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Summer Seminar

David Wiggins, Ethics: Twelve Lectures on the Philosophy of Morality

Guy Longworth

“In Ethics: Twelve Lectures on the Philosophy of Morality, David Wiggin surveys the answers most commonly proposed for such questions—gathering insights from Hume, Kant, the utilitarians, and the post-utilitarian thinkers of the twentieth century. The view of morality he then proposes draws on sources as diverse as Aristotle, Simone Weil and present-day thinkers such as Philippa Foot. As need arises, he pursues a variety of related issues and engages additional thinkers—Plato and Bernard Williams on egoism and altruism, Schopenhauer and Aurel Kolnai on evil, Leibniz and Rawls on impartiality, and Montaigne and J. L. Mackie on ‘moral relativism’, among others.”

For the most part, the seminars are planned to take in person, in S2.77, but we move online for some later sessions. All colleagues, including undergraduate and postgraduate students, are very welcome.

Seminar schedule

Thursday April 27, 3–5pm: Chapter 1: Glaucon’s and Adeimantus’ interrogation on Socrates

Thursday May 4, 3–5pm: Chapter 2: Hume’s genealogy of morals

Thursday May 11, 3–5pm: Chapter 3: Hume’s theory extended

Thursday May 18, 3–5pm: Chapter 4: From Hume to Kant

Thursday May 25, 3–5pm: Chapter 5: The laws of morality as the laws of freedom and the laws of freedom as the laws of morality

Reading week

Thursday June 8, 3–5pm: Chapter 6: Classical utilitarianism

Thursday June 15, 3–5pm: Chapter 7: A fresh argument for utilitarianism

Thursday June 22, 3–5pm (Online): Chapter 8: The consequentialist argument

Thursday June 29: No seminar

Thursday July 6, 3–5pm (Possibly online): Chapter 9: A first-order ethic of solidarity and reciprocity

Depending on interest, we might then consider carrying on into chapters 10 (Justice) and 11–12 (Metaethics) online.