By Ernest Albee
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Extra resources for A history of English Utilitarianism
He says: “Obligation is that act of a legislator by which he declares that actions conformable to his law are necessary to those for whom the law is made. 30 That anything in what is so vaguely termed the Nature of Things81 could change, Cumberland did not for a moment suppose. In treating of obligation, the author sometimes uses lan guage which might suggest determinism. It is to be remem bered, however, that he is an uncompromising libertarian— so far, at least, as it is possible to define the position of one so little given to metaphysical speculation or the precise use of metaphysical language.
This seems hopeless, but perhaps we may find what Cumberland means by not expecting to find too much. First, with regard to that other expression so often used. ” Cumberland is a wholly naive realist. By the Nature of Things he seems to mean all that actually and objectively is—including God as well as His world. And it is needless to say that Cumberland’s God is a “transcendent” (as opposed to an “immanent”) deity. «4 See p. 103. ” Richard Cumberland / 39 This Nature of Things being posited, we have a perfectly ob jective standard as regards not only theoretical truths but practical propositions.
62. 6 See p. 165. 6 See p. 202. ” Bichard Cumberland / 45 level with the vegetable world. ” As it is not clear—thus far, at any rate—in what terms Cumberland would have defined the Good, if he had been forced to be more exact, it becomes important to consider his treatment of happiness. ” Indeed, Cumberland occasionally uses the words interchangeably even in the same sentence. However, allowing for his careless use of language, with which we are already familiar, his theory seems to be that human happiness results largely from action, particularly from the exercise of one’s intellectual powers.