Philosophy 290-4

Spring 2022

Number Title Instructor Days/time Room
290-4 Graduate Seminar: Sense and Sensibility: the British Moralists Bailey M 2-4 Moses 234

Readings will cover debates about the nature, sources, and authority of morality in early modern Britain (and, to some extent, beyond), with a focus on the sentimentalist tradition. Shaftesbury, Hutcheson, Hume, and Smith will be our primary authors, but we will also read bits of Mandeville, Balguy, and Sophie De Grouchy. Will satisfy the history requirement, given the focus on Hume’s moral theory. Focal questions to include: How does the notion of moral sense evolve over the course of the 18th century? Is the idea of a moral sense or senses ultimately defensible? Do the British moralists successfully respond to the “morality critics” who preceded them? Is sentimentalism compatible with radical criticism of contemporary mores?

Please note that there is some reading for the first meeting, namely Shaftesbury’s “An Enquiry Concerning Virtue and Merit, Book I” (pp. 45-100, Volume II of Characteristicks). Available in free PDF facsimile online here:

All classes at Berkeley this semester are meeting online for the first two weeks of the semester. Anyone currently enrolled, or wishing to attend to the first meeting of this seminar with the intention of possibly auditing or enrolling, is welcome to attend the first meeting using this Zoom link:

If there are any questions about this, please email the instructor: