Hutcheson's Aesthetic Realism and Moral Qualities

History of Intellectual Culture (2006)

Susan M. Purviance
University of Toledo
Hutchesonʹs theories offer an objective referent for beauty linked with a subjective determination to be pleased. As Kenneth Winkler’s terminology suggests, Hutcheson is an eighteenth‐century aesthetic realist, a beauty realist, because the aesthetic object need not be identified with the natural object. I argue that this aesthetic realism helps to settle key disputes concerning moral qualities in the moral sense theory. The natural and automatic operation of the aesthetic and moral senses allows a role for new experiences of beauty and virtue beyond their root forms, and permits a cultural refinement that remains true to a widely held, even if not universal, set of moral parameters for virtuous motivation.
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