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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 1742). 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. added 2018-09-20
    Hutcheson and Kant: Moral Sense and Moral Feeling.Michael Walschots - 2017 - In Chris W. Surprenant & Elizabeth Robinson (eds.), Kant and the Scottish Enlightenment. London: Routledge. pp. 36-54.
    My aim in this paper is to discuss Kant’s engagement with what is arguably the core feature of Hutcheson’s moral sense theory, namely the idea that the moral sense is the foundation of moral judgement. In section one I give an account of Hutcheson’s conception of the moral sense. This sense is a perceptive faculty that explains our ability both to feel a particular kind of pleasure upon perceiving benevolence, and to appraise such benevolence as morally good on the basis (...)
  2. added 2018-09-20
    Kant on Moral Satisfaction.Michael Walschots - 2017 - Kantian Review 22 (2):281-303.
    This paper gives an account of Kant’s concept of self-contentment (Selbstzufriedenheit), i.e. the satisfaction involved in the performance of moral action. This concept is vulnerable to an important objection: if moral action is satisfying, it might only ever be performed for the sake of this satisfaction. I explain Kant’s response to this objection and argue that it is superior to Francis Hutcheson’s response to a similar objection. I conclude by showing that two other notions of moral satisfaction in Kant’s moral (...)
  3. added 2018-09-06
    Moral Sense Theory and the Development of Kant's Ethics.Michael Walschots - 2016 - Dissertation, University of Western Ontario
    This dissertation investigates a number of ways in which an eighteenth century British philosophical movement known as “moral sense theory” influenced the development of German philosopher Immanuel Kant’s (1724-1804) moral theory. I illustrate that Kant found both moral sense theory’s conception of moral judgement and its conception of moral motivation appealing during the earliest stage of his philosophical development, but eventually came to reject its conception of moral judgement, though even in his early writings Kant preserves certain features of its (...)
  4. added 2018-06-11
    Inner Sense, Outer Sense, and Feeling: Hutcheson and Kant on Aesthetic Pleasure.Colin McQuillan - 2017 - In Chris W. Surprenant & Elizabeth Robinson (eds.), Kant and the Scottish Enlightenment. New York: Routledge.
  5. added 2018-04-28
    Francis Hutcheson and John Clarke on Desire and Self-Interest.John J. Tilley - 2019 - The European Legacy 24 (1): 1-24.
    Among the most animating debates in eighteenth-century British ethics was the debate over psychological egoism, the view that our most basic desires are self-interested. An important episode in that debate, less well known than it should be, was the exchange between Francis Hutcheson and John Clarke of Hull. In the early editions of his Inquiry into Virtue, Hutcheson argued ingeniously against psychological egoism; in his Foundation of Morality, Clarke argued ingeniously against Hutcheson’s arguments. Later, Hutcheson attempted new arguments against psychological (...)
  6. added 2018-02-15
    Passions, Perceptions, and Motives: Fault-Lines in Hutcheson's Account of Moral Sentiment.Glen Pettigrove - 2016 - In Heather Kerr, David Lemmings & Robert Phiddian (eds.), Passions, Sympathy and Print Culture: Public Opinion and Emotional Authenticity in Eighteenth-Century Britain. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 203-222.
    In the 1720s Francis Hutcheson developed a systematic account of the origins of ethical judgments that would have a profound influence on later writers. Ethical judgments, he argues, arise from the perceptions of internal senses that are, themselves, rooted in ‘Passions and Affections’. This paper describes his account and draws attention to an important tension at its heart. When judging particular cases, Hutcheson praises kindly, generous, and merciful affections as exemplary. But when he proposes a mathematical formula for ‘computing the (...)
  7. added 2017-08-25
    Francis Hutcheson and John Clarke: Self-Interest, Desire, and Divine Impassibility.John J. Tilley - 2017 - International Philosophical Quarterly 57 (3):315-330.
