After splashing out £60m on new recruits, including Spanish defender Martin Montoya, Hughton hopes that Brighton can aim for more than just survival.
"Would I take 17th? Probably the bigger part of me says yes because my role is responsibility to this club to make sure this club is in the Premier League the following season," he told reporters on the eve of Saturday's trip to Watford.
"It's always a little bit of an unfair question but ultimately we have to be in the division. Are we aiming to be in 17th? No. We will aim to be higher than that and to get in the best position we can.
"And, with the experiences of last season, I hope we can do that. We want to have the best season we can. But the most important thing by a mile is that we are in the Premier League next season."
Brighton have been handed a tough start to the season, with Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City to face before the end of September.