This lecture was typed in by Eugene Detweiler.
I HAVE NOW examined, I believe, all the various theories of the ground of obligation. I have still further to remark upon the practical influence of these various theories, for the purpose of showing the fundamental importance of a right understanding of this question. The question lies at the very foundation of all morality and religion. A mistake here is fatal to any consistent system either of moral philosophy or theology. But before I dismiss this part of the subject, I must sum up the foregoing discussion, and place, in a distinct light, the points of universal agreement among those who have agitated this question, and then state a few plain corrolaries that must follow from such premises. I think I may say that all parties will, and do, agree in the following particulars. These have been named before, but I briefly recapitulate in this summing up. The points of agreement, which I now need to mention, are only these--
1. Moral obligation respects moral actions only.
2. Involuntary states of mind are not, strictly speaking, moral actions.
3. Intentions alone are, strictly speaking, moral actions.
4. Still more strictly, ultimate intentions alone are moral actions.
5. An ultimate choice or intention is the choice of an object for its own sake, or for what is intrinsic in the nature of the object, and for nothing which is not intrinsic in such object.
6. The true foundation of obligation to choose an object of ultimate choice is that in the nature of the object, for the sake of which the reason affirms obligation to choose it.
7. Ultimate choice or intention is alone right or wrong, per se, and all executive acts are right or wrong as they proceed from a right or wrong ultimate intention.
Now, in the above premises we are agreed. It would seem that a moderate degree of logical consistency ought to make us at one in our conclusions. Let us proceed carefully, and see if we cannot detect the logical error that brings us to such diverse conclusions.
From the above premises it must follow--
1. That the utility of ultimate choice cannot be a foundation of obligation to choose, for this would be to transfer the ground of obligation from what is intrinsic in the object chosen to the useful tendency of the choice itself. As I have said, utility is a condition of obligation to put forth an executive act, but can never be a foundation of obligation, for the utility of the choice is not a reason found exclusively, or at all, in the object of choice.
2. From the above premises it also follows, that the moral character of the choice cannot be a foundation of obligation to choose, for this reason is not intrinsic in the object of choice. To affirm that the character of choice is the ground of obligation to choose, is to transfer the ground of obligation to choose, from the object chosen to the character of the choice itself; but this is a contradiction of the premises.
3. The relation of one being to another cannot be the ground of obligation to will good to that other, for the ground of obligation to will good to another must be the intrinsic nature of the good, and not the relations of one being to another. Relations may be conditions of obligation to seek to promote the good of particular individuals; but in every case the nature of the good is the ground of the obligation.
4. Neither the relation of utility, nor that of moral fitness or right, as existing between choice and its object, can be a ground of obligation, for both these relations depend, for their very existence, upon the intrinsic importance of the object of choice; and besides, neither of these relations is intrinsic in the object of choice, which, according to the premises, it must be to be a ground of obligation.
5. The relative importance or value of an object of choice, can never be a ground of obligation to choose that object, for its relative importance is not intrinsic in the object. The relative importance, or value, of an object may be a condition of obligation to choose it, as a condition of securing an intrinsically valuable object, to which it sustains the relation of a means, but it is a contradiction of the premises to affirm that the relations of an object can be a ground of obligation to choose that object.
6. The idea of duty cannot be a ground of obligation; this idea is a condition, but never a foundation, of obligation, for this idea is not intrinsic in the object which we affirm it our duty to choose.
7. The perception of certain relations existing between individuals cannot be a ground, although it is a condition of obligation, to fulfil to them certain duties. Neither the relation itself nor the perception of the relation, is intrinsic in that which we affirm ourselves to be under obligation to will or do to them; of course, neither of them can be a ground of obligation.
8. The affirmation of obligation by the reason, cannot be a ground, though it is a condition of obligation. The obligation is affirmed, upon the ground of the intrinsic importance of the object, and not in view of the affirmation itself.
9. The sovereign will of God, is never the foundation, though it often is a condition, of certain forms of obligation. Did we know the intrinsic or relative value of an object, we should be under obligation to choose it, whether God required it or not.
The revealed will of God is always a condition of obligation, whenever such revelation is indispensable to our understanding the intrinsic or relative importance of any object of choice. The will of God is not intrinsic in the object, which he commands us to will, and of course cannot, according to the premises, be a ground of obligation.
10. The moral excellence of a being can never be a foundation of obligation to will his good, for his character is not intrinsic in the good we ought to will to him. The intrinsic value of that good must be the ground of the obligation, and his good character only a condition of obligation to will his enjoyment of good in particular.
