* one of the great philosophical works of the eighteenth century
* the rare and valuable first edition, reprinted in its entirety
'Of the countless reprints of Scottish Enlightenment works that Thoemmes has given us, none is more welcome than this. The posthumous System was not only Hutcheson's own last word on the full range of topics that he included under the rubric "moral philosophy", but also a monumental event in the book history of the Scottish Enlightenment itself.' - Newsletter of the 18th-Century Scottish Studies Society
Francis Hutcheson (1694-1746) was a key figure in the Scottish Enlightenment and one of the eighteenth century's most influential philosophers. He taught Adam Smith and he greatly influenced Hume and Bentham. His theory that the only proper actions are those which will generally benefit society prepared the way for the English utilitarians. His views were extensively discussed throughout Britain and ranged as far as the American colonies, where his political theory was adopted by revolutionaries. He is best known for his contribution to moral theory, being the chief exponent of the 'moral sense' doctrine which, following Shaftesbury, emphasized feeling rather than reasoning as the source of judgements of virtue and vice.A System of Moral Philosophy was written as early as 1738, but added to and altered by Hutcheson throughout his life. Published posthumously in 1755 by Hutcheson's son, Francis the younger, the System is Hutcheson's longest work and the fullest explanation of his method. Giving a comprehensive account of morality, it includes discussions of human nature; our duties to God, to each other and ourselves; the supreme good; civil liberty; rights; contracts; marriage; the rights and duties of parents; and the laws of peace and war. The work also contains an argument against slavery that was reprinted in colonial Philadelphia and helped give academic weight to the anti-slavery movement. William Leechman, a friend of Hutcheson and Professor of Divinity at Glasgow, contributes a highly valuable biography. This edition also includes a new introduction by Daniel Carey.