Thursday, September 08, 2016

A Higher, a Pure Moral World

The ideas of right and wrong, merit and demerit, happiness and misery, are respectively linked each to each in the necessary convictions of the human mind. That virtue and well-being, guilt and ill-being, ought to go together, are absolute truths, as absolute as the difference between truth and falsehood, as absolute as the truth that two and two make four; it is as impossible to conceive the contrary in the one case as in the others. And though in the moral world the fact may contradict the judgment, we do not on that account abandon the judgment; we still believe that virtue deserves to be happy, that crime deserves punishment . That state where virtue and well-being are perfectly united, we call a state of perfect moral order; where this is not the case, it is a state of disorder or imperfection. The present world is plainly not such a state as the judgments of reason and conscience demand; and yet we cannot cease thus to judge; conscience still imposes its unconditional command, still passes its acquitting or condemning sentence. How to solve the contradiction? Shall we pronounce our moral dictations a delusion? To do this is far from relieving the difficulty. The only idea which can solve the enigma is the idea of a higher, a pure moral world, and of a moral ruler who shall there establish that just connection between virtue and happiness, which, for reasons that are now to us simply inscrutable, does not perfectly prevail

William Whewell, "The Moral Argument for the Existence of God", On the Foundations of Morals, (pp. 144-145). The argument, of course, is an adaptation of Kant.

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