11. Good character can never be a ground of obligation to choose anything which is not itself; for the reasons of ultimate choice must, according to the premises, be found exclusively in the object of choice. Therefore, if character is a ground of obligation to put forth an ultimate choice, it must be the object of that choice.
12. Right can never be a ground of obligation, unless right be itself the object which we are under obligation to choose for its own sake.
13. Susceptibility for good can never be a ground, though it is a condition, of obligation to will good to a being. The susceptibility is not intrinsic in the good which we ought to will, and therefore cannot be a ground of obligation.
14. It also follows from the foregoing premises that no one thing can be a ground of obligation to choose any other thing, as an ultimate; for the reasons for choosing anything, as an ultimate, must be found in itself, and in nothing extraneous to itself.
15. From the admitted fact, that none but ultimate choice or intention is right or wrong per se, and that all executive volitions, or acts, derive their character from the ultimate intention to which they owe their existence, it follows:--
(a.) That if executive volitions are put forth with the intention to secure an intrinsically valuable end, they are right; otherwise, they are wrong.
(b.) It also follows, that obligation to put forth executive acts is conditioned, not founded, upon the assumed utility of such acts. Again--
(c.) It also follows, of course, that all outward acts are right or wrong, as they proceed from a right or wrong intention.
(d.) It also follows that the rightness of any executive volition or outward act depends upon the supposed and intended utility of that volition, or act. Then utility must be assumed as a condition of obligation to put them forth, and, of course, their intended utility is a condition of their being right.
(e.) It also follows that, whenever we decide it to be duty to put forth any outward act whatever, irrespective of its supposed utility, and because we think it right, we deceive ourselves, for it is impossible that outward acts or volitions, which from their nature are always executive, should be either obligatory or right, irrespective of their assumed utility, or tendency to promote an intrinsically valuable end.
(f.) Not only must all such acts be supposed to have this tendency, but they must proceed from an intention, to secure the end for its own sake, as conditions of their being right.
(g.) It follows also, that it is a gross error to affirm the rightness of an executive act, as a reason for putting it forth, even assuming that its tendency is to do evil rather than good. With this assumption no executive act can possibly be right. When God has required certain executive acts, we know that they do tend to secure the highest good, and that, if put forth to secure that good, they are right. But in no case, where God has not revealed the path of duty, as it respects executive acts, or courses of life, are we to decide upon such questions in view of the rightness, irrespective of the good tendency of such acts or courses of life; for their rightness depends upon their assumed good tendency.
Objections.--1. But to this doctrine it has been objected, that it amounts to the papal dogma, that the end sanctifies the means. I will give the objection and my reply.--See Appendix. Reply to the Princeton Review.
2. That if the highest good, or well-being of God and of the universe, be the sole foundation of moral obligation, it follows that we are not under obligation to will anything except this end, with the necessary conditions and means thereof. That everything but this end, which we are bound to will, must be willed as a means to this end, or because of its tendency to promote this end. And this, it is said, is the doctrine of utility.
To this I answer--
The doctrine of utility is, that the foundation of the obligation to will both the end and the means is the tendency of the willing to promote the end. But this is absurd. The doctrine of these discourses is not, as utilitarians say, that the foundation of the obligation to will the end or the means is the tendency of the willing to promote that end, but that the foundation of the obligation to will both the end and the means, is the intrinsic value of end. And the condition of the obligation to will the means is the perceived tendency of the means to promote the end.
Again, the objection that this doctrine is identical with that of the utilitarian is urged in the following form:--
"The theory of Professor Finney, in its logical consequences, necessarily lands us in the doctrine of utility, and can lead to no other results. The affirmation of obligation, as all admit, pertains exclusively to the intelligence. The intelligence, according to Professor Finney, esteems nothing whatever as worthy of regard for its own sake, but happiness, or the good of being. Nothing else is esteemed by it, for its own sake, but exclusively as 'a condition or a means to this end.' Now, if the intelligence does not regard an intention for any other reason than as a condition or a means, in other words, if for no other reason does it care whether such acts do or do not exist at all, how can it require or prohibit such acts for any other reason? If the intelligence does require or prohibit intentions for no other reasons than as a condition or a means of happiness, this is the doctrine of utility, as maintained by all its advocates." (Mahan's Moral Philosophy, pp. 98, 99.)
