Virtues and vices and other essays in moral philosophy

It frequently happens that the excess of one selfish passion either defeats its own end, or counteracts another. This, if I am not mistaken, is your case. The love of money and the love of power are the predominating ingredients of your mind; cunning, the characteristic of your understanding. This has hitherto carried you successfully through life, and has alone raised you to the exterior consideration you enjoy. The natural consequence of success is temerity. It has now proceeded one step too far, and precipitated you into measures from the consequence of which you will not easily extricate yourself. Your avarice will be fatal to your ambition. I have too good an opinion of the sense and spirit, to say nothing of the virtue, of your countrymen, to believe they will permit you any longer to abuse their confidence or trample upon their honor. Admirably fitted in many respects for the meridian of St. James, you might there make the worthy representative of a venal borough, but you ought not to be suffered to continue to sully the majesty of the people in an American C——ss.

There is an old expression, the

In attributing, as general characteristics, prudence and steadiness to aristocratic governments, our author has, we think, generalized on an insufficient examination of the facts on which his conclusion is founded. The only steadiness which aristocracy fails to manifest, is tenacity in clinging to its own privileges. Democracy is equally tenacious of the fundamental maxims of its own government. In all other matters, opinion of a ruling class is as fluctuating, as liable to be wholly given up to immediate impulses, as the opinion of the people. Witness the whole course of English history. All our laws have been made upon temporary impulses. In —except, indeed, that of perpetually adding to the power and privileges of the rich; and that, not because of the deep-laid schemes, but because of the passions, of the ruling class. And as for the talents and virtues of those whom aristocracy chooses for its leaders, read Horace Walpole or Bubb Doddington, that you may know what to think of them.

Virtues and vices and other essays in moral philosophy …


Every district, [says he,] would not only send representatives to the supreme assembly, but have its own domestic legislature for provincial purposes; in which all matters relating to its roads, bridges, prisons, court-houses, and assessments, and other points concerning itself alone, might be determined. In England, at present, large sums are collected under the name of county rates, and expended (frequently with lavish profusion) under the control of the magistrates at quarter-sessions, who virtually do part of what is here assigned to a district assembly; while of the rest, some is neglected, and some is done in a hasty and slovenly manner by Parliament.

Virtue Ethics | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Mill’s preference is to leave the individual free to exercise autonomy in all matters concerning his personal life, since presumably he knows better than anyone else his own wants and needs. But he admits that to do so poses difficult problems, because no man is isolated from society. An individual, for example, should be free to consume alcoholic beverages according to his inclination, even though he becomes drunk. He should not be punished by society for intoxication in itself, but only if it has ill consequences for others. A soldier or a policeman must certainly be punished for drunkenness on duty, for thus he commits an other-regarding act of positive or potential peril to his fellow citizens. Where others drink to excess and harm themselves and their families, they should at least be subject to moral disapprobation, and in some circumstances to legal penalties. In general, whenever personal vices lead to acts injurious to others, these must be taken from the realm of liberty and made subject either to morality or to law.

Introduction. Wollstonecraft, Mary. 1792. The Rights of …

If we take futurity into the account, as we no doubt ought to do, we shall find, that in fifty or sixty years, America will be in no need of protection from Great Britain. She will then be able to protect herself both at home and abroad. She will have a plenty of men, and a plenty of materials, to provide and equip a formidable navy. She will, indeed, owe a debt of gratitude to the parent State for past services; but the scale will then begin to turn in her favor; and the obligation for future services will be on the side of Great Britain. It will be the interest of the latter to keep us without a fleet, and, by this means, to continue to regulate our trade as before. But, in thus withholding the means of protection which we have within our own reach, she will chiefly consult her own advantage, and oblige herself much more than us. At that era, to enjoy the privilege of enriching herself by the direction of our commerce, and, at the same time, to derive supports, from our youthful vigor and strength, against all her enemies, and thereby to extend her conquests over them, will give her reason to bless the times that gave birth to these colonies.