Francis Hutcheson

Stephen Buckle

in Natural Law and the Theory of Property

Published in print September 1993 | ISBN: 9780198240945
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191680304 | DOI:

Series: Clarendon Paperbacks

Francis Hutcheson

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Locke bequeathed to his successors a complex inheritance. The Two Treatises hinged on the inalienability of the property in one's person. Not only did this rule out the more explicit forms of slavery, it also excluded political slavery: any political system which placed its citizens under an unregulated, or arbitrary, will. The Essay concerning Human Understanding left an equally powerful impression. Its concern with both the foundations of knowledge and the efficient causes of human action led to an upsurge of interest in moral epistemology and psychology, and thereby to the first attempts to give a sophisticated account of the natural jurists' commonplace that the natural law has its foundations in human nature. The complex task faced by Locke's inheritors was to find a way to unify these different themes from the Two Treatises and the Essay, and it is in this context that the work of Francis Hutcheson (1694–1746) is such a striking achievement. This chapter outlines Hutcheson's synthesis of Lockian and other themes, concluding with an analysis of the crucial weakness in his account of justice — a weakness which throws substantial light on Hume's purposes in Book III of the Treatise.

Keywords: moral science; moral sense; natural law; rights; property; Locke; Two Treatises; Essay concerning Human Understanding

Chapter.  18877 words. 

Subjects: Social and Political Philosophy

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