Charter of the Francis Hutcheson Institute

The following points act as a general philosophical, social and political framework that does not espouse to be ‘on the left’ or ‘on the right’, or attached to any particular political party. Instead, it summarises the political outlook contained in the work of Francis Hutcheson, born in Northern Ireland, chair of moral philosophy at Glasgow University, Father of the Scottish Enlightenment, founder of the philosophical tradition that underpinned the Industrial Revolution and modern Western civilisation and still lays the foundation of modern political thought.

  1. The market economy is both legitimate in its existence and important in its function for society; but it must be regulated for the common good lest it become an end in itself.
  2. The pursuit of knowledge, science and enlightenment is central to fostering a more peaceful and prosperous world.
  3. The rights of the individual are of the utmost importance; not least the freedom from persecution and violence, but are not an end in themselves but must also accord with the higher moral purpose of the good of the community.
  4. Sound and legitimate morality cannot just be dictated from above; but must also involve the individuals positive contribution expressed through their freedom and liberty to participate in its formulation via their own experience and sensibilities.
  5. Where undesirable actions occur, it is a fallacy to condemn human nature; inadequate social and political structures, not humans themselves, frequently are the cause of immoral actions.
  6. The nation state is of key importance for the liberty of the individual: it must enable a prosperous and universally beneficial economy, and guarantee citizens the rights and resources to lead a morally and materially fulfilled life, unconstrained by poverty, dogma or fear.
  7. An enlightened sense of nationhood entails cooperation, integration and social harmony rather than competition and conflict, internally, and with other nations. Inward-looking nationalism is a cause of conflict.

© Copyright Francis Hutcheson Institute - 2020