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UC Davis Department of Philosophy

History of Ethics

Philosophy Department

1240 Social Sciences and Humanities
University of California, Davis
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616

Phone: (530) 752-0607

Fax: (530) 752-8964

Picture of Immanuel Kant

Immanuel Kant

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  • The second paper is due May 30

These are the reading assignments for this class. Readings are from the course text, Classics of Moral and Political Theory.

This is the home page of G. J. Mattey's Philosophy 114, History of Ethics, for Spring Quarter, 2012.

The Course

Philosophy 114 is a survey of the views of the most influential philosophers in the area of ethics prior to the twentieth century. Focus will be on Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Kant, Mill and Nietzsche.

General Catalog Course Description

Study of some classic texts from the history of philosophical writing on central problems of ethics, taking the form either of a survey or concentrated examination of selected historical figures. Readings from such philosophers as Aristotle, Butler, Hume, Kant, Mill.

The Topic

Ethics historically has concerned itself with one of the following related topics: (1) What makes a person or a person’s life good or bad? (2) Under what conditions is a person’s action right or wrong? (3) What is the source of the values good, bad, right, and wrong? The philosophers we will study tried to give answers to these questions. We will find that their answers were many and varied. Contemporary ethicists continue to this day the debates initiated by the works we will study