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Hutcheson, Francis (1694–1746)

Francis Hutcheson is considered a major figure in the Scottish Enlightenment. Born in Ireland, he spent the last 17 years of his life as a professor of moral philosophy at the University of Glasgow. Through his books and teaching at Glasgow, he exerted considerable influence on Adam Smith, David Hume, and other 18th-century moral philosophers.

Hutcheson, following the lead of the German political and legal philosopher Samuel von Pufendorf (1632–1694), distinguished between two categories of rights: perfect and imperfect. He regarded perfect rights as enforceable moral claims. If a person violated this kind of right, then the victim might legitimately use force to either protect himself or seek legal redress. In his Inquiry Concerning Beauty and Virtue (1725), Hutcheson wrote,

Instances of perfect Rights are those to ...
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