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has already been said will enable us to dis- | the various phrases and terms connected to-
criminate them with sufficient accuracy. gether by correlation and affinity, that it is
The philosophical mode appeals chiefly to hard to speak in the way of description or
facts of observation, and admits only that illustration, without seeming to be begging
part of theology which is comprised in what the question by the mere use of the necessary
is styled Natural Religion; the theological terms. But there is here no begging of the
mode, without omitting to notice the argu- question; and nothing is sought to be insi-
ments of the philosopher, admits and gives nuated. A feeling would be in vain defined
the chief weight to dogmas of Revelation. to him who has not felt it; and it is lawful
It follows, of course, that the theological to use any terms which are fitted to remind
treatment of the question is directly interest- men of what they have felt. But perhaps it
ing only to persons who believe the dogmas will be best, in order to elicit the idea, to
to be true; though it can hardly fail to have allege an example. Take, therefore, the fol-
some indirect interest for many who disbe- lowing account of a crime which might move
lieve them, since it treats of ideas and be- a man to thank God that Tophet is ordained
liefs which have swayed, and still sway, the of old. "Kirke was also," says Lord Macau-
thoughts and deeds of a great part of civi- lay," in his own coarse and ferocious way,
lized mankind.
a man of pleasure; and nothing is more pro-
bable than that he employed his power for
the purpose of gratifying his licentious appe-
tites. It was reported that he conquered the
virtue of a beautiful woman by promising to
spare the life of one to whom she was strong-
ly attached, and that, after she had yielded,
he showed her, suspended on the gallows,
the lifeless remains of him for whose sake
she had sacrificed her honour." Kirke is
acquitted by the historian, for lack of
sufficient evidence; but the truth of the
story is nothing to the point-it is enough if
it be possible. And there is no doubt that
the thing has happened before now: others
besides Kirke have been accused of the crime,
and it has been brought home to some of
them. Now the desire which most persons
feel, that a crime of such treachery and
barbarity should meet with condign punish-
ment, is a feeling which cannot, to their
satisfaction, be resolved into any elements.
They do not think, for example, that it is ac-
counted for by reflecting that punishment is
desirable in order that criminals may be in-
duced to reform themselves, or in order that
they may be induced not to injure the inno-
cent. What is the origin of the feeling, and
whether it is natural or acquired, is nothing
to the point; nor are we concerned to deter-
mine whether people are right or wrong in
thinking as they do think. It is enough that
most men have felt something leading them
to speak as though there were, in their judg-
ment, some kind of natural relation between
vice and punishment, virtue and reward, so
that, as they would express it, the one ought
to follow the other.

Since the vulgar notion of moral desert will occupy a very prominent place in our discussion, it is necessary to explain with perfect accuracy what is meant by the term; and here it is to be observed that I am only explaining, not attempting to prove. It is a matter of notoriety that, from the most ancient times of which we have any record down to the present day, men in general have been accustomed to use certain phrases which betoken some feeling of indignation against vice, and approbation of virtue, saying that bad deeds deserved punishment or justly brought punishment on the doer, and that good deeds deserved a reward, and so forth. Numerous passages from all sorts of authors, prophets and poets, historians and philosophers, witnessing to this feeling, will readily occur to the memory of any man who has read much in any language. Common speech is so full of words to express these ideas that no man can grow up in civilized society without acquiring some apprehension of them; nor have those persons who have expressly recorded their disbelief of the doctrine implied in the use of the terms ever pretended that they were unable to understand the terms themselves. Nor would it be possible to convey the ideas by means of a definition into the mind of a man who should affect to attach no meaning to the terms; for it is the function of definitions, not to put new ideas into the mind, but to separate off from the rest a part of the ideas already there. In short, nothing further can be said by way of explaining more clearly what is meant by the vulgar notion of moral desert, which might be defined to be an abstract quality, metaphorically attributed to actions in the same way that qualities of sense, such as colour, are attributed to material bodies.

