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Francis Hutcheson

Edited by Lisa Broussois (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (France), Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (Brazil))
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Francis Hutcheson (1694-1746) is known for being one of the first philosophers of the Scottish Enlightenment. He influenced David Hume, Adam Smith, and Thomas Reid and even Immanuel Kant discussed his theories. Hutcheson was born in Ireland into a family of Scottish Presbyterians. He was one of the most brilliant professors of the University of Glasgow. He was the best advocate of the theories of moral sense and moral sentimentalism and was one of the pioneers of aesthetics. His moral and political principles had a strong influence not only in Europe but also in colonial America.

Key works Hutcheson’s most read works are his Inquiry into the Original of our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue (first edition in 1725, see modern edition 2008) and his Essay on the Nature and Conduct of the Passions and Affections, with Illustrations upon the Moral sense (first edition in 1728, see modern edition ms). The Essay, for example, gives an excellent account of the distinction he makes between justification and motivation of moral action and the major part of his aesthetic philosophy is contained in his Inquiry. There you can also find the phrase “greatest happiness of the greatest number” which will later be associated with Utilitarianism. The great influence the Stoics had on his philosophical thinking led him to work on a translation of The Meditations of M.Aurelius Antoninus from the Greek (1742, modern edition 2008). A System of Moral Philosophy (1755), published after his death, gives a complete revised system of the moral sense, in response to the “Self Interest Moralists” and to the attacks against the “Rational Moralists”.  The standard modern edition of Hutcheson’s work is the reprint (facsimiles of eighteenth-century editions of the individual works) by Georg Olms Verlag (1990).  Hutcheson’s writings are also available online on the website of The Online Library of Liberty. For the Liberty Fund online edition of the Inquiry (1726), see Fehige 2005.
Introductions Introduction articles include Broadie 2001 (Stanford Encyclopedia) and Rothbard 2011. About Hutcheson's politics, see Knud Haakonssen, for example 1996 and Gobetti 1992. On Natural Law and Rights, see Gregg 2009. On Hutcheson’s theory of aesthetics, see Dabney Townsend's works (2004, 2004, 1993). See also Kivy 2003. On Hutcheson's moral theory, see Stephen Darwall (1997). For a panoramic view of the articulation of Hutcheson’s moral sense philosophy between the two main influences of Locke and Shaftesbury, see Carey 2000. Bishop 1996 provides an introduction to moral motivation and the role of benevolence in Hutcheson’s works. Mortensen 1995 gives a good view of the articulation between Hutcheson’s aesthetics, social and political contexts. Scott 1900 remains the most detailed and complete introduction on Hutcheson’s life, influences and historical context.
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  1. Thomas Ahnert (2010). Francis Hutcheson and the Heathen Moralists. Journal of Scottish Philosophy 8 (1):51-62.
    Throughout his career Hutcheson praised the achievements of the pagan moral philosophers of classical antiquity, the Stoics in particular. In recent secondary literature his moral theory has been characterized as a synthesis of Christianity and Stoicism. Yet Hutcheson's attitude towards the ancient heathen moralists was more complex and ambivalent than this idea of ‘Christian Stoicism’ suggests. According to Hutcheson, pagans who did not believe in Christ and who had never even heard of him were capable of virtue, and even, he (...)
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  2. Ernest Albee (1896). The Relation of Shaftesbury and Hutcheson to Utilitarianism. Philosophical Review 5 (1):24-35.
  3. Alfred Owen Aldridge (1951). The Meaning of Incest From Hutcheson to Gibbon. Ethics 61 (4):309-313.
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  4. J. B. Baillie (1901). Book Review:Francis Hutcheson: His Life, Teaching and Position in the History of Philosophy. W. R. Scott. [REVIEW] Ethics 11 (4):527-.
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  5. David Berman (2005). Berkeley and Irish Philosophy. Thoemmes Continuum.
    George Berkeley -- On missing the wrong target -- Enlightenment and counter-Enlightenment in Irish philosophy -- The culmination and causation of Irish philosophy -- Francis Hutcheson on Berkeley and the Molyneux problem -- The impact of Irish philosophy on the American Enlightenment -- Irish ideology and philosophy -- An early essay concerning Berkeley's immaterialism -- Mrs. Berkeley's annotations in An account of the life of Berkeley (1776) -- Some new Bermuda Berkeleiana -- The good bishop : new letters -- Beckett (...)
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  6. David Berman (1986). The Jacobitism of Berkeley's Passive Obedience. Journal of the History of Ideas 47 (2):309-319.
    Why did the Lord Justices make strong representation against Berkeley? According to Joseph Stock, Berkeley's first biographer "Lord Galway [a Lord Justice in 1716] having heard of those sermons, published in 1712 as Passive Obedience represented Berkeley as a Jacobite, and hence unworthy of the living of St. Paul's. From the beginning, Passive Obedience was rumored to be politically heterodox...
