The New Morality

The New Morality

The New Morality

The New Morality

Excerpt

By "the new morality" I mean the morality which, basing itself solidly upon observation of the results of conduct, consciously aims to secure the maximum of attainable happiness for mankind. It goes back, to be sure, to Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle; but it has never been espoused by more than a very small minority. What was the "old morality" in the days of Socrates was, in its concrete precepts, very different from the prevalent morality of today; but it was like the traditional, respectable morality of today in being dogmatic, formalistic, haphazard, and blind. The dominant moral codes throughout human history have been based upon authority, not upon a study of the natural consequences of acts; and though they have often embodied profound intuitions and served many useful purposes, they have had no clear realization of what makes morality really worthy of our allegiance. At last, however, a scientific, experimental attitude toward morals is becoming diffused among the more educated classes, and we seem to be at the dawn of an age which will judge conduct by its observable results.

The conservatives, who can conceive of no other moral standards than those which they have followed, are naturally alarmed.

Youth is questioning the validity of our entire system of ethics. . . . Our ethics and their old sanctions are already in dissolution. . . . What the younger generation and their children may be called upon to do may be to make . . .

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