    In this article I address a puzzle about one of Francis Hutcheson’s objections to psychological egoism. The puzzle concerns his premise that God receives no benefit from rewarding the virtuous. Why, in the early editions of his Inquiry Concerning Virtue, does Hutcheson leave this premise undefended? And why, in the later editions, does he continue to do so, knowing that in 1726 John Clarke of Hull had subjected the premise to plausible criticism, geared to the very audience for whom Hutcheson’s (...)
  8. added 2017-03-30
    Scottish Philosophy in the Eighteenth Century, Volume I: Morals, Politics, Art, Religion.Aaron Garrett & James A. Harris (eds.) - 2015 - Oxford University Press.
    This new history of Scottish philosophy will include two volumes that focus on the Scottish Enlightenment. In this volume a team of leading experts explore the ideas, intellectual context, and influence of Hutcheson, Hume, Smith, Reid, and many other thinkers, frame old issues in fresh ways, and introduce new topics and questions into debates about the philosophy of this remarkable period. The contributors explore the distinctively Scottish context of this philosophical flourishing, and juxtapose the work of canonical philosophers with contemporaries (...)
  9. added 2017-02-15
    The Nature of Virtue.Dario Perinetti - 2013 - In James A. Harris (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of British Philosophy in the Eighteenth Century. Oxford University Press. pp. 333.
    This chapter examines the different answers that British moralists gave to the question ‘what does virtue consist in?’ Rather than as a royal road to present-day views in ethics, their answers are best understood when considered against the background of early modern natural law theories and their projected metaphysics of morals. The emerging ‘science of morality’ dealt with the metaphysical problem of determining what sort of thing virtue is. Considered from this vantage point, the British moralists struggled with the problem (...)
  10. added 2017-01-31
    Moral Philosophy of Francis Hutcheson.J. D. Bishop - unknown
    The main object of this thesis is to explain in a systematic fashion Francis Hutcheson's moral theory. Such an attempt will necessarily involve a discussion of the various philosophical problems which are inherent in his theory. For example, I discuss the issue of whether Hutcheson's theory of the moral sense is to be interpreted in an intuitionist or an emotivist fashion. It is argued that some aspects of his moral sense theory favour the former and some the latter interpretation, Hutcheson's (...)
  11. added 2017-01-29
    Hutcheson Tricentenary Conference: Scots Philosphical Club.Patrick Gorevan - 1993 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies:175.
  12. added 2017-01-29
    An Inquiry Into the Original of Our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue; in Two Treatises, in Which the Principles of the Late Earl of Shaftesbuy Are Explain'd and Defended [by F. Hutcheson] Against the Author of the Fable of the Bees.Francis Hutcheson & Bernard de Mandeville - 1725
  13. added 2017-01-18
    The Genesis of Disinterested Benevolence.Paul Friedmann - 1878 - Mind 3 (11):404-410.
  14. added 2017-01-17
    Hutcheson: Leidenschaften Und Moral Sense.Ursula Renz & Hilge Landweer - 2008 - In Ursula Renz & Hilge Landweer (eds.), Klassische Emotionstheorienclassical Emotion Theories. From Plato to Wittgenstein: Von Platon Bis Wittgenstein. Walter de Gruyter.
  15. added 2017-01-17
    Moral Sense.T. V. Smith & James Bonar - 1932 - Philosophical Review 41 (6):633.
  16. added 2017-01-14
    A System of Moral Philosophy 2 Volume Set: In Three Books.Francis Hutcheson - 2015 - Cambridge University Press.
    Often described as the father of the Scottish Enlightenment, Francis Hutcheson was born in the north of Ireland to an Ulster-Scottish Presbyterian family. Organised into three 'books' that were divided between two volumes, A System of Moral Philosophy was his most comprehensive work. It synthesised ideas that he had formulated as a minister and as the Chair of Moral Philosophy at the University of Glasgow. Published posthumously by his son in 1755, prefaced by an account of his life, it is (...)
  17. added 2017-01-14
    A System of Moral Philosophy: In Three Books.Francis Hutcheson - 2015 - Cambridge University Press.
