Philosophy 202 (Fall 2019)

Readings in the Western Philosophical Tradition: Modern Philosophy


Prof. Patrick Frierson


Class Meets: Olin 192, MW 1-2:20


Office Hours (Olin 194): Monday 10-11 am; Wednesday 10-noon; and by appointment.  During these hours, you don’t need an appointment to talk to me – just stop by my office. You can come ask me for assistance with course content/assignments, or you can merely chat with me about the course, college more generally, careers, current events or whatever. Do not feel like you need a so-called “good” question – you can even just say “hello”! If you can’t make these times, I am happy to meet other times – just make an appointment.


Accommodations:     If you are a student with a disability who will need accommodations in this course, please meet with Antonia Keithahn, Assistant Director of Academic Resources: Disability Support (Memorial 326, 509.527.5767, for assistance in developing a plan to address your academic needs. All information about disabilities is considered private; if I receive notification from Ms. Keithahn that you are eligible to receive an accommodation due to a verified disability, I will provide it in as discreet a manner as possible.


Required Texts:

Roger Ariew, Eric Watkins, eds., Modern Philosophy: An Anthology of Primary Sources (Indianapolis: Hackett, 2009).  Page numbers in the timeline refer to the SECOND edition (2009) of this book, which is the edition we will use in this class.

David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, Ed. E. Steinberg, Indianapolis: Hackett, ISBN: 978-0915145454

Sor Juana Ińez de la Cruz, Poems, Protest, and a Dream: Selected Works, trans. M. Peden, Penguin Classics, ISBN: 978-0140447033.


Goals:  With respect to content, this course focuses on central epistemological, metaphysical, and ethical arguments of three philosophers of the modern period (1600-1800).  The philosophers on whom we will focus are Rene Descartes (1596-1650), David Hume (1711-1776), and Sor Juana de la Cruz (1648-1695).  We will do additional readings from and have presentations on other major European philosophers of the period, including Elizabeth of Bohemia, Thomas Hobbes, Baruch Spinoza, Anne Conway, and Immanuel Kant.   

Throughout our study of these philosophers, we will focus on five key philosophical problems:

(1) To what extent is it possible to have knowledge of anything?

(2) How should we philosophically address the (epistemological) problem of human diversity, that is, that people see the world in different (and incompatible) ways?

(3) What is the ultimate nature of all reality?  (For example: Is there a God, and if so, what is God’s nature? And/or: What is the nature of causation? How does one thing cause changes in another?)

(4) What is the human being? (In particular: Are human beings free? and What is the connection between the mind and the body?)

(5) What is the good life for human beings?  Relatedly, what is what is the nature and status of morality and moral claims?

With respect to skills, this course will help you develop as a philosopher in four key respects.


First and most importantly, you will learn to philosophize better.  A philosopher pursues wisdom through careful reflection.  In this course, we use modern philosophers to help our own philosophical reflection, philosophizing with them and offering philosophical critique of them. By the end of this course, you will learn how to follow through on philosophical insights in historical and systematic ways.


Second, we will read difficult texts and read them carefully. Reading (and the related skill of listening) to complex arguments expressed in unfamiliar terms will prepare you for engaging with those who hold viewpoints or forms of expression different form your own and thus for thriving in an increasingly diverse world.  Because learning to read difficult texts for yourself is one of the goals of this course, you should not consult any internet resources in order to clarify the meaning of the primary texts we read in this class.


Third, you will learn both to explain the ideas of others and to articulate your own ideas orally and in writing.  Everyone is expected to participate in class discussion in a respectful way, and one of the goals of this course is to help all students develop confident, articulate, respectful modes of oral communication.  In addition, everyone will write three papers over the course of the semester.  You will also have the opportunity to submit drafts of written work for feedback.


Finally, woven throughout the other goals, you will develop some basic knowledge of the history of philosophy and you will learn to consider and reconsider questions and problems as they are raised and transformed by a succession of thinkers.


