CHAPTER XI
MORALITY

MY general criticism of modern philosophical attitudes has rested on a contention which may be shortly summarized as follows. Economic action, which as such is amoral and self-centred, is presupposed by moral action, which transcends the self-centred character of economic action; whereas economic action does not presuppose moral conduct: they are successive terms in a logically developing series.1 I have already offered some criticism of Humian and utilitarian ethics from this point of view, urging that they arise inevitably from the denial of transcendence and from accepting the economic agent's world as the only world.2 We have seen, too, that the modern subjectivist notion of moral value as a matter of private feeling results equally with the utilitarian doctrine in egoistic hedonism.3 The only significant difference between these is that, while the utilitarians, having made pleasure the good, none the less continued to dwell on the familiar topics of ethical discussion`duty, motive, consequences, and so forth`struggling vainly but honestly to make hedonism ethical, the modern subjectivist has usually been more consistent. His interest in conduct flags`on a hedonistic assumption it is a dull subject`and only his linguistical studies languidly revive it. He turns from thinking about moral actions to analysing ethical sentences.4

There is another twentieth-century ethical theory which shares in many respects the economic error against which this book protests. But it is sternly opposed to hedonism, and its contrast with doctrines we have discussed is illuminating. It has for us a further advantage in that its author elaborated it largely through criticism of the kind of ethical view to which our own premisses lead. H. A. Prichard was a dogmatic and aggressive disputant.

____________________
1
See pp. 21-3.
2
See pp. 58-63
3
See p. 177
4
Cp. p. 173.

-208-

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