Moral philosophy of Francis Hutcheson
Bishop, John Douglas
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The main object of this thesis is to explain in a systematic fashion Francis Hutcheson's moral theory. Such an attempt will necessarily involve a discussion of the various philosophical problems which are inherent in his theory. For example, I discuss the issue of whether Hutcheson's theory of the moral sense is to be interpreted in an intuitionist or an emotivist fashion. It is argued that some aspects of his moral sense theory favour the former and some the latter interpretation. Hutcheson's theory of benevolence is outlined and his arguments against the psychological egoists are discussed. Perhaps the most important problem with Hutchesoh's moral sence theory is the problem of motivation. Any moral theory which locates the virtue of virtuous actions in the motive from which they are done, as Hutcheson's does, will encounter problems in explaining how knowledge of right and wrong can influence us to be virtuous. Hutcheson's ingenious solution to this problem and his theory of moral motivation, which I suggest have not been adequately discussed previously to this thesis, are explicated at length. Hutcheson's criticisms of the moral rationalists are considered, as are Price's criticisms of Hutcheson. A final chapter attempts to show how the development of Hutcheson's thinking was the result of his realizing the implications of his own theories, especially his theory of moral motivation.