A country which is so devoted to free trade that it not only practises free trade itself but endeavours to convert others by nullifying their protectionist measures as far as it can, even with immediate loss to itself, departs from the guidance of selfinterest so far; hut its political action may be justifiable in the long run by other considerations.
The historically important characteristics of his moral philosophy, if we take (as we must) his teaching and character together, may be summarized as follows: - (i) an ardent inquiry for knowledge nowhere to be found, but which, if found, would perfect human conduct; (2) a demand meanwhile that men should act as far as possible on some consistent theory; (3) a provisional adhesion to the commonly received view of good, in all its incoherent complexity, and a perpetual readiness to maintain the harmony of its different elements, and demonstrate the superiority of virtue by an appeal to the standard of selfinterest; (4) personal firmness, as apparently easy as it was actually invincible, in carrying out consistently such practical convictions as he had attained.
He was thus affected by two different and incongruous systems of thought - one setting out from an imaginary code of nature intended for the benefit of man, and leading to an optimistic view of the economic constitution founded on enlightened selfinterest; the other following inductive processes, and seeking to explain the several states in which the human societies are found existing, as results of circumstances or institutions which have been in actual operation.
The word usage examples above have been gathered from various sources to reflect current and historial usage. They do not represent the opinions of YourDictionary.com.