Evolution Of Ethics
( Originally Published 1915 )
The Nature of Ethics. — The subject in general seems simple enough until we begin to define it or set its limitations. Ethics concerns the moral life which involves thoughts, feelings, intentions, and actions, relating to the association of man with his fellows. It demarcates right and wrong and sets the question of duty by the highest standards of the community.
Each community has its own moral standards and its own moral code. In every society there may be many individual variations from these standards and from the recognized code. Primarily this code is unwritten, but represents all those relation-ships of individuals which are usually designated as moral.
The recounting of the various moral systems of the world as set forth by the philosophers would be called the history of ethics. This does not mean a history of the various changes in the ethical practice of individuals so much as a history of the opinions of philosophers and the theories of moral standards. Evolutionary ethics, with which we are here concerned, is a social science and has to do with the origin and development of moral practice. It treats of the various relationships of individuals in primitive society, the origin of altruism and its slow and painful development. While sociology has to do with the question of practical morals in all the various relationships of modern life, — in business, politics, or in purely social inter-course, vague in its nature, but none the less important for that, — it is also interested in the evolution of moral practice, for only as one understands how morals originated and developed does one obtain a clear conception of the structure and activities of modern society. It is through a study of this phase of ethics that the moral status of a society may be truly estimated.
The Social Importance of Ethics. A study of the development of ethical conduct is important to the student of sociology for several reasons. In the first place, ethical actions are socially conditioned, the people who act are involved in social relations, and their actions are described as ethical or non-ethical, or unethical, primarily according to their bearing on the welfare of others. We must study them, therefore, in order that as students of society we may see how such social institutions as ethical codes and standards came to be what they are to-day. As some one has said, we do not know anything save as we understand how it came to be. The student of social institutions is interested then in the origin and development of morals.
In the second place, the student of sociology is interested in ethics because of the ethical questions which arise in connection with the problems of practical sociology. We talk sometimes about the ethics of individual conduct as if such an ethics is complete in itself. Is an ethics of any account which does not have for its basis the welfare of the group? And is not the ethics of individual conduct to a large degree determined by social considerations? Certainly the only important ethics for the student of sociology is social ethics. As such it possesses great importance, for our chief concern in any study apart from an understanding of the nature of the subject is its value toward the realization of a social ideal.
With the development of the organization of society, the spread of education and the rise of moral ideals in our social relation-ships, there has been an increasing demand for the application of ethical principles to public affairs. We hear about business ethics and political ethics. Our papers and magazines are filled with discussions concerning the trust problem, the regulation of railways, the practices of those in charge of railways and industrial combinations. Those who in newspapers and elsewhere are writing seriously about these socio-economic problems are discussing also their ethical phases. What do these discussions signify except that the conscience of the whole group is exercising itself upon these problems from the ethical stand-point? Ethical conduct is so essentially a part of all normal social activities that it furnishes the key for social progress. We cannot understand our social life and ideals at present unless we study the development of social ethics.
Again, a study of the social aspects of ethics is important because ethical customs, standards, and codes are very effective methods of social control.
The Genesis of Ethics. — That there was a dawn of moral consciousness in the human race is certain. We assume that there must have been a time in the history of the human race when men were non-moral. This assumption cannot be directly proved, for we know of no human beings who have no ideas of ethical practice. The assumption is based on a number of indirect evidences. One of these is the lack of morality in the young child, another is supplied by the fact that there are many tribes of people found whose morality is quite different from other moralities and who on certain subjects have no code of ethics or any ethical scruples. Whether, however, the time when there was absolutely no ethical code belongs to man's history or to that of his animal ancestor we have no way of determining. We certainly can go so far as to say that there was a time in the history of mankind when there was very little if any conscious morality. So far as we can judge of the matter to-day we may conclude that the earliest morality was an almost if not quite instinctive group morality concerned with the survival of the members of that group. It is highly probable that group morality preceded individual morality in order of development. Race morality was a morality of restraint enforced by the sanctions of custom, tradition, and sometimes of religion, and was established partly by instinctive animal reactions and partly by a dimly perceived advantage in such restraints. With the growth of reason and the development of the emotions, perception of the advantage of certain standards of moral conduct and an increase of pleasurable results as well as a refinement of emotional effects appeared. In the earlier stages of its development it is probable that certain instinctive actions which were of advantage for survival established them-selves by natural selection. These were confirmed by the pleasure which they afforded, as, for example, in the case of the mother who denied herself that she might serve her child. Tradition and custom further strengthened the action and finally reason developed to the point where the advantage of such unselfishness became apparent. All of these forces established in the individual's mind the ought of modern ethics.
