Human Flourishing And life Of Acquiring Virtues
Focus Essay No. 2—Directions:
I. Prompts: Choose ONE of the following prompts as your topic:
1. In his ethical theory, Aristotle holds the view that eudaimonia, human flourishing,
requires both a life of acquiring and practicing the virtues (moral and intellectual), and a
set of external goods (what I called “the bundle of goods” in lecture). These goods
include good looks, high birth, wealth, good children, friends, political power, etc. Do
you agree with Aristotle that the good life (eudaimonia) requires these external goods in
addition to the virtues, or do you think that a life of virtue is alone sufficient for
eudaimonia? Write an essay in which you take a position on this question and
defend it using arguments and reasons in support of your point of view.
2. Immanuel Kant in his deontological ethical theory thinks that the only morally worthy
action is the one undertaken on the basis of the good will, which he defines as a desire
to fulfill one’s moral duty. Do you agree? Or are there other motivations for our actions
that are equally morally worthy? Write an essay in which you either agree or
disagree with Kant’s assessment, providing reasons for your thesis.
3. Take the following scenario: you are an advisor to the Prime Minister of the UK,
Winston Churchill, during World War II. The British intelligence service MI6 has broken
the Germans’ secret code, giving you a huge advantage in the war. Now you can know
ahead of time the enemy’s next moves! Through the deciphered code, you learn that
the Nazis are planning to bomb the English city of Coventry into rubble in retaliation for
the British bombing of German cities. The Prime Minister faces a choice: does he use
this information to save Coventry and its people, knowing it will tip off the Germans that
their code has been deciphered? Or does he let the Germans destroy the city, thus
preserving the secret that you’ve cracked the code, and using the valuable intelligence
you will gather as a result for later advantage in the war?
Write an essay in which you advise Churchill on what you think he should do,
using utilitarian ethics as the basis for your analysis and argument.
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