Course Structure and Purposes Courses in philosophical ethics can be taught in a number of ways. This course is a historical survey of some of the major figures and their teachings. It is unusual, if not unique, in that attention is given to nineteenth-century American philosophers. It is hoped that this approach will provide the student with a working knowledge of what the major figures have written and thought, and cause him/her to think more clearly on the moral problems that confront us all. It should be obvious that to concentrate on historical figures is not to ignore concrete problems; they certainly did not ignore them. Finally it is perhaps not out of place to note that we can avoid being chemists or physicists, but we are all moral agents. To cease to worry about moral issues is to cease to be human.
More Specific Aims (or hopes) for the Student 1. To gain a knowledge of the history of moral philosophy in the Western World.
2. To learn to read and evaluate the relevant philosophical materials.
3. As you read, to learn to ask yourself: "What is the philosopher trying to
prove?" "How does he argue for his position?" "Does he prove his case?"
4. To acquire an appreciation for the fact that past (even ancient) philosophers
grappled with many of the same moral issues that trouble us today.
Textbook and Sequence The course has an excellent text book, Morality, Philosophy and Practice: Historical and
Contemporary Readings and Studies by Abraham Edel, Elizabeth Flower and Finbarr O'Connor. The textbook readings are arranged chronologically, and this more or less dictates the schedule. This order will be followed with only minor departures (to be indicated in the syllabus). I shall assume that the chapters on "Biblical and Theological Writings", and the so-called "Middle Ages", deal with topics which are better covered by my colleagues in the Religion Department, so these will not be discussed in my course. It may be just the way I deal with them, but the topics and writings in the course do seem to become more subtle, perhaps more difficult, as the course progresses. So what is required of the student increases as the course moves along.
Testing and Grading It is my hope that I can have three hour exams, plus the final exam. The student is also required to write a paper (about 10-15 pages, typewritten--double-spaced) on a relevant topic of your own choosing. This is a lecture class, but as indicated above, discussion is encouraged, and while I won't try to count the number of times a students does or does not participate in class, an attempt will be made to reward active participation. The final exam will be comprehensive. There are two reasons for this:
(1) This gives us a chance to bring together material from the entire course, and
thus to take a wider view.
(2) As in Philosophy 1305 and 1306, the first test, and sometimes the second, too,
may only show that the student doesn't know how the game is played, so to speak.
Being able to read and evaluate philosophical material are acquired skills. So
the final exam is a place in which the student may show improvement.
Suggested Readings Your teacher is not so naive as to be unaware that it is a major achievement just to get students to read the assigned texts. But I live in the (perhaps vain) hope that someday, somewhere, I may find a student who wants to know more than the bare minimum.
Most general histories of philosophy include discussions of the ethical theories of the major figures. For example, in A History of Philosophy by Frederick Copleston, S.J. (London: Burns and Oates, Limited), Volume One, Greece and Rome (1951), there are lengthy discussions of the work of Plato (Part III), Aristotle (Part IV), and the Stoics and Epicureans (Part V).
The history most often used here is A History of Western Philosophy (2nd ed., Rev.) by W.T. Jones (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and World, 1975). Volume One, The Classical Mind, has good sections on Plato and Aristotle. Volume Three, Hobbes to Hume, and Volume Four, Kant and the Nineteenth Century, are also useful.
There is also a two-volume History of Ethics by Vernon J. Bourke (Garden City, New York: Image Books, 1970), with extensive notes and useful bibliographies. A Short History of Ethics by Alasdair Macintyre seems less useful, though it has a whole chapter on Aristotle's ethics. And an "oldie but goodie" is Outlines of the History of Ethics for English Readers by Henry Sidgwick (New York: Macmillan & Co., Ltd., 1954, first published in 1886).
Another book that covers the whole area is Western Ethics, an Historical Introduction, by Robert L. Arrington (Blackwell Publishers, Oxford, 1998)-this looks very useful.
