Sec. 2: The Individual’s Character

Section 2: The Individual’s Character, so far as it can affect other People’s Happiness

6.2.1. Every person’s character can affect other people’s happiness by its disposition to hurt or benefit them.

6.2.2. In the impartial spectator’s eyes, the only motive which can justify our hurting or disturbing our neighbour’s happiness is proper resentment for injustice attempted or committed.

  • To do so from any other motive is itself a violation of the laws of justice.
    • Force should be used to restrain or punish its violation.
  • The wisdom of every state tries to employ society’s force to restrain its members from hurting or disturbing the happiness of one another.
    • It establishes civil and criminal law as rules for this purpose.
  • Those rules are founded on principles which are the subject of the science of natural jurisprudence.
    • This is the most important of all sciences by far.
      • Perhaps, it is the least cultivated.
    • I will not go into the details of that subject.
  • The perfectly innocent and just man has a sacred and religious regard not to hurt or disturb his neighbour’s happiness, even when no law can protect him.
    • It is a character which is always highly respectable and even venerable for its own sake, when carried to a certain delicacy of attention.
      • It is always accompanied by many other virtues such as:
        • great feeling for other people,
        • great humanity, and
        • great benevolence.
    • It is a character sufficiently understood.
      • It requires no further explanation.
  • In this section, I shall only explain the foundation of that order which nature traced out for:
    • the distribution of our good offices, or
    • the direction and employment of our very limited powers of beneficence:
      • towards individuals
      • towards societies.


6.2.3. The same unerring wisdom which regulates every other part of nature’s conduct also directs the order of her recommendations.

  • The strength of these recommendations are always proportional to the necessity or usefulness of our beneficence.

Words: 322

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