Modem theories as to the origin of moral sentiments range themselves in a general way into two groups. The earlier theories were based upon sympathy. The classic work on this subject is by Adam Smith, who is better known to the world because of his authorship of The Wealth of Nations, and by reason of the influence of that book has been called the father of political economy.1 In the first two chapters of his Theory of Moral Sentiments Smith points out that no matter how selfish a man may be there are evidently some principles in his nature which make it imperative that he interest himself in the happiness of others, and that a man's happiness is increased by the sympathy of his fellows. Man therefore desires the approval of his fellow men that he may enjoy greater pleasure himself, according to Smith. Morals, according to this view, are due to sympathy, which is almost instinctive in its nature. Smith was followed in much the same vein by Bain? While sharing the same general view of the fundamental characteristic out of which ethical action grew, with that breadth of vision which characterized him in so remarkable a fashion, Darwin said that there were other elements which had to be taken into account if one would give the complete natural history of the moral sense. He criticized Smith and Bain for their contention that the basis of sympathy lay " in our strong retentiveness of former states of pain or pleasure." He urged that this theory does not explain why sympathy is excited in such immeasurably stronger degree by a beloved person than by one for whom we do not care. He believed that no matter how it originated, sympathy has now become an instinct. In man sympathy, he believed with Professor Bain, has been supplemented by selfishness, experience, and imitation. It is much strengthened by habit, and has been increased by natural selection. He was not certain whether man's social characteristics are instinctive or whether they are the indirect result of other instincts and faculties like sympathy, reason, experience, and a tendency to imitation, or to long-continued habit. We possess them, however gained, and they form, especially, sympathy and habit, supplemented in man by reason, the basis of ethical action. The most important of all such characteristics, according to Darwin, is fear of the disapprobation, and desire of the approval of our companions. He added, " Actions are regarded by savages, and were probably so regarded by primeval man, as good or bad, solely as they affect in an obvious manner the welfare of the tribe — not that of the species, nor that of man as an individual member of the tribe. This conclusion agrees well with the belief that the so-called moral sense is aboriginally derived from the social instincts, for both relate at first exclusively to the community." 1 Thus, Darwin has added to sympathy habit, reason, and the influence of our fellows upon our actions. Furthermore, he made the fruitful suggestion that natural selection had something to do with the origin of these social characteristics.
The second group of theories is based upon habit or custom. These theories, to state them briefly and in general terms, proceed upon the assumption that the moral is the habitual for the group. Perhaps the leader of this school of thought is the great German scholar, Wundt. The habitual for the individual, when it becomes the customary for the group, and is sanctioned by tradition and superstitious reverence, becomes a social norm and thus obligatory. Darwin, as can be seen from an outline of his thought just presented, invoked habit to explain the origin of morals. He did not believe, however, that habit was the only factor.
Baldwin has stated succinctly the chief objection to the " habit " basis of morals in the words, " The theory of habit does not afford an adequate account of the sense we have, in our acutest ethical experiences, that what' we ought to do may run counter to our habitual tendencies." 2 Another objection to this bald statement of the theory is that it does not account for reflective morality. Without a doubt, habit and custom play an important part in the genesis of morals ; but their influence has its limitations.
While these two groups include most of the theories which have been offered to explain the origin of morals, there are numerous variations. Westermarck postulates moral emotions as the basis of moral concepts which, he says, form the predicates of moral judgments. These moral emotions are akin to gratitude and revenge, and are essentially generalizations of tendencies in certain phenomena to call forth either indignation or approval.' Yet, to him " Society is the birth place of the moral consciousness," and the first moral judgments expressed not the private emotions of the isolated individuals, but emotions which were felt by the community at large.2 In general, there fore, it may be said, that Westermarck bases moral conduct, so far as the individual is concerned, on the emotions, but these emotions in their genesis are socially conditioned.
