Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy

John Rawls, edited by Barbara Herman, Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000).

Summary from Publisher:

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.

Table of Contents:

Editor’s 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 Modern Moral Philosophy
5. The Relation between Religion and Science
6. Kant on Science and Religion
7. On Studying Historical Texts

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

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

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 Right
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

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

Electronic Copy [pdf]
Google Books