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  7. John D. Bishop (1996). Moral Motivation and the Development of Francis Hutcheson's Philosophy. Journal of the History of Ideas 57 (2):277-295.
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  8. William T. Blackstone (1965). Francis Hutcheson and Contemporary Ethical Theory. Athens, University of Georgia Press.
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  9. Vernon J. Bourke (1973). "Motivation and the Moral Sense in Francis Hutcheson's Ethical Theory," by Henning Jensen. Modern Schoolman 51 (1):84-84.
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  10. Alexander Broadie (2009). Reid Making Sense of Moral Sense. In Sabine Roeser (ed.), Reid on Ethics. Palgrave Macmillan.
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  11. Alexander Broadie (2009). Hutcheson on Connoisseurship and the Role of Reflection. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 17 (2):351-364.
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  12. Alexander Broadie, Scottish Philosophy in the 18th Century. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Philosophy was at the core of the eighteenth century movement known as the Scottish Enlightenment. The movement included major figures, such as Francis Hutcheson, David Hume, Adam Smith, Thomas Reid and Adam Ferguson, and also many others who produced notable works, such as Gershom Carmichael, George Turnbull, George Campbell, James Beattie, Alexander Gerard, Henry Home (Lord Kames) and Dugald Stewart. I discuss some of the leading ideas of these thinkers, though paying less attention than I otherwise would to Hume, Smith (...)
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  13. Michael Brown (2002). Francis Hutcheson in Dublin, 1719–1730: The Crucible of His Thought.
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  14. A. S. C. (1972). Illustrations on the Moral Sense. Review of Metaphysics 25 (3):556-557.
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  15. H. G. Callaway (2011). Witherspoon, Edwards and 'Christian Magnanimity'. In K. P. Minkema, A. Neele & K. van Andel (eds.), Jonathan Edwards and Scotland. Dunedin Academic Press. 117-128.
    This paper focuses on John Witherspoon (1723-1794) and the religious background of the American conception of religious liberty and church-state separation, as found in the First Amendment. Witherspoon was strongly influenced by debates and conflicts concerning liberty of conscience and the independence of the congregations in his native Scotland; and he brought to his work, as President of the (Presbyterian) College of New Jersey, a moderate Calvinism challenging the conception of “true virtue” found in Jonathan Edwards. Witherspoon was teacher to (...)
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  16. Daniel Carey (2006). Locke, Shaftesbury, and Hutcheson: Contesting Diversity in the Enlightenment and Beyond. Cambridge University Press.
    Are human beings linked by a common nature, one that makes them see the world in the same moral way? Or are they fragmented by different cultural practices and values? These fundamental questions of our existence were debated in the Enlightenment by Locke, Shaftesbury, and Hutcheson. Daniel Carey provides an important new historical perspective on their discussion. At the same time, he explores the relationship between these founding arguments and contemporary disputes over cultural diversity and multiculturalism. Our own conflicting positions (...)
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  17. Daniel Carey (2000). Hutcheson's Moral Sense and the Problem of Innateness. Journal of the History of Philosophy 38 (1):103-110.
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  18. Daniel Carey (1997). Method, Moral Sense, and the Problem of Diversity: Francis Hutcheson and the Scottish Enlightenment. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 5 (2):275 – 296.
    (1997). Method, moral sense, and the problem of diversity: Francis Hutcheson and the Scottish enlightenment. British Journal for the History of Philosophy: Vol. 5, No. 2, pp. 275-296.
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  19. Maria A. Carrasco (2011). Hutcheson, Smith, and Utilitarianism. Review of Metaphysics 64 (3):515-553.
  20. Timothy M. Costelloe (2004). Review of Peter Kivy, The Seventh Sense: Francis Hutcheson and Eighteenth-Century Aesthetics. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2004 (4).
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  21. Benjamin D. Crowe (2011). Hutcheson on Natural Religion. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 19 (4):711 - 740.
    Recent scholars have examined the important role of English Deism in the formation of a modern naturalistic approach to the study of human religiosity. Despite the volume of important studies of various aspects of his thought, the role of Francis Hutcheson (1694?1746) in this development has been overlooked. The aim of this paper is to show how Hutcheson develops his own account of the origins of religion, consonant with his more well-known theories in aesthetics and moral philosophy, that diverges sharply (...)
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  22. M. B. Crowe (1975). Illustrations on the Moral Sense. Philosophical Studies 24:272-273.
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  23. Stephen Darwall (1997). Hutcheson on Practical Reason. Hume Studies 23 (1):73-89.
    I describe the various ways in which Hume's critique of practical reason derives from Hutcheson and then consider a tension that arises between Hutcheson's (and Hume's) critique of noninstrumental reasons and his account of calm passions.
