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The Core Curriculum

Francis Hutcheson, Scottish Philosopher, by Allan Ramsay, ca. 1740-45.

Francis Hutcheson (1694-1746) was an Irish-born, Scottish philosopher and one of the seminal figures of the 18th Century Scottish Enlightenment.  He made a variety of philosophical contributions in the fields of moral theory, aesthetic theory, political theory, natural law theory, and logic.  Perhaps his most enduring contribution was to moral philosophy, in which he developed a ‘sentimentalist’ theory of moral judgments as arising from a natural, emotive-based, anti-rationalist Moral Sense.  First as a pupil and later as a colleague of Hutcheson’s, Adam Smith was deeply influenced by Hutcheson’s theories of human natural and moral judgment.  However, in his mature moral writings, Smith ultimately distanced himself from Hutcheson’s postulate of a moral sense, preferring rather (like Hume, though distinctly) to develop a psychology of moral judgment based on the operations of sympathy.


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