Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy / Edition 1

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Overview

The premier political philosopher of his day, John Rawls, in three decades of teaching at Harvard, has had a profound influence on the way philosophical ethics is approached and understood today. This book brings together the lectures that inspired a generation of students--and a regeneration of moral philosophy. It invites readers to learn from the most noted exemplars of modern moral philosophy with the inspired guidance of one of contemporary philosophy's most noteworthy practitioners and teachers.

Central to Rawls's approach is the idea that respectful attention to the great texts of our tradition can lead to a fruitful exchange of ideas across the centuries. In this spirit, his book engages thinkers such as Leibniz, Hume, Kant, and Hegel as they struggle in brilliant and instructive ways to define the role of a moral conception in human life. The lectures delineate four basic types of moral reasoning: perfectionism, utilitarianism, intuitionism, and--the ultimate focus of Rawls's course--Kantian constructivism. Comprising a superb course on the history of moral philosophy, they also afford unique insight into how John Rawls has transformed our view of this history.

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist

This volume draws together the final version of Rawls' lecture notes on the history of modern moral philosophy. It offers probing discussions of Hume, Leibniz, Kant, and Hegel and of the four basic types of moral reasoning—perfectionism, utilitarianism, intuitionism, and Kantian constructivism. Readers could hardly find a more enlightening (if sometimes challenging) companion in exploring key historical approaches to life's most fundamental moral and philosophical questions.
— Mary Carroll

New Republic

What names would we want to place next to Wittgenstein and Heidegger? No thinker, I believe, has a greater right to stand alongside them than John Rawls. Rawls's A Theory of Justice, which appeared in 1971, changed forever the landscape of moral and political philosophy. Like Wittgenstein and Heidegger, Rawls has shown a remarkable capacity for self-criticism. Like them, he has gone on to revise in significant ways the doctrines that first established his fame...The publication of the Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy is thus a major event, since here we find the conception of modern ethics as a whole, the understanding of its characteristic themes and problems, that has inspired Rawls's political thought.
— Charles Larmore

Journal of the History of Philosophy

Rawls has an enormously authoritative and interesting way of thinking and writing about the history of philosophy. His approach and tone is that of a world-class athlete watching old films to analyze the technique of his great predecessors. It is a pleasure to listen in.

— Matthew Simpson

Booklist - Mary Carroll
This volume draws together the final version of Rawls' lecture notes on the history of modern moral philosophy. It offers probing discussions of Hume, Leibniz, Kant, and Hegel and of the four basic types of moral reasoning--perfectionism, utilitarianism, intuitionism, and Kantian constructivism. Readers could hardly find a more enlightening (if sometimes challenging) companion in exploring key historical approaches to life's most fundamental moral and philosophical questions.
New Republic - Charles Larmore
What names would we want to place next to Wittgenstein and Heidegger? No thinker, I believe, has a greater right to stand alongside them than John Rawls. Rawls's A Theory of Justice, which appeared in 1971, changed forever the landscape of moral and political philosophy. Like Wittgenstein and Heidegger, Rawls has shown a remarkable capacity for self-criticism. Like them, he has gone on to revise in significant ways the doctrines that first established his fame...The publication of the Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy is thus a major event, since here we find the conception of modern ethics as a whole, the understanding of its characteristic themes and problems, that has inspired Rawls's political thought.
Journal of the History of Philosophy - Matthew Simpson
Rawls has an enormously authoritative and interesting way of thinking and writing about the history of philosophy. His approach and tone is that of a world-class athlete watching old films to analyze the technique of his great predecessors. It is a pleasure to listen in.
Library Journal
Rawls is, of course, one of the major moral and political philosophers of the 20th century. These essays center on Kant's moral philosophy as influenced by Hume's and Leibniz's and as it influenced Hegel. Throughout, Rawls tries to understand the distinctive questions each philosopher posed to himself and the specific answers he gave. Among main topics are Hume's views of sympathy and practical reasoning and his critique of rational intuitionism; Leibniz's metaphysical perfectionism and his concepts of spontaneity, individuality, and freedom; Kant's concept of reason, different conceptions of the good, and formulations of the categorical imperative; and Hegel's view of the nature of ethical life and of freedom. Rawls's deep, tightly argued, and lucidly presented analyses warrant close attention by students on the subject.DRobert Hoffman, York Coll., CUNY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674004429
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2000
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 444,941
  • Product dimensions: 6.09 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 1.11 (d)

Meet the Author

John Rawls was James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University. He was recipient of the 1999 National Humanities Medal.

Barbara Herman is Griffin Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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Table of Contents

