A History of English Utilitarianism

Cover of book A History of English Utilitarianism
Categories: Nonfiction

Purchase of this book includes free trial access to www.million-books.com where you can read more than a million books for free. This is an OCR edition with typos. Excerpt from book: CHAPTER IL RICHAR


D CUMBERLAND (continued). HAVING considered somewhat at length Cumberland's view of the nature of man, we shall now turn to the second main division of our exposition, which depends essentially upon the above, i.e., his doctrine of the Good. Although the author is particularly concerned to show the eternity and immutability of the Laws of Nature, this jural aspect of the system, which will be considered later, must not blind us to the fact that for Cumberland there is nothing corresponding to Kant's ' categorical imperative '. On this point he is quite explicit, as might be expected from the general character of the system. He says: " These propositions are called practical, nor is it necessary that they should be pronounced in the form of a gerund, 'this or that ought to be done,' as some school-men teach; because that fitness which is expressed by a gerund wants explanation ".1 The form of the propositions makes no particular difference, as the author goes on to show. They may be given: (i) as statements of fact, i.e., that certain things necessarily conduce both to the ' common good' and to that of the individual agent; or (2) as commands, i.e., as Laws of Nature; or (3) as ' gerunds,' in the sense indicated above. Evidently we have here to do with an Ethics of the Good, and not with a Duty Ethics. But what is the Good ? Cumberland has much to say regarding the good of each and the good of all, ' natural' good and ' moral' good; but he nowhere tells us as definitely as wecould wish exactly what the Good is. It is a little curious that, just after remarking that " it is of the last consequence to establish a well-grounded and irrefragable notion of Good," J he should make no serious attempt to do so, but indulge in a number of characteristic criticisms ... --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

A History of English Utilitarianism
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