Baldwin approaches the matter from the standpoint of genetic psychology. It is a part of the process which he has so happily denominated the "dialectic of personal growth." In the child and in the race the ethical sense develops, according to Baldwin, in the give and take of the conflict between the individual's own instinctive and habitual tendencies and the accommodations which he is constantly making by imitating an ideal, realized in some one who by the prestige of his character or his social position or his mental superiority is able to impress others. This other person gives him a conception of a socius, which awakes in him, in addition to his two other selves — those of habit and accommodation, — that of obedience to a command This other person supplies a law of social relations which lies above all individuals. This being, who with prestige lays down commands and receives obedience, himself obeys a law of action that puts restraints upon impulses which the child universalizing his own feelings and desires attributes to him. There, says Baldwin, you have the birth of moral ideals. When this has become a part of the child's mental furniture of a self, he gets into the habit of obeying the impulse to realize that ideal in his own personal characteristics by acting like the concrete personification of his ideal, and he may thus form the habit of violating former habits, a fact which to Baldwin explains why morality often overrides an established habit.'
Generalizing upon these various theories from the standpoint of sociology, we can say that ethical conduct arises from the interplay of the individual's developing personality and the surrounding social conditions including social personalities. Baldwin's analysis is simply an explanation of the process by which a human being is socialized and so becomes an ethical person. It is an admirable interpretation of the mental adjustment through which the individual becomes a socius. The factors in the development of that moral personality are the individual mind with its inherited instincts and tendencies, whatever these may be, the physical conditions in the midst of which he lives, and, most important of all, perhaps, the social atmosphere of habits, customs, ideals, institutions, and sanctions prevailing where he lives.
This act of the moral consciousness is a means of selecting the best in life. How important this selection is in the advance of the race may be determined by considering the social choices. The ideals of life are determined by a process of exclusion of all those things which are improper and deleterious, and inclusion of those which are supposed to be of the highest advantage to the individual or the race. These ideals are ever present in all tribes and races where social consciousness has dawned and ever present in the individual in whom moral consciousness has appeared.
If, however, these ethical ideals are born from the womb of society, how does it happen that they are higher ideals than the ideals possessed by the individuals composing that society? How can that be possible when it is a well-known principle of sociology that the group mind is more feeble than that of the average individual in the group? These perplexing questions have been best answered by Professor Ross. He says that the ethical ideals of society are higher than those of individuals because of a conscious or unconscious hypocrisy on the part of individuals. Tom, Dick, and Harry are willing to give assent to ideals which are to govern others, but which, as they in their mental reservations believe, are not necessarily binding on themselves. They are unwilling to admit that they do not personally intend to be governed by such principles because they wish to be thought as high minded as any one. Yet, in their own practices they do not apply these principles. Thus the higher ethical principles become established by a consent that is based upon an unwillingness in most people to acknowledge to others their own inferior principles. How this unconscious hypocrisy works may be seen in the man who, hearing a moral ideal set forth, applies it to his neighbor or acquaintance, entirely forgetting that it is intended for him as well as for his neighbor. He assents to the ideal, but deflects its application from himself to another.'
