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Ethics second exam review study guide
1.) What are some of the main innovations that distinguish Aquinas's ethics from Aristotle's? (20
Recall his theological virtues (infused rather than acquired) and their relationship to the
Aristotelian issue of incorrigibility, as well as the distinction between perfect and imperfect
2.) What does Kant think ethics should be based upon? (30 points)
Recall his "metaphysics of morals," according to which only a good will is morally good and the
desire of the appetite is actually something to be resisted rather than followed. The intellect is
supposed to use "pure reason" to legislate categorical imperatives to ones self out of a
correspondingly pure "respect for the moral law." A categorical imperative is anything that can
be "universally legislated" or "maximized" for and by every rational being without contradiction.
More points (extra credit) are available for remembering Kant's morosely humorous examples
and his three formulations of the categorical imperative. More points are also available for
providing criticism of Kant's ethics.
3.) Summarize Mill's Utilitarianism. (20 points)
Recall his view that ethics is based on the "greatest happiness principle," according to which
whatever action brings about the greatest happiness for the greatest number is the obligatory
action. Mill regards happiness as pleasure and unhappiness as pain, and so the "utilitarian
calculus" is the agent in question's calculation of how to bring about the greatest amount of
pleasure for the greatest number and the least amount of pain for the greatest number. More
points are also available for providing criticism of Mill's ethics.