To this I reply, 1. That I do not hold that the intelligence demands the choice of an ultimate end, as a condition or a means of securing this end, but exactly the reverse of this. I hold that the intelligence does "care" whether ultimate choice or intention exists, for an entirely different reason, than as a condition or means of securing the end chosen. My doctrine is, and this objector has often asserted the same, that the intelligence demands the choice of an ultimate end for its own sake, and not because the choice tends to secure the end. What does this objector mean? Only so far back as the next page he says, in a distinct head:--"The advocates of this (his own) theory agree with Professor Finney in the doctrine that the good of being is an ultimate reason for ultimate intentions of a certain class, to wit, all intentions included in the words, willing the good of being." (Ibid. p. 97.) Thus he expressly asserts that I hold, and that he agrees with me, that the good of being is an ultimate reason for all ultimate intentions included in the words, willing the good of being. Now, what a marvel, that on the next page, he should state as an objection, that I hold that the reason does not demand the choice of the good of being for its own sake, but only as a condition of securing the good. We agree that an ultimate reason, is a ground of obligation, and that the nature of the good renders it obligatory to choose it for its own sake; and yet this objector strangely assumes, and asserts, that the nature of the good does not impose obligation to choose it for its own sake, and that there is no reason for choosing it, but either the rightness or the utility of the choice itself. This is passing strange. Why the choice is neither right nor useful, only as the end chosen is intrinsically valuable, and for this value demands choice. He says, "Whenever an object is present to the mind, which, on account of what is intrinsic in the object itself, necessitates the will to act, two or more distinct and opposite acts are always possible relatively to such object. That act, and that act only can be right, which corresponds with the apprehended intrinsic character of the object." (Ibid. p. 98.)
Now, just fifteen lines below, he states that there is no reason whatever for choosing an object, but the intrinsic nature or the utility of the choice itself. Marvellous. What, almost at the same breath, affirm that no choice, but that which consists in choosing an object for its own sake, can be right, and yet that no object should be chosen for its own sake, and that the intelligence can assign no reason whatever, for the choice of an object, except the rightness or utility of the choice itself. Now, he insists, that if I deny that the rightness of the choice is the ground of the obligation to choose the good of being, I must hold that the utility of the choice is the ground of the obligation, since, as he says, there can be no other reasons for the choice. Thus I am, he thinks, convicted of utilitarianism!!
But he still says, (Ibid. pp. 100, 101.) "In consistency with the fundamental principles of this theory, we can never account for the difference which he himself makes, and must make, between ultimate intentions and subordinate executive volitions. Both alike, as we have seen above, are, according to his theory, esteemed and regarded by the intelligence, for no other reasons than as a condition or a means of happiness. Yet he asserts that the obligation to put forth ultimate intentions is affirmed without any reference whatever to their being apprehended as a condition or a means of happiness; while the affirmation of obligation to put forth executive acts is conditioned wholly upon their being perceived to be such a condition or means. Now how can the intelligence make any such difference between objects esteemed and regarded, as far as anything intrinsic in the objects themselves is concerned, as absolutely alike?" (Ibid. pp. 100, 101.)
To this I reply, that the forms of obligation to put forth an ultimate and an executive act, are widely different. The intelligence demands that the good be chosen for its own sake, and this choice is not to be put forth as an executive act, or with design, to secure its object. Obligation to put forth ultimate choice is, therefore, not conditioned upon the supposed utility of the choice. But an executive act is to be put forth with design to secure its ends, and therefore obligation to put forth such acts is conditioned upon their supposed utility, or tendency to secure their end. There is, then, a plain difference between obligation to put forth ultimate and executive acts. What difficulty is there, then, in reconciling this distinction with my views, stated in these lectures?
3. It is said "that if the sole foundation of moral obligation be the highest good of universal being, all obligation pertaining to God would respect his susceptibilities and the means necessary to this result. When we have willed God's highest well-being with the means necessary to that result, we have fulfilled all our duty to him."
To this I reply; certainly, when we have willed the highest well-being of God and of the universe with the necessary conditions and means thereof, we have done our whole duty to him: for this is loving him with all our heart, and our neighbour as ourselves. Willing the highest well-being of God, and of the universe, implies worship, obedience, and the performance of every duty, as executive acts. The necessary conditions of the highest well-being of the universe are, that every moral being should be perfectly virtuous, and that every demand of the intelligence and of the whole being of God and of the universe of creatures be perfectly met, so that universal mind shall be in a state of perfect and universal satisfaction. To will this is all that the law of God does or can require.
