more from Francis Hutcheson

Single Idea 6251

[catalogued under 25. Society / C. Social Justice / 4. Legal Rights / a. Basis of rights]

Full Idea

Perfect rights are necessary to the public good, and it makes those miserable whose rights are thus violated; …imperfect rights tend to the improvement and increase of good in a society, but are not necessary to prevent universal misery.

Gist of Idea

The loss of perfect rights causes misery, but the loss of imperfect rights reduces social good


Francis Hutcheson (Treatise 2: Virtue or Moral Good [1725], §VII.VI)

Book Reference

'British Moralists 1650-1800 Vol. 1', ed/tr. Raphael,D.D. [Hackett 1991], p.297

A Reaction

This is a very utilitarian streak in Hutcheson, converting natural law into its tangible outcome in actual happiness or misery. The distinction here is interesting (taken up by Mill), but there is a very blurred borderline.