Aristotle (4020) Final, due May 6.

Please drop off your final in my mailbox or (preferably) e-mail it to me by 3:00, Friday May 6.

Type up the three of the four essays below. Use these essays as an opportunity to show me how well you understand the material. In order to do this, imagine that you are trying to explain the subject to your intelligent, but ignorant, roommate. That is, state things clearly enough, explain any technical terminology, offer examples where they are needed for illustration, and expand on any cryptic or compressed remarks, so that a person not already familiar with the material would understand what you mean. By doing this, you'll show me that you understand what you're talking about.

In each of the essays below, I give a number of points that I want you to touch upon. However, please do not simply answer them one-by-one, in a disconnected, "bullet-point," choppy manner. Incorporate your discussion of each of the points within a continuous, coherent, flowing essay on the topic. They do not necessarily need to be treated in order in which I mention them.

Many of the points listed in the paper writing guidelines are also relevant for writing these essays. Make sure that you offer reasons and arguments in support of your evaluations. Maximum length per essay: 3 pages. If your final paper's main topic was one of the questions below, please don't write on that question.


  1. Bivalence and freedom. Explain the fatalist argument presented in de Int. 9: why do unacceptable consequences follow from the universal applicability of the Principle of Bivalence, and what are these consequences? How does Aristotle rebut the fatalist? Explain why Carneades thinks that PB does not have fatalist consequences. Then briefly evaluate: with whom (if either) do you agree, Aristotle or Carneades, and why? What is the correct response to the fatalist argument?
  2. Happiness, the human function, and post-mortem events. Explain Aristotle's own conception of what 'happiness' (eudaimonia) is, and his 'function' argument in favor of it. Given this conception of happiness, why would Aristotle think that post-mortem events can have an impact on one's happiness, contra Solon? Then evaluate either (i) his argument in favor of his conception of happiness, or (ii) his contention that post-mortem events can effect one's happiness.
  3. Virtue, pleasure, and incontinence. Consider to the following four cases: four people have borrowed a great deal of money from a friend, who now needs it back, but each is poor, and returning it would be a hardship. The first returns it easily, and is happy to have the opportunity to pay his friend back. The second really doesn't want to return it, and has to struggle with himself, but with a great effort of will he manages to overcome his reluctance and return the money, because he knows that is what he ought to do. The third believes he should return the money, but doesn't do so, and feels ashamed afterwards. The fourth withholds the money with no compunction and makes up a lie about not having it in order to put off his friend. Write an essay in which you explore Aristotle's answer the following questions: how do we explain what is going on in causing the actions in these 4 cases (particularly cases 2 and 3)? Of the four cases, which is best, which is worst, and why? (Relate this to a more general consideration of what virtue is for Aristotle.) Then evaluate what Aristotle says on one of these 2 questions.
  4. Virtue friendships. Explain Aristotle's views on virtue friendships. Include discussions of the following points along the way (i) why friendship is necessary for happiness, (ii) the characteristics that virtue friendships have, (iii) the sense in which a 'virtue friend' is a self-lover, and the sense in which he is not. Julia Annas has claimed that there is a tension between Aristotle's claims about the way in the virtue friend is a 'self-lover' (even when he performs apparently self-sacrificing acts) and about the way in which a virtue friend promotes the good of his friend 'for the friend's own sake.' Explain this apparent tension. Do you think that there is a serious problem here, and if so, can it be resolved?

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