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Third Paper Topics

Write a 5 page paper on one of the following topics. Do not write more than 5 pages. Papers should be double-spaced, written in Times New Roman 12, with one inch margins. Papers are due via email to both Alptekin/John and myself by 5:00pm on Friday of finals week (12/13).

Questions 1) In book I of the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle argues that Plato was wrong in postulating the existence of the forms and offers a different account of The Good. First, you are to briefly present a couple of criticisms which Aristotle makes of Platos theory of the forms. Second, you are to present Aristotles alternative picture of The Good and explain how it is related to the main themes he develops in book I, such as the structure of human action, happiness and the Function Argument. Third, briefly explain the ways in which Aristotles account is both similar to and different from Platos account. Fourth, assess Aristotles account in book I. In this last part, you are to: a) bring out a general problem or two with the account; b) suggest an issue which Plato in particular would criticize and explain why Plato would criticize this issue.

2) In book II of the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle presents his Doctrine of the Mean. First, you are the present the details of this Doctrine and explain why someone like Oedipus would be unvirtuous on this picture (think both about some of the specific virtues that Aristotle discusses on pp. 32-33 and about specific examples from Oedipus Tyrannus). Second, you are to succinctly explain how this doctrine is related to: a) the Function Argument in book I; b) the role of practical wisdom in book VI. Third, how are vices conceptualized on this picture and does Aristotle have a good answer to what makes something a vice? (For example, why is committing adultery with the right person in the right way not a virtue and is Aristotles answer satisfactory?) Fourth, conclude your essay with a general assessment of the Doctrine of the Mean.

3) In book III of the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle claims that involuntary actions are the result of force or ignorance. Regarding the latter, he adds that ignorance of particulars is what makes an action involuntary (p. 39). Given the fact that in book VII, Aristotle argues that incontinence stems from a lack of knowledge of certain particulars (when affected by passions), is incontinent action involuntary? First, you are to present Aristotles distinction between voluntary, involuntary and non-voluntary actions in book III. Second, you are to succinctly present Aristotles account of incontinence in book VII. Third, you are to assess whether incontinent action is indeed involuntary action (or rather voluntary or perhaps non-voluntary action). Fourth,
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how would you explain the fact that while Aristotle says that involuntary actions are pardoned and thus are not blameworthy (p. 37), incontinent actions are blameworthy (p. 120)? 4) A central theme of the Nicomachean Ethics is that happiness is the activity of soul in accordance with virtue. However, it seems that Aristotle has a somewhat different account of happiness in book X in comparison to the previous books. First, explain what happiness is and how it is attained on the picture presented in books I, II, VI (you are not expected to summarize every detail Aristotle mentions in these books, but rather focus on the aspects which constitute the heart of his account). Second, explain what happiness is and how it is attained according to book X. Third, propose an explanation of how the account in book X might cohere with the earlier account. Fourth, assess more generally whether happiness, understood as individual wellbeing, is the result of having the right theoretical knowledge, the right practical knowledge, or perhaps a combination of both (here you are asked to try develop your own mini-theory of happiness, but are also encouraged to incorporate ideas from any text that we read in the course).