Francis Hutcheson

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Hutcheson, Francis


Born Aug. 8, 1694, in Drumalig, County Down, Ireland; died in 1746 in Glasgow. Scottish philosopher.

Hutcheson became a professor of moral philosophy in Glasgow in 1729. He systematized and developed the ideas of Shaftsbury and influenced Hume and Adam Smith. According to Hutcheson, underlying beauty, morality, and religion there are particular and mutually independent “internal senses”—aesthetic, moral, and religious. Thus, the moral sense is the instinctive emotional approval or disapproval of behavior. Differentiating “affections” as prolonged and clear attractions and “passions” as unstable and blind, Hutcheson understood virtue as an affection toward universal welfare—“the greatest happiness of the greatest number.” Philanthropy and consciousness of duty are not utilitarian, according to Hutcheson: rather, they are similar to a natural drive. Inasmuch as moral feeling also exists among nonbelievers, ethics for Hutcheson do not depend on religion. The teachings of Hutcheson were directed against Hobbes and Mandeville and in opposition to eudaemonism and rationalism.

Hutcheson’s aesthetics are in accord with the teachings of Kant with respect to the disinterestedness of aesthetic enjoyment; but in contradistinction to Kant, Hutcheson affirms the emotional origin of the beautiful. The basic principles of the beautiful are, for Hutcheson, harmony, proportion, and unity in diversity.


Works, vols. 1–6. Glasgow, 1769–74.
In Russian translation:
In F. Hutcheson, D. Hume, and A. Smith, Estetika. Moscow, 1973. Pages 43–269.


“Angliiskie deisty XVII i XVIII stoletii.” Zap. imp. Novorossiiskogo un-ta, 1868, vol. 3, issue 1.
Meerovskii, B. V. “Estetika Frensisa Khatchesona.” In F. Hutcheson, D. Hume, and A. Smith, Estetika. Moscow, 1973. Pages 7–41.
Vigone, L. L’etica del senso morale in F. Hutcheson. Milan, 1954.
Blackstone, W. T. Francis Hutcheson and Contemporary Ethical Theory. Athens, Ga., 1965.
Ossowska. M. Myśl moralna oświecenia angielskiego. Warsaw, 1966.
Scott, W. R. Francis Hutcheson: His Life, Teaching and Position in the History of Philosophy. New York, 1966.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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This spring 2011 edition's theme of "Empathy" calls to mind how 18'h-century philosophers including Francis Hutcheson, Lord Karnes, and Adam Smith used it to develop "Sentimental Ethics." According to their thinking, people made moral decisions by putting themselves subjectively in another's situation, then objectively evaluating it.
Si ese hubiera sido el caso, y Smith verdaderamente postulara que la benevolencia es nuestro motivo mas fuerte de accion, su teoria se asemejaria mucho a la de su maestro Francis Hutcheson, cuyo sistema moral esta claramente expuesto por Margarita Mauri en el primer articulo de este volumen.
As Schumpeter put it, "the normative natural law presupposes an explanatory natural law." Grabill contends that the lineage of the recta ratio began in the scholastics, passed through Lessio to Grotius and Pufendorf and through them to Francis Hutcheson and Adam Smith.