Recent British Periodical Literature in Ethics
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660 ] Recent British Periodical Literature in Ethics The International Journal of Ethics, 28 (Jan 1918) 270-77 As representative of recent periodical literature of ethical interest, two articles , or rather two series of articles, may be selected for exceptional importance . Philosophical speculation (in the pages of Mind) has taken the form chiefly of historical studies; practical investigation (in the pages of the Hibbert Journal, the Eugenics Review, and the Shield) has centred around problems of depopulation and birth-control.1 Mr. P. S. Burrell’s “The Plot of Plato’s Republic” and Professor MacBride’s “Study of Heredity” are the most valuable contributions to their respective fields.2 Mr. Burrell takes the view which is maintained by so eminent a Hellenist as Paul Shorey in his Unity of Plato’s Thought and which is now pretty generally accepted: the view that Plato’s philosophy, and the Republic in particular , forms a consistent whole.3 In the course of his article, he refutes certain distinguished critics (notably Jowett, Gomperz, and Mr. A. D. Lindsay) who discriminate the “Socratic” from the “post-Socratic” books, or who find various inexplicable transitions in the work.4 Mr. Burrell demolishesthe Boxand Coxbogeyofthe“historical”andthe“Platonic”Socrates.5 Taking up each section of the Republic in order, he shows how it contributes to the whole work. To refute Thrasymachus, it is necessary to discuss the nature of reality, to raise the question whether there is a moral world. And in order to study the morality of the individual, we must first study the “larger letters” of society.6 Among noteworthy theories opposed are: (1) Gomperz’s complete misunderstanding in his statement that the connection of moral, political, and historical philosophy was slight. For Plato the connection was vital.7 Furthermore, the “first city” is no more a description of real society than the second or third city: Socrates’s state is ideal from end to end.8 (2) The three virtues in the state do not, as Jowett supposed, correspondtothethreepartsofthesoul.Noristhereanyconfusionbetween justice and temperance.9 Temperance consists in harmony between the rulers and the ruled, justice in the doing by each of his own work.10 (3) Justice does not as Pater thought “supervene” upon the other virtues; it is what makes them possible.11 [ 661 Recent British Periodical Literature in Ethics In the April number of Mind, an article by E. W. Hirst, “Moral Sense, Moral Reason, and Moral Sentiment,” has for its foundation a criticism of Dr. Rashdall’s theories, especially as set forth in his last book (Is Conscience an Emotion?).12 Dr. Rashdall fails to do justice to Shaftesbury and Hutcheson.13 Their Moral Sense is not simply a “particular sort of feeling or emotion” but involves reflection on action [147].14 Dr. Rashdall thinks that in reducing the Moral Sense to a kind of Moral Taste, these writers abandon all objective criteria. But in matters of art, and even in matters of food, there is always some objective criterion, and furthermore the moralists in question do recognise the objectivity of the Moral Sense. (When Mr. Hirst says that “the ‘obligation’ to cultivate correct views on art essentially differs from the duty of manifesting right conduct” [150], he perhaps means or should mean “different from the duty of cultivating correct views on conduct ,” which is not quite what he says). Mr. Hirst objects that Shaftesbury and Hutcheson do not sufficiently recognise the difference between the moral and the aesthetic sense: aesthetic judgment depends on a certain “involuntary factor” [150]. (So, however, does the understanding of right and wrong, as distinguished from mere correct behaviour.) “Dr. Rashdall strenuously maintains that only as moral judgments are the workofReasoncantheirobjectivityandauthoritybeassured”[152].Reason gives us the axioms of Equity and Rational Benevolence–but these, says Mr. Hirst, depend for application upon a quantitative estimate [152, 153]. Though Dr. Rashdall says that “goods” are commensurable “only for the purposes of choice” [153],15 this restriction does not seem to prevent a sufficient amount of one good from being equivalent to another amount of another good. Choice would then depend upon “taste.” Dr. Rashdall, however , in his recent work, erects a hierarchy of goods.16 Mr. Hirst denies that ethical quality attaches to the form of activity (e.g. he denies that intellectual activity is more “moral” than eating), but not to the motive. “The socalled ‘higher’ pleasures of art and culture are ‘higher’ only because they tend to be less immediately selfish” [155]. Dr. Rashdall holds feelings to...