Hutcheson's Aesthetic Realism and Moral Qualities


  • Susan M. Purviance University of Toledo


2006, HIC, Susan M. Purviance


Hutcheson's theories offer an objective referent for beauty linked with a subjective determination to be pleased. As Kenneth Winkler's terminology suggests, Hutcheson is an eighteenth-century aesthetic realist, a beauty realist, because the aesthetic object need not be identified with the natural object. I argue that this aesthetic realism helps to settle key disputes concerning moral qualities in the moral sense theory. The natural and automatic operation of the aesthetic and moral senses allows a role for new experiences of beauty and virtue beyond their root forms, and permits a cultural refinement that remains true to a widely held, even if not universal, set of moral parameters for virtuous motivation.

Author Biography

Susan M. Purviance, University of Toledo

Susan M. Purviance SPurvia@UTNet.UToledo.Edu is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toledo, Ohio. Her works examine the context of moral agency and of moral reasoning, with special attention to British moral philosophy, Aristotle, and Kant. Recent related publications include "Shaftesbury on Self as a Practice," Journal of Scottish Philosophy 2, 2 (2004), and "Arguing Against Cognitive Nativism: Hume vs. Locke," History of Philosophy Quarterly 23, 2 (April 2006).