Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy

John Rawls, edited by Samuel Freeman, Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007).

Summary from Publisher:

This last book by the late John Rawls, derived from written lectures and notes for his long-running course on modern political philosophy, offers readers an account of the liberal political tradition from a scholar viewed by many as the greatest contemporary exponent of the philosophy behind that tradition.

Rawls’s goal in the lectures was, he wrote, “to identify the more central features of liberalism as expressing a political conception of justice when liberalism is viewed from within the tradition of democratic constitutionalism.” He does this by looking at several strands that make up the liberal and democratic constitutional traditions, and at the historical figures who best represent these strands–among them the contractarians Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau; the utilitarians Hume, Sidgwick, and J. S. Mill; and Marx regarded as a critic of liberalism. Rawls’s lectures on Bishop Joseph Butler also are included in an appendix. Constantly revised and refined over three decades, Rawls’s lectures on these figures reflect his developing and changing views on the history of liberalism and democracy–as well as how he saw his own work in relation to those traditions.

Table of Contents:

Editor’s Foreword
Introductory Remarks
Texts Cited
Introduction: Remarks on Political Philosophy

Lectures on Hobbes
I: Hobbes’s Secular Moralism and the Role of His Social Contract
II: Human Nature and the State of Nature
III: Hobbes’s Account of Practical Reasoning
IV: The Role and Powers of the Sovereign
Appendix: Hobbes Index

Lectures on Locke
I: His Doctrine of Natural Law
II: His Account of a Legitimate Regime
III: Property and the Class State

Lectures on Hume
I: “Of the Original Contract”
II: Utility, Justice, and the Judicious Spectator
Lectures on Rousseau
I: The Social Contract: Its Problem
II: The Social Contract: Assumptions and the General Will (I)
III: The General Will (II) and the Question of Stability

Lectures on Mill
I: His Conception of Utility
II: His Account of Justice
III: The Principle of Liberty
IV: His Doctrine as a Whole
Appendix: Remarks on Mill’s Social Theory

Lectures on Marx
I: His View of Capitalism as a Social System
II: His Conception of Right and Justice
III: His Ideal: A Society of Freely Associated Producers

Four Lectures on Henry Sidgwick
I: Sidgwick’s Methods of Ethics
II: Sidgwick on Justice and on the Classical Principle of Utility
III: Sidgwick’s Utilitarianism
IV: Summary of Utilitarianism

Five Lectures on Joseph Butler
I: The Moral Constitution of Human Nature
II: The Nature and Authority of Conscience
III: The Economy of the Passions
IV: Butler’s Argument against Egoism
V: Supposed Conflict between Conscience and Self-Love
Appendix: Additional Notes on Butler

Course Outline

Google Books
Electronic Copy [pdf]