Francis Hutcheson (philosopher)

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Francis Hutcheson

Francis Hutcheson (8 August 16941746) was an Irish philosopher.


  • Wisdom denotes the pursuing of the best Ends by the best Means.
    • An Inquiry into the Original of our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue (1725), Treatise I, Sect. V
  • Whence this secret Chain between each Person and Mankind? How is my Interest connected with the most distant Parts of it?
    • An Inquiry into the Original of our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue (1725), Treatise II: An Inquiry concerning Moral Good and Evil, Sect. I
  • That Action is best, which procures the greatest Happiness for the greatest Numbers; and that worst, which, in like manner, occasions Misery.
    • An Inquiry into the Original of our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue (1725) Treatise II, Section 3
  • Men have been Laughed out of Faults which a Sermon could not reform.
    • The Dublin Weekly Journal, No. 12 (June 19, 1725)
  • All our Ideas, or the materials of our reasoning or judging, are received by some immediate Powers of Perception internal or external, which we may call Senses … Reasoning or Intellect seems to raise no new Species of Ideas, but to discover or discern the Relations of those received.
    • An Essay on the Nature and Conduct of the Passions and Affections (1728), Treatise II: Illustrations upon the Moral Sense, Sect. I
  • Whoever voluntarily undertakes the necessary office of rearing and educating, obtains the parental power without generation.
    • A System Of Moral Philosophy (1755), Book II, Ch. II
  • The ultimate notion of right is that which tends to the universal good; and when one's acting in a certain manner has this tendency, he has a right thus to act.
    • A System of Moral Philosophy (1755) Book II, Ch. III

Quotes about Hutcheson[edit]

  • Francis Hutcheson and David Hume were the two most prominent Scottish contributors to moral philosophy before Smith. They had criticized the view of rationalist philosophers, such as Samuel Clarke and William Wollaston, that the judgement and the motive of moral action are functions of reason, an understanding of necessary truth analogous to mathematical thinking. Hutcheson and Hume, in contrast, took the view that moral judgement is affective, rests on feeling, and that the motive for acting upon that judgement must likewise be affective, since reason alone does not have the power to stir bodily behaviour.
    • D. D. Raphael, The Impartial Spectator: Adam Smith's Moral Philosophy (2007), Ch. 1: Two Versions
  • Kant in fact seems to have begun his reflections on moral theory as an adherent of Francis Hutcheson’s moral sense theory. Even after abandoning it, he persists in maintaining the importance of “moral feeling” and tries consistently to make a place for it within his moral psychology.

External links[edit]

Encyclopedic article on Francis Hutcheson (philosopher) at Wikipedia

Classical economists
Francis Hutcheson · Bernard Mandeville · David Hume · Adam Smith · Jean-Baptiste Say · Thomas Malthus · James Mill · Francis Place · David Ricardo · Henry Thornton · John Ramsay McCulloch · James Maitland, 8th Earl of Lauderdale · Jeremy Bentham · Jean Charles Léonard de Sismondi · Johann Heinrich von Thünen · John Stuart Mill · Henry Charles Carey · Nassau William Senior · Edward Gibbon Wakefield · John Rae · Frédéric Bastiat · Thomas Tooke · Robert Torrens