Nicomachean Ethics


1. In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle declares that if there is some universal or absolute good in the life of a human being, it must be ___________. Which the following best characterizes Aristotle’s account of this universal good?

a. happiness = that which is always chosen as end in itself and never as a means.
b. health = a man’s health is prior to any other possible good he can experience or hope for.
c. holiness = without faith in and reverence to God, nothing else in life is worthwhile or meaningful.
d. honesty = a man who is dishonest forfeits any possibility of obtaining the good in life.
e. honor = that which brings praise, dignity, and respect in a life well lived.

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1. In considering the nature of human excellence or virtue, Aristotle claims the origin and growth of moral excellence is a result of

a. our innate human nature.
b. the good will.
c. courage and moderation in all things.
d. inheritance.
e. habit or custom.

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1. In Aristotle’s theory of virtue, he argues that virtue, as a kind of excellence of a thing that causes it to be both a good example of that kind of thing and to be in such a condition as to perform its particular function well. Further, Aristotle claims that virtue

a. is exactly the same thing as holiness or piety.
b. is a kind of emotional health.
c. aims at the mean between excess and deficiency.
d. is a quality that only the male of the human species can ever perfectly embody.
e. is the quality of never accepting moderation in any capacity or skill.

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1. Russell compares his theory of universals with Plato’s (although Plato call them “ideas” or “forms”). Although both theories are about the common nature or essence shared by all things given the same name or that are of the same kind, they differ, according to Russell, in which of the following ways?

a. Plato’s theory of forms or universals is leads to a kind of mysticism while Russell’s theory of universals is grounded in logic.
b. While Plato’s theory conceives of universals as existing in a different “plane” or level of reality—a supra-sensible world that is more real than the world of common sense, Russell’s universals exist only in individual minds.
c. Plato’s theory claims substantives, adjectives, prepositions, and verbs stand for particulars and proper names stand for universals, Russell’s theory says just the opposite.
d. Plato’s theory of forms or universals is about abstract ideas, not about something that actually exists in the real world, but Russell’s theory uses universals to refer to actual particular things that exist in time and space.
e. While Plato’s theory of forms is clearly based on empiricist principles of knowledge, Russell sides much more with the rationalists.

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1. Ethical relativism is the view that

a. whether an act is morally right can never be known for certain.
b. the moral rightness of an act is relative to the amount of goodness it produces.
c. no particular act can ever be correctly judged as morally right or wrong.
d. the moral rightness of an act depends upon the society or cultural group in which it is performed.
e. our first moral duty is always to consider first those to whom we are related.

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1. For Kant, the central problem of ethics is:

a. determining what one ought to do.
b. to reconcile science with the commands of religion.
c. to do what is right even in the face of temptation.
d. to develop a good character through life experience.
e. to come to know and admit one’s own secret desires with complete honesty.

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1. At the heart of Kant’s ethical view is the idea that:

a. reason is the slave of the passions.
b. persons have infinite worth.
c. what’s morally right varies from culture to culture.
d. God is the author of moral law.
e. enlightened self-interest is the key to a morally good life.

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1. An important distinguishing characteristic of Kantian ethics is that “all moral concepts have their origin entirely a priori in reason. By this he means that

a. people need to understand the drivers of human behavior before they can make any reasonable moral judgments.
b. prior to making moral judgments, one must first have the wisdom of experience as well as an acute ability to observe others.
c. since human life is lived under varying and contingent conditions, depending on the individual, one must know, ahead of time, the particular circumstances of a person or situation before any moral judgment can be made.
d. our best guide to moral behavior is to look to the very best examples; for example, the model of Jesus Christ or “God the father”—only through such moral exemplars can humans derive the idea of moral perfection.
e. only through pure rational reflection on duty and the moral law generally, unmixed with and preceding any empirical inducements or self-interest, can we understand the unconditional, universal command of the moral law.

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1. The Toulmin model of argumentation elaborates on the basic elements of an argument, the premises and conclusion, by further specifying the roles played by different premises. Which of the following pairs of terms are referred to in the following description? The __________ is the general or categorical assumption presumed to be self-evident; the __________ is the specific evidence that fits within the category covered in the general claim.

a. backing; warrant
b. truism; conclusion
c. claim; assumption
d. warrant; grounds or data
e. grounds or data; qualifier

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1. In Russell’s view, a satisfactory theory of truth necessarily has to be able to

a. show that all widely held beliefs are true.
b. account for falsehood.
c. demonstrate the equivalence of the facts and the truth.
d. account for the intrinsic quality of a belief.
e. be grounded solely in knowledge by acquaintance.

