The modern period in moral philosophy began with Thomas Hobbes, whose Leviathan (1651) shook the traditional foundations of ethics and forced those who would defend ethics against (what they saw to be) Hobbes' nihilism to do so in a broadly naturalistic framework that took serious account of recent advances in science. Thus began a period of exciting and fruitful moral philosophy that stretched through the end of the eighteenth century and into the nineteenth. Indeed, debates now current in moral philosophy almost always can be traced back to origins in this period. This course will be a study of several of the central writers and texts of this "enlightenment" and post-enlightenment period.
In addition to Hobbes, we shall read some of Hutcheson, Butler, Hume, Kant, Bentham, Rousseau, and Adam Smith, and end with a radical critic
of this broad tradition: Nietzsche.