So deeply are the marks of this notion imprinted upon language, and so intimately are

It will appear presently that this point has not been dwelt upon at such length for nothing. Enough has at least been said to make clear the following account of the real issue of the philosophical controversy about the will. The question was this, whether the vulgar notion of moral desert is a real or

a fantastic notion. Most people hold that it is a real notion. That is to say, they hold that the relation between vice and punishment, to which the feeling above described is supposed to witness, and which the vulgar notion of moral desert takes for granted, is a real relation; and that they are not only intelligible, but also speaking the truth, when they say that vice ought to be punished even though no ulterior benefit, whether to the criminal or to society, be secured by the punishment. On the other hand certain individuals, such as Priestley, have held that the vulgar notion of moral desert is a fantastic notion-that there is in reality no such relation as that to which the feeling of moral indignation is supposed to witness, and that criminals ought to be punished only in order to their own benefit or to the benefit of others. Priestley, indeed, was bound in consistency to maintain that they ought not to be punished at all; but we need not tie him down strictly to the rather foolish remark quoted above. That remark, by the way, affords a good illustration of the difficulties which beset a man who, adopting a theory opposed to the common sentiments of mankind, finds himself obliged either to use language which tacitly assumes what he expressly repudiates, or else to disgust his readers by the perpetual recurrence of tedious and strange periphrases. But in many cases they cannot be let off by a mere change of words. They show by what they say and do that their minds, no less than their tongues, are still held in bondage by the old prejudice which they affect to despise. Thus the unitarian Priestley cannot contain his indignation at the doctrines of the infidel Gibbon-a double inconsistency; for the one had the same right to his infidelity that the other had to his unitarianism; and even if he had not, it was impossible to find a ground for indignation at anything, under the Doctrine of Philosophical Necessity, as Priestley himself very distinctly remarked on another occasion when he happened not to feel indignant.

for its own sake, and only devised their theory of the will in order to support their opinion about the vulgar notion; while the Philosophical Necessitarians were obliged by their analysis of the facts to deny the reality of the vulgar notion. From this we should expect to find the result of the Necessitarian analysis much more luminous and intelligible than the result of the Libertarian analysis; and so we do find it. The analysis of the facts of volition was the strength of Necessity and the weakness of Freewill. It would perhaps be difficult to supply the Libertarians with a better form of words than that which they devised; but this has always been the sport of their opponents. I will quote two statements of it. The first is from the hand of an enemy to the doctrine; but it is quite fair:-"To prove that a man has freewill in the sense apposite to the doctrine of the Libertarian, "he ought to feel that he can do different things while the motives remain precisely the same.' "The second account, from the hand of a friend to the doctrine, is to the same purpose; that is to say, it asserts that the writer does feel what Hartley says he ought to feel :-"In every act of volition, I am fully conscious that I can at this moment act in either of two ways, and that, all the antecedent phenomena being precisely the same, I may determine one way to-day, and another way to-morrow." I myself hold the Doctrine of Freewill; that is to say, I hold that the vulgar notion of moral desert is a real notion. But I cannot help assenting to Mr. Mill's criticism of this passage from Dean Mansel.


If this account of the real scope of the controversy be correct, it will suggest a suspicion that only two theories of the will are possible, and that all others which have ever been propounded are confused presentations of the one or the other of these two. This, I think, may be easily shown. If we examine the various theories which have been proposed, it will appear that, by paring off excrescences and reconciling inconsistencies, their number may be reduced to two, one of which represents the affirmation, and the other the denial, of the reality of the vulgar notion of moral desert. The former is commonly called the Doctrine of Freewill; the latter has been called by different names, and there is some difficulty about finding a name for it, because its adherents are not at all agreed upon the fitting title, and those

The vulgar notion of moral desert being the real point at issue in the controversy about the will, the two opinions about it were of course espoused by different sides. Those who maintained that there is free will did so in order that they might be able to maintain that the vulgar notion of moral desert is a real notion; and those who maintained that the notion is a fantastic notion were obliged to do so because they denied that the will is free. There is therefore this important difference between the positions of the two sides with regard to the point at issue, that the Libertarians (as we may call them) cared nothing about the will