This explanation accounts for the establishment in the traditions of society of a high moral ideal, but how shall we account for the origin of the higher ideal in the first place? Here the moral genius must be sought as the explanation. Out of the moral consciousness of some man or woman must come the fructifying ideal which will lift a race or a nation.' What spark set aflame that choice spirit with a new thought destined to lift a world, who can say? What challenge of physical environment to the soul of man stirred to inspiration his slumbering thought, — what desert solitude, or burning sky or awe-inspiring firmament or crashing storm? Or was it contact with perverse circumstance of life, — death of a loved one wringing the elemental emotions, or destiny turning the promise of joyous victory to the certainty of bitter defeat? Or, again, was it the strife of conflict with other human beings, perhaps depraved, immoral, flaunting the established decencies of society? Who can analyze the subtle influences which stir the soul of an Amos to that white heat of moral enthusiasm into which the dross of sensuality and perfunctory offerings to God are cast, to come forth again as an ideal new to the world, — the ideal of a God of social righteousness who desired justice rolling down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream rather than burnt offerings, meal offerings, and peace offerings ; rather than songs of praise and the music of viols? 3 Doubtless all these influences must be reckoned when the final explanation of the great man is made. But our task is to give due place to the moral genius who flings out his inspirations to our startled ears with a challenge and an appeal which demands attention and insures the assent of our inmost thought. Given the moral prophet and this tendency of humanity to assent to more than it is willing itself to practice ; given convention and tradition ; given the cooperation in things which arouse no conflict and which all can enjoy ; and the development of morals has started which will go on towards perfection. The soul of the genius wrought upon by the influences of Nature and Man creates the ideal ; the conscience of the individual ashamed to acknowledge his own preference for a lower standard sanctions it ; and convention, sympathy, custom, and tradition establish it.
The Moral Evolution of Man. — But the standards of right, the ideals of man and society, and the social choices perpetually change in the progress of social life. There has been an evolution of morality. People feel differently and act differently towards each other from generation to generation. The notions of right and wrong change from time to time. There are varying standards of morality, not only in different races, but in the same race, from age to age. The racial morality of the Sioux Indians is far different from the racial morality of the French nation. In the former, in order to preserve the tribe, instruction is given in the art of killing, hence the young brave is not worthy of the esteem of his fellows until he wears one or more scalps in his belt. In the latter, legislation and civil justice backed by education and religion are the means of preservation, and the ideal type is the man of letters and diplomacy. If we were to follow, however, the history of the French people from the life of the Gauls to the present time, we should find a constantly changing standard of morality, and especially a constant change in moral practice. Whatever impulses or feelings may occur to determine the action of individuals there is always the social standard by which to make measurements. Customs are established, the unwritten moral code, always in evidence, congeals into traditional usage, and, more than this, the statute laws founded on custom and usage appear.
This is so evident that the influence of social environment on individual moral conduct is strongly marked. Whatever may be an individual's feelings of right or wrong, his actions are influenced by the ethical standard of the community, although in this there is a great difference between pure morality and conventionality. Many individuals act conventionally, while in their inmost feelings they are inclined to act otherwise. There are cases in which morality becomes conventionality, when certain moral acts of the individual coincide with the form of social action. A person may feel that so far as his own conscience is concerned, he may indulge in certain practices without injury to his life or character. But if this interferes with the conventional forms of society so as to cause a confusion of social order and otherwise affect the relations of his fellow men in a deleterious way, it may be considered immoral. For instance, if one in a church should decide for himself that he could rise in the congregation and ask the minister questions concerning his sermon, believing thereby that he could make clearer to the congregation the subject under discussion, it might be, so far as individual action is concerned, a perfectly moral act. But when we consider the effect on the congregation and upon the religious service, viewed from the standpoint of conventionality, evil results might follow. Hence in this case a violation of conventionality may be immoral conduct.
On the other hand, the conventional may become tinged with a moral quality. For example, in the course of ages it became conventional for civilized people to wear clothes which on most occasions cover most of the body. In the course of time this practice became a part of the moral code of society, so that if a person in our Western world goes with as little clothing as a savage, he is looked upon as an immoral person. So also with styles of dress. A new style comes in, like the slit skirt or the V-shaped collar in women's dress to-day. At first it is looked upon as immoral because it violates the conventional. When closely analyzed, such feelings concerning these innovations are seen to be due to our conventional ideas upon the subject of exposure of the person, for under certain circumstances, such as a formal social function, the exposure of much more of the person is considered perfectly proper. Let the custom of wearing clothes in a certain way become common, and any thought of immorality in connection with it will fade away. The conventional makes the moral in many cases.