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1. According to Russell, which sorts of truths have the highest degree of self-evidence?

a. matters of personal taste
b. ethical and aesthetic truths
c. personal truths
d. truths of perception and basic logical principles
e. memories from one’s own experience

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1. A Utilitarian thinker holds that it is morally permissible to lie if:

a. you don’t intend to hurt anyone.
b. you would want someone else in the same situation to lie to you.
c. the total happiness produced by telling the truth would be diminished.
d. only evil people are hurt by it.
e. it is never right to lie, so there is no such situation or circumstance.

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1. John Stuart Mill, along with his older philosophical mentor and colleague, Jeremy Bentham, were the originators of Utilitarian ethical theory. The younger philosopher’s version of the theory included the following modification:

a. Mill denied that all pleasures are of equal quality and that pleasure and pain are the only morally relevant categories.
b. Mill entirely abandoned the calculation of pleasures and pains in determining the moral status of an action.
c. Mill incorporated a Platonic account of virtue and character into his version.
d. Mill ascribed to a Kantian account of a priori duties and moral obligations.
e. Mill switched the focus from the consequences of an action to the actor’s intentions in carrying out the action.

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1. According to Mill, the proper judge of which of two quantitatively identical pleasures is better is:

a. any competent adult.
b. any competent person who has experienced both.
c. an experienced Utilitarian philosopher.
d. those who are in charge of making the laws of a society.
e. None of the above because what counts as a pleasure or pain is so radically different for every person that no such judgment is possible.

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1. One impressive advantage that might be attributed to Utilitarianism is that it

a. completely does away with notions of “morally right” and “morally wrong” as they relate to particular individual lives.
b. explains what pleasure is.
c. provides a criterion for making ethical judgments that will be completely consistent with the legislation of any state or government.
d. reduces complex moral problems to problems of empirical investigation and calculation.
e. disallows the assumption of the existence of God as divine rule-giver.

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1. Which of the following claims (but not necessarily expressed in these exact words) can be accurately attributed to Russell?

a. What is universally true may also be universally false.
b. A priori judgments are the basis of all empirical generalizations.
c. All a posteriori knowledge implies knowledge of the relations of universals.
d. All empirical knowledge that is true is also non-empirical in its foundations.
e. All a priori knowledge necessarily involves knowledge of the relations of universals.

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1. The famous 20th-century existentialist thinker, Jean-Paul Sartre, makes the ontological claim that “existence precedes essence.” What does he mean by this?

a. God has determined the nature of the universe, including human nature.
b. Being has a “blueprint,” so to speak, and living correctly means following it.
c. Reflective consciousness is being conscious of consciousness itself.
d. Humans are condemned to play out their roles as determined by nature, Fate, or God.
e. Human individuals create, from nothing—no pre-existing moral or spiritual foundation—their own values and meaning in life.

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1. Sartre says that existentialism is not atheist is which of the following senses?

a. The surest and most desirable way for man to be “saved from himself” is a valid proof of the existence of God.
b. The despair of the existentialist is rooted in the failure to find a reason to believe in God.
c. Existentialism goes beyond proving that God does not exist.
d. For those existentialists who do believe in God, essence precedes existence.
e. A fully realized version of existentialism indeed seeks to prove that God does exist.

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1. Sartre argues that values depend entirely upon the individual person himself or herself, and once that is realized, it becomes clear that the foundation, and indeed the goal, of any value whatsover is

a. God
b. reason
c. freedom
d. society
e. love

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1. In arguing for the universality of existentialist principles, Sartre says, “When we say that man chooses himself, we do mean that every one of us must choose himself; but by that we also mean that in choosing for himself he chooses for all men…” What is his rationale for this claim?

a. Anyone who is in a position to choose the purpose and significance of his or her own life will be in a position of sufficient power and authority in society so as to also make choices for others.
b. Any action a person may take in creating her life and her identity as she freely wills it to be relies on a conception of human life as she believes she ought to be—any choice made implies the value of that choice.
c. Sartre here is just pointing out the self-centeredness and narcissistic tendencies of most people if they were given free rein to determine the course of our lives—what he means here is something like, “Someone has to be in charge, and if it can be me, all the better!”
d. Sartre actually attempts to ground universality in relativity; he is really saying that every person has a different take on life and a different life situation, so making choices for oneself alone is really al we can do. It is not possible to choose for others. But this is universally true.
e. Since it is impossible for any one person to become a legislator deciding for the whole of mankind on how to live life, it follows that we are all in the same situation—we are all locked inside a strictly subjective reality, so choosing for oneself is the fullest extent of what it could mean to choosing for all men.