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who favour one title are apt to complain | Doctrine of the Causation of Human Ac
that the use of any other is unfair. As we tions is a rather long phrase, I will venture
have seen, Priestley calls it the Doctrine of to substitute for it on all occasions the word
Philosophical Necessity; and this title is Determinism, which Mr. Mill notices with
also used by Hartley, who, however, seems some approval. Then it will be my object
to prefer to talk about the Mechanism of to show that these four doctrines may be
Human Actions. However, it matters little reduced to two. I shall first attempt to
what we call the doctrine, provided we are show that Asiatic Fatalism does not properly
careful to attach the right idea to the name. touch the will at all, nor yet the vulgar no-
To me the phrase Philosophical Necessity tion of moral desert; that is, it must be re-
seems to be much the best that has been jected altogether from the list of theories of
proposed; but all coupling of the word the will. I shall next attempt to show that
necessity with his opinions gives so much the distinction which Mr. Mill draws between
offence to Mr. Mill, who is the most illustri- Modified Fatalism and Determinism leaves to
ous of the modern defenders of the doctrine, both the same theory of the will and the
that I will not use the word.
same opinion about the vulgar notion of
moral desert; that is, if the accidental ex-
crescences be pared off from Modified Fa-
talism, it becomes Determinism pure and
simple. If this much can be made out, the
conflicting theories will have been reduced
to the two above named, viz. Determinism
and Freewill.

If we except manifest vagaries, the opi-
nions on the question before us may be,
I think, counted at first sight to be four,
three of which are described by Mr. Mill as
follows: "Real Fatalism," he says, "is of
two kinds. Pure, or Asiatic fatalism, the
fatalism of the Edipus, holds that our ac-
tions do not depend upon our desires.
Whatever our wishes may be, a superior
power, or an abstract destiny, will overrule
them, and compel us to act, not as we desire,
but in the manner predestined. Our love of
good and hatred of evil are of no efficacy,
and though in themselves they may be vir-
tuous, as far as conduct is concerned it is
unavailing to cultivate them. The other
kind, Modified Fatalism I will call it, holds
that our actions are determined by our will,
our will by our desires, and our desires by
the joint influence of the motives presented
to us and of our individual character; but
that, our character having been made for us,
and not by us, we are not responsible for it,
nor for the actions it leads to, and should in
vain attempt to alter them. The true doc-
trine of the Causation of human actions
maintains, in opposition to both, that not
only our conduct, but our character, is in
part amenable to our will; that we can, by
employing the proper means, improve our
and that if our character is such
that while it remains what it is it necessi-
tates us to do wrong, it will be just to apply
motives which will necessitate us to strive
for its improvement, and so emancipate our-
selves from the other necessity; in other
words, we are under a moral obligation to
seek the improvement of our moral cha-
If we add Freewill to this list, it
will, I believe, comprise all the doctrines
worthy of notice. We shall then have four
altogether-Asiatic Fatalism, Modified Fatal-
ism, the True Doctrine of the Causation of
Human Actions, and Freewill. As the True

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First, then, let us consider Asiatic Fatalism. According to the most obvious interpretation of Mr. Mill's words-"that our actions do not depend upon our desires "it would appear that, in the scheme of Asiatic Fatalism, Fate makes use of involuntary motions of the muscles in order to effect its decrees; as if a man should attempt to sheathe his sword, and should be compelled to execute an automatic thrust at the breast of a friend. But this is not the Fatalism of the Asiatics, nor is it the Fatalism of the Edipus. If a Turk refuses to get out of the way of a cannon-ball, it is not because he thinks that Fate would paralyse or convulse his muscles, but because he thinks that another ball would be ready for him both on the right hand and on the left. And the common story leaves Edipus in possession of just so much free will, whatever that may be, as anybody else. In the scheme of Fatalism, as it really exists, men are left unfettered in just the same sense as in the scheme of Freewill, and they act in just the same way, whether that is to be styled free or bond; but their actions do not affect the course of events, because, as the phrase goes, it comes to the same thing in the end. Nothing hinders them from willing or from acting; but Fate so disposes matters that their own actions, whatever they may be, are the means to bring about the fated event. And such Fatalists seem to hold-and there is no reason why they should not-the reality of the vulgar notion of moral desert, in just the same sense as the great bulk of the rest of mankind. That is to say, actual Fatalists, so far as one can judge by what they say and do, seem to

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hold the Doctrine of Freewill; and there is no reason why they should not, though they are not obliged to hold it. In short, Fatalism is irrelevant to the question. A man does not reject Freewill by acquiescing in external coercion, neither does he accept it. The fact that some external power inflexibly controls the course of physical events is irrelevant both to every theory of the facts of volition and also to every opinion about the vulgar notion of moral desert. It is not itself a theory of the will in any sense, and it is equally compatible with any and every theory.

