Making Sense of Moral Sense: Francis Hutcheson's Moral Theory in a Modern Context

Dissertation, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1998)

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 work of Francis Hutcheson, which responds to each of these objections. ;I show that the analogy to the standard senses becomes non-mysterious once we see how little special perceptual machinery the theory actually needs. Other problems are resolved by making clear the critical distinction between our moral judgments and the responses of the moral faculty . This shows that the moral sense theory is not, as many have assumed, obviously absurd. Rather, once we consider seriously the structure of the moral faculty, Hutcheson's view becomes both plausible and attractive. ;The theory I develop, while firmly in the tradition of the British moralists, is free of their theological assumptions. Given that none of the standard objections succeed, a modernized moral sense theory is at least as plausible as the standard alternatives, while being free from some of their more obvious problems. Thus, Hutcheson's view has much greater current importance than is standardly realized
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 60,842
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Making Sense of Moral Perception.Rafe McGregor - 2015 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18 (4):745-758.
On Three Defenses of Sentimentalism.Noriaki Iwasa - 2013 - Prolegomena 12 (1):61-82.
Ethical Externalism and the Moral Sense.Susan M. Purviance - 2002 - Journal of Philosophical Research 27:585-600.
On Human Nature.Francis Hutcheson (ed.) - 1993 - Cambridge University Press.
Sentimentalism and the Is-Ought Problem.Noriaki Iwasa - 2011 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 11 (3):323-352.
Moral Sense Theory in the History of Rhetoric.Dorothy C. Broaddus - 1989 - Dissertation, University of Louisville
Francis Hutcheson: Why Be Moral?Douglas R. Paletta - 2011 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 9 (2):149-159.
The Moral Sentiments of the Ideal Observer.Kurt Wesley Norlin - 1996 - Dissertation, University of California, Irvine
Hume's Alleged Success Over Hutcheson.Noriaki Iwasa - 2011 - Synthesis Philosophica 26 (2):323-336.


Added to PP index

Total views

Recent downloads (6 months)

How can I increase my downloads?


Sorry, there are not enough data points to plot this chart.

My notes