Skip to main content

Instructor: Thomas Hill. This seminar meets on Thursdays from 6:40 – 9:10 p.m. in Caldwell 213.

This year the course will focus on the theory of value – moral and non-moral – in the major ethical writings of Immanuel Kant. Previous courses have concentrated on Kant’s writings on justice and international relations and on the work of contemporary “Kantians,” but this semester the aim is to examine Kant’s main writings on ethics in detail and independently of contemporary developments in the “Kantian” tradition. The primary texts will be Kant’s Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals and substantial selections from Critique of Practical Reason, The Metaphysics of Morals, and Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone, and Lectures on Ethics. Topics include not only basic concepts (such as “good will,” “duty,” and “the Categorical Imperative”) but also how and why morality depends on practical reason, presupposes ideas of freedom, and applies to real world problems. We will pay special attention to how Kant’s ideas develop from his earlier, most often studied work – the Groundwork – to his most mature ethical writings – Part II of The Metaphysics of Morals (“The Doctrine of Virtue”) and Religion. Two other themes more evident in the later work are that being virtuous is more than having a good will and that moral constraints leave a wide area for choice of personal plans and projects.

Thomas Hill’s webpage