So far I have been speaking of Fatalism as it is actually professed; but my remarks would apply equally well to the Asiatic Fatalism of Mr. Mill if he intended his words to bear their literal meaning. The fact that my actions do not depend upon my desires is irrelevant to any and every theory of the will. If I attempt to sheathe my sword, and my arm—ἀτεχνῶς καθάπερ τὰ παραλελυ- | μévа тоv owμaтos pópia-flies up against my desire, and the weapon is thrust into the body of a friend, that is quite beside the question of volition. The involuntary spasm of the muscles is an external force; and my will has no more concern in the act done than if it had been done by another man. The spasm, which I cannot help, is no more incompatible with the freedom or the bondage of my will, than is the fall of an avalanche down Mont Blanc, which also I cannot help. I am equally guilty if I try to stab my friend and fail to do it, and equally innocent if I try not to stab him and am forced to stab him against my desire. This is true upon any view of Fatalism Proper, which is not really concerned with the will, but with an inexorable procession of external

can be pointed out between the vulgar notion of moral desert as it then prevailed and as it prevails now; though, which is quite another matter, there was, and is, a good deal of difference of opinion about the specific acts to which this quality of desert should be attributed. Not only is Fatalism speculatively compatible with Freewill, but in real life the two are actually found to be held, or confused, together; and the degree in which a particular man is a Fatalist may vary from time to time according to circumstances, sometimes without his being aware of the change.


In the most philosophically perfect form in which we can imagine it to exist, Fatalism would maintain that every event whatsoever, whether great or small, is equally and inevitably determined beforehand from all eternity; but, as it is held in real life, it is a partial and capricious system, in which the influence of fate is limited to certain events of particular interest either to the world at large or to the individual. The Turk believes that there is a moment inexorably appointed for his death, and for great events of good and ill fortune; but he does not extend this belief to trifles; and even though he were forced by argument to do so in words, it is probable that he would soon forget the import of what he had admitted. The same conclusion seems to follow from an examination of the fatalist myths of antiquity. No great difference, perhaps no difference at all,

The current opinion that Fatalism is incompatible with Freewill can be easily explained. It seems to arise from the fact that Fatalism does tend to affect practice, and to affect it in a way that looks like paralysing the will, though it is not really so. If a man is firmly persuaded that, whatever he does, everything must turn out the same in the end, then, not caring to take useless trouble, he will perhaps sit still and let things take their course. But in so doing he is neither denying that he has a will nor that his will is free, any more than a man denies that he has a free will by refusing to attempt to escape from prison when he thinks that the walls are too high and the guards too watchful.

In the next place, as to Modified Fatalism. Here it is my object to show that two sepa rate theories of the will cannot be got out of Modified Fatalism and Determinism-not to show that there is no difference between the theories of the will which they involve. My view of the matter is this, that Determinism is an intelligible and tenable theory of the will, and that Modified Fatalism is merely Determinism with the addition of some irrelevant and false propositions. If we pare off these excrescences, Modified Fatalism becomes Determinism pure and simple, and there is thus only one theory of the will to be got out of the two. Let us now see how the matter stands.