    Often described as the father of the Scottish Enlightenment, Francis Hutcheson was born in the north of Ireland to an Ulster-Scottish Presbyterian family. Organised into three 'books' that were divided between two volumes, A System of Moral Philosophy was his most comprehensive work. It synthesised ideas that he had formulated as a minister and as the Chair of Moral Philosophy at the University of Glasgow. Published posthumously by his son in 1755, prefaced by an account of his life, it is (...)
  18. added 2017-01-14
    Seventh Sense.Peter Kivy - 2003 - Oxford University Press UK.
    The Seventh Sense is the definitive study of the aesthetic theory of the great eighteenth-century philosopher Francis Hutcheson, arguably the founder of the modern discipline of aesthetics, and one of the most important figures of the Scottish Enlightenment. This new edition brings Peter Kivy's seminal work back into print, substantially expanded by the addition of seven essays, which deal primarily with Hutcheson's relation to other thinkers, and his influence on eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century aesthetics.Part I of The Seventh Sense presents (...)
  19. added 2017-01-14
    Motivation and the Moral Sense in Francis Hutcheson's Ethical Theory. [REVIEW]Herbert W. Schneider - 1973 - Journal of Philosophy 70 (4):106-108.
  20. added 2016-12-12
    Natural Law and Moral Philosophy: From Grotius to the Scottish Enlightenment.Knud Haakonssen - 1996 - 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 (...)
  21. added 2016-07-11
    Making Sense of Moral Perception.Rafe McGregor - 2015 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18 (4):745-758.
    The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that Francis Hutcheson’s moral sense theory offers a satisfactory account of moral perception. I introduce Hutcheson’s work in §1 and indicate why the existence of a sixth sense is not implausible. I provide a summary of Robert Cowan and Robert Audi’s respective theories of evaluative perception in §2, identifying three problematic objections: the Directness Objection to Cowan’s ethical perception and the aesthetic and perceptual model objections to Audi’s moral perception. §3 examines Hutcheson’s (...)
  22. added 2016-07-11
    Ethical Intuitionism and the Emotions: Toward an Empirically Adequate Moral Sense Theory.James Sias - 2014 - Journal of Value Inquiry 48 (3):533-549.
    IntroductionEthical intuitionists have never known quite what to make of the emotions. Generally speaking, these philosophers fall into two camps: rational intuitionists and moral sense theorists. And by my lights, neither camp has been able to tell a convincing story about the exact role and significance of emotion in moral judgment. Rational intuitionists are for the most part too dismissive of the emotions, either regarding emotions as little more than distractions to moral judgment,Samuel Clarke, for instance, after naming our “faculties (...)
  23. added 2016-07-11
    Moralisches Gefühl oder moral sense - wie berechtigt ist Kants Kritik?Jens Kulenkampff - 2004 - Jahrbuch für Recht Und Ethik 12.
    While Kant in his pre-critical work expressed appreciative, albeit reserved, sympathy toward the British moral sense school, in his main works on moral philosophy he harshly rejects the idea that we have a specific moral sense. This change in attitude is, of course, connected to Kant's discovery and formulation of a purely rational moral principle. Still one might ask whether Kant's critique of moral sense theory was really justified. To answer this question, I shall first examine what Kant understands the, (...)
  24. added 2016-07-11
    :An Essay on the Nature and Conduct of the Passions and Affections, with Illustrations on the Moral Sense.Bernd Graefrath - 2003 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 1 (2):179-181.
  25. added 2016-07-11
    Moral Sense and the Ontology of Value.Robert Samuel Henderson - 1998 - Dissertation, University of Toronto (Canada)
    The thesis examines the ontology of value in the ethical theories of Shaftesbury, Hutcheson and Hume. These three philosophers jointly constitute the moral sense school, in eighteenth century British philosophy. ;Ethical objectivism and ethical subjectivism, as I will use these terms, are contrasting claims about the nature of value. 'Ethical objectivism' refers roughly to any theory according to which moral values are or are logically entailed by matters of fact which are independent of the evaluative responses of persons considering the (...)