This course is an opportunity to learn and improve, not primarily an opportunity to show how good you already are. 






Due Date


Portion of Grade

Memos and Exercises

Each class period by 10 am

Maximum of 300 words


Presentation #1

Variable, but not later than October 30.

12-18 minutes (maximum)

Paper should be 2000 words minimum.


Descartes Paper

October 20th, 5 PM.

(Optional draft due October 17th by noon.)

500-1000 words


Presentation #2


12-18 minutes (maximum)


Hume Paper

November 21st (Optional draft due November 17th.)

600-1200 words


Final Paper

DRAFT due Monday, December 8th


FINAL due Friday, December 13th.

1200 word minimum (no maximum)

15-25% (I’ll adjust the percentages of final paper and final exam to give you the best overall grade possible.)

Final Exam

December 19th, 9AM.

Not applicable





Memos and Exercises:  For almost every class period, there is a short assignment of some kind, listed in the timeline below.  These should be emailed to me no later than 10am on the day of class.  These exercises should never be more than 300 words long, and often they can be just a sentence or two.  I will reply to these exercises with either “excellent,” “good,” or “needs work.”  If you have specific questions about the readings, you can include those in the email in which you submit your exercises, and I will try to respond to those questions when I return your exercise.


Papers.  All written assignments, including your papers and the written portion of your presentations, should be submitted to me by email ( in .doc or .docx format.  Please do not send pdfs or googledoc links.  You must include your first and last name as the first terms in the filename, and the rest of the filename should make clear what assignment you are turning in. (So, for instance, when Jane Doe turns in her Descartes paper, she should save the paper under the filename “jane doe descartes paper.doc”.)  Over the course of the semester, you have three papers (not including the two that you’ll write as part of your presentations; see below). 

1.     Descartes Paper (exegetical).  For this paper, you should start with a philosophical question of interest to you.  The question can be something like “Are human beings free?” or “How should a just society respond to racism?” or “What is the nature of forgiveness?” or “Does God exist?”  You should then look for areas in Descartes’s philosophy where he offers philosophical resources to help address that question.  In some cases, these will be obvious (e.g., “Does God exist?”); in other cases, they will not be obvious (e.g., “How should a just society respond to racism?”).  Read those parts of Descartes carefully to figure out what his view is or might be on your topic, and why he holds that view.  Then look for difficulties, apparent contradictions, or ambiguities in his presentation of his view.  Move from your philosophical question to an exegetical or interpretive question about Descartes’s text.  For instance, from “Are human beings free?” you might move on to “How can Descartes say both that ‘the will…in me’ is ‘so great…that I cannot grasp the idea of a greater faculty’ and that ‘the faculty of willing is incomparably greater in God than it is in me’ (56a)?” or “What would be the implications of ‘seeing oneself as part of a whole’ (Letter to Elizabeth, 15.9.1645) for the nature of forgiveness?”  Then answer that exegetical question.  If the answer turns out to be too obvious (as, I think, one of the above questions is), then look for a harder exegetical question.  In the end, you should have a thesis that develops an interpretation of Descartes in a way that provides insight into his texts and also philosophical insight into the problem that initiated your inquiry.  For an example of an exegetical paper of this kind, see “Learning to Love: From Egoism to Generosity in Descartes” (and forgive the shameless self-promotion).

2.     Hume Paper.  The goal of this paper is to use the history of philosophy to challenge hidden assumptions.  As with the first paper, you should start with a philosophical question that you find interesting and important.  (It can even be the same question you started with in the first paper.)  You will be required to submit that question, and your provisional answer, on October 21.  What you send me on October 21st must be concise (less than 300 words), but the more detail you provide for yourself about how you understand and defend your answer, the better your Hume paper will be.  As you read Hume, you should let your underlying assumptions be challenged by Hume’s philosophy.  For your Hume paper, you should lay out your initial, provisional answer to your philosophical question and show how Hume’s philosophy helps you to discover and question some of your underlying assumptions.  If you find that you and Hume share all of the same underlying assumptions, you should show this in your paper, and then revisit Descartes and show how Descartes challenges the underlying assumptions of both Hume and you.  You should then revise your initial answer to the question in the light of what you have learned about your underlying assumptions. This need not involve changing that answer (or those assumptions), but it might, and it should at least involve showing more carefully how or why those assumptions are (or are not) justified.  Throughout, you should proficiently make use of quotations and references to support your interpretation of any philosophers of whom you make use.

