New Perspectives on Hutcheson's Moral Philosophy

Journal of Scottish Philosophy 20 (2):121-142 (2022)


In this article I argue both that Hutcheson has a theory of obligation that is different in important ways from the views of his predecessors and that his theory may not be as problematic as critics have claimed. After briefly sketching a picture of the rich conceptual landscape surrounding the concept of obligation in the Early Modern period, I offer an account of Hutcheson's theory of obligation. Not only does Hutcheson have a view on what previous figures called the source, end, and object of obligation, I illustrate that he focuses on the epistemological question of the origin of the idea of obligation, and he conceives of the necessity involved in obligation in a unique way, namely in terms of the necessity of a perception. I conclude by defending Hutcheson's theory against three objections.

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Michael Walschots
Martin Luther Universität Halle-Wittenberg

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