Hutcheson Day 2014: links


Here is a selection of links tweeted under the hashtag #HutchesonDay, on 8th August 2014.

Joe Humphreys of the Irish Times talked to historian at the University of Aberdeen and author of Francis Hutcheson in Dublin, 1719-1730: The Crucible of his Thought for the Unthinkable slot. A good introduction for those unaware of the philosopher.

“Hutcheson’s big idea was what he called ‘the moral sense’. At the time, most philosophers agreed with John Locke that human beings had no innate ideas: the mind was a clean slate when a human was born. Although Hutcheson agreed, he disagreed that this meant humans had no inherent moral character. Instead he argued that human beings were born with a natural capacity to approve or disapprove of people’s behaviour. Human beings are effectively judgment-makers.
“Importantly, Hutcheson thought that this moral sense was pre-rational, meaning that deciding whether something was right or wrong did not involve a calculation of your self-interest. In this he disagreed with Thomas Hobbes, who thought humans were motivated by personal interest and material gain.”

Edward O. Wilson (1998) writes in The Atlantic on the modern search for a “natural capacity” to judge morality, mentioning Hutcheson along the way. (For the take of Hutcheson’s contemporaries on the “moral sense”, see the SEP on Sentimentalism).

“Hutcheson influenced most of the Scottish philosophers who succeeded him, perhaps all of them, whether because he helped to set their agenda or because they appropriated, in a form suitable to their needs, certain of his doctrines.” From the SEP article on 18th century Scottish philosophy.

A Context and Structure for Francis Hutcheson’s Early Moral Philosophy systematically goes through Hutcheson’s Inquiry into the Original of Our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue (1725). The text used is from the Liberty Fund and is free online. The Liberty Fund also have a selection of Hutcheson’s other works available.

Also from the Liberty Fund, Francis Hutcheson’s early formulation of the principle of “the greatest Happiness for the greatest Numbers” (1726).

And from came Francis Hutcheson on consumption and moderation, his natural law argument against slavery and a video on Giants of the Scottish Enlightenment.

There were also some great images tweeted of Hutcheson’s notes on Moral Philosophy and of a book he donated to the University of Glasgow in 1733. (I tweeted the first page of the first essay of Hutcheson that was printed in the Dublin Weekly Journal, which appears at the top of this page.)

And a reminder that Hutcheson also innovated as a teacher…

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