1. Why are Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle usually considered to be the founders of Western philosophical ethics? * Because it was their determination to base ethics on reason, rather than on superstition or authority, laid the foundation upon which virtually all philosophers who followed would base their ideas and theories about morality.
2. Why do many people consider Socrates to be a martyr for truth and integrity? * Socrates is considered by many to be a martyr for truth and integrity because of his courage and adherence to traditional beliefs. He was charged with charges of atheism, treason, and corrupting the youth of Athens – all death penalties, just for trying to question tradition. In spite of all the powerful people he offended, no one seemed that eager to kill him and his cell door pretty much remained open for him to escape. Yet, when his execution day arrived, he drank his cup of poison and died. Socrates was determined to force the people of Athens to accept responsibility for their choice of comfortable superstition over logic and reason.
3. What is the primary focus of the virtue of ethics theory? -The primary focus is one’s character, especially the personal disposition to act well in various circumstances. What really guides our behavior as humans is not ultimately self-centeredness or explicit commitments to moral rules or results but rather the deep patterns of each of our personalities and behaviors.
4. What was the ancient Greeks’ assumption about the meaning or purpose of life? * They generally held that that central purpose of life was to achieve happiness and fulfillment.
5. What are Plato’s four “classic virtues”?
1) Self-control – controlling oneself to only desire what is good and in the right proportions. 2) Courage- awareness of what to fear and willingness to endure hardship for the right reasons. 3) Wisdom – capacity to govern one’s own impulses and feelings, to think logically and calmly. 4) Justice – keeping everything in perfect balance in one’s character and conduct, especially the first 3 virtues.
6. What virtues did Aristotle promote and how are they different from Plato’s? * Virtues:
* Moral Virtues: needed to conduct normal affairs of daily life; related to being an active contributing member of the community. (self-control, courage, gentleness, wittiness) * Intellectual Virtues: human reason and rationality. (calmness, contemplation, reflection, wisdom, and knowledge) * Understanding virtue was necessary but insufficient; attaining a virtue required knowing AND doing.
7. Explain the meaning of Aristotle’s concept of teleology. * Observing in nature the purpose of everything; a thing that fulfills its purpose is good.
8. According to Aristotle, what is the purpose of any specific thing based on? * The purpose of any specific thing is based on its nature, what makes it unique.
9. Explain the meaning of eudaimonia.
* This has traditionally been translated as “happiness,” although some modern philosophers now call it “flourishing.” It means being well and living well.
10. Explain Aristotle’s concept of “the Golden Mean.” * Aristotle’s definition of virtues as being perfectly balanced points of moderation between opposing, undesirable extremes.
11. What are the steps in applying the virtue ethics theory? 1) Assume the natural human desire for happiness and fulfillment. 2) Determine the virtues called for by the situation.
3) Evaluate the options by balancing various virtues on the Golden Mean continuum. 4) Choose the wisest course of action, consistent with the virtues of the Golden Mean.
12. List the strengths and weaknesses of the virtue ethics theory. * Strengths: Represents the least controversial approach. Instead of heated debates over issues it stresses positive individual character traits. It has also been a very successful way of integrating...
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