Hume's Alleged Success over Hutcheson

Synthesis Philosophica 26 (2):323-336 (2011)

Abstract

David Hume thinks that human affections are naturally partial, while Francis Hutcheson holds that humans originally have disinterested benevolence. Michael Gill argues that Hume's moral theory succeeds over Hutcheson's because the former severs the link between explaining and justifying morality. According to Gill, Hutcheson is wrong to assume that our original nature should be the basis of morality. Gill's understanding of Hutcheson's theory does not fully represent it, since for Hutcheson self-love and self-interest under certain conditions are permissible, or even desirable or necessary for the good of society. There is not much difference between Hutcheson's and Hume's theories in the sense that they both extract impartial morality from human character as it is. Hume's theory does not succeed over Hutcheson's because Hume does not propose a better way of extracting morality nor explain all moral phenomena.

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