Editors Foreword

A Note On The Texts

Introduction: Modern Moral Philosophy, 1600-1800

1. A Difference between Classical and Modern Moral Philosophy

2. The Main Problem of Greek Moral Philosophy

3. The Background of Modern Moral Philosophy

4. The Problems of Modem Moral Philosophy

5. The Relation between Religion and Science

6. Kant on Science and Religion

7. On Studying Historical Texts

HUME

I. Morality Psychologized and the Passions

1. Background: Skepticism and the Fideism of Nature

2. Classification of the Passions

3. Outline of Section 3 of Part III of Book II

4. Hume's Account of (Nonmoral) Deliberation: The Official View

II. Rational Deliberation and the Role of Reason

1. Three Questions about Hume's Official View

2. Three Further Psychological Principles

3. Deliberation as Transforming the System of Passions

4. The General Appetite to Good

5. The General Appetite to Good: Passion or Principle?

III. Justice as an Artificial Virtue

1. The Capital of the Sciences

2. The Elements of Hume's Problem

3. The Origin of Justice and Property

4. The Circumstances of Justice

5. The Idea of Convention Examples and Supplementary Remarks

6. Justice as a Best Scheme of Conventions

7. The Two Stages of Development

IV. The Critique of Rational Intuitionism

1. Introduction

2. Some of Clarke's Main Claims

3. The Content of Right and Wrong

4. Rational Intuitionism's Moral Psychology

5. Hume's Critique of Rational Intuitionism

6. Hume's Second Argument: Morality Not Demonstrable

V. The Judicious Spectator

1. Introduction

2. Hume's Account of Sympathy

3. The First Objection: The Idea of the Judicious Spectator

4. The Second Objection: Virtue in Rags Is Still Virtue

5. The Epistemological Role of the Moral Sentiments

6. Whether Hume Has a Conception of Practical Reason

7. The Concluding Section of the Treatise

Appendix: Hume's Disowning the Treatise

LEIBNIZ

I. His Metaphysical Perfectionism

1. Introduction

2. Leibniz's Metaphysical Perfectionism

3. The Concept of a Perfection

4. Leibniz's Predicate-in-Subject Theory of Truth

5. Some Comments on Leibniz's Account of Truth

II. Spirits As Active Substances: Their Freedom

1. The Complete Individual Concept Includes Active Powers

2. Spirits as Individual Rational Substances

3. True Freedom

4. Reason, Judgment, and Will

5. A Note on the Practical Point of View

KANT

I. Groundwork: Preface And Part I

1. Introductory Comments

2. Some Points about the Preface: Paragraphs 11-13

3. The Idea of a Pure Will

4. The Main Argument of Groundwork I

5. The Absolute Value of a Good Will

6. The Special Purpose of Reason

7. Two Roles of the Good Will

II. The Categorical Imperative: The First Formulation

1. Introduction

2. Features of Ideal Moral Agents

3. The Four-Step CI-Procedure

4. Kant's Second Example: The Deceitful Promise

5. Kant's Fourth Example: The Maxim of Indifference

6. Two Limits on Information

7. The Structure of Motives

III. THE CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE: THE SECOND FORMULATION

1. The Relation between the Formulations

2. Statements of the Second Formulation

3. Duties of Justice and Duties of Virtue

4. What Is Humanity?

5. The Negative Interpretation

6. The Positive Interpretation

7. Conclusion: Remarks on Groundwork 11:46-49

IV. THE CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE: THE THIRD FORMULATION

1. Gaining Entry for the Moral Law

2. The Formulation of Autonomy and Its Interpretation

3. The Supremacy of Reason

4. The Realm of Ends

5. Bringing the Moral Law Nearer to Intuition

6. What Is the Analogy?

V. THE PRIORITY OF RIGHT AND THE OBJECT OF THE MORAL LAW

1. Introduction

2. The First Three of Six Conceptions of the Good

3. The Second Three Conceptions of the Good

4. Autonomy and Heteronomy

5. The Priority of Bight

6. A Note on True Human Needs

VI. Moral Constructivism

1. Rational Intuitionism: A Final Look

2. Kant's Moral Constructivism

3. The Constructivist Procedure

4. An Observation and an Objection

5. Two Conceptions of Objectivity

6. The Categorical Imperative: In What Way Synthetic A Priori?

VII. THE FACT OF REASON

1. Introduction

2. The First Fact of Reason Passage

3. The Second Passage: §§5-8 of Chapter 1 of the Analytic

4. The Third Passage: Appendix I to Analytic I, Paragraphs 8-15

5. Why Kant Might Have Abandoned a Deduction for the Moral Law

6. What Kind of Authentication Does the Moral Law Have?

7. The Fifth and Sixth Fact of Reason Passages

8. Conclusion

VIII. The Moral Law as the Law of Freedom

1. Concluding Remarks on Constructivism and Due Reflection

2. The Two Points of View

3. Kant's Opposition to Leibniz on Freedom

4. Absolute Spontaneity

5. The Moral Law as a Law of Freedom

6. The Ideas of Freedom

7. Conclusion

IX. THE MORAL PSYCHOLOGY OF THE RELIGION, BOOK I

1. The Three Predispositions

2. The Free Power of Choice

3. The Rational Representation of the Origin of Evil

4. The Manichean Moral Psychology

5. The Roots of Moral Motivation in Our Person

X. The Unity Of Reason

1. The Practical Point of View

2. The Realm of Ends as Object of the Moral Law

3. The Highest Good as Object of the Moral Law

4. The Postulates of Vernunftglaube

5. The Content of Reasonable Faith

6. The Unity of Reason

HEGEL

I. His Rechtsphilosophie

1. Introduction

2. Philosophy as Reconciliation

3. The Free Will

4. Private Property

5. Civil Society

II. Ethical Life and Liberalism

1. Sitttichkeit: The Account of Duty

2. Sittlickkeit: The State

3. Sittlichkeit: War and Peace

4. A Third Alternative

5. Hegel's Legacy as a Critic of Liberalism

Appendix: Course Outline

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2013

    Very powerful interpretation of Kant, though perhaps not entirel

    Very powerful interpretation of Kant, though perhaps not entirely accurate. Sheds interesting light on the connections between Kant and Rawls' own theory of justice and fairness

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