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Hutcheson's task was to offer an account of how the moral sense works.He located the moral sense on the map of Lockean psychology.To see what Hutcheson's claim means, we must first of all consider what led him to make it.
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.
Second, moral knowledge cannot be simply a revelation from God, though of course God may enter the picture indirectly by having endowed us with our moral faculty.
And when it came to picking out actual instances of virtue and vice, both sides were in agreement about the value of benevolence and the wrongness of acts of violence against other persons.
Francis Hutcheson, a moral-sense theorist, was born at Drumalig in County Down, Ulster.
His father and grandfather were Presbyterian ministers.
But just as some men are born blind, and others have defective sight, some men have no moral sense at all and others have defective moral senses.
The strength of Hutcheson's theory of the moral sense lies in his having given an account of how we know that benevolent actions are virtuous: They are virtuous because they please.
It is both our perception of the virtue of an action and our approval of it.
It so happens that those actions which we discern to be virtuous are always benevolent actions, and we are necessarily determined to discern their virtue as soon as we observe them.