immediate Operations respect only the Individual, and therefore, its particular Impulses must still be subordinate to a more public Interest, or be always directed and controuled by the more extensive Connections of our Nature.
Love and ChastityWhen our Friendship terminates on any of the other Sex, in whom Beauty or Agreeableness of Person, and external Gracefulness of Manners, conspire to express and heighten the Moral Charm of a tender honest Heart; and sweet, ingenious, modest Temper, lighted up by good Sense, it generally grows into a more soft and endearing Attachment. When this Attachment is improved by a growing Acquaintance with the Worth of its Object, is conducted by Discretion, and issues at length, as it ought to do, in the Moral Connection formerly* mentioned, it becomes the Source of many amiable Duties, of a Communication of Passions and Interests, of the most refined Decencies, and of a thousand nameless deep-felt Joys of reciprocal Tenderness and Love, flowing from every Look, Word, and Action. Here Friendship acts with double Energy, and the Natural conspires with the Moral Charm, to strengthen and secure the Love of Virtue. As the delicate Nature of Female Honour and Decorum, and the inexpressible Grace of a chaste and modest Behaviour, are the surest, and indeed the only means of kindling at first, and ever after of keeping alive this tender and elegant Flame, and of accomplishing the excellent Ends designed by it; to attempt by Fraud to violate one, or, under pretence of Passion, to sully and corrupt the other, and, by so doing, to expose the too often credulous and unguarded Object, with a wanton Cruelty, to the Hatred of her own Sex, and the Scorn of our’s, and to the lowest Infamy of both, is a Conduct not only base and criminal, but inconsistent with that truly rational and refined Enjoyment, the Spirit and Quintessence of which is derived from the bashful and sacred Charms of Virtue kept untainted, and therefore ever alluring to the Lover’s Heart.
Courtesy, Good-neighbourhood, &c.Courtesy, Good-neighbourhood, Affability, and the like Duties, which are founded on our private Social Connections, are no less necessary and obligatory to Creatures united in Society, and supporting and supported by each other in a Chain of mutual Want and Dependence. They do not consist in a smooth Address, an artificial or obsequious Air, fawning Adulations, or a polite Servility of Manners, but in a just and modest Sense of our own Dignity and that of others, and of the Reverence due to Mankind, especially to those who hold the highest Links of the Social Chain; in a discreet and manly Accommodation of ourselves to the Foibles and Humours of others; in a strict Observance of the Rules of Decorum and Civility; but above all in a frank obliging Carriage, and generous Interchange of good Deeds, rather than Words. Such a Conduct is of great Use and Advantage, as it is an excellent Security against Injury, and the best Claim and Recommendation to the Esteem, Civility, and universal Respect of Mankind. This inferior Order of Virtues unite the particular Members of Society more closely, and form the lesser Pillars of the civil Fabric; which, in many Instances, supply the unavoidable Defects of Laws, and maintain the Harmony and Decorum of Social Intercourse, where the more important and essential Lines of Virtue are wanting.
Charity, ForgivenessCharity and Forgiveness are truly amiable and useful Duties of the Social kind. There is a twofold Distinction of Rights commonly taken notice of by Moral Writers, viz. Perfect and Imperfect. To fulfil the former, is necessary to the Being and Support of Society; to fulfil the latter is a Duty equally sacred and obligatory, and tends to the Improvement and Prosperity of Society; but as the Violation of them is not equally prejudicial to the public Good, the fulfilling them is not subjected to the Cognizance of Law, but left to the Candor, Humanity, and Gratitude of Individuals. And by this means ample Scope is given to exercise all the Generosity, and display the genuine Merit and Lustre of Virtue. Thus the Wants and Misfortunes of others call for our charitable Assistance and seasonable Supplies. And the good Man, unconstrained by Law, and uncontrouled by human Authority, will chearfully acknowledge and generously satisfy this mournful and moving Claim; a Claim supported by the Sanction of Heaven, of whose Bounties he is honoured to be the grateful Trustee. If his own perfect Rights are invaded by the Injustice of others, he will not therefore reject their imperfect Right to Pity and Forgiveness, unless his Grant of these should be inconsistent with the more extensive Rights of Society, or the public Good. In that case he will have recourse to public Justice and the Laws, and even then he will prosecute the Injury with no unnecessary Severity, but rather with Mildness and Humanity. When the Injury is merely personal, and of such a Nature as to admit of Alleviations, and the Forgiveness of which would be attended with no worse Consequences, especially of a public kind, the good Man will generously forgive his offending Brother: and it is his Duty to do so, and not to take private Revenge, or retaliate Evil for Evil. For though Resentment of Injury is a natural Passion, and implanted, as was observed* above, for wise and good Ends; yet, considering the manifold Partialities which most Men have for themselves, was every one to act as Judge in his own Cause, and to execute the Sentence dictated by his own Resentment, it is but too evident that Mankind would pass all Bounds in their Fury, and the last Sufferer be provoked in his turn to make full Reprisals. So that Evil, thus encountering with Evil, would produce one continued Series of Violence and Misery, and render Society intolerable, if not impracticable. Therefore, when the Security of the Individual, or Good of the Public, does not require a proportionable Retaliation, it is agreeable to the general Law of Benevolence, and to the particular End of the Passion (which is to prevent Injury and the Misery occasioned by it) to forgive personal Injuries,* or not to return Evil for Evil. This Duty is one of the noble Refinements which Christianity has made upon the general Maxims and Practice of Mankind, and enforced with a peculiar Strength and Beauty, by Sanctions no less alluring than awful. And indeed the Practice of it is generally its own Reward; by expelling from the Mind the most dreadful Intruders upon its Repose, those rancorous Passions which are begot and nursed by Resentment, and by disarming and even subduing every Enemy one has, except such as have nothing left of Men, but the outward Form.
HospitalityThe most enlarged and humane Connection of the private kind, seems to be the Hospitable Alliance, from which flow the amiable and disinterested Duties we owe to Strangers. If the Exercise of Passions of the most private and instinctive kind is beheld with Moral Approbation and Delight, how lovely and venerable must those appear, which result from a calm Philanthropy, are founded in the common Rights and Connections of Society, and embrace Men, not of a particular Sect, Party, or Nation, but all in general without Distinction, and without any of the little Partialities of Self-love.
[*] See Chap. 3 of this Sect.
[*] See Book I. Sect. 2. & 4.
[*] See Butler’s excellent Serm. (9th) on this Subject. [“Upon Forgiveness of Injuries,” Butler, Fifteen Sermons.]