Lectures 1 and 2 - The Hedonism of Epicurus Read: E. F. & O. pp. 81-86
Suggested: Gilbert Murray, Five Stages of Greek Religion (Garden City, New York:
Suggested: In Copleston's History of Philosophy, Vol. 5 on Hobbes to Hume,
there is a useful chapter (Ch. III) on "The Cambridge Platonists") and
another on "Problems of Ethics" (Ch. X), which provides background
on Bishop Butler.
Frederick J. Powicke, The Cambridge Platonists, a Study (Hamden,
Connecticut: Archon Books, 1971).
C. A. Patrides, (ed.), The Cambridge Platonists (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1980).
John Tulloch, Rational Theology and Christian Philosophy in England
in the Seventeenth Century, Vol. II, The Cambridge Platonists
(Edinburgh: William Blackwood and Sons, 1872).
In the more recent Columbia History of Western Philosophy, edited by Richard H. Popkin (MLF Books,2000),there is a short chapter, “The Cambridge Platonists” , by Sarah Hutton (pp.366-373).
***** FIRST HOUR EXAM
Lectures 11 and 12 - Thomas Hobbes Read: E. F. & O. pp. 175-197
Suggested: J. Kemp, Ethical Naturalism: Hobbes and Hume (New York: St. Martin's
Press, 1970), pp. 3-28.
Richard Peters, Hobbes (London: Penguin Books, 1956).
There are ten papers on Hobbes in Hobbes and Rousseau, A Collection of
Critical Essays (Garden City, New York: Doubleday Anchor Books, 1972)
Tom Sorell, Hobbes, (London: Routledge, 1991)
Arnold A. Rogow, Thomas Hobbes, Radical in the Service of Reaction
(New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1986)
Lectures 13 and 14 - Bishop Joseph Butler Read: E. F. & O. pp. 227-232
Suggested: W.D. Hudson, Ethical Intuitionism (New York: St. Martins Press, 1967).
Austin Duncan-Jones, Butler's Moral Philosophy (Harmondsworth,
Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1952).
There is a chapter on Butler (Ch. III) in C.D. Broad's Five Types of
Ethical Theory (Paterson, New Jersey: Littlefield, Adams, & Co., 1959).
E.C. Mossner, Bishop Butler and the Age of Reason, a Study in the
History and Thought (New York: The Macmillian Co., 1936).
Nicholas L. Sturgeon, "Nature and Conscience in Butler's Ethics",
Philosophical Review, LXXXV, no. 3 (July, 1976), pp. 316-356.
Terence Penelhum, Butler (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1985)
Christopher Cunliffe (ed.), Joseph Butler's Moral and Religious
J. Kemp, Ethical Naturalism, op. cit. Ch. III.
Donald W. Livingston and James T. King (eds.), Hume: A Re-evaluation
(New York: Fordham University Press, 1976).
William B. Todd (ed.), Hume and the Enlightenment (Edinburgh at the
University Press, 1974) has essays on Hume's ethics, plus a bibliography
of Hume's work.
Peter Jones, Hume's Sentiments (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1982).
Barry Stroud, Hume (London: Routledge, 1991).
Lecture 17 - Adam Smith Read: E. F. & O. pp. 264-273
Suggested: Glenn R. Morrow, The Ethical and Economic Theories of Adam Smith
(Clifton, New Jersey: Augustus M. Kelly, Publishers, 1973).
D. D. Raphael, "The Impartial Spectator", Dawes Hicks Lecture on
Philosophy, British Academy, 1972.
Gilbert Harman, "Moral Agent and Impartial Spectator," The Lindley
Lecture, The University of Kansas, 1986.
Lecture 18 - Jeremy Bentham Read: E. F. & O. pp. 298-324
Suggested: John Dinwiddy, Bentham (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989).
H. L. A. Hart, Essays on Bentham, Studies in Jurisprudence and
and Political Theory (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982).
Lectures 19, 20 - Immanuel Kant Read: E. F. and O. pp. 325-366
Kant was one of the greatest so the literature is endless. Those listed below are
Suggested: H. J. Paton, The Categorical Imperative (London: Hutchinson's
University Library, 1946).