Progress of Ethical Practice through Sympathy. - Doubtless the moral forces which arise from the feelings of the individual have at least one source of their origin in the beginnings of sympathy of the mother for her offspring.' This sympathy extended from the mother to the immediate associates and relatives in the home, and finally extended to the whole group who were permanently associated with one another. This widening range of sympathetic action finally extended to the whole social group located upon a given territory and united by bonds of social control. This represents the origin of patriotism, which is a love of the land, of its people, and of its institutions. And patriotism has given some of its best qualities to the relief of suffering man, no matter of what country or race he came. Altruism has extended until a universal sympathy for suffering is recognized. A flood in China or a famine in India, as well as a drought in Nebraska, or an earthquake in San Francisco, call out our compassion and help. There is to-day a world ethics which passes around the globe, although limited sadly among some nations, recognizing the rights and privileges of all and relieving the sufferings of many.
Egoism versus Altruism in Social Development. — The law of struggle for survival has always shadowed the individual existence and happiness of man. From the very beginning he has been obliged to struggle against the forces of nature for existence. His physical environment has to be subdued in order to permit him to exist. When he cannot subordinate natural forces to his own life, he finds it necessary to adapt his life to meet their conditions. But in every instance it is only a method of struggle for mastery, for the purpose of survival, which characterizes his work. Truly, effort, — persistent effort, — has made man. Nor has his effort been confined to the mastery of the forces of nature; he struggles also with his fellows for supremacy. Indeed, frequently this struggle has been for life itself, few of the great mass being able to survive. Egoism has characterized man's early struggle, and his life has ever been influenced by it.
While egoism predominated in the early air primitive history of man, altruism, at first a faint tremulous line of conduct, has attracted his course of life, growing stronger and more universal, exercising an ever widening influence. Side by side then have existed the struggle of man for his own existence and his struggle for the existence of his fellows. The former was at first relatively the stronger, but the latter gradually developed and over-shadowed it, until to-day altruism, or interest in the welfare and happiness of others, has become an essential part of our modern social life in ever widening circles. Self-interest has been supplemented by social interest. Therefore, while we consider the evolution of man through his individual struggle for existence it must be remembered that his power to associate and to defend mutual human rights and interests has been the primary means of his mastery of the beasts of the fields and the powers of nature. Without this association man must have been overwhelmed and become an extinct species. Hence altruism has been a factor in the evolution of human society, and it now is as much a part of the general scheme of the struggle for existence, as is egoism, and its course of development has been continuous from the minute beginnings of simple society to the complexity of modern life.
However, society as a whole sympathizes with the individual, for no man can suffer without the sympathy and attention of the group. No man's life is abused or destroyed without his cause being espoused by a large part of the community. This altruistic motive is interwoven with the entire social life. There must be a harmony of social and individual interests. On the one hand, the individual must meet all social requirements. On the other hand, society must give the individual opportunity for his own development and survival. The proper balancing of these two interests determines the lines along which our modern social practices run. The harmony of individual and social interests is the essential characteristic of a perfect society.
How a moral ideal develops out of the interaction of leading spirits and environing physical or social conditions is to be seen in the period when some great change comes over a people. It may be an economic change, like the industrial revolution in England or America, or the introduction of great numbers of continental immigrants into Puritan America, or the introduction of a new method of Biblical interpretation. There is first a period of hesitation. People know not how to adjust themselves ethically to the new situation. Children from the poorhouses of England were worked in the mills until Mrs. Browning and moralists like her set up a new moral ideal adapted to meet the needs of the changed conditions. Germans revolted against the temperance sentiment of the United States. The conflict of moral ideals has gone on for a quarter of a century and more. Out of the turmoil there begins to appear an adjustment between two moral ideals which is neither the one nor the other. Out of the changing conditions of the present time there are emerging new social ideals of morality. The owners of factories are evolving a conscience as to hours of labor for their workers. Child labor is being tabooed. The labor of women is condemned under certain conditions of factory life. The morality of an honest day's work by the worker begins to appear. Our morals have changed in the past forty years to meet the changed economic and social conditions. In international affairs the binding obligation of " a scrap of paper " is recognized by the conscience of an unprejudiced world opinion. Society, led by its choice spirits and in response to the goads of maladjustment felt everywhere, is constantly creating new moral ideals to express more perfectly its sense of relationships which will conduce to the happiness of the greatest number of its constituent individuals.
