Fall 2011 Schedule of Courses

PHILOSOPHY 430/530: KANT’S ETHICS

WEDNESDAY
SECTION 1, 6:00 - 8:40 P.M.

PROFESSOR SHARON SYTSMA

REQUIRED TEXTS
Kant, Immanuel. Practical Philosophy, Cambridge
Hill, Thomas. The Blackwell Guide to Kant’s Ethics, Blackwell
Other articles on E-Reserve

RECOMMENDED TEXTS
Kant, Lectures on Ethics
Geyer, Paul. Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals: Critical Essays
Beck, Lewis White. Commentary on Kant’s Critique of Practical Reason
Timmons, Mark. Kant’s Metaphysics of Morals: Interpretive Essays

COURSE CONTENT
The course will be a thematically-organized study of Kant’s major works on ethics, supplemented by articles written by contemporary Kant scholars. Attention will be given to unrooting common misinterpretations of Kant’s ethical system. Some questions we will be dealing with are: What does Kant mean by “the good will”? Does Kant have a theory of maxims? Is Kant right that only actions done from duty have true moral worth? Does Kant really “prefer the cold-hearted person” to the “naturally sympathetic” one? What does it mean for an act to be done from duty? Do we really give ourselves Categorical Imperatives? Is Kant a closet utilitarian? Can Kant’s ethics be considered a Virtue Ethic? What do causality and the categorical imperative have in common? Why is the idea of perfection a “material principle? Why does Kant say that practical reason has access to ideas that are unknowable by theoretical reason? Must we accept Kant’s view that suicide is always wrong? That the death penalty is morally required? Is Kant an ethical (motivational) internalist, or is he an externalist?

COURSE FORMAT
Lecture/discussion. Two short papers, one term paper, and weekly short assignments.