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man finds that his wants keep pace with his civilization, and the modicum of comforts that satisfied him once is not enough for him, as his civilization has gone further ; he has wants which compete with the desire of marriage, and his power of restraint (which is only "moral" in the sense that it is due to deliberate will) is confirmed by regard to a number of pleasures which now permanently form part of his calculations. Barely to keep soul and body together is not now his object, and in fact when a man is so placed that he can have no other object he is too depressed to be self-restraining.
There is a point of depression where necessity leads to no vigorous or healthy efforts after progress.
It is a standard of living and a desire for comforts considerably above physical necessaries that act as the healthy stimulus, and compete successfully with physical cravings. It has been said that Malthus was Utilitarian, but not Utilitarian enough ; he should have kept more constantly before him the Greatest Happiness of the Greatest Number. But Malthus was a Utilitarian of the old school; the greatest happiness of the great body of the people seemed to him to be best secured by the devotion of the individual members of it each to his own permanent and real happiness. The difficulty of consistently explaining economic facts by a Utilitarian ethics of any kind will appear when we see the Utilitarian theory in the hands of Bentham, the Utilitarian par excellence, who had Godwin's supreme confidence in his abstractions, and much more than Godwin's acuteness.
NOTE. MALTHUS AND DARWIN. “It (Darwin's own doctrine) is the doctrine of Malthus applied with manifold force to the whole animal and vegetable kingdoms, for in this case there can be no artificial increase of food and no prudential restraint from marriage.” Origin of Species (pop. ed.) ch. iii., p. 50, cf. 143, 297. Compare Descent of Man, pt. I., ch. iv., pp. 131, 132 (ed. 1871). Domestication of Plants, vol. i., p. 10 (ed. 1868). Life, (1887), vol. i., p. 83, ii
. 11 seq., cf. 316, 317. A passage in the Voyage of the Beagle dated 1834 (p. 175 of ed. 1870), shows how the language and idea of Malthus were even then working in his mind : "Some check is constantly preventing the too rapid increase of every organized
| By an American economist, Prof. S. N. Patten.
being left in a state of nature. The supply of food on an average remains constant ; yet the tendency in every animal to increase by propagation is geometrical.” This is seen for example in European animals left to run wild in America during the last few centuries. The check can, as a rule, be seldom pointed out precisely, though (on p. 191) he observes that the horses on the Falkland Islands are a case where this can be done.
Mr. A. R. Wallace, in his book on Darwinism (Macmillan, 1889) has, like, Darwin himself, retained even the phrase "geometrical ratio.” his statement (which is given in substance below (end of Book IV.), he makes the Malthusian law an integral part of Darwinism.
In regard to the descent of Man, Mr. Wallace (Darwinism, p. 458) employs a deductive argument which is of interest in this connection. From the theory of natural selection it follows (he says) that there must have been “a large population spread over an extensive area," to supply “an adequate number of brain-variations for man's progressive improvement.” The theory of progress by variations is thus made in some measure to support a priori the theory of Malthus.
BENTHAM AND JAMES MILL.
BENTHIAM (1748-1832) was the contemporary of Malthus, and shared with him the credit of defeating the famous Poor Law Bill of Pitt (1797–1798). In
In his Letters on Usury (1787) he extended Adam Smith's “
“simple system of natural liberty” to bargains about loans of money. In his Manual of Political Economy (published piecemeal in 1798 and afterwards) he presented Adam Smith's economical doctrines in more abstract language than their author's and with an arrangement of his own. He divided actions bearing on political economy into three groups, “sponte acta," or the acts of individuals and their results, “ agenda" or "things to be done " by the State, which should be reduced to the lowest possible dimensions, and "non-agenda". things not to be done” by the State, or cases of unwise interference, The last he denounces not as merely unwise but as unjust, for the individual is in economical matters all in all, Consideration of the community, however, cannot fail to come in, for Bentham differs from Adam Smith almost as much in his bent for legislation as in his indifference to history, and the legislator (in Bentham's own language) must regard “the greatest happiness of the greatest number. Even his economical definitions show the prominence in his mind of this point of view. National wealth, or the total of the means of enjoyment in a nation, is distinguished from national opulence, or the proportion of the said total to the numbers of the nation. The chief end of wealth is “ well-being," and a material object is wealth if it possesses "value, namely subservience to well-being.” We even hear (though at random in a conversation) that “the value of money is its quantity multiplied by the felicity it produces,”—a saying which illustrates the fondness with which Utilitarians dwell on what later writers have called the subjective element in value.
It is to Bentham that we owe the close association of English political economy with Utilitarianism in Philosophy. Not only in matters of trade, but in all cases, men act (according to Bentham) with a view to their personal interests. In other words individualism means the same thing in ethics as it does in political economy. “ To obtain the greatest portion of happiness for himself is the object of every rational being. Every man is nearer to himself than he can be to any other man, and no other man can weigh for him his pains and pleasures. Himself must necessarily be his own first concern."1 This is nearly the language of Adam Smith ;? but without his qualifications. Bentham has no reserve. “To interest duty must and will be made subservient." 3 "There is no true interest but individual interest.” “Nature” (he says in the famous introductory chapter of the Principles of Morals and Legislation) “has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pleasure and pain. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do” (Clar. Press ed., p. 1). A man's actions result from his calculation of the balance of consequences in favour of greater pleasure or less pain to himself individually. Utility (he says) is not a new principle, but it has been vaguely defined. The sense it must bear is the tendency to produce happiness, and the sense happiness must bear is the greatest possible sum of pleasures.
In the same way (he goes on in the introduction to Principles of Morals and Legislation) that which tends to increase the total happiness of the individuals composing a community is the Utility of the said community. Every individual is to count as one and no one as more than one. The aim and intention of all legislation
1 Deontology, vol. i., p. 18 (ed. Bowring, 1834).
3 This quotation also is from the Deontology, which it is fair to remember is more paradoxical than any of the works published in Bentham's own life-time.
4 As to this phrase, see below, p. 234 n.
should be to secure the Greatest Happiness of the Greatest Number. We must put aside all theories of a supposed Natural Law, or of Ascetic, or even of Sympathetic moralists. We start with Greatest Happiness as our first principle. Like other first principles, it cannot be proved directly, but it cannot be rejected without absurdities.
Both morals and legislation therefore deal with the tendency of actions to produce pleasure and pain. And these feelings are viewed as being identical in all men ; they are palpable and familiar facts, with no mystery or mysticism about them. Pleasures (and pains) differ in intensity, duration, certainty, nearness in time, fecundity (or likeliness to give rise to other pleasures or pains), purity (or freedom from admixture of their opposite), and finally extent (or the great or small number of persons in whom they occur). These are differences on which all are agreed and about which all can appeal to their own experience. But we cannot say that pleasures and pains differ in kind or quality one from another. No one can pronounce on their quality except the subject of them. The moralist and legislator have to deal with the palpable, comparable and measurable differences of quantity above mentioned ; these are the criteria by which alone the tendency of an action is to be judged, and the action itself pronounced good or evil
. The good of the individual is the greatest sum of pleasures possible to him ; the good of society is the greatest sum of pleasures possible to the greatest number of its members.
With the influence of Bentham on Legislation, we have of course nothing directly to do, and the application of his ideas to Jurisprudence will be best viewed in connection with James Mill. But the general effect on the thinking public of England was precisely what Godwin had tried to produce in the case of political
1 For the history of this motto see Palgrave's Economical Dictionary, art. “Bentham.”
2 See Table of the Springs of Action (1817), p. 3. The last seems as compared with the rest to be an external difference. It goes beyond the mere sensation.
3 Except surely "extent."