Philosophy 433                                     History of Ethics                                   Darwall                                    Winter 2008




1.  Bringing in the various aspects of Hume's account of justice, write a critical evaluation, from Hume's point of view, of Hobbes's treatment of morality as based on a mutual covenant.  Where would Hume agree; where would he disagree; and why?  Then defend Hobbes as best you can against whatever criticisms Hume might make.


2.  Discuss how damaging to Kant Hume's arguments that morality can neither be based on, nor be discovered by, reason are.  How would Kant best defend his idea that the moral law is a “Fundamental Law of Pure Practical Reason against Hume’s attack.


3.  The notion of utility and/or the happiness of all appear, in one way or another, in the writings of Hutcheson, Hume, and Bentham.  Describe and critically assess the different and distinctive roles these ideas have in the moral philosophy of each writer.


4.  Compare, contrast, and critically evaluate the way Kant connects the ideas of freedom and the moral law and the way Rousseau relates "moral liberty" and the general will.


5.  Critically discuss Bentham's ethics in relation to those of Hutcheson and Hume.  Where do they agree and disagree and why?   Who do you  think  has the most plausible views and why?


6.  How does Butler argue against psychological egoism?  How might a defender of psychological egoism, say, Hobbes, best respond to Butler's arguments?  What would be Butler's best reply?  Does it matter for ethics whether Butler is right?


7.  Critically discuss the “fact of reason” and the role it plays in Kant’s defense of the idea that “autonomy of the will is the sole principle of all moral laws” (5:33) and that the moral law is a law of pure practical reason.  Feel free to bring in additional elements of Kant’s examples, including those we discussed in class, that might further strengthen Kant’s attempts to support these claims.

8.  Compare and contrast Adam Smith and David Hume on justice.  Whose account do you find most plausible and why?