Detailed information about the course / exam 
This course/examination is part of the module(s) listed below. Please check the relevant examination regulations to determine whether a module is classed as a compulsory, elective compulsory, or elective module in your degree program. The learning objectives are given in the module description, which can be viewed by clicking on the module number.

Module number (link to module description) Module title Module coordinator ECTS credits for module
Allgemeine Ethik und Handlungstheorie
Schweidler, Walter

Course no.: Exam no.:
Course title: Exam title:
General Ethics and Theory of Action: Introduction to modern political Philosophy
Language of lesson:
4/23/2019 - 7/27/2019
Philosophisch-Pädagogische Fakultät
Lecturer: Examiner:
Schweidler Walter / O'Donnell Neil
Exam type:
Exam mode:
Max. number of participants:
0 unlimited
Type of studies:
Learning objectives:
Introduction to Modern Political Philosophy:
Fathers of Classical Political Liberalism, John Locke, Two Treatises of Government, and Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments

Following the historic, and therefore perhaps also theoretical, failure of all other rival political ideologies of the twentieth century, liberalism has become the pensée unique of modern political thinking. While, to the public mind, modern conservatism and progressivism may appear in the European and American political theatre as locked in a mutually antagonistic ideological struggle, nevertheless both as to their fundamental principles ultimately derive from a new vision of legitimate political order as formulated by John Locke.
Within his own historic context, Locke set out to attempt to answer the question regarding the true origin of legitimate political power, and to demonstrate that it is not founded, as per the traditional view hitherto, on inherited or divinely appointed positive authority, but legitimised by popular consent. However, Locke’s famous Two Treatises of Government is not merely a response to a historically contingent political situation, but also a declaration of universal principles: a truly modern statement in which those erstwhile perennial maxims, unquestionably understood as determining the order of the state, are subject to critical reflection. The new vision of the world that emerges in the text, which would become in its substance of critical significance for both of the world-historical political events that are the French Revolution and the American Declaration of Independence, is an eminently modern one. Here, man is not regarded as bound inescapably to the dictates of tradition regarding the positing of legitimate political order, but rather is understood as capable of making his own determination in this respect on the basis of his good sense and the exercise of his private reason. Nevertheless, this revolution in political thinking undertaken by Locke is not conceived of as a radical departure but rather, in the original sense of the word, a radical return: a return to the original and natural principle of equality that still remains, before its obfuscation at the hands of historical political tyranny, his abiding and inalienable possession.
To this new modern vision also belongs the ethical theory of Adam Smith. While his The Wealth of Nations is perhaps more well known, Smith himself regarded his earlier The Theory of Moral Sentiments as being of superior value. In this work, and against the spirit of all moral theory hitherto, the troublesome existence of the passions, or ‘sentiments’ as Smith refers to them, is not dispensed with as simply irrelevant, or even an impediment, to the exercise of moral virtue, but of critical importance. Here, Smith pursues the insight of his co-empiricist and fellow Scot David Hume and endeavours to demonstrate that moral judgement is ‘not deriv’d from reason’, but ‘from a moral sense’: That is, moral judgements, whether sympathetic or antipathetic, are not inscribed indelibly on the human heart as tradition would inform us, but fundamentally dependent on the feelings of the spectator. It is this grounding of both moral and political philosophy, not on the purported sufficiency of abstract reason alone, but on a firmly empirical basis demonstrable to all, that makes the thought of Smith and Locke so inescapably modern, and therefore of critical importance to the comprehension of the fundamental propositions that inform our present ideological landscape.
Recommended prerequisites:
E-learning offer (URL):
John Locke, Two Treatises of Government, ed. by Peter Laslett, repr. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003).
Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, ed. by D. D. Raphael and A. L. Macfie (Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund, 1984).

