… is from page 29 of the 1972 second edition of Henry Hazlitt’s superb – yet, sadly, largely overlooked – 1964 book, The Foundations of Morality :
The moral life should not be confused with the intellectual life. The moral life consists in following the course that leads to the greatest long-run happiness achievable by the individual concerned, and leads him to cooperate with others to the extent of the capacities he actually has, rather than those he might wish he had or might think he “ought” to have.
DBx: Notice the word “cooperate.” The moral life does not consist in ordering other people around against their wills, even if the person doing the ordering intends to achieve admirable outcomes.
You behave morally if you offer to me an exchange that I am free to accept or reject. By needing my acceptance, you offer to cooperate with me in ways that improve each of our lots. The offered exchange, by the way, need not be commercial. It can be – and often is – an offer of friendship, an offer of counsel, an offer of love, an offer of marriage, an offer of charity, an offer of neighborly assistance. (One of the many straw men that opponents of liberalism never tire of slaying is the fictitious and buffoonish proponent of markets who thinks that people do or should care only about their own narrow material well-being and the liberty to pursue it.)
Those persons, of whatever particular ideological or political stripe, who propose to remake society by ordering peaceful people around behave immorally. Such persons’ intentions might not be immoral, but their actions necessarily are.