On the Basis of Morality/The Question
THE question advanced by the Royal Society, together with the considerations leading up to it, is as follows:
Quum primitiva moralitatis idea, sive de summa lege morali principalis notio, sua quadam propria eaque minime logica necessitate, turn in ea disciplina appareat, cui propositum est cognitionem rov r/Otfcov explicare, turn in vita, partim in conscientiae judicio de nostris actionibus, partim in censura morali de actionibus aliorum hominum ; quumque complures, quae ab ilia ider inseparabiles sunt, eamque tanquam originem respiciunt, notiones prindpales ad TO r/Oticov spectantes, velut officii notio et imputationis, eadem necessitate eodemque ambitu vim suam exserant, et tamen inter eos cursus viasque, quas nostrae aetatis meditatio philosophica persequitur, magni momenti esse videatur, hoc argumentum ad disputationem revocare, cupit Societas, ut accurate haec quaestio perpendatur et pertractetur:
Philosophiae moralisfons et fundamentum utrum in idea moralitatis, quae immediate conscientia contineatur, et ceteris notionibus fundamentalibus, quae ex ilia prodeant, explicandis quaerenda sunt, an in alio cognoscendi principio?
(The original idea of morality, or the leading conception of the supreme moral law, occurs by a necessity which seems peculiar to the subject, but which is by no means a logical one, both in that science, whose object it is to set forth the knowledge of what is moral, and also in real life, where it shows itself partly in the judgment passed by conscience on our own actions, partly in our moral estimation of the actions of others ; moreover, most of the chief conceptions in Ethics, springing as they do out of that idea, and inseparable from it (as, for instance, the conception of duty, and the ascription of praise or blame) assert themselves with the same necessity, and under the same conditions. In view of these facts and because it appears highly desirable, con- sidering the trend of philosophic investigation in our time, to submit this matter to further scrutiny ; the Society desires that the following question be carefully considered and discussed :
Is the fountain and basis of Morals to be sought for in an idea of morality which lies directly in the consciousness (or conscience), and in the analysis of the other leading ethical conceptions which arise from it? or is it to be found -in some other source of knowledge?)