History of Modern Ethics
Stephen Darwall
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Hutcheson Lecture 2

I. We begin with Hutcheson's definition of moral goodness from the Introduction to the Inquiry. Refer to III and IV of Hutcheson I.

II. In addition to the arguments mentioned earlier, Hutcheson offers the following:

1. ``Had we no sense of good distinct from … advantage or interest … the sensations and affections toward a fruitful field, or commodious habitation, would be much the same with what we have toward a generous friend, or any noble character; for both are or may be advantageous to us.'' (Keep this in mind when we get to Hume. Q: How would things be affected if we changed ``to us'' to ``to someone''?)

2. ``And we should no more admire any action, or love any person in a distant country, or age, whose influence could not extend to us, than we love the mounts of Peru, while we are unconcern'd in the Spanish trade.''

3. ``We should have the same sentiments and affections toward inanimate beings, which we have toward rational agents, which yet every one knows to be false.''

4. ``Our sense of natural good and evil would make us receive, with equal serenity and composure, an assault, a buffet, and affront from a neighbour, a cheat from a partner, or trustee, as we would an equal damage from the fall of a beam, a tile, or a tempest.''

5. ``Actions no way detrimental may occasion the strongest anger and indignation, if they evidence only impotent hatred and contempt.''

6. ``In a Nation … let every man consult his own breast, which of the two characters he has the most agreeable idea of?''

7. ``Do not the former [generosity, faith, humanity, gratitude] excite our admiration, and love, and study of imitation where-ever we see them, almost at first view, without any such reflection [on their relation to our interest], and the latter [cruelty, treachery, ingratitude], our contempt, and abhorrence?''

8. ``A covetous man shall dislike any branch of trade, how useful soever it may be to the publick, if there is no gain for himself in it; here is an aversion from interest. Propose a sufficient premium, and he shall the first who sets about it… . Now is it the same way with our sense of moral actions? Should any one advise us to wrong a minor … we at first abhor it: assure us that it will be very advantageous to us … our sense of the action is not alter'd. It is true, these motives may make us undertake it; but they have no more influence upon us to make us approve it, than a physician's advice has to make a nauseous potion pleasant to the taste, when we perhaps force ourselves to take it for the recovery of health.''

III. Approbation and condemnation are simple ideas. And really, all that Hutcheson means in saying that we have a moral sense is that our psychological makeup is such that these ideas are part of normal human experience. ``We are not to imagine, that this moral sense, more than the other senses, supposes any innate ideas, knowledge, or pratical proposition: we mean by it only a determination of our minds to receive the simple ideas of approbation or condemnation.''

Now, if we have these ideas, and if there are qualities of actions, which we can apprehend in actions, and the apprehension of which causes us to have them, then there will be what Hutcheson calls a ``general foundation … in nature'' for moral goodness and evil. Indeed, the qualities of action, apprehension of which causes approbation and condemnation will, respectively, be moral goodness and moral evil.

IV. What, then, does moral goodness turn out to be? How an adequate an account is this? Does it secure objectivity? Does it secure normativity?

Some contemporary moral sense or ``sensibility'' theories

John McDowell, ``Values and Secondary Qualities'', in Darwall, Gibbard, Railton, Moral Discourse and Practice

John McDowell, ``Projection and Truth in Ethics'', in Darwall, Gibbard, Railton

David Wiggins, ``A Sensible Subjectivism'', in Darwall, Gibbard, Railton

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