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1. [10]

What kind of actions then are to be called ‘compulsory’? Used without qualification, perhaps this term applies to any case where the cause of the action lies in things outside the agent, and when the agent contributes nothing. But when actions intrinsically involuntary are yet in given circumstances deliberately chosen in preference to a given alternative, and when their origin lies in the agent, these actions are to be pronounced intrinsically involuntary but voluntary in the circumstances, and in preference to the alternative. They approximate however rather to the voluntary class, since conduct consists of particular things done,1 and the particular things done in the cases in question are voluntary. But it is not easy to lay down rules for deciding which of two alternatives is to be chosen, for particular cases differ widely.1. [11]

To apply the term ‘compulsory’ to acts done for the sake of pleasure or for noble objects, on the plea that these exercise constraint on us from without, is to make every action compulsory. For (1) pleasure and nobility between them supply the motives of all actions whatsoever. Also (2) to act under compulsion and involuntarily is painful, but actions aiming at something pleasant or noble are done with pleasure. And (3) it is absurd to blame external things, instead of blaming ourselves for falling an easy prey to their attractions; or to take the credit of our noble deeds to ourselves, while putting the blame for our disgraceful ones upon the temptations of pleasure. 1. [12] It appears therefore that an act is compulsory when its origin is from outside, the person compelled contributing nothing to it.1. [13]

(b) An act done through ignorance is in every case not voluntary,2 but it is involuntary only when it causes the agent pain and regret: since a man who has acted through ignorance and feels no compunction at all for what he has done, cannot indeed be said to have acted voluntarily, as he was not aware of his action, yet cannot be said to have acted involuntarily, as he is not sorry for it. Acts done through ignorance therefore fall into two classes: if the agent regrets the act, we think that he has acted involuntarily; if he does not regret it, to mark the distinction we may call him a ‘non-voluntary’ agent—for as the case is different it is better to give it a special name. 1. [14] Acting through ignorance however seems to be different from acting in ignorance; for when a man is drunk or in a rage, his actions are not thought to be done through ignorance but owing to one or other of the conditions mentioned, though he does act without knowing, and in ignorance. Now it is true that all wicked men are ignorant of what they ought to do and refrain from doing, and that this error is the cause of injustice and of vice in general. 1. [15] But the term ‘involuntary’ does not really apply to an action when the agent is ignorant of his true interests. The ignorance that makes an act blameworthy is not ignorance displayed in moral choice3 (that sort of ignorance constitutes vice)—that is to say, they result not from general ignorance (because that is held to be blameworthy), but from particular ignorance, ignorance of the circumstances of the act and of the things4 affected by it;

1 There is no such thing as an act which is not this particular act in these particular circumstances (Burnet).

2 See note on 1.1 above.

3 i.e., choice of Ends: see 3.2.1 note.

4 ‘Things’ seems to include persons, see example (3) below.

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