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Fr. 455

December 8, 2013

Hutcheson concludes section 2.4 by responding to a broader objection with which his position might be charged: that the moral sense derives from education and is therefore contingent on social circumstances. His response first considers the so-called “objection from incest” in an endeavor to determine why this practice is condemned in some places but accepted in others. In the end, Hutcheson rules in favor of a moral sense insofar the very notion of abhorrence itself supposes a moral sense. Accordingly, even if some individuals do not find the activity abhorrent, the abhorrence of others derives nonetheless from a moral sense to which the first are not sensitive. In particular, Hutcheson treats the case in which this lack of sensitivity stems from the absence of divinely issued, moral strictures against the activity in question. The second part of his response treats the feelings of children when faced with situations in need of moral evaluation. Hutcheson maintains that children, who lack the conceptual resources afforded by various rational schemes and abstract notions derived from reason, nonetheless can discern moral good from evil in stories and show a natural preference for the former, echoing contemporary positions in the field of moral psychology.

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