The Development of Justice. — Justice, like altruism, has its origin in sympathy. Primarily it is a feeling of suffering, pain, or pleasure that gives rise to a sentiment of justice. We believe a thing is right or wrong concerning ourselves, and the same feelings are extended to our fellows. We wish to measure them by the same rule by which we measure ourselves. If an individual perceives that an injustice is being done toward him-self, a sentiment of resentment is aroused in him. If he observes the same injustice toward any one of his fellows, the same feeling of resentment is aroused. Thus, justice has its origin in fellow suffering. But in its more developed state it is an out-come of the passion for self-preservation, together with a perception that my preservation is involved in the preservation of my group. It is a question of giving each man his just dues, rights, and privileges, that all may be preserved thereby. While it may have its origin in sympathy, it was early influenced by the normal form of intellectual action. It was an attempt to regulate the practice of deception.
It is urged by Ward and conceded by others that deception is a normal mode of intellectual action. Self-preservation, the strongest instinct in the animal man, has been supported by the process of deception. As Ward says, " The ruse is the simplest form of deception, and this brings out the vital truth that in so far as mind deals with sentient beings deception is its essential nature." This universal principle of all animal life is readily observed in the deception displayed in predatory animals in their attempt to catch their prey. The rabbit could outrun the fox, or by burrowing elude his pursuit, hence it is necessary for the fox to move stealthily and slyly upon his game. The cat could not catch the mouse or the eagle his prey without deception. Man in his attempt to fish and hunt practices the same ruse or deception, a little higher in order than that of the lower animals. He baits the hook to catch the fish, and drives the animals into snares. In this capacity he is a " predatory, carnivorous animal." The next step is the preservation of animals for service. In order to train them for domestic service, it is necessary to take them while young, and by food and proper training they may be led to work the will of man. In the management of man the same principle is discernible, for while slavery, to a certain extent, may have been the result of force, deception has been used as a means of establishing it. But in the later forms of society through priestcraft or monarchy or nobility a certain favored few, through the arts of deception, have made the many serve them. In the business world where competition has been strong, deception has flourished. While to-day business is regulated to a certain extent by laws, by the moral code, and a general sense of fairness, we still find men succeeding and growing wealthy at the expense of their fellows through the art of deception. The secret of the success of a great business enterprise has frequently been sharp practice. It is not only by securing advantageous conditions and by con-trolling the resources of nature, but by bargaining secretly, by deceiving as to the amount of profits, and by many other similar means that many people win success in the world.
Nor is the deception frequently practiced in politics very different from this. It is a struggle, a warfare with all the rights and privileges of deceiving the enemy. To deceive this man, to dupe another, to take advantage of the opposing party, by foul means or fair, may insure success in modern as well as in ancient politics. In the higher forms of government, what more is war or diplomacy than a systematized and orderly method of deception? Likewise, in ordinary social contact, in order to preserve their individuality and to protect their personality, people deceive each other in small matters, and cultivate the art. To what extent this should be carried is an open question. There are those who preach against the art of deception and rule it out absolutely as a legitimate practice, the while they themselves, in one form or another, are constantly practicing it. The mother takes advantage of the simplicity of the child in order to control it for its good. The priest takes advantage of the ignorance of his parishioners or penitents to lead them in the right way. The lawyer tries to win his case though he may feel that he could have pleaded the other side of the case more easily. Such deception has led to the development of justice.
The Origin of Natural Justice. — Much has been said by political philosophers of a system of natural justice. A part of what they have said is true, but much is false and misleading, for there is no natural justice but the law of force. The so-called state of nature is merely a state of egoistic struggle for existence in which might makes right. The individual gets and keeps what he can. Under natural justice there is no individual ownership of property except when a man is able to hold and possess goods or lands against all comers. This is natural justice.