  26. added 2016-07-11
    Moral Sense Theorists.Charlotte Brown - 1992 - In Lawrence C. Becker & Charlotte B. Becker (eds.), The Encyclopedia of Ethics. Garland Publishing. pp. 2--862.
  27. added 2016-07-11
    The Delights of Humanity: Moral Perception, Reason, and Feeling in Francis Hutcheson's Moral Sense Theory.Susan Marie Purviance - 1987 - Dissertation, University of California, Santa Barbara
    Francis Hutcheson proposes a normative theory which both depends upon and advances an empiricist epistemology. He characterizes moral judgments of virtue on an analogy to judgments of beauty. Moral qualities are a special case of aesthetic qualities, and both are perceived by means of feeling. I argue that if Hutcheson is right, the moral sense theory needs a theory of moral sensibility and an account of refined judgment, as well as a theory of moral taste. ;A theory of moral taste (...)
  28. added 2016-07-11
    Francis Hutcheson, "Illustrations on the Moral Sense." Ed. By Bernard Peach. [REVIEW]David Fate Norton - 1972 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 10 (1):96.
  29. added 2016-07-11
    From Moral Sense to Common Sense: An Essay on the Development of Scottishcommon Sense Philosophy, 1700-1765.David Fate Norton - 1966 - Dissertation, University of California, San Diego
  30. added 2016-07-11
    Hutcheson's Moral Sense Theory.William Frankena - 1955 - Journal of the History of Ideas 16 (1/4):356.
  31. added 2016-07-11
    CANTIENI R., "Die problematik des moral Sense in der Moral-Philosophie Hutcheson". [REVIEW]L. Zani - 1953 - Rivista di Filosofia Neo-Scolastica 45:79.
  32. added 2016-03-24
    Stoicism and the Scottish Enlightenment.Christian Maurer - 2016 - In John Sellars (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of the Stoic Tradition. Routledge. pp. 254-269.
  33. added 2016-02-25
    How to Be a Moral Taste Theorist.John McAteer - 2016 - Essays in Philosophy 17 (1):05-21.
    In this paper, I attempt to recover an 18th Century approach to moral theory that can be called Moral Taste Theory. Through an exploration of 18th Century sources I define the characteristics of moral taste theory and to distinguish it from its closest rival, moral sense theory. In general a moral taste theorist holds that moral judgments are analogous to aesthetic judgments while a moral sense theorist holds that moral judgments are analogous to physical sense perception. Francis Hutcheson was a (...)
  34. added 2016-02-13
    Hutcheson's Theological Objection to Egoism.John J. Tilley - 2016 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 14 (1):101-123.
    Francis Hutcheson's objections to psychological egoism usually appeal to experience or introspection. However, at least one of them is theological: It includes premises of a religious kind, such as that God rewards the virtuous. This objection invites interpretive and philosophical questions, some of which may seem to highlight errors or shortcomings on Hutcheson's part. Also, to answer the questions is to point out important features of Hutcheson's objection and its intellectual context. And nowhere in the scholarship on Hutcheson do we (...)
  35. added 2015-10-05
    Francis Hutcheson on Luxury and Intemperance: The Mandeville Threat.Lisa Broussois - 2015 - History of European Ideas 41 (8):1093-1106.
    This paper looks at two figures in the modern, European, eighteenth-century debate on luxury. It claims to better understand the differences between Francis Hutcheson and Bernard Mandeville by exploring how Hutcheson treated the topic of luxury as a distinction between two desires, thus differing from Mandeville's concept of luxury, and a concept of temperance based on moral sense. It explores why Hutcheson believed that luxury was a moral, social and political issue and particularly why he considered Mandeville the embodiment of (...)
  36. added 2015-04-06
    Francis Hutcheson’s Philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment: Reception, Reputation, and Legacy.Daniel Carey - 2015 - In Aaron Garrett & James A. Harris (eds.), Scottish Philosophy in the Eighteenth Century: Volume I: Morals, Politics, Art, Religion. Oxford University Press. pp. 36-76.