3.     Final Paper.  The goal of this paper is to use the history of philosophy to answer an important and interesting philosophical question.  The thesis for this paper should be the answer to a philosophical question, not a claim about a particular philosopher or philosophers.  (For example, the thesis might be “Free will is an illusion” or “Structural injustice can only be remedied through political rituals of forgiveness and reconciliation.”)  To defend that thesis, you must draw on at least three philosophers from this course.  At least one of these must be Sor Juana.  At least one must be a philosopher other than Sor Juana, Descartes, Princess Elizabeth, Hume, or one of the philosophers on whom you presented.  You should use the skills you developed in your first paper to give insightful interpretations of the philosophers you use, but you should also apply those interpretations to solving the philosophical problem you’ve chosen.  (For some ideas about how to use history to do philosophy, see the appendix to the Descartes Reading Guide.) 


Presentations. The period from 1600-1800 in Europe was the most vibrant period in the history of philosophy, and the major philosophers we focus on in this course represent only a small fraction of the philosophers who developed exciting and well-developed philosophies worth taking seriously today.  Thus a portion of most classes will be devoted to a presentation on another major modern philosopher.  This will give each of you a relatively easy way to get a sense for the breadth of philosophy during this period, and it will give those presenting a chance to dive in depth into at least two other philosophers over the course of the semester.  In addition, each of you will have the opportunity to prepare and offer a philosophical presentation to your peers.  The maximum length of these presentations is the length of a TED talk, and you should look online at advice for preparing TED talks to get some advice about preparing these talks.  Among the most important advice is to prepare your content well and to Practice! Practice! Practice! so that the presentation is delivered smoothly and within the time limit.  You will be cut off after 18 minutes, even if you are not finished with your presentation.

            For each class day, there is at least one philosopher listed as a presentation option.  Those in bold are philosophers that I particularly hope people will present on.  If you would like to present on a a philosopher not listed on syllabus who falls within the period we are studying (roughly 1500-1850), let me know and we can arrange a good date for presenting on that philosopher.  If more than one student wishes to present on a given philosopher, the first two who inform me of their preference can present on the philosopher as a pair.  (Each student much give at least one individual presentation, however.) 

At least 48 hours before your presentation, you should submit a 2000-word (minimum) paper with the form of a philosophical encyclopedia entry on your philosopher.  The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is an excellent model of what these entries should look like.  As with those articles, you should include a bibliography of at least six non-internet-based* secondary sources on your philosopher, and you should read and refer in your entry to at least two of these.   (By “non-internet-based,” I mean scholarly sources that have a reference other than a web address.  You are free to use books and articles that are available online through Penrose library.)

These presentations are the main exception to my “no secondary sources” rule for the course.  For your presentation, you can and should make ample use of scholarly resources to better understand the philosopher you are presenting on.  I also very strongly recommend that you visit my office hours the week preceding your presentation to talk with me about any confusions or lingering questions you have about your presentation, or just to run ideas by me.


Final Exam: The final exam will be closed book and will be modelled on the senior comprehensive exams in philosophy.  During the week after Thanksgiving Break, you – as a class – will spend a portion of each class, and significant time outside of class, generating six questions that could serve as final exam questions.  For the actual final, you will be presented with three questions, at least two of which will come from your list of six.  You will have to answer two of those three questions, taking about an hour for each.  Each answer must draw from at least two of the main philosophers from the course (Descartes, Hume, Sor Juana), and the two answers as a whole must draw on all three philosophers and also at least one other philosopher from the course (one we read as a class or one on whom you heard a presentation).



