Greed, Morals and Charity, Part 8 to blupete's Essay
"On The Nature Of Man"
Personally, I subscribe to a theory known as the moral sentiment theory. It was developed by Shaftesbury (1671-1713), Hume (1711-76), and Smith (1723-1790). As against Hobbes (1588-1679), who was of the view that people were disinterested in virtue, Shaftesbury, et al., maintained that people had a natural moral sense; they gain a specific feeling of pleasure in good actions.
But to discuss our subject under this head on the basis of the moral sentiment theory, or the branch of philosophy known as ethics, may be putting our subject on too high a plane. While it must be questioned whether a person of average intelligence could make money the chief object of his thoughts, the fact of the matter is a good reputation is a valuable commodity in the market. As Holms said, "I value a man mainly for his primary relations with truth."
Charity begins at home. If we all subscribed to that English proverb, then there wouldn't be too much need for public, or external charity. Those in a family unit are those who are best able to weigh the worthiness of another family member's need for charity. External charity, charity to a stranger, will come about because of instinctual feelings of pity, or if you like on account of the Shaftesburian theory of moral sentiment. But, on whatever the basis on which one wishes to consider the question of charity, to be born in mind is the caution of John Stuart Mill: "As for charity, it is a matter in which the immediate effect on the persons directly concerned, and the ultimate consequence to the general good, are apt to be at complete war with one another."
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