Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy

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Harvard University Press, Nov 15, 2000 - Philosophy - 416 pages
The premier political philosopher of his day, John Rawls, in three decades of teaching at Harvard, has had a profound influence on the way philosophical ethics is approached and understood today. This book brings together the lectures that inspired a generation of students--and a regeneration of moral philosophy. It invites readers to learn from the most noted exemplars of modern moral philosophy with the inspired guidance of one of contemporary philosophy's most noteworthy practitioners and teachers. Central to Rawls's approach is the idea that respectful attention to the great texts of our tradition can lead to a fruitful exchange of ideas across the centuries. In this spirit, his book engages thinkers such as Leibniz, Hume, Kant, and Hegel as they struggle in brilliant and instructive ways to define the role of a moral conception in human life. The lectures delineate four basic types of moral reasoning: perfectionism, utilitarianism, intuitionism, and--the ultimate focus of Rawls's course--Kantian constructivism. Comprising a superb course on the history of moral philosophy, they also afford unique insight into how John Rawls has transformed our view of this history.

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An examination of the philosophies of Hume, Leibniz, Kant, and Hegel—all nicely burnished by contemporary great Rawls (A Theory of Justice, 1971) over three decades at Harvard.Rawls's "Kant Lectures ... Read full review

Lectures on the history of moral philosophy

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Rawls is, of course, one of the major moral and political philosophers of the 20th century. These essays center on Kant's moral philosophy as influenced by Hume's and Leibniz's and as it influenced ... Read full review


Editors Forward
A Note on the Texts
Introduction Modern Moral Philosophy 16001800
Problems in Moral Philosophy

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About the author (2000)

John Rawls was James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University. He was recipient of the 1999 National Humanities Medal.

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