Essays from my University of London BA Philosophy Studies

Ethics - Historical Perspectives - [235P095]


  1. "Human good turns out to be activity of soul in accordance with excellence" (Nicomachean Ethics, I 7, 1098al6-17).   Can Aristotle show that excellence includes moral virtue?  
  2. Aristotle thinks that virtue depends upon the right relations between the rational and nonrational parts of the soul.   How do the possible relations among the two parts of the soul give rise to the four main kinds of moral character?  
  3. In pursuing his own happiness, is Aristotle's man an egoist?  
  4. How, in Aristotle's view, can thought cause action?   How, on occasion, may it fail to cause action?
  5. Is Aristotle's doctrine of the mean either an empty abstraction or a recommendation of mediocrity?
  6. Does Aristotle think that happiness is the end of all human actions?   If so, what does he mean by that?   If not, what does he think about the relationship between happiness and the end of human action?
  7. Can Aristotle show that it is part of living well to act virtuously?
  8. "Tis not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger ... "Tis as little contrary to reason to prefer even my own acknowledg'd lesser good to my greater."(Hume, Treatise, Book II Part ni Chapter 3).   Does Hume have good reason to assert these apparent paradoxes?  
  9. What is the importance of Hume's distinction between the natural and the artificial virtues?   Is he justified in making this distinction?
  10. What does Hume mean by his claim that "it is not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger"?   What consequences for morality does he draw from his understanding of this claim?
  11. Does Hume think that it is always in one's interest to be virtuous?  
  12. How successful is Mill in reconciling justice with the principle of utility?
  13. Does Mill's utilitarianism take adequate account of our ordinary intuitions about justice?
  14. In Mill's view, of what kind of proof is the principle of utility susceptible?   Is it really capable of any kind of proof?