4. It is objected, "That if this be the sole foundation of moral obligation, it follows, that if all the good now in existence were connected with sin, and all the misery connected with holiness, we should be just as well satisfied as we now are."
I answer: this objection is based upon an impossible supposition, and therefore good for nothing. That happiness should be connected with sin, and holiness with misery, is impossible, without a reversal of the powers and laws of moral agency. If our being were so changed that happiness were naturally connected with sin, and misery with holiness, there would, of necessity, be a corresponding change in the law of nature, or of moral law: in which case, we should be as well satisfied as we now are. But no such change is possible, and the supposition is inadmissible. But it has been demanded,--
"Why does not our constitution demand happiness irrespective of holiness? and why is holiness as a condition of actual blessedness an unalterable demand of our intelligence? Why can neither be satisfied with mere happiness, irrespective of the conditions on which it exists, as far as moral agents are concerned? Simply and exclusively, because both alike regard something else for its own sake besides happiness." (Ibid. p. 104.)
The exact point of this argument is this: our nature demands that holiness should exist in connection with happiness, and sin with misery: now, does not this fact prove that we necessarily regard holiness as valuable in itself, or as an object to be chosen for its own sake? I answer, no. It only proves that holiness is regarded as right in itself, and therefore as the fit condition and means of happiness. But it does not prove, that we regard holiness as an object to be chosen for its own sake, or as an ultimate, for this would involve an absurdity. Holiness, or righteousness, is only the moral quality of choice. It is impossible that the quality of a choice should be the object of the choice. Besides, this quality of righteousness, or holiness, is created by the fact, that the choice terminates on some intrinsically valuable thing besides the choice itself. Thus, if our reason did affirm that holiness ought to be chosen for its own sake, it would affirm an absurdity and a contradiction.
Should it be still asked, why our nature affirms that that which is right in itself is the fit condition of happiness, I answer, certainly not because we necessarily regard holiness, or that which is right in itself, as an object of ultimate choice or intention, for this, as we have just seen, involves an absurdity. The true and only answer to the question just supposed is, that such is our nature, as constituted by the Creator, that it necessarily affirms as it does, and no other reason need or can be given. The difficulty with the objector is, that he confounds right with good, and insists that what is right in itself is as really an object of ultimate choice, as that which is a good in itself. But this cannot be true. What is right? Why, according to this objector, it is the relation of intrinsic fitness that exists between choice and an object intrinsically worthy of choice. This relation of fitness, or rightness, is not and cannot be the object of the choice. The intrinsic nature or value of the object creates this relation of rightness or fitness between the choice and the object. But this rightness is not, cannot be, an object of ultimate choice. When will writers cease to confound what is right in itself with what is a good in itself, and cease to regard the intrinsically right, and the intrinsically valuable, as equally objects of ultimate choice? The thing is impossible and absurd.
5. But it is said, that a moral agent may sometimes be under obligation to will evil instead of good to others. I answer:--
It can never be the duty of a moral agent to will evil to any being for its own sake, or as an ultimate end. The character and governmental relations of a being may be such that it may be duty to will his punishment to promote the public good. But in this case good is the end willed, and misery only a means. So it may be the duty of a moral agent to will the temporal misery of even a holy being to promote the public interests. Such was the case with the sufferings of Christ. The Father willed his temporary misery to promote the public good. But in all cases when it is duty to will misery, it is only as a means or condition of good to the public, or to the individual, and not as an ultimate end.
6. It has been said, "I find an unanswerable argument against this theory, also, in the relations of the universal intelligence to the moral government of God. All men do, as a matter of fact, reason from the connection between holiness and happiness, and sin and misery, under that government, to the moral character of God. In the scriptures, also, the same principle is continually appealed to. If the connection was a necessary one, and not dependent upon the divine will, it would present no more evidence of the divine rectitude, than the principle that every event has a cause, and all that is said in the scriptures about God's establishing this connection, would be false. Virtue and vice are in their own nature absolute, and would be what they now are, did not the connection under consideration exist." (Ibid. p. 109.)
(1.) This objection is based upon the absurd assumption, that moral law would remain the same, though the nature of moral agents were so changed that benevolence should naturally and necessarily produce misery, and selfishness produce happiness. But this is absurd. Moral law is, and must be, the law of nature. If the natures of moral agents were changed, there must of necessity be a corresponding change of the law. Virtue and vice are fixed and unchangeable only because moral agency is so.
