Francis Hutcheson: Why Be Moral?
moral sense theory
Ethics and Political Philosophy
History of Philosophy
Like all theories that account for moral motivation, Francis Hutcheson's moral sense theory faces two related challenges. The skeptical challenge calls into question what reasons an agent has to be moral at all. The priority challenge asks why an agent's reasons to be moral tend to outweigh her non-moral reasons to act. I argue a defender of Hutcheson can respond to these challenges by building on unique features of his account. She can respond to skeptical challenge by drawing a direct parallel between an agent's reasons to pursue natural, self-directed goods and her reasons to pursue moral goods. This parallel, however, makes establishing the significance of morality difficult. Given this difficulty, a separate aspect of Hutcheson's account, the additional weight given to benevolence in our assessment of mixed actions, can be used to respond to the priority challenge.