Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/29

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19
ON JUSTICE.

ON JUSTICE.
By HERBERT SPENCER.

[IN the January number of this Review [1] (page 126), I made the incidental statement that "should I be able to complete Part IV of the Principles of Ethics, treating of Justice, of which the first chapters only are at present written, I hope to deal adequately with these relations between the ethics of the progressive condition and the ethics of that condition which is the goal of progress—a goal ever to be recognized, though it can not be actually reached." These chapters were written nearly a year ago: the fourth, not quite finished, having been untouched since May last. In view of the possibility that the division of which they form part may never be completed, or otherwise that its completion may be long delayed, it has occurred to me that as the topic dealt with is now being discussed, these first chapters may, perhaps with advantage, be published forthwith. The editor having kindly assented to my proposal to issue them in this Review, I here append the first three: reserving two others, conveniently separable in subject-matter, for another article.]

I. Animal-Ethics.—Those who have not read the first division of this work[2] will be surprised by the above title. But the chapters on Conduct in General and The Evolution of Conduct will have shown to those who have read them that something which may be regarded as animal-ethics is implied.

It was there shown that the conduct which Ethics treats of is not separable from conduct at large; that the highest conduct is that which conduces to the greatest length, breadth, and completeness of life; and that by implication there is a conduct proper to each species of animal, which is the relatively good conduct—a conduct which stands toward that species as the conduct we morally approve stands toward the human species.

Most people regard the subject-matter of Ethics as being conduct considered as calling forth approbation or reprobation. But the primary subject-matter of Ethics is conduct considered objectively as producing good or bad results to self or others or both.

Even those who think of Ethics as concerned only with conduct which deserves praise or blame, tacitly recognize an animal-ethics; for certain acts of animals excite in them antipathy or sympathy. A bird which feeds its mate while she is sitting is regarded with a sentiment of approval. For a hen which refuses to

  1. Nineteenth Century; also Popular Science Monthly for March, page 616.
  2. Reference is here made to the Data of Ethics.