Philosophers in Ethics

This material is intended as a very basic study guide of the philosophers who are on the reading list in the Niagara U. Ethics course, and as a guide to the readings themselves (if time allows me to complete this).
Names and Dates Summary
Plato
428 B.C. - 348 B.C.
disciple of Socrates - recorded discourses of Socrates in works called dialogues. His best known work is called The Republic - where he presents a perfect state led by enlightened rulers. Best known for his doctrine of ideas - that ideas have a higher degree of reality than material things.
Aristotle
384 B.C. - 322 B.C.
disciple of Plato. He broke with Plato when he rejected the doctrines of innate knowledge and ideas. He taught that all knowledge begins in sense experience, while not denying the ability of the intellect to move beyond this level. Author of many works in almost all areas of knowledge.
For the purpose of this course, he was the author of The Nicomachean Ethics and The Politics
Epictetus
60 A.D. - 117
Greek philosopher who followed the Stoic school. He began as a slave, but was freed. He was lame. Although not a Christian himself, his writings were admired by early Christians with their recommendation that we accept what fate brings us without being disturbed within ourselves.
Augustine of Hippo
354-430
Roman Philosopher. His most famous works are Confessions and City of God. He began as a Neo-Platonist. He converted to Christianity, but often applied the insights of Greek philosophy to theological questions.
Thomas Aquinas
1225-1274
Italian philosopher and theologian. Convinced that faith and reason must converge, even if their premises were different. Combatted the philosophy of Averroes (that there were two contradictory truths, one for theology, one for philosophy). Used philosophy of Aristotle in his theological reasoning. Most significant works are the Summa Theologica and the Summa contra Gentiles, as well as many commentaries on the works of Aristotle.
Thomas Hobbes
1588-1679
English  philosopher and political theorist. He taught that ethics and political science could be developed by the same methods applied in mathematics and physics (more geometrico). He proposed a theory of social atomism - that individuals always act for their own selfish interest, and in the pristine state of man, there are no rights. This was a denial of Aristotle's view that man is by nature a social animal. He proposed a theory of social contract - that society arose as a contract to end the war of all against all.
His most famous work is called Leviathan.
John Locke
1632-1704
English philosopher, an initiator of the Enlightenment in England and France. His works inspired the authors of  the U.S. Constitution. He defended the institution of property as beneficial to the whole community. He also taught that men had God-given rights. 
Immanuel Kant
1724-1804
Prussian philosopher. He taught that the order we see in the universe really comes from categories that our mind imposes on experience. This idea heavily influenced later German psychology and psychiatry. In ethics, he taught that we should not be motivated by happiness, but should act purely out of a motive of duty. This approach to ethics is called deontological. The search for happiness, he taught, made us dependent on the events of the world outside of ourselves and reduced our inner freedom.
His ethics is extremely formal. He taught that in all our actions we should act in such a way that our actions could be a universal model or rule.
Jeremy Bentham
1748-1832
 English philosopher who wrote extensively in economics, and the theory of law. The earliest and chief expounder of Utilitarianism. He rejected the theory of natural rights, and taught that all actions are motivated by pleasure. He taught that pleasure can be treated mathematically in order to reach the proper decisions, and invented a system called The Calculus of Pleasures.
John Stuart Mill
1806-1873
British philosopher who wrote as well about economics and social issues. He was raised according to the system of Jeremy Bentham's Calculus of Pleasures, but suffered a nervous breakdown. He modified Bentham's system, saying that lower sensual pleasures and higher intellectual pleasures are not merely different in quantity, but in quality. He was an advocate of political liberty, but also called for universal compulsory education - to force people to be happy, even against their will. Both Mill and Bentham could be called social engineers.
Frederick Nietzsche
1844-1900
German philosopher and writer, proposed that the prevailing traditional morality was the product of history, where the weak imposed its will upon the strong. He celebrated an ancient morality that exalted strength and will, embodied in the superman. His writings were admired by the Fascists and Nazis, and continue to be adored by those who call themselves post-modern philosophers.
Some philosophers not on the reading list who are mentioned in the lectures
Karol Wojtyla
1920 -
Polish philosopher - author of The Acting Person and Love and Responsibility - taught at Lublin and Krakow - elected as Pope John Paul II in 1978.
Francisco de Vitoria
1486-1546
Spanish philosopher and theologian who defended the rights of the Indians of the New World against Spanish colonists and for his ideas of the limitations of justifiable warfare. Active at University of Salamanca
Gabriel Marcel
1889-1973
French Philosopher - considered an existentialist - famous saying: it is more important to be than to have
Mieczyslaw Albert Krapiec
1920 - 
Polish Philosopher - leader of revival of classical and Thomistic philosophy in Poland - author of I-Man and Metaphysics. teaches at Catholic University of Lublin
Jacques Maritain
1882-1973
French Philosopher - author of numerous books available in English - originally a follower of Bergson - became a follower of Thomas Aquinas - but with many original insights - perhaps best known for his social/political philosophy.
Etienne Gilson
1884-1978
French Philosopher - a historian of philosophy who showed the persistent influence of medieval thought among the founders of modern philosophy.