We will study the development of modern ethical philosophy with an emphasis on the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Among the questions we will consider are: What is the source of value? What is the role of self-interest in ethics and how do we define it? What role does knowledge play in ethical action? Are humans naturally social or not? We will start with selections from Montaigne and consider the influence of skepticism and the new sciences on ethics. Then we will examine texts from four distinct schools of thought: 1) natural law theorists; 2) the rationalists; 3) epicureans and egoists; and 4) those who advocate autonomy as the basis of value, culminating in the work of Kant.
TEXT: Moral Philosophy from Montaigne to Kant, J.B. Schneewind.