Class Time and Rules for Discussion:  This class meets less than three hours a week, and most of the learning for the class occurs outside of our formal class meetings, through your own careful reading and thinking about the material, writing papers, and meetings with me during office hours. 

Lectures. My goal is to use our class periods to accomplish goals that could not easily be accomplished outside of class.  This will include some general lecturing, but I generally do not lecture extensively, for two reasons.  First, extensive empirical (psychological) evidence and my own personal experience confirm that learning happens best through active engagement rather than passive listening.  Thus much of what would normally go into lectures has been built into my “reading guides,” which help guide you through the readings without telling you precisely how to think about them.  Second, one of the main goals of this class is teaching you to read and learn from philosophers on your own.  Hearing my insights about this or that philosopher will not help you develop the skills you need to engage with philosophy independently.  Finally, even insofar as you need or want expert opinions, lectures from me are not the best way to get expert commentary on the texts we are reading.  Every figure that we read has at least one major entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and most also have Cambridge Companions available in the library.  These reference sources provide high quality commentary on the texts we are reading, and the Stanford Encyclopedia in particular is designed to be used by undergraduates at your level.  As a reminder, you should NOT consult these additional sources for the primary texts we read in class, but you can (and should) consult them when you are giving your presentation (see below).


Discussions.  The main use of our class time will be discussions amongst the entire class.  These discussions provide ways to engage with the material in sustained ways, but they also – even more importantly – provide a context to practice the virtues of excellent participation in intellectual group discussion.  These virtues include the following:

Preparation. You should come to class having read and thought about the material, so that you have an informed perspective on it.

Attentive listening.  You should pay close attention to what I, and your peers, are saying.  Whitman has excellent faculty, but we are the excellent college that we are because of the quality of our students.  Your classmates have insightful things to contribute to our discussion; classmates comments are often more insightful than my own and are usually more directly relevant to your own readings of the texts.

Boldness and patience.  Boldness and patience are both virtues in conversation.  You should participate, even when you are not entirely sure that what you have to say is profound and well-formulated, but you should also be patient, letting your own ideas mature and providing opportunities for others to contribute to the conversation.  Some of you will need to focus on boldness, forcing yourselves to speak even before you are fully comfortable.  (If you are one of these students, one good practice is to prepare some comments and questions before class and to raise these at the first opportunity.  Another good practice is to speak or raise your hand whenever there is more than 3 seconds of “dead time,” even if you don’t think what you have to say is particularly profound.)  Some will need to focus on patience, holding back to practice attentive listening and to give others the opportunity to contribute.  (If you are one of these, one good practice is to count to five before speaking or raising your hand.  Another is to take the time to find textual support for your views before you articulate them.)

Respectful engagement with others’ views.  I expect you to engage with one another’s comments in class.  Discussions should not be public dialogues with me. This engagement will often involve answering or refining another student’s question, taking another student’s point further, providing additional textual support for a point that a classmate makes, and so on.  Engagement also can and often should involve criticism of the views of others, but such criticism should always remain respectful.  Everyone in this room (including myself) is in the process of learning to philosophize well.  When we criticize one another, it should be in the spirit of helping each other to develop as philosophers, not in an attempt to show that one person is better than another.

Growth mindset.  Just as you engage respectfully with others, respect those who engage with your own views.  My assumption in this course is that every comment that everyone makes (including myself) is provisional.  In class, we are trying to benefit from our conversation, not to score points in it.  And that means that when others offer objections or criticisms of your comments in class, these are not evidence of your inadequacy as a philosopher; they are opportunities for you (and your interlocutor) to grow.  You should defend your view as effectively as you can, but you should also change your view when you come to see that it is not defensible.  (This point is also relevant to comments you receive from me on your work. Your primary goal in all the work you do for this class should be growth and development, and I will give comments with that goal in mind.)