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  24. Guy Désautels (1975). Francis Hutcheson: An Inquiry Concerning Beauty, Order, Harmony, Design. Edited with an Introduction and Notes by Peter Kivy. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff. (International Archives of the History of Ideas. Series Minor, 9.) 1973. Pp. V, 123. Guilders 18,50. [REVIEW] Dialogue 14 (03):525-526.
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  25. George Dickie (1996). The Century of Taste: The Philosophical Odyssey of Taste in the Eighteenth Century. Oxford University Press.
    The Century of Taste offers an exposition and critical account of the central figures in the early development of the modern philosophy of art. Dickie traces the modern theory of taste from its first formulation by Francis Hutcheson, to blind alleys followed by Alexander Gerard and Archibald Allison, its refinement and complete expression by Hume, and finally to its decline in the hands of Kant. In a clear and straightforward style, Dickie offers sympathetic discussions of the theoretical aims of these (...)
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  26. George Dickie (1980). The Seventh Sense: A Study of Francis Hutcheson's Aesthetics and its Influence in Eighteenth-Century Britain. Journal of the History of Philosophy 18 (1):90-92.
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  27. Dale Dorsey (2010). Hutcheson's Deceptive Hedonism. Journal of the History of Philosophy 48 (4):445-467.
    Francis Hutcheson’s theory of value is often characterized as a precursor to the qualitative hedonism of John Stuart Mill. The interpretation of Mill as a qualitative hedonist has come under fire recently; some have argued that he is, in fact, a hedonist of no variety at all.1 Others have argued that his hedonism is as non-qualitative as Bentham’s.2 The purpose of this essay is not to critically engage the various interpretations of Mill’s value theory. Rather, I hope to show that (...)
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  28. R. S. Downie (2003). Review of Michael Brown: Francis Hutcheson in Dublin, 1719–1730: The Crucible of His Thought. [REVIEW] Journal of Scottish Philosophy 1 (1):95-97.
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  29. R. S. Downie (2003). :Francis Hutcheson in Dublin, 1719–1730: The Crucible of His Thought. Journal of Scottish Philosophy 1 (1):95-97.
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  30. Julia Driver (2011). The Secret Chain: A Limited Defense of Sympathy. Southern Journal of Philosophy 49 (s1):234-238.
    This paper responds to criticisms of sympathy-based approaches to ethics made by Jesse Prinz, focusing on the criticism that emotions are too variable to form a basis for ethics. I draw on the idea, articulated by early sentimentalists such as Hutcheson and Hume, that proper reliance on sympathy is subject to a corrective procedure in order, in part, to avoid the variability problem.
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  31. Stewart Duncan (2009). Hume and a Worry About Simplicity. History of Philosophy Quarterly 26 (2):139-157.
    I discuss Hume's views about whether simplicity and generality are positive features of explanations. In criticizing Hobbes and others who base their systems of morality on self interest, Hume diagnoses their errors as resulting from a "love of simplicity". These worries about whether simplicity is a positive feature of explanations emerge in Hume's thinking over time. But Hume does not completely reject the idea that it's good to seek simple explanations. What Hume thinks we need is good judgment about when (...)
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  32. Jeffrey Edwards (2006). Hutcheson's “Sentimentalist Deontology?”. Journal of Scottish Philosophy 4 (1):17-36.
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  33. Maria Elton (2008). Moral Sense and Natural Reason. Review of Metaphysics 62 (1):79-110.
    The concern of this paper is to relate the moral philosophy of Hutcheson with a traditional point of view, according to which moral philosophy depends on natural theology. The analysis of this relationship is important because it is a crucial feature of the Hutchesonian moral philosophy. However, this theological outlook does not entirely match his empirical moral epistemology, and this inconsistency allowed David Hume and Adam Smith to throw aside the theological foundation, taking from Hutcheson only the empirical aspects of (...)
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  34. David Fate Norton (1977). Hutcheson on Perception and Moral Perception. Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 59 (2):181-197.
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  35. Christoph Fehige (2005). Editing Hutcheson's Inquiry. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 13 (3):563 – 574.
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  36. Aaron Garrett (2007). Francis Hutcheson and the Origin of Animal Rights. Journal of the History of Philosophy 45 (2):243-265.
  37. Michael Gill (2008). Variability and Moral Phenomenology. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 7 (1):99-113.
    Many moral philosophers in the Western tradition have used phenomenological claims as starting points for philosophical inquiry; aspects of moral phenomenology have often been taken to be anchors to which any adequate account of morality must remain attached. This paper raises doubts about whether moral phenomena are universal and robust enough to serve the purposes to which moral philosophers have traditionally tried to put them. Persons’ experiences of morality may vary in a way that greatly limits the extent to which (...)
