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The phrases in their context!


But if we examine all the questions, that come before any tribunal of justice, we shall find, that, considering each case apart, it would as often be an instance of humanity to decide contrary to the laws of justice as conformable them.
Judges take from a poor man to give to a rich; they bestow on the dissolute the labour of the industrious; and put into the hands of the vicious the means of harming both themselves and others.
The whole scheme, however, of law and justice is advantageous to the society; and it was with a view to this advantage, that men, by their voluntary conventions, established it.
After it is once established by these conventions, it is naturally attended with a strong sentiment of morals; which can proceed from nothing but our sympathy with the interests of society.
We need no other explication of that esteem, which attends such of the natural virtues, as have a tendency to the public good.
I must farther add, that there are several circumstances, which render this hypothesis much more probable with regard to the natural than the artificial virtues.
It is certain that the imagination is more affected by what is particular, than by what is general; and that the sentiments are always moved with difficulty, where their objects are, in any degree, loose and undetermined: Now every particular act of justice is not beneficial to society, but the whole scheme or system: And it may not, perhaps, be any individual person.
for whom we are concerned, who receives benefit from justice, but the whole society alike.
On the contrary, every particular act of generosity, or relief of the industrious and indigent, is beneficial; and is beneficial to a particular person, who is not undeserving of it.
It is more natural, therefore, to think, that the tendencies of the latter virtue will affect our sentiments, and command our approbation, than those of the former; and therefore, since we find, that the approbation of the former arises from their tendencies, we may ascribe, with better reason, the same cause to the approbation of the latter.
In any number of similar effects, if a cause can be discovered for one, we ought to extend that cause to all the other effects, which can be accounted for by it: But much more, if these other effects be attended with peculiar circumstances, which facilitate the operation of that cause.
Before I proceed farther, I must observe two remarkable circumstances in this affair, which may seem objections to the present system.
The first may be thus explained.
When any quality, or character, has a tendency to the good of mankind, we are pleased with it, and approve of it; because it presents the lively idea of pleasure; which idea affects us by sympathy, and is itself a kind of pleasure.
But as this sympathy is very variable, it may be thought.
that our sentiments of morals must admit of all the same variations.
We sympathize more with persons contiguous to us, than with persons remote from us: With our acquaintance, than with strangers: With our countrymen, than with foreigners.
But notwithstanding this variation of our sympathy, we give the same approbation to the same moral qualities in China as in England.
They appear equally virtuous, and recommend themselves equally to the esteem of a judicious spectator.
The sympathy varies without a variation in our esteem.
Our esteem, therefore, proceeds not from sympathy.