Determinism really is a theory of the will, in a sense in which Freewill is not. The Libertarian constructs his theory of the will only in order to defend his opinion about the vulgar notion of moral desert; but the Determinist is forced only by his theory of the will to adopt his opinion about the vulgar notion. Therefore the Determinist's analysis of the facts of volition is likely to be much more significant than that of the Libertarian; and so it is. The result at which the Determinist arrives is this, that the operation of the will is determined in any case by the resultant of all the motives (using the word in a wide sense) which ex

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ist at a given instant, in a manner analogous | will, but the reality of the vulgar notion of
to that in which the motion of a particle is moral desert-the meaning of which expres-
determined by the resultant of all the forces sion has been sufficiently explained. When,
applied to it; so that, by consequence, if we in the next section, we examine the current
had a perfect knowledge of the character of arguments, the truth of this proposition will
a man, and of the motives present in any be further and abundantly illustrated. (2d),
given case, we could decide with perfect There are only two sides to the controversy,
certainty before the event what would be one representing the affirmation, the other
his conduct. Now in what does this differ representing the denial, of the reality of this
from Modified Fatalism? The Modified vulgar notion. These are respectively styled
Fatalist appeals to the same facts of volition, Freewill and Determinism. (3d), Fatalism
performs the same analysis, and deduces the is in no sense a theory of the will; and it is
same result-that is, he allows that Deter- equally compatible with any and every
minism is true. But, not content with this theory. This point calls for especial notice,
much, he goes on to deduce some further because Fatalism has, in fact, been often con-
supposed consequences which do not really fused with Determinism; and it is hard to
follow. For, though it does follow, if De- say whether the hasty accusations of the
terminism be true, that the vulgar notion of Libertarians or the lame vindications of the
moral desert is a fantastic notion, yet it does Determinists have been most conspicuous
not follow that malefactors must therefore for want of acuteness or of attention. The
go unpunished. As Mr. Mill it is
says, very cause of the confusion has been explained
proper, in
any case, to apply to the wills of above. I will add, that I have found no
the wicked motives which will oblige them trace of real Determinism in the Greek and
to do good rather than evil. Though the Roman Schools. There the opposite of
Determinist, as is expressly admitted by Freewill seems to be always real Fatalism.
Hartley, Priestley, and Mr. Mill, cannot pro-
pose to himself any end in punishing crime,
except the good of the criminal and of so-
ciety, yet this motive still remains, and it is
a very sound motive. But the Modified
Fatalist, seeing that the old notion of a
purely retributive justice, to which he has
been accustomed, cannot be maintained
under Determinism, rushes to the conclu-
sion that no sufficient reason can be alleged
in favour of punishing criminals; using such
language as this, "that men ought not to be
punished for their actions, since these are
involuntary," or this, "that men attempt in
vain to alter their characters," and so on.
Thus the case stands between Modified
Fatalism and Determinism. Both state the
same propositions about the will; but the
Modified Fatalist adds certain other propo-
sitions, not about the will, which are rejected
by the Determinist. Both are agreed that
the vulgar notion of moral desert is a fan-
tastic notion; but the Modified Fatalist adds
a further conclusion-that bad actions ought
not to be punished-which does not follow,
and which is repudiated by the Determinist.
Therefore, though it cannot be said that
there is no difference between the Modified
Fatalist and the Determinist, yet it is true
that there is no difference between their
theories of the will.


This ends the first part of our inquiry, which is also the least intricate and laboriBefore proceeding further, I will sum up briefly the points which I shall now take as proved:-(1st), The true point at issue in the controversy was not the freedom of the

We are now to direct our attention to the general run of the arguments alleged on both sides. The main scope of the debate is easily intelligible, and has been half suggested already. The process of controversy was a confused and unmethodical attempt to reconcile, or to decide between, three salient facts, which must always emerge whenever the subject is considered:- (1.) The extreme tenacity with which the feeling of most men clings to a belief in the reality of the vulgar notion of moral desert, and the repugnance with which it shrinks from the consequences of giving up that belief. (2.) The great difficulty, on the other hand, of meeting the Determinist's analysis of the facts of volition, which is well illustrated by the weakness of the counter-statements of the Libertarians. (3.) The apparent antagonism between Liberty in man and Prescience in God. The true weight and bearing of great practical arguments like these cannot easily be estimated; and the grounds of an estimate cannot easily be conveyed in words. Nor does it seem likely, to judge by the past, that any expenditure of logic will balance them to the satisfaction of all minds.

But it would in truth be no solitary instance, if reason should ultimately fail to settle the difficulty; for experience seems rather to show that reason, by itself, seldom is enough to establish any speculative proposition which is not revolting to common sense. Mere reason must not be suffered to run wild any more than mere passion; and

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