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History of (Modern) Ethics

Philosophy 433 is a course in the history of ethics in the early modern period, somewhat arbitrarily beginning with Hobbes and ending with Nietzsche. This page has web links for the authors we read in the course. For a discussion of the views of some of these writers (Hobbes, Hutcheson, Butler, and Hume) on normativity and obligation see my The British Moralists and the Internal ‘Ought’: 1640-1740.

A syllabus, assignments, lecture outlines, etc., for Philosophy 433 can be found on the Course Materials Page.


Links and Texts for Philosophy 433


thomas hobbes
Thomas Hobbes
Electronic texts of:  Leviathan De Cive The Elements of Law
Canonical electronic versions of virtually all of Hobbes’s moral and political works on Past Masters can be accessed by University of Michigan users through the Library’s Search Tools.  Sharon Lloyd’s entry on Hobbes can be found in the Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy.  You may also want to consult Aubrey’s A Brief Life of Thomas Hobbes, the Hobbes Wikipedia entry, or the Hobbes page at the New School. Also, to test Hobbes’s (and your!) theories, play Prisoner’s Dilemma against a computer .  Finally, here is a copy of a paper of mine, which is recommended for graduate students: Normativity and Projection in Hobbes’s Leviathan
francis hutcheson
Francis Hutcheson


Electronic texts of:  An Inquiry into the Original of Our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue    An Essay on the Nature and Conduct of the Passions and Affections, with Illustrations on the Moral Sense
The New School’s Hutcheson page has wonderful resources. See also the Hutcheson Wikipedia entry and Alexander’s Broadie’s entry on 18th-century Scottish Philosophy in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.  There is also a chapter on Hutcheson in McCosh’s classic Scottish Philosophy.
Joseph Butler
Joseph Butler


Electronic text of: Semons on Human Nature (all fifteen!)
There is a Wikipedia entry on Butler and also one in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
David Hume
David Hume


Electronic texts of:  A Treatise of Human Nature     An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals
Canonical versions of Hume’s philosophical writings are available on Past Masters to Univeristy of Michigan users through the Library’s Search Tools.  Also check out Rachel Cohon’s article on Hume’s Moral Philosophy at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and Ted Morris’s general article on Hume.  The Wikipedia Hume entry is especially rich, as is the New School Hume page, and you can also find interesting stuff relating to Hume at The Hume Society.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Electronic texts of all of  The Social Contract and Discourse on the Origin of Inequality.
There is an excellent Wikipedia entry on Rousseau, and the New School’s Rousseau page is also terrific.
Immanuel Kant


Publicly accessible (although not excellent translations of):  The Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Critique of Practical Reason, Metaphysics of Morals, and many others.
Wikipedia has an excellent Kant entry; see also Robert Johnson’s article on Kant’s ethics for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.  University of Michigan users can get all of Kan’ts works in German on Past Masters through the UM Library.  For other sources and links, see Kant on the Web.  Also, the Kant Attack Ad (by Committee to Elect Friedrich Nietzsche).  (To see Kant and Nietzsche on the same team, see Monty Python’s Greece vs. Germany World Cup match.)
Adam Smith


Electronic texts of Smiths works, including:  The Theory of Moral Sentiments and The Wealth of Nations.
There is an excellent Wikipedia Smith entry.  See also Alexander Broadie’s discussion of Smith’s moral philosophy in his Stanford Encyclopedia article on the Scottish Enlightenment.
Jeremy Bentham


Electronic text of:  Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation.
Michigan users can find Bentham’s works through Past Masters at the Library’s Search Tools.  The Wikipedia Bentham entry is terrific, and the New School’s Bentham page, though a little corrupted, is still excellent.  You can also find information on the major effort to publish all of Bentham’s works at the Bentham Project. For something completely different, here is a view of Bentham, or at least of as much of him as there currently is.
Friedrich Nietzsche


Electronic text of: The Genealogy of Morals.
Wikipedia has an amazingly detailed Nietzsche entry.  See also Brian Leiter’s article on Nietzsche’s moral and political philosophy in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.  Also, the Nietzsche Attack Ad (By Committee to Elect Immanuel Kant).   (And again, Nietzsche and Kant on the same side in Monty Python’s Greece vs. Germany World Cup match.)


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