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Letter 9377

Darwin, C. R. to Abbot, F. E.

30 Mar 1874

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    FEA has expressed CD's views on the moral sense with remarkable clearness and correctness; his eulogy is magnificent ["Darwin's theory of conscience and its relation to scientific ethics", Index 12 Mar 1874]. Cannot give a judgment on the essay because he has had "no practice in following abstract and abstruse reasoning".

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    CD does not see how morality can be "objective and universal". No one would call the maternal bond in lower animals a "moral obligation". When a social animal "becomes in some slight incipient degree" a moral creature "capable of approving or disapproving of its own conduct" do not such obligations remain of a so-called instinctive nature rather than becoming at once moral obligations?

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