Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/38

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
28
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

III. Human Justice.—The contents of the last chapter foreshadow the contents of this. As, from the evolution point of view, human life must be regarded as a further development of sub-human life, it follows that from this same point of view, human justice must be a further development of sub-human justice. For convenience the two are here separately treated, but they are essentially of the same nature, and form parts of a continuous whole.

Of man, as of all inferior creatures, the law by conformity to which the species is preserved is that among adults the individuals best adapted to the conditions of their existence shall prosper most, and that individuals least adapted to the conditions of their existence shall prosper least—a law which, if uninterfered with, entails survival of the fittest, and spread of the most adapted varieties. And as before so here, we see that, ethically considered, this law implies that each individual ought to receive the benefits and the evils of his own nature and consequent conduct: neither being prevented from having whatever good his actions normally bring to him, nor allowed to shoulder off on to other persons whatever ill is brought to him by his actions.

To what extent such ill, naturally following from his actions, may be voluntarily borne by other persons, it does not concern us now to inquire. The qualifying effects of pity, mercy, and generosity, will be considered hereafter in the parts dealing with Negative Beneficence and Positive Beneficence. Here we are concerned only with pure justice.

The law thus originating, and thus ethically expressed, is obviously that which commends itself to the common apprehension as just. Sayings and criticisms daily heard imply a perception that conduct and consequence ought not to be dissociated. When, of some one who suffers a disaster, it is said—"He has no one to blame but himself" there is implied the belief that he has not any ground for complaint. The comment on one whose misjudgment or misbehavior has entailed evil upon him, that "he has made his own bed, and now he must lie in it," has behind it the conviction that this connection of cause and effect is proper. Similarly with the remark—"He got no more than he deserved." A kindred conviction is implied when, conversely, there results good instead of evil. "He has fairly earned his reward"; "He has not received due recompense"; are remarks indicating the consciousness that there should be a proportion between effort put forth and advantage achieved.

 

The truth that justice becomes more pronounced as organization becomes higher, which we contemplated in the last chapter, is further exemplified on passing from sub-human justice to