That, however, is not what those who originally used the term meant. They conceived that somehow in the nature of things there existed an undiscovered ideal law of social relation-ships which was of universal application to all men. It was assumed to be the rational basis of all conduct. It was a jus natura.' What they thought they might find in the jus natura was a delusion. No such basis of moral conduct exists in Nature, or anywhere outside their imagination. The concept was a part of the old metaphysic which postulated an unalterable ideal, the very image of perfection. Such a conception belongs to the day preceding the birth of the theory that all things are in a state of change. What is perfect today is imperfect tomorrow. Perfect justice is perfect adjustment of relations between groups, between individuals and groups, and between individuals. Let the adjustment be ever so perfect to-day, if a new invention be made, this perfect justice gives way to-morrow to injustice.
So long as relations between men are governed by social sanctions or social disapprovals, we call the code of these sanctions and disapprovals ethics or morals. When, however, the political organization undertakes to establish these relations with civil sanctions, then we have a legal code and a standard or code of justice. In other words civil justice is ethical relations sanctioned by the state. In the sense of unsocialized adjustment of differences to the advantage of the strong, " natural " justice always exists until the conflict of interests has been adjusted and the strong has been curbed by the gentle but none the less effective methods of social control, in the interests of society.
Transition from Natural to Civil Justice. — The transition from natural to civil justice was very gradual. It came about primarily through the widening influences of sympathy. The growth of intelligence and all the social machinery previously discussed greatly aided. Correct conduct is obtained not by sympathy alone, but through regulation by the intellect. The growing intelligence perceives the economic loss of a long-standing injustice like slavery, or the degradation of woman. " Natural " justice regards not the sufferings of individuals nor the consequences of predatory activity. It is only through sympathy and intelligence that these can be observed. Not only the consideration of the consequence of actions, but the knowledge of what can be accomplished and what cannot, leads to restraint, to preservation of the group for the sake of preservation of the individual. For example, if it be observed that under a state of anarchy the social group is in danger of extinction, civil justice will prevail to regulate the rights and duties of the members of the community. This intelligence and appreciation of results gradually restricts the acquisitive powers and brings about a social harmony. Out of the struggle for survival comes the establishment of civil law ; out of the natural struggle of the savage for his own existence comes the civil regulation for the preservation and prosperity of the individual and society. Moreover, the development of social bonds, the refinement of feelings and tastes destroys the possibility of enjoyment of former activities and creates a demand for new satisfactions which can be satisfied only by the establishment of justice.
The Development of Civil Justice. — Once the individual relinquished his unrestricted right to do as he pleased, and depended upon the custom or law controlling the whole group for his guidance, civil justice grew rapidly.. The moral judgments of the social group became crystallized into law, and soon the individual had no rights except those that society chose to grant. The social group by intelligent regulation sought to benefit each individual throughout the whole community. Both ethical conduct and social justice, its product, are consciously designed by society to accomplish certain clearly perceived advantageous results. Thus, ethics and justice become the results of intelligent purpose.
On the other hand, there are many influences which retard the perfection of civil society through intelligence. For in-stance, while intelligence increases the knowledge of cause and effect, it also increases temptation because of the multiplication of desires and the increasing number of opportunities for a personal enjoyment. The growth of reason is accompanied by an atrophy of instinct. And reason is not by any means so reliable a guide in ordinary relations as instinct. Consequently, in new situations if the instincts have ceased to function while reason is deliberating, passion decides, and often the wrong choice is made. But equilibrium is maintained by the increased power to overcome temptation which intelligence brings. If increased sympathy or altruism appears, the restraint will be sufficient to improve the civil relations of individuals. How ever, it must be considered that neither immediate nor ultimate individual interests are not always social interests. For an individual may seek his immediate salvation at the expense of the general welfare, but all may not do this without the destruction of society.
