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HANDBOOK OF MORAL PHILOSOPHY,
SPHERE AND METHOD OF ENQUIRY.
1. Moral Philosophy is the rational explanation of our moral actions, moral nature, and moral relations. It is a science of the knowledge of moral distinctions, of the practice of morality, and of the existing moral system, or order in the universe. It is a theory of knowing and of being, but only of such knowing as is concerned with moral distinctions, and only being which is capable of possessing and applying such knowledge.
The designations Moral Philosophy' and 'Ethics' are commonly and properly used as synonymous. Etymologically, the Greek designation, Ethics ('HOıká from jdos, custom, habit, disposition), refers to a more limited department of enquiry than that belonging to Moral Philosophy. Strictly taken, it applies only to individual conduct or manners.
The same limitation, however, exists in the Latin designation, Moral, since mores concerns primarily manners or customs. The Greek term, as having more distinct reference to the source of action within the mind, has even the advantage over the Latin term. According to the best usage, however, the names
Moral Philosophy and Ethics are equivalent ; Moralis Philosophia, 'Holká; German, Ethik or Sittenlehre.
2. In its beginning, Moral Philosophy takes rank as a Science of Observation. In its higher development, when dealing with relations which transcend the facts of experience, such as our relations to the Absolute Being, it wears the form of a Speculative Science. The denial of a speculative branch of the science must rest on the denial either of the need for a philosophy of the fact of man's existence, or of the possibility of such a philosophy. Moral Philosophy is further described as a Practical Science, because it embraces knowledge requisite for the guidance of human conduct. As a philosophy or science, it is a system of truth, scientifically discovered and arranged.
The term observation' has by some been unwarrantably applied to the recognition of external facts only. 'Observation' refers to the mental exercise, not to its objects. The mental sciences, as truly as the physical, are sciences of observation, though in their higher departments the mental sciences are speculative.
3. As a Science of Observation, Moral Philosophy is subject,-first, to the laws of evidence, which require that facts be carefully ascertained, distinguished, and classified; and second, to the rules of logic, which require that generalization be reached by legitimate induction from ascertained facts. As a Speculative Science, it is dependent for its start, and also for the final test of all its results, upon the accuracy and completeness of the underlying Science of Observation.
The inductive method determines the foundations of the science; the deductive method finds application in the speculative department. In the inductive method, the critical