The Francis Hutcheson Institute

The Francis Hutcheson Institute (FHI) is an organisation dedicated to the preservation and advancement of the memory of Francis Hutcheson (1694-1746) and the philosophy and principles for which he stood. Best known today as the ‘Father of the Scottish Enlightenment’ he was actually born and raised in Co Down, Ulster, where he was raised and educated in local Dissenting Academies before reading for his degree in Glasgow and returning to Ulster and then Dublin as a Presbyterian Minister and Moral Philosopher. In 1730 he returned to Glasgow to become Professor of Moral Philosophy, where he became an important influence on David Hume, inspired Adam Ferguson and was a major influence over Adam Smith (primarily as a teacher, where he taught Smith economics). However, most of his original philosophical work was conducted whilst in Dublin (1719-30), which then went on to influence most of the major philosophers of Europe, from Kant to Voltaire.

Of greatest significance is the Enlightenment tradition Hutcheson helped to formulate in the modern English speaking world, influencing the political ideals of liberal democracy and the rights of the individual behind both the American Revolution and the United Irishmen. Also, his ideas were fundamental in the economic, social and political development of modern Britain and especially in influencing the development of utilitarian ideas, such as the greatest happiness to the greatest number. And it is to both recall these Enlightenment ideals and to seek to apply them in relation to resolving contemporary social and political problems that the Frances Hutcheson Institute dedicates itself.

To further our aims FHI offers to provide expert comment and opinion, consultancy and advisory services; run conferences, seminars and workshops; publish papers and leaflets, and; run a variety of activities both aimed to inform the public better about Francis Hutcheson and to understand and apply the enlightened principles he stood for in contemporary public life.

The Francis Hutcheson Principles

Liberal Democracy


Civic Society