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Their debate, then, was over the character of the moral faculty.Hutcheson plucked from Shaftesbury's rhapsodies the notion of a moral sense and endeavored to give a systematic account of it as the moral faculty of humankind.
In 1711 he entered the University of Glasgow, taking both the arts and theological courses and probably finishing in 1717.
He was licensed as a probationer preacher by the Ulster Presbyterians in 1719.
The other side, owing its original allegiance to Shaftesbury, held that moral distinctions are the deliverances of a moral sense. First, moral knowledge must be accounted for by showing how it can be acquired by the exercise of some human faculty.
In this respect they were all Lockeans: If something is knowable, you must show how it can be perceived.
David Hume sent a draft of Part III of The Treatise of Human Nature, "Of Morals," to Hutcheson for his comments prior to publication.
Some indication of the spirit in which Hutcheson wrote his own work can be gathered from his rebuking Hume for a lack of warmth in the cause of virtue, which "all good men would relish, and could not displease among abstract enquiries." Hutcheson's contributions to philosophy lie in aesthetics and moral philosophy.
Its deliverances are ideas of reflection that arise from our original perceptions of human actions.
As he first described the moral sense, it is a determination of our minds "to receive amiable or disagreeable ideas of actions." The "amiable idea" or, as he sometimes spoke of it, "our determination to be pleased," has two jobs.
Hutcheson attributed both the connection between virtue and benevolence and our necessary perception of the virtuousness of benevolence to arrangements superintended by God.
Like sight, the moral sense is universal in humankind.