Introduction to Ethics—Spring 1998—Study Questions for Final Exam

The following is a list of questions about Plato, Aristotle, Kant, and Mill that a student in this class ought to be able to answer. The final exam will consist of 6 to 8 quotations from these philosophers. For each quotation you will be asked to name the author and to explain in your own words what the quotation says. Explaining a quotation will require you to explain the concepts used within the quotation and to explain why the author says what he says. Obviously, just paraphrasing the quotation itself will earn you no points at all. Someone who can answer all of the questions on this sheet can expect to have little trouble with the final. Don't memorize the questions or your answers, or anything like that; just go over them and answer them in your own words as you prepare for the exam.


What is the Ancient Greek conception of virtue? Who is Gorgias and what does he claim to do? How does Socrates refute Gorgias at 454c-461d? Why does Polus take exception to the exchange between Gorgias and Socrates? What is the distinction, drawn by Socrates, between crafts and knacks? What examples does he give of each? How does the difference between what's pleasant and what's good figure into this distinction? Why does Socrates disagree with Polus's claim that orators have great power? What is the difference, for Socrates, between doing what one sees fit and doing what one wants? How does Socrates refute Polus at 474c-475e? Why does Callicles take exception to the argument between Socrates and Polus? What is the difference, for Callicles, between what's just by law and what's just by nature? What does Callicles think is just by nature? by law? What is Callicles's conception of virtue? What is Socrates's conception of virtue? What is Callicles's conception of happiness? What is Socrates's conception of happiness? Does Socrates think that doing what's just by law requires one to sacrifice one's own happiness? Does Callicles think this? What role do external goods play in Socrates's conception of happiness? in Callicles's conception? What is hedonism? Does Socrates believe that hedonism is correct? Does Callicles? How does Socrates refute Callicles at 495e-497a? at 499a-499b? How does Callicles react to these refutations?


What is it for one endeavor to be subordinate to another? Why, in a case of subordination is "the end of the ruling science more choiceworthy than all the ends subordinate to it"? Why would it be good if there were some highest good? How does Aristotle establish, in i.2, that there is one endeavor which is highest? What does this show about the existence of a highest good? Which endeavor is this? What do people agree that the highest good is? Why can't Aristotle be satisfied with this answer? What is it for an end to be complete? self-sufficient? Why think that happiness has these characteristics? Why "shall we find the best good if we first find the function of a human being"? How does Aristotle arrive at his conclusion as to what the human function is? What is the human function? How does the argument at 1098a7-17 work? What does Aristotle try to accomplish in i.8? What is it for something to be pleasant by nature? What is the role of external goods in happiness? What are the three parts of the soul? What are the types of virtue proper to the two higher parts? What is habituation? Are people naturally good? What are the roles of pleasure and pain in habituation? Can one be virtuous if one doesn't take pleasure in acting virtuously? What three characteristics of virtuous action are outlined at 1105a30-35? What's the difference between being a just or temperate action (of the sort that the just or temperate person would do) and being a just or temperate action in the fullest sense? What is the numerical mean? the mean relative to us? With which sort of mean is virtue concerned? What is the definition of virtue at 1106b35-1107a3? What practical advice for hitting the mean does Aristotle give toward the end of book ii? What is decision? What is deliberation? What is wish? How do the three work together? How is it determined what wishes one has? Why is it that "To the excellent person, then, what is wished will be what is wished in reality, while to the base person what is wished will be whatever it turns out to be [that appears good to him]"? What is "weakness of the will" or "incontinence"? Why does its apparent possibility pose a problem for Aristotle"s view? How does Aristotle solve this problem? What is the difference between continence and virtue? Which, on Aristotle's view, is better? What is study? Why does Aristotle think that happiness most properly consists in study? Why is the life expressing "the other kind of virtue" (1178a9) happy "in a secondary way"?


Why does Kant think that nothing "can be regarded as good without qualification except a good will"? What does Kant mean by "will"? by "practical reason"? by "maxim"? What's the difference between acting in accord with duty and acting from duty? What does Kant mean by "inclination"? Why does Kant think that an action must be done from duty in order to have any moral worth? Why does he think that an action done from duty has its moral worth not in the purpose to be attained by it, but in the maxim according to which it is determined? What's the difference between a priori knowledge and a posteriori knowledge? What's the difference between formal and material knowledge? What's the difference between pure and empirical knowledge? What's the difference between necessary or apodeictic judgment and contingent or assertoric judgment? What's the difference between analytic and synthetic judgment? What sorts of knowledge and judgment, in terms of the preceding categories, does morality involve? Why does Kant think that duty is the necessity of an action done out of respect for the law? Why does he think that an action done from duty must exclude the influence of inclination? Why does he think that the moral worth of an action does not lie in the expected effect? Why is the concept of duty not a concept of experience? Why couldn't morality be different for other rational but non-human creatures? Could God, according to Kant, make lying morally acceptable? Why or why not? What is the difference between a hypothetical and a categorical imperative? Why is it hard to see how there could possibly be a categorical imperative? What does the categorical imperative say? Why isn't it morally acceptable, for Kant, to make a lying promise? How does considering the categorical imperative allow us to tell whether we are acting morally? Why does Kant think that the commands of morality must be expressed as categorical imperatives? What does Kant mean when he says that every rational being exists as an end in himself? What alternate formulation of the categorical imperative does Kant state in terms of ends in themselves? Why, in these terms, is it wrong to tell a lying promise? Why is one not free when one acts on one's desires, on Kant's view? What is autonomy? What is heteronomy? Why, on Kant's view, must one be moral in order to be free?


What does the Greatest Happiness Principle say? What is Mill's conception of happiness? Why does Mill think he needs to make qualitative distinctions among pleasures? How does he make such distinctions? What objection arises on page 23 of the assigned text? How does Mill answer it? Does Mill think that you can be mistaken about what's good for you? What role does his answer to that question play in the book? Why are people "unable to conceive as possible to them a state of total disregard of other people's interests" Why does Mill say that "the sole evidence it is possible to produce that anything is desirable is that people do actually desire it"? Why does Mill need to claim "not only that people desire happiness, but that they never desire anything else"? How does he argue for that claim? Why does Mill think that our feelings about justice pose a special problem for his view? How does Mill explain this problem away? What, on his view, makes an action unjust? What, on his view, is a right?