- moral sense theory
- The view particularly associated with Hutcheson, that we possess a moral sense partially akin to the other senses, that disposes us to the approvals and disapprovals that we feel. The ‘sense’ in question is certainly to be distinguished from any exercise of rationality, but seems unlike sight or hearing in that its output is an attitude: it is more like a sense of humour or sense of balance. Hutcheson was part of the ‘sentimentalist’ school, initiated by Shaftesbury, and opposed to such rationalists as Price and Clarke . Although Hume refers approvingly to the moral sense, he develops his own version of morality as based on the passions without using the concept at all: here he anticipates Adam Smith, who finds it unnecessary to posit any extra sense. Instead, moralizing is explained by the normal operation of other sentiments, such as sympathy, regulated by various mechanisms.
Philosophy dictionary. Academic. 2011.