I'm tossing around the idea a bit of narrowing my thesis material a small bit. You see, there are perhaps four great periods of writing on what we are shaping into 'Buddhist Ethics'.
The first great period lasted form the first century BCE (earliest likely start for the composition of the Pali Canon) until 450 CE (Buddhaghosa of 370–450 CE).
The second I will ignore for now, which overlaps a bit with the first, ranging from 100ish BCE and going until around 1930 (in Tibet). This period was the rise and expansion of Mahayana in its Asian form.
The third may begin in the 1500s, but nothing significant was produced until the 1800s and lasted until the late 20th century. This was the period of Western fascination with and interpretation of the Dharma.
The fourth began in the 1960s or 70s and continues to this day and is characterized by the writings of entrenched academics about Buddhism as an object of historical/philosophical (and most recently) anthropological curiosity.
I'm already cutting out the second phase (probably the largest, so that's good). And I'm thinking of avoiding as much of the third too (after some inconclusive dabbling and the feeling that I could go on many interesting but fruitless sideroads with it).
So - my thesis will focus on early Pali matieral, perhaps including some Abhidhamma and Buddhaghosa and recent scholarly work.
Yippee for cutting my reading assignment from 10,000 pages to 5,000. Read on, young Buddhist philosopher, read on.