Paul Guyer (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Kant (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1992).
Robert Paul Wolf (ed.), Kant: a Collection of Critical Essays (Garden
City, New York: Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1967).
H. B. Acton, Kant's Moral Philosophy (London: Macmillan &
Roger J. Sullivan, Immanuel Kant's Moral Theory (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1989).
Christine M. Korsgaard, Creating the Kingdom of Ends
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).
J. B. Schneewind, The Invention of Autonomy (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1998).
Allen W. Wood, Kant's Ethical Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1999)
***** SECOND HOUR EXAM
Lectures 21, 22 - John Stuart Mill Read: E. M. & O. pp. 413-451`
Suggested: Anthony Quinton, Utilitarian Ethics (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1973).
John Skorupski, John Stuart Mill (London: Routledge, 1989).
Lecture 23 - Self-Realization--F. H. Bradley Read: E. F. & O. pp. 477-479
Suggested: John Passmore, A Hundred Years of Philosophy (Baltimore, Maryland:
Penguin Book, 1966), especially Chapter 3.
Richard Ingardia, Bradley: A Research Bibliography (Bowling Green,
Ohio: Philosophy Documentation Center, 1991).
Anthony Manser, Guy Stock (eds.), The Philosophy of F. H. Bradley
(Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1986).
FLASH!! During the 1960's, a number of good historical studies were published, featuring
chapters on F. H. Bradley, Moore, Ayer, The Emotivists, etc. Among the best were:
Mary Warnock, Ethics Since 1900 (London: Oxford University Press, 1960).
G. J. Warnock, Contemporary Moral Philosophy (London: Macmillan,
Luther J. Binkley, Contemporary Ethical Theory (New York: The
Citadel Press, 1961).
George C. Kerner, The Revolution in Ethical Theory (New York:
Oxford University Press, 1966).
W. D. Hudson, Modern Moral Philosophy (Garden City, New York:
Anchor Books, 1970).
A somewhat older treatment that is still of interest was Thomas English
Hill's Contemporary Ethical Theories (New York: The Macmillan
Lecture 24 - G. E. Moore Read: E. F. & O. pp. 492-501
Suggested: Paul Arthur Schilpp (ed.), The Philosophy of G. E. Moore (New York:
Tudor Publishing Company, 1952)
E. D. Klemke, Studies in the Philosophy of G. E. Moore (Chicago:
Quadrangle Books, 1969).
Lectures 25, 26 - Emotivism and Ordinary Language Read: The sections in E. F. & O. by A. J. Ayer, C. L. Stevenson,
J. L. Austin, and H. L. A. Hart
Suggested: John Passmore, A Hundred Years of Philosophy (Baltimore,
Maryland: Penguin Books, 1966), especially chapters 16 & 18.
J. O. Urmson, The Emotive Theory of Ethics (London: Hutchinson
University Library, 1968).
Lectures 27, 28 - John Dewey Read: E. F. & O. pp. 530-549
Suggested: Jo Ann Boydston, Guide to the Works of John Dewey
(Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1970).
Paul Arthur Schilpp (ed.), The Philosophy of John Dewey (2nd ed.)
(New York: Tudor Publishing Co., 1951).
J. E. Tiles, Dewey (London: Routledge, 1990).
Robert B. Westbrook, John Dewey and American Democracy (Ithaca:
Cornell University Press, 1991).
Lectures 29, 30 - Nineteenth Century American Moral Philosophy Somewhere near the end of the course, I shall break the routine by passing out
handouts since this material is not covered in your syllabus.
The Prof The teacher of this course is Elmer H. Duncan. My office is 308 Tidwell. Because of my wife's schedule (she's a Medical Technologist and goes to work very early!), I tend to be a morning person. My office door is open whenever I'm there, and any student is welcome without appointment. My office phone is 710-3368, and you may call me at home at 772-5330, if you will cut if off by about 9:00, so that the wife can get her rest. Best wishes,