    This chapter presents an account of the life and work of Francis Hutcheson. It charts his career from its beginnings in Dublin to the attempt to cement his place in British intellectual life that was his posthumously published A System of Moral Philosophy. Hutcheson’s ideas were not universally welcomed and acclaimed. Religious conservatives constantly challenged him even after he was elected to the Glasgow chair of moral philosophy. The chapter describes the rationalist critique of Hutcheson’s moral sense theory, the criticism (...)
  37. added 2015-04-06
    Motivation and the Moral Sense in Francis Hutcheson's Ethical Theory.P. Henning Jensen - 1971
  38. added 2015-04-05
    Making Sense of Moral Sense: Francis Hutcheson's Moral Theory in a Modern Context.Nicholas Patrick Hunt-Bull - 1998 - Dissertation, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    Any adequate moral theory must explain both the source and nature of our moral judgments. One approach, an appeal to our natural "moral sense," has traditionally been assumed to fall to four fatal objections: that it requires a mysterious "imaginary faculty," that it assumes a false harmony among our moral evaluations, that it is subject to an inevitable collapse into relativism, and that it fails clearly to resolve genuine moral disputes. I defend a moral sense ethical theory, inspired by the (...)
  39. added 2015-04-05
    An Essay on the Nature and Conduct of the Passions and Affections, by the Author of the Inquiry Into the Original of Our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue. Facs. Repr.Francis Hutcheson - 1969
  40. added 2015-04-05
    The Seventh Sense: A Study in Eighteenth-Century British Aesthetic Theory.Peter Nathan Kivy - 1966 - Dissertation, Columbia University
  41. added 2015-04-05
    Metaphysicae Synopis: Ontologiam, Et Pneumatologiam Complectens [by F. Hutcheson, 2 Copies].Francis Hutcheson - 1742
  42. added 2015-04-05
    An Essay on the Nature and Conduct of the Passions and Affections, by the Author of the Inquiry Into the Original of Our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue.Francis Hutcheson - 1728
  43. added 2015-04-04
    The Nature and Function of the Moral Sense in the Ethical Philosophies Ofshaftesbury and Hutcheson.John Roblin Murray Bristol - 1970 - Dissertation, University of Toronto (Canada)
  44. added 2015-04-04
    A Study of Francis Hutcheson's Two Ethical Theories in Relation to Some Moral Philosophies of the Enlightenment.Anne Martin Schrecker - 1961 - Dissertation, Bryn Mawr College
  45. added 2015-04-03
    An Inquiry Into the Original of Our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue in Two Treatises. I. Concerning Beauty, Order, Harmony, Design. Ii. Concerning Moral Good and Evil. [REVIEW]Francis Hutcheson - 1729 - Printed for D. Midwinter, A. Bettesworth, and C. Hitch, J. And J. Pemberton, R. Ware [and 7 Others in London].
  46. added 2015-03-29
    An Essay on the Nature and Conduct of the Passions and Affections. 1728.Francis Hutcheson - 1972 - Scolar Press.
  47. added 2015-03-28
    On the Nature and Conduct of the Passions with Illustrations on Moral Sense, 1728.Francis Hutcheson - 1999 - Clinamen Press.
  48. added 2015-03-28
    Shaftesbury, Hutcheson, and Hume on the Theory of Taste.Nipada Devakul - 1982 - Dissertation, Boston College
    Shaftesbury contended that sensibility or what he called "a moral sense" or "taste" is a faculty by which man responds to moral and aesthetic values. Moral and aesthetic pleasures do not involve self-interest or possession. Morality and art are interelated. A virtuous man, like an artist, creates the harmony of affections in his mind according to the principle of harmony he discerns in nature. Correspondingly an artist, besides creating the work of art, should create most of all the beauty of (...)
  49. added 2015-03-26
    Motivation and the Moral Sense in Francis Hutcheson’s Ethical Theory. [REVIEW]R. P. - 1973 - Review of Metaphysics 26 (3):538-539.
  50. added 2015-03-26
    Illustrations on the Moral Sense. [REVIEW]S. C. A. - 1972 - Review of Metaphysics 25 (3):556-557.
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