philosophy combination

Several contemporary scholars have argued that the “modern turn” involves a rejection of the notion of teleology, or natural ends. After reading several paradigmatic works of modern thought, this essay will serve as an attempt for you: 1) to explore and address that distinction between ends and purposes, 2) consider whether the authors we read this summer take that distinction into account, and 3) present your views on the distinction.


  • “Ends and Purposes,” by Francis Slade.
  • The readings for (Discourse on Method, Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, On the Advantage and Disadvantage of History for Life)

Write an essay in which you:

  • Summarize the argument that Slade presents for his conclusion that natural ends are distinct from human purposes
  • Discuss whether (or not) the distinction between ends and purposes is present in the work of Descartes and Nietzsche
  • Present a claim and argument regarding your position on the distinction between ends and human purposes is true
    • That is, do you think the distinction accurately describes reality? What do you think of the implications that follow from accepting or rejecting the distinction?
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