On the other hand, in the long run, when each is seeking to conserve the best interests of the whole, individual interests will ultimately be protected. Yet, in the application of civil justice to society, survivals of the old savagery, that is, of natural justice, constantly manifest themselves. For instance, there is a tendency to evade laws, both moral and civil, as the pressure of social usage increases and causes the morally weak to disobey the will of the majority. Thus the morally weak become criminals. Things that were formerly allowed are now forbidden because the complexity of social life necessitates the more exact observance of individual conduct. This causes the non-socially inclined to resist or evade the law. Hence in the development of society the line of criminality constantly rises to include more and more of those who in a previous stage of social evolution would not have been considered criminal.
However, there is less of the action of brute force than formerly and more resort to cunning. The struggle is for domination rather than for mere survival. Domination gradually becomes intellectual rather than physical. The mental struggle for supremacy goes on in spite of the repression of violent measures. This process is observed most frequently to-day in trade and commerce where competition in the acquisition of wealth is keen, where each man strives to get ahead of the other. Many of the practices of modem business are questionable when measured by the ethical standard of the times. It is only through a government seeking justice to all, which has formulated moral principles into laws, that individuals may be protected from the evils of this latter-day cunning.
But, after all, the practical application of ethical principles to all the affairs and relations of life, and the legal punishment of any lapse from these principles, in short, the establishment of justice, is the chief aim of government, and its duty will not be completed until it offers protection to all in the industrial world and re-presses the predatory habits of man in the acquisition of wealth. Industrial or economic justice is as essential to the happiness of mankind as political justice, and at present of more vital consequence. For we live to-day in the last period of a great reform movement which began in the Renaissance, when the right of independent thought was declared. It continued in the Reformation which secured freedom of religious belief. It led on to political revolution and political liberty. Now we are engaged in the fourth phase of the struggle, the phase of industrial liberty. In this will come the final triumph of ethical society.
BALDWIN, JAMES MARK. Social and Ethical Interpretations in Mental
Development, 1913, Chap. I, and pp. 443-445.
HUXLEY, Thos. H. Evolution and Ethics, pp. 46-146.
LECKY, W. E. H. History of European Morals, Vol. I, pp. 130-160.
SCHURMAN, J. G. The Ethical Import of Darwinism.
SPENCER, HERBERT. Social Statics, pp. 1-32 ; Principles of Ethics, pp. 1-63, 174-200, 263-276.
SUTHERLAND, A. Origin and Growth of the Moral Instinct.
TAYLOR, HUGH. The Morality of Nations, pp. 151-294.
WALLIS, GRAHAM. The Great Society, Chap. IX.
WARD, LESTER F. Dynamic Sociology, Vol. I, pp. 320—376 503—524.
WESTERMARCK. The Origin and Development of Moral Ideas, 1908, Vol. II, PP. 738—740.
WILLIAMS, C. M. Evolutionary Ethics, Chaps. V, IX.
QUESTIONS AND EXERCISES
1. Of what importance to the student of sociology is the study of the origin and development of ethics?
2. Describe the origin and development of our ethical ideas regarding private property.
3. Explain the psychological process by which a boy attains the conception of obligation and responsibility.
4. Give an illustration of a moral ideal developing through custom.
5. What part does genius play in the development of morality?
6. Describe how primitive moralities and primitive ethical ideals are raised and refined; how they are enlarged so as to dominate new spheres.
7. Give an illustration showing how an ethical ideal may originate in sympathy.
8. Why was it that our fathers had no ethics upon the subject of trusts?
9. Explain the difference between the ethical ideals and practices of the eighteenth century and those of the twentieth century in America in the matter of sex morals. In what sense does society determine moral ideals ?
10. What is the relation of morality and justice?
11. Explain the parts played by ruse and deception in the development of morality and justice.
12. Explain the hesitation in regard to the proper code of morality for the new woman; why some men feel no compunction in cheating a railway company or a corporation; why a corporation has no conscience.
13. What is the relation of a developing morality to the regulation of trusts, railroad rates, insurance rates, and such subjects?
14. Read Wallis, The Great Society, Chap. IX, and then show in what other feelings than mother love altruism may originate.
Outlines Of Sociology:
Theory And Function Of The State
Social Phases Of Production And Consumption Of Wealth
Exchange As A Social Function
Evolution Of Ethics
Social Origin Of Religion
Development Of Religion
Processes Of Socialization
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