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  38. Michael B. Gill (2009). Moral Phenomenology in Hutcheson and Hume. Journal of the History of Philosophy 47 (4):pp. 569-594.
  39. Michael B. Gill (2007). Moral Rationalism Vs. Moral Sentimentalism: Is Morality More Like Math or Beauty? Philosophy Compass 2 (1):16–30.
    One of the most significant disputes in early modern philosophy was between the moral rationalists and the moral sentimentalists. The moral rationalists — such as Ralph Cudworth, Samuel Clarke and John Balguy — held that morality originated in reason alone. The moral sentimentalists — such as Anthony Ashley Cooper, the third Earl of Shaftesbury, Francis Hutcheson and David Hume — held that morality originated at least partly in sentiment. In addition to arguments, the rationalists and sentimentalists developed rich analogies. The (...)
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  40. Michael B. Gill (1995). Nature and Association in the Moral Theory of Francis Hutcheson. History of Philosophy Quarterly 12 (3):281 - 301.
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  41. Daniela Gobetti (1992). Private and Public: Individuals, Households, and Body Politic in Locke and Hutcheson. Routledge.
    Introduction In presenting a book on the pair private/public, I wish to accompany the reader on a journey into the world of the conceptual conventions and ...
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  42. Bernd Graefrath (2003). Review of Francis Hutcheson: An Essay on the Nature and Conduct of the Passions and Affections, with Illustrations on the Moral Sense. [REVIEW] Journal of Scottish Philosophy 1 (2):179-181.
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  43. Samuel Gregg (2009). Metaphysics and Modernity: Natural Law and Natural Rights in Gershom Carmichael and Francis Hutcheson. Journal of Scottish Philosophy 7 (1):87-102.
    This paper argues that the founding fathers of the tradition of Scottish Enlightenment natural jurisprudence, Gersholm Carmichael (1672–1729) and Francis Hutcheson (1694–1746), articulated a view of rights that is pertinent to the contemporary dominance of the language of rights. Maintaining a metaphysical foundation for rights while drawing upon the early-modern Protestant natural law tradition, their conception of rights is more significantly indebted to the pre-modern scholastic natural law tradition than often realized. This is illustrated by exploring some of the background (...)
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  44. Simon Grote (2006). Hutcheson's Divergence From Shaftesbury. Journal of Scottish Philosophy 4 (2):159-172.
    Contrary to the view that Francis Hutcheson attempted to expound, defend, and further develop the philosophical system described in Shaftesbury's Characteristics, some contemporaries of Hutcheson considered Hutcheson's differences from Shaftesbury to be at least as profound as the similarities. The clearest descriptions of those differences can be found in William Leechman's preface to Hutcheson's 1755 System of Moral Philosophy, and more elaborately in a review of Hutcheson's System, probably by Hugh Blair, published in the 1755 Edinburgh Review. Examining Shaftesbury's and (...)
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  45. Knud Haakonssen (1996). Natural Law and Moral Philosophy: From Grotius to the Scottish Enlightenment. Cambridge University Press.
    This major contribution to the history of philosophy provides the most comprehensive guide to modern natural law theory available, sets out the full background to liberal ideas of rights and contractarianism, and offers an extensive study of the Scottish Enlightenment. The time span covered is considerable: from the natural law theories of Grotius and Suarez in the early seventeenth century to the American Revolution and the beginnings of utilitarianism. After a detailed survey of modern natural law theory, the book focuses (...)
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  46. Knud Haakonssen (1989). Ethik Und Politik Bei Francis Hutcheson. Journal of the History of Philosophy 27 (4).
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  47. Knud Haakonssen (1989). Ethik und Politik bei Francis Hutcheson, and: Eine Untersuchung über den Ursprung unserer Ideen von Schönheit und Tugend: Über moralisch Gutes und Schlechtes (review). Journal of the History of Philosophy 27 (4):626-628.
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  48. James A. Harris (2008). Religion in Hutcheson's Moral Philosophy. Journal of the History of Philosophy 46 (2):pp. 205-222.
    It is shown that belief in providence and a future state are key components of Hutcheson’s account of moral virtue. Though Hutcheson holds that human beings are naturally virtuous, religion is necessary to give virtuous dispositions support and stability. The aspects of Hutcheson’s moral psychology which lead him to this conclusion are spelled out in detail. It is argued that religion and virtue are connected in this way in both the Dublin writings (the Inquiry and the Essay ) and the (...)
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  49. R. Hepburn (2005). The Seventh Sense: Francis Hutcheson and Eighteenth-Century British Aesthetics. British Journal of Aesthetics 45 (4):445-447.
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  50. E. W. Hirst (1917). Moral Sense, Moral Reason, and Moral Sentiment. Mind 26 (102):146-161.
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