“Class participation.  I will not give a specific grade on your discussion participation, but I may significantly alter your final overall grade based on participation.  Silent or obnoxious students could have their grades lowered by as much as a full grade point (from A to B), and students who significantly improve the overall quality of class discussion could have their grade raised by as much as step or more (from B+ to A-).  When evaluating participation, I am not interested merely in the quantity of comments.  A student who dominates class discussion but fails to show the virtues listed above may have their overall grade lowered due to poor participation.  A student who speaks occasionally but in well-informed, respectful, growing ways may have their grade raised.  (A student who never speaks in class, however, cannot effectively demonstrate the above virtues.)  If you are concerned about your participation, either because you fear participating too much or too little, please ask me about it at any time.


Small Group Work.  Occasionally, we will divide the class into small groups for more focused work.  This provides those who might be timid in a large group setting an opportunity to participate more actively, and it provides a different – and often healthy – dynamic for discussion.   All of the virtues listed above apply to work in small groups.  In addition, it is particularly important in these groups that students remain “on task.”




Timeline of Readings and Assignments



(Except where noted, page numbers refer to the 2009 edition of Ariew and Watkins, Modern Philosophy)

Presentation Option(s)


Due by 10 am on the date listed unless otherwise noted.

Emailed completed assignment to

Sept. 4

Descartes, Meditation 1 (pp. 40-43)

Michel de Montaigne

Email me a philosophical question you would like to answer over the course of this semester.  (This assignment is due by midnight on September 4th.)

Sept. 9

Descartes, Meditations 1-2, intro/preface (40-6)

(Also read: Discourse on the Method, Parts 1-2, and the Letter/Preface to the Meditations, pp. 25-33, 35-40)

Francis Bacon

Marie de Gournay

Work through the Descartes Reading Guide for Meditations 1 and 2. Choose your answer to one question from that reading guide and email me that answer.

Sept. 11

Meditations 2-3 (43-54)

Critiques of Med 2 (76-79a)


Pascal (Faye)

Write two questions about Meditations 2 and/or 3.  One of these should be a basic comprehension question, something like “What does Descartes mean by ___?” The other should be an “insightful question,” by which I mean a question that engages with and draws on the text and that is difficult, interesting, and genuinely worth answering.

Sept. 16

Meditation 3 (47-54)

(with Objections and Replies, pp. 70-75a, 79-92)





(YJ Wang)


Write a short defense of Descartes’s argument for the existence of God against the best objection offered in the readings to that argument.  Give specific textual support for both the objection and the response.

Sept. 18

Meditations 3-4 (47-58)



Substantively revise the assignment you turned in for September 16th and write a short (1 paragraph) explanation of how your revision improved on your earlier writing.

Sept. 23

Meditation 4 (54-58)

I also strongly recommend that you get started on the reading for Sept. 25th



Meditation IV addresses the problem of reconciling a non-deceiving God with the fact that he errs.  Descartes considers several responses that are not wholly satisfactory (to him) before he settles on his own solution.  Choose one insufficient response and briefly explain how Descartes incorporates that response into his solution and also how his solution improves on it.

Sept. 25

· Meditation 5: God (58-61)

· Anselm, Proslogium, chapter two, available here. 

· Spinoza Ethics, Propositions 1-14 & Appendix (pp. 144-49, 160-64)

Spinoza (Ben and Gabe)


Anne Conway

(Maisie &



Kant’s Philosophy of Religion

No writing assignment for today, because I expect you to spend a lot of time on the reading.  In class, we will discuss the proofs of the existence of God in Descartes, Anselm, and Spinoza (Prop 11, first proof).  We will also consider whether Spinoza’s Proposition XIV (p. 149) follows from his (and Descartes’s) proof of the existence of God.  Pay close attention to what Proposition XIV actually says.

Sept. 30

· Meditation 5: Math 58-61)

· Locke, Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Book I, chapters 1-1; Book II, chapter 1 (A&W pp. 316-23)

· Leibniz, New Essays, selection (pp. 422-425a)

John Locke (Siri)


Wilhelm G. Leibniz

(Owen S. &

Jack P.)



