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he makes is in the strictest sense involuntary : he speaks indeed : but he is compelled to it absolutely against his will.
Man is by his nature an accountable being, an. swerable for his conduct to God and man. In doing any action that wears a double face, he is prompted by his nature to explain the same to his relations, his friends, his acquaintance; and above all, to those who have authority over him. He hopes for praise for every right acti. on, and dreads blame for every one that is wrong. But for what sort of actions does he hold himself accountable ? Not surely for an instinctive action, which is done blindly, without intention
and without will : neither for an involuntary acti. on, because it is extorted from hiin against his
will : and least of all, for actions done without consciousness. What only remain are voluntary actions, which are done wittingly and willingly : for these we must account, if at all accountable ; and for these every man in conscience holds himself bound to account.
More particularly upon voluntary actions. To intend and to will, though commonly held fyno. nymous, signify different acts of the mind. In. tention respects the effect : Wil respects the ac. tion that is exerted for producing the effect. It is my intention, for example, to relieve my friend from distress ; upon seeing him, it is my Will to give him a sum for his relief: the external act of giving follows ; and my friend is relieved, which is the effect intended.' But these internal acts are always united : I cannot will
the means, without intending the effect; and ! I cannot intend the effect, without willing the means *.
* To incline, to resolve, to intend, to will, are acts of the mind relative to external action. These several acts are well understood; tho' they oannot be defined, being perfectly simple,
Some effects of voluntary action follow neceffarily: A wound is an effect that necessarily follows the stabbing a person with a dagger : death is a necessary effect of throwing one down from the battlements of a high tower, Some effects are probable only : I 'labour in order to provide for my family ; fight for my country to rescue it from oppreffors ; take phyfic for my health. In such cases, the event intended does not necessarily nor always follow. '
A man, when he wills to act, must intend the necessary effect : a person who stabs, certainly in. tends to wound. But where the effect is probable only, one may act without intending the effect that follows ; a stone thrown by me at ran. dom into the market place, may happen to wound a man without my intending it. One acts by instinct, without either will or intention : voluntary actions that necessarily produce their effect, im. ply intention : voluntary actions, when the effect is probable only, are sometimes intended, fometimes not.
Human actions are distinguished from each other by certain qualities, termed right and wrong. But as these make the corner-stone of morality, they are reserved to the following section,
Division of Human Actions into Right, Wrong, and
THE qualities of right and wrong in voluntary actions, are universally acknowledged as the foundation of morality; and yet philosophers have been strangely perplexed about them. The history of their various opinions, would fignify little bat to darken the subject : the reader will have inore fatisfaction in seeing thefe qualities explained, without entering at all into controversy
No person is ignorant of primary and secondary qualities, a distinction much infifted on by phi. losophers, Primary qualities, such as figure, cohesion, weight, are permanent qualities, that exist in a fubject whether perceived or not. Secondary qualities, such as colour, taste, smell depend on the percipient as much as on the subject, being nothing when not perceived. Beauty and ugliness are qualities of the latter sort : they have no existence but when perceived ; and, like all other secondary qualities, they are perceived intuitively; having no dependence on reason nor judge. ment, more than colour has, or smell, or taste (a).
The qualities of right and wrong in voluntary actions, are secondary, like beauty and ugliness
tence but whethe latter fort.auty and uglinets
(a) See Elements of Criticism, vol. 3. p. 207. ed. 5.
and the other fecondary qualities mentioned. Like them, they are objects of intuitive perception, and depend not in any degree on reason. No argu. ment is requisite to prove, that to rescue an in.' nocent babe from the jaws of a wolf, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, are right a&tions : they are perceived to be so intuitively. As little is an argument requisite to 'prove that murder, deceit, perjury, are wrong actions: they are perceived to be fo intuitively. The Deity has be. ftowed on man, different faculties for different purposes. Truth and falsehood are investigated by the reasoning faculty. Beauty and ugliness are objects of a sense, known by the name of taste. Right and wrong are objects of a sense termed the moral sense or conscience. And supposing these qualities to be hid from our perception, in vain would we try to discover them by any argument or process of reasoning : the attempt would be absurd; no less so than an attempt to discover by reasoning colour, or taste, or smell *. . Right and wrong, as mentioned above, are qualities of voluntary actions, and of no other kind. An instinctive action may be agreeable, may be disagreeable ; but it cannot properly be denominated either right or wrong. An involuntary act is hurtful to the agent, and disagreeable to the spectator ; but it is neither right nor wrong. These qualities also depend in no degree on the event. Thus, if to save my friend from drowning I plunge
* Every perception must proceed from some faculty or power of per. ception, termed sense. The moral sense, by which we perceive the qualities of right and wrong, may be considered either as a branch of the sense of seeing, by which we perceive the actions to which these qualities belong, or as a sense distinct from all others. The senses by which objects are perceived, are not feparated from each other by distinct boundaries : the forting or claffing them seems to depend more on taste and fancy, than on nature. I have followed the plan laid down by former writers; which is, to consider the moral sense as a sense diftinct from others, because it is the easiest and clearest manner of conceiving it.
into a river, the action is right, though I happen to come to late. And if I aim a stroke at a man behind his back, the action is wrong, though I happen not to touch him.
The qualities of right and of agreeable, are inseparable ; and fo are the qualities of wrong and of disagreeable. A right action is agreeable, not only in the direct perception, but equally fo in every subsequent recollection. And in both circumstances equally, a wrong action is disagreeable.
Right actions are distinguished by the moral fense into two kinds, what ought to be done, and what may be done, or left undone Wrong actions admit not that distinction: they are all prohibited to be done. To say that an action ought to be done, means that we are tied or obliged to perform ; and to say that an action ought not to be done, means that we are restrained from doing it. Though the necessity implied in the being tied or obliged, is not physical, but only what is commonly termed moral; yet we conceive ourselves deprived of liberty or freedom, and neces. farily bound to act or to forbear acting in opposition to every other motive. The necessity here described is termed duty. The moral necessity we are under to forbear harming the innocent, is a proper example, the moral sense declares the restraint to be our duty, which no motive whatever will excuse us for transgressing.
The duty of performing or forbearing any action, implies a right in fome person to exact performance of that duty; and accordingly a duty or obligation necessarily infers a corresponding right. My promise to pay L. 100 to John, confers a right" on him to demand performance. The man who commits an injury, violates the right of the person injured ; which entitles that person to demand reparation of the wrong.