(2.) The objection assumes that moral agents might have been so created as to affirm their obligation to be benevolent, though it were a fact that benevolence is necessarily connected with misery, and selfishness with happiness. But such a reversal of the nature would necessarily either destroy moral agency, and consequently moral law, or it would reverse the nature of virtue and vice. This objection overlooks, and indeed contradicts, the nature, both of moral agency and moral law.
(3.) We infer the goodness of God from the present constitution of things, not because God could possibly have created moral agents, and imposed on them the duty of benevolence, although benevolence had been necessarily connected with misery, and selfishness with happiness; for no such thing is, or was, possible. But we infer his benevolence from the fact, that he has created moral agents, and subjected them to moral law, and thus procured an indefinite amount of good, when he might have abstained from such a work. His choice was between creating moral agents and not creating, and not between creating moral agents with a nature such as they now have, or creating them moral agents, and putting them under the same law they now have, but with a nature the reverse of what they now have. This last were absurd, and naturally impossible. Yet this objection is based upon the assumption that it was possible.
7. It is said, that if any moral act can be conceived of which has not the element of willing the good of being in it, this theory is false. As an instance of such an act, it is insisted that revealed veracity as really imposes obligation to treat a veracious being as worthy of confidence, as susceptibility for happiness imposes obligation to will the happiness of such a being.
To this I reply,--
1. That it is a contradiction to say, that veracity should be the ground of an obligation to choose anything whatever but the veracity itself as an ultimate object, or for its own sake; for, be it remembered, the identical object, whose nature and intrinsic value imposes obligation, must be the object chosen for its own sake. This veracity imposes obligation to--what? Choose his veracity for its own sake? Is this what he is worthy of? O no, he is worthy of confidence. Then to treat him as worthy of confidence is not to will his veracity for its own sake, but to confide in him. But why confide in him? Let us hear this author himself answer this question:--
"There are forms of real good to moral agents, obligation to confer which rests exclusively upon moral character. That I should, for example, be regarded and treated by moral agents around me as worthy of confidence, is one of the fundamental necessities of my nature. On what condition or grounds can I require them to render me this good? Not on the ground that it is a good in itself to me. Such fact makes no appeal whatever to the conscience relatively to the good of which I am speaking. There is one and only one consideration that can, by any possibility, reach the conscience on this subject, to wit, revealed trust-worthiness. No claim to confidence can be sustained on any other ground whatever." (Ibid. pp. 107, 108.)
Indeed, but how perfectly manifest is it that here a condition is confounded with, or rather mistaken for, the ground of obligation. This writer started with the assertion that confiding in a being had not "the element of willing good in it." But here he asserts that confidence is a good to him, which we are bound to confer, and asserts that the ground of the obligation to confer this good, is not the intrinsic value of the good, but his revealed veracity. Here then, it is admitted, that to confide in a being has "the element of willing good in it." So the objection with which he started is given up, so far as to admit that this confidence is only a particular form of "good willing," and the only question remaining here is, whether the nature of the good, or the revealed veracity, is the ground of the obligation "to confer this form of good." This question has been answered already. Why "confer" good rather than evil upon him? Why, because good is good and evil is evil. The intrinsic value of the good is the ground, and his veracity only a condition, of obligation to will his particular and actual enjoyment of good. He says, "no claim to confidence can be sustained on any other ground than that of revealed veracity." I answer, that no such claim can be sustained except upon condition of revealed veracity. But if this confidence is the conferring of a good upon the individual, it is absurd to say that we are bound to confer this good, not because it is of value to him, but solely because of his veracity. Thus, this objector has replied to his own objection.