Prepare for debate over innate ideas.  Each of you should email me the best argument for or against the existence of innate ideas, and offer a response to that argument.  You should then meet in your small groups to prepare your arguments before class.

Oct. 2

· Meditation 6: Proof of external world (61-8)

· Berkeley, Principles (p. 447)

George Berkeley

(Liv L.)


Samuel Clarke

(Andreas G.)

Identify the paragraph in Meditation VI where Descartes proves the existence of the external world.  (The email can just say something like, “The paragraph is on p. 101 and starts with the words ‘Hermione and Ron’.”)  You may (but do not have to) explain why you chose that paragraph.

Oct. 7

Meditation 6: Mind and Body (61-8)

· Correspondence between Descartes and Elizabeth, Letters from May 6th through July 1st, 1643; available on pp. 1-8 here.

· Also read the Synopsis of Meds II and VI (pp. 39, 40) and the related proof from the Discourse on the Method, available here (go to Part 4, the paragraph starting “In the next place, I attentively examined what I was”)

Princess Elizabeth of Bohemia



Margaret Cavendish


French Cartesiennes (Anne del la Vigne, Marie Dupre, and Catherine Descartes)

In her first letter, Elizabeth asks Descartes a question about the relationship between mind and body.  Rephrase this question as an objection, and lay out the objection in a way that makes it as clear, specific, and forceful as possible.


you should also start on the reading for wednesday, since there is a lot of it.  come to class with an informed opinion about which philosopher you’d like to represent on wednesday.

Oct. 9

Mind and Body Day:

· Correspondence between Descartes and Elizabeth, Letters from May 6th through July 1st, 1643; available on pp. 1-8 here.

· Hobbes, Leviathan  Introduction and Chapters 1, 2, 5, and 6 (Not all this material is included in Ariew and Watkins, so use this link; you can print pages 6-15, 26-40 of the online version)

· Malebranche (pp. 220-223)

· Spinoza, Ethics, Part One, Prop. 28; Part Two, Definitions, Axioms, and Props 1-3, 7, 11-13  [A&W pp. 156, 164-5, 166-7, 168-172]

· Conway, Principles of Philosophy, available here, Chapters VI.1-6, 11; VII summary, 4; VIII.1 and last 2¶s of 2; IX)

· Cavendish, Philosophical Letters 1.35, 2.21, 4.30

· Locke, Essay II.xxiii.1-5, 22-32; IV.iii.6. [A&W, pp. 359-360, 364-6, 393-4.] 




Anne Conway



Each of you will have a philosopher to which you are assigned.  Briefly explain how your philosopher would answer or address Elizabeth’s question to Descartes, and offer at least one argument for the superiority of your philosopher’s views over that of one of the other philosophers we’ll discuss.

Oct. 14

Descartes’s ethics: Discourse morale par provision and Principles (preface)


Read Discourse, available here, all of Part Three.

Read the Preface and Dedicatory Letter to The Principles of Philosophy, available here.

Guillaume du Vair

Pierre Nicole

Hugo Grotius


Montaigne (Charlie F.)



(Nick N.)

Choose one maxim from Descartes’s moral code and apply it to a real-world problem, something from your life or from current events. 

Oct. 16

Descartes’s ethics correspondence with Elizabeth and Passions of the Soul, selections.

Damaris Cudworth, aka Lady Masham

(Madison B.)

Send me a proposed thesis and at least two quotations you plan to use in your Descartes paper.


Oct. 21

Hume Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding §§1-2, [pp. 533-41]

Also read Locke’s Essay, Book II, Chapter 1 §§1-8, 24-25; Chapter 2 (entire); Chapter XI [A&W, pp. 322-4, 327-8, 339-40]

Francis Bacon (Blake L.)

Start on your Hume paper.  Choose a philosophical question you find interesting and important.  Send me that question and your best 150-300-word answer to the question.

