In Chris W. Surprenant & Elizabeth Robinson (eds.), Kant and the Scottish Enlightenment. London: Routledge. pp. 36-54 (2017)

Michael Walschots
Martin Luther Universität Halle-Wittenberg
My aim in this paper is to discuss Kant’s engagement with what is arguably the core feature of Hutcheson’s moral sense theory, namely the idea that the moral sense is the foundation of moral judgement. In section one I give an account of Hutcheson’s conception of the moral sense. This sense is a perceptive faculty that explains our ability both to feel a particular kind of pleasure upon perceiving benevolence, and to appraise such benevolence as morally good on the basis of this feeling. Section two summarizes Kant’s discussion of the moral sense during his pre-Critical period. Kant’s appraisal of the concept changes during this time and culminates in the 1769/70 rejection of the moral sense as the foundation of moral judgement. In section three I turn to the main reason why Kant rejects the moral sense as the foundation of moral judgement, namely because it is incapable of issuing sufficiently universal and necessary judgements of moral good and evil. I argue that underlying Kant’s rejection of the moral sense is the fact that he understands the faculty not as a “sense” proper, but as a “feeling” according to his technical understanding of these terms. In the fourth section I conclude by briefly evaluating what my analysis says about Kant’s engagement with Hutcheson. I suggest that while Kant never accepted the existence of a moral sense, Hutcheson’s position was a view with which Kant often contrasted his own, and as such it played an important role in the development and expression of Kant’s mature moral philosophy.
Keywords Kant  Hutcheson  moral feeling  moral sense  moral judgement
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