But let us put this objection in the strongest form, and suppose it to be asserted that revealed veracity always necessitates an act of confidence, or its opposite, and that we necessarily affirm obligation to put forth an act of confidence in revealed veracity, entirely irrespective of this confidence, or this veracity, sustaining any relation whatever to the good of any being in existence. Let us examine this. We often overlook the assumptions and certain knowledges which are in our own minds, and upon which we make certain affirmations. For example, in every effort we affirm ourselves under obligation to make, to secure the good of being, we assume our moral agency and the intrinsic value of the good to being; and generally these assumptions are not thought of, when we make such affirmations of obligation. But they are in the mind: their presence then, is the condition of our making the affirmation of obligation, although they are not noticed, nor thought of at the time. Now let us see if the affirmation of obligation to put forth an act of confidence, in view of revealed truth or revealed veracity, is not conditioned upon the assumption that the revealed truth or veracity, and consequently confidence in it, does sustain some relation to, and is a condition of, the highest good of being. Suppose, for example, that I assume that a truth, or a veracity, sustains no possible relation to the good of any being in existence, and that I regard the truth or the veracity revealed, as relating wholly and only, to complete abstractions, sustaining no relation whatever to the good or ill of any being; would such a truth, or such a veracity, either necessitate action, when revealed to the mind, or would the intellect affirm obligation to act in view of it? I say, no. Nor could the intelligence so much as conceive of obligation to act in this case. It could neither see nor assume any possible reason for action. The mind in this case must be, and remain, in a state of entire indifference to such a truth and such veracity. Although the fact may be overlooked, in the sense of not thought of, yet it is a fact, that obligation to confide in truth and in revealed veracity is affirmed by reason of the assumption which lies in the intellect, as a first truth, that to confide in, or to be influenced by, truth and veracity, is a condition of the highest good of being, and the value of the good is assumed as the ground, and the relation of the truth and the veracity, and of the confidence as the condition of the obligation. Faith, or confidence in an act, as distinguished from an attribute, of benevolence, is a subordinate and not an ultimate choice. God has so constituted the mind of moral agents, that they know, by a necessary law of the intelligence, that truth is a demand of their intellectual, as really as food is of their physical nature; that truth is the natural aliment of the mind, and that conformity of heart and life to it is the indispensable condition of our highest well-being. With this intuitive knowledge in the mind, it naturally affirms its obligations to confide in revealed veracity and truth. But suppose the mind to be entirely destitute of the conception that truth, or confidence in truth, sustained any relation whatever to the good of any being;--suppose truth was to the mind a mere abstraction, with no practical relations, any more than a point in space, or a mathematical line; it seems plain that no conception of obligation to confide in it, or to act in view of it, could possibly exist in this case. If this is so, it follows that obligation to confide in truth, or in revealed veracity, is conditioned upon its assumed relations to the good of being. And if this is so, the good to which truth sustains the relation of a means, must be the ground, and the relation only the condition, of the obligation.
But to silence all debate, the objector appeals to the universal consciousness:--
"I now adduce against the theory of Professor Finney, and in favour of the opposite theory, the direct and positive testimony of universal consciousness. Let us suppose, for example, that the character of God, as possessed of absolute omniscience, and veracity, is before the mind, on the one hand, and his capacity for infinite happiness, on the other. I put it to the consciousness of every intelligent being, whether God's character for knowledge and veracity does not present reasons just as ultimate for esteeming and treating him as worthy, instead of unworthy of confidence, as his susceptibilities for happiness do for willing his blessedness, instead of putting forth contradictory acts?"-- Moral Philosophy, p. 106.
Yes, I answer. But why does not this objector see that susceptibility for happiness is not the ground, but only a condition, of obligation to will the happiness of a being. Susceptibility for happiness, is in itself, no better reason for willing happiness, than susceptibility for misery is for willing misery. It is the nature of happiness that constitutes the ground, while susceptibility for happiness is only a condition of the obligation to will it, to any being. Without the susceptibility happiness were impossible, and hence there could be no obligation. But, the susceptibility existing, we are, upon this condition, under obligation to will the happiness of such a being for its own sake. The writer who makes this objection, has repeatedly fallen into the strange error of assuming and affirming that susceptibility for happiness is a ground of obligation to will happiness, and here he reiterates the assertion, and lays great stress upon it, and appeals to the universal consciousness in support of the proposition, that "revealed veracity presents reasons just as ultimate, for esteeming and treating a veracious being as worthy of confidence, as susceptibilities for good do for willing good." Yes, I say again: but neither of these presents ultimate reasons, and, of course, neither of them is a ground of obligation. Why does not this writer see that, according to his own most solemn definition of an ultimate act, this esteeming and treating a veracious being as worthy of confidence, cannot be ultimate acts? According to his own repeated showing, if veracity be a ground of obligation, that obligation must be to choose veracity for its own sake. But he says, the obligation is to esteem and treat him as worthy of confidence, and that this is "a real good which we are bound to render to him." What, the whole point and force of the objection is that this esteeming and treating are moral acts, that have no relation to the good of any being. This is strange. But stranger still, his veracity is not only a condition, but the ground, of obligation to render this good to him. We are to will his good, or to do him good, or to render to him the good which our confidence is to him, not because it is of any value to him, but because he is truthful.
It is perfectly plain that vast confusion reigns in the mind of that writer upon this subject, and that this objection is only a reiteration of the theory that moral excellence is a ground of obligation, which we have seen to be false.