Supplementary reading:

Richard Ashcraft, Locke’s Two Treatises of Government (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1987).
Etienne Balibar, Identity and Difference: John Locke and the Invention of Consciousness (London and New York, NY: Verso, 2013).
T. D. Campbell, Adam Smith’s Science of Morals (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1971).
Stephen Darwall, ‘Sympathetic Liberalism: Recent Work on Adam Smith’, Philosophy and Public Affairs, 28 (1999), 139–164.
Patrick J. Deneen, Why Liberalism Failed (New Haven, CT and London: Yale University Press, 2018).
Julian H. Franklin, John Locke and the Theory of Sovereignty: Mixed Monarchy and the Right of Resistance in the Political Thought of the English Revolution (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978).
Peter Josephson, The Great Art of Government: Locke’s Use of Consent (Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas Press, 2002).
Matthew H. Kramer, John Locke and the Origins of Private Property: Philosophical Explorations of Individualism, Community and Equality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997).
Nicholas P. Miller, The Religious Roots of the First Amendment: Dissenting Protestants and the Separation of Church and State (Oxford and New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2012), chp. 2.
Christopher Nadon, ‘The Secular Basis of the Separation of Church and State: Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, and Tocqueville’, Perspectives in Political Science, 43 (2014), 21-30.
Thomas L. Pangle, The Spirit of Modern Republicanism: The Moral Vision of the American Founders and the Philosophy of Locke (Chicago, IL and London: University of Chicago Press, 1988).
J. G. A. Pocock, The Ancient Constitution and the Feudal Law: A Study of English Historical Thought in the Seventeenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1957).
D. D. Raphael, The Impartial Spectator: Adam Smith’s Moral Philosophy (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2007).
Paul Sagar, The Opinion of Mankind: Sociability and the Theory of the State from Hobbes to Smith (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2018).
Michael Sandel, Liberalism and the Limits of Justice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982).
H. W. Schneider (ed.), Adam Smith’s Moral and Political Philosophy (New York, NY: Hafner, 1948).
A. John Simmons, On the Edge of Anarchy: Locke, Consent, and the Limits of Society (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2018)
Timothy Stanton, ‘John Locke and the Fable of Liberalism’, Historical Journal, 61 (2018), 597-622.
Leo Strauss, Natural Right and History (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1965).
Henrik Syse, Natural Law, Religion, and Rights: An Exploration of the Relationship between Natural Law and Natural Rights, with Special Emphasis on the Teachings of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke (South Bend, IN: St. Augustine Press, 2007).
Richard Tuck, Natural Right Theories: Their Origin and Development (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979).
John W. Yolton, John Locke: Problems and Perspectives (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969).
Teaching and learning formats/course types:
Registration from… to:
3/13/2019 -
Last possible date of deregistration:
Scheduled event/examination dates 
Date / Time Room Lecturer Comment
Tue 23.04.2019 14:15 - 3:45 PM KGA-304 O'Donnell, Neil
Schweidler, Walter
Tue 30.04.2019 14:15 - 3:45 PM KGA-304 O'Donnell, Neil
Schweidler, Walter
Tue 07.05.2019 14:15 - 3:45 PM KGA-304 O'Donnell, Neil
Schweidler, Walter
Tue 14.05.2019 14:15 - 3:45 PM KGA-304 O'Donnell, Neil
Schweidler, Walter
Tue 21.05.2019 14:15 - 3:45 PM KGA-304 O'Donnell, Neil
Schweidler, Walter
Tue 28.05.2019 14:15 - 3:45 PM KGA-304 O'Donnell, Neil
Schweidler, Walter
Tue 04.06.2019 14:15 - 3:45 PM KGA-304 O'Donnell, Neil
Schweidler, Walter
Tue 18.06.2019 14:15 - 3:45 PM KGA-304 O'Donnell, Neil
Schweidler, Walter
Tue 25.06.2019 14:15 - 3:45 PM KGA-304 O'Donnell, Neil
Schweidler, Walter
Tue 02.07.2019 14:15 - 3:45 PM KGA-304 O'Donnell, Neil
Schweidler, Walter
Tue 09.07.2019 14:15 - 3:45 PM KGA-304 O'Donnell, Neil
Schweidler, Walter
Tue 16.07.2019 14:15 - 3:45 PM KGA-304 O'Donnell, Neil
Schweidler, Walter
Tue 23.07.2019 14:15 - 3:45 PM KGA-304 O'Donnell, Neil
Schweidler, Walter