Oct. 23

Hume, Understanding, §§1-7 [pp. 533-64]

Malebranche and/or

Mary Shepherd and/or

Robert Boyle

How does Hume defend the claim that “even after we have experience of the operations of cause and effect, our conclusions from that experience are not founded on reasoning or any process of the understanding”?

Oct. 28

Hume, Understanding, §6-8 [pp. 555-575]


[Optional but incredibly interesting: Locke’s Essay, II.xxi, pp. 348-56.]

Henry More

or Ralph Cudworth

What is “the long disputed question concerning liberty and necessity” [p. 565a].  Lay out one objection to Hume’s treatment of this question.

Oct. 30

Hume, Understanding, §9-12 (focus on §10)

Samuel Pufendorf and/or Emilie du Chatelet


Mary Astell

(Siri D.)

Ask Hume a “probing” question.  This should be a question about his philosophical views that you think might expose flaws or limitations with those views.  In order to ask this question well, you need to understand his views well.

Nov. 4

· Hume, Understanding, §12

· Hume, Treatise, Part One, Chapter 4, §7, available at

Robert Boyle

Isaac Newton or Thomas Reid

Send an email with the following: (1) a way that Hume’s philosophy is superior to Descartes’s; (2) a way that Descartes’s philosophy is superior to Hume’s; and (3) a lingering question about Hume’s philosophy.  (The last can be even the most basic of questions, if it’s still not clear to you.)

Nov. 6

Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, selections from B-Preface, Introduction, Second Analogy [pp.

· 721-22 (from “I would think…” to the end of p. 722)

· 724-725 (from “IV. On the Distinction” to end of p. 725)

· 772-774 (from “Second Analogy” to “solely and exclusively under this presupposition”)

Kant’s Theoretical Philosophy



Thomas Reid

This reading should be hard.  Come to class having read it more than once.

Nov. 11

Hume, Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, Appendix II and Chapters I-II.


Thomas Hobbes

Thomas Reid’s Moral Theory



 Compare Hume’s philosophical method in the Enquiry Concerning Morals to his method in the Enquiry Concerning the Understanding.  Give at least one similarity and one difference between the two methods.

Nov 13

Hume, Morals, Chapters II - V.

Joseph Butler

and/or Shaftesbury and/or Hutcheson


Immanuel Kant’s Moral Theory

(Faye L. and Ben K.)

Submit your proposed thesis for your Hume paper. 

Nov 18

Hume, Morals, Chapters VI – IX

Thomas Reid




Adam Smith

(Nick N.)


Voltaire (Charlie)

Does Hume provide necessary and sufficient conditions for moral approval?


Rough drafts of your Hume paper are due by noon on Nov. 17th.

Nov. 20

Hume, Morals, Chapter IX

Mill, Utilitarianism, For Mill, read chapters 1, 2, and 4. (Chapters 3 and 5 are interesting and important, but you should consider these “optional”.)

J. S. Mill



Briefly sketch a particular ethical decision where Hume and Mill would come to different conclusions about what should be done (and say what those different decisions would be).


Final drafts of your Hume paper are due (emailed to me) by midnight on Thursday, November 21st.





Dec. 2

Sor Juana,theore First Dream (entire)




Princess Caroline (Andreas G.)


Teresa of Avila



Submit a basic comprehension question about Sor Juana, something that you think you know the answer to, but that you think your peers might need to look more closely to answer.

Dec. 4

Sor Juana, First Dream (entire)

Mary Astell


Mary Wollstonecraft

(Liv L.)


Hegel (Gabe K.)

Assume the persona of one of the other philosophers we have discussed this semester and submit an “insightful” question for Sor Juana (see assignment for Sept. 11).

Dec. 9

Sor Juana, First Dream (entire)


(Ilse and Danny)



(YJ W. & Madison B.)

Rough Draft of Final Paper Due.  The sooner you get this rough draft to me, the sooner you will get comments.

Dec. 11

Review Session and Paper Workshop

Final Presentations

Final Papers are Due on Friday, December 13th.

Dec. 19   (9am)