According to Kant, the only thing that is morally good is a “good will”. Using 2 of his examples, explain what he means by a good will?

Outline for few essay questions


Criteria Of Right Action: Kantian Deontology

Pages 479-523 Readings By Kant; Korsgaard; O’Neil; Nozick

Criteria Of Right Action: Contractarianism
Pages 581-608 Readings By Rawls

Virtue Ethics
Pages 611-629; 645-652 Readings By Aristotle; Hursthouse

Please use the readings above to do the outlines.
1. According to Kant, the only thing that is morally good is a “good will”. Using 2 of his examples, explain what he means by a good will? Kant also says that a good will is related to the concept of duty, and specifically to hypothetical and categorical imperatives. What does he mean by hypothetical and categorical imperatives, and how is a good will related to the latter sort of imperative? Discuss a serious problem with Kant’s notion of a good will. How might a Kantian best deal with this problem?

• Need to explain
– Good will <-> Moral Imperatives <-> Categorical Imperative
• Example structure
o Introduce topic (restate question in own words)
o Good will
– Duty, not desire
o Imperatives (expressions of command)
o Categorical imperative (moral law)
– Eg. Universal law
o Connect good will with categorical imperative
o Serious problem

2. In order to determine what one’s moral duties are, Kant gives the universal law and humanity versions of the categorical imperative test. State and explain these tests. Carefully apply these tests to the case of telling a lying promise and the case of not being helpful to others who are in need. Explain one problem with the universal law test. Consider how a Kantian might best deal with that problem. Explain two problems with the humanity test. Consider how a Kantian might try to deal with those problems. Explain whether these responses succeed.

• Structure: Step by step
o Formulation of the versions
o Compare and contrast the two categorical imperative tests
o Rest is straightforward

3. Explain Rawls’s version of social contract theory, including his principles of justice, and his contract argument in support of those principles. Discuss a problem with Rawls’s argument for his principles of justice. Discuss a problem with the difference principle. How might he respond to these two objections? Are these responses successful? Why or why not?
• If explaining Justice as Fairness, explain the original position
• Contract argument…
o It would be reasonable for everyone to accept the principles of justice
– Reasoning: 589
o Maximin as fairness
• For intro, explain what a social contract theory is

4. According to Aristotle, what is the best life for a person to lead? What is his argument for his view? According to Aristotle, what is a virtue and how is it achieved? Why does he think that virtue requires more than just doing a virtuous action? What is the doctrine of the mean, and what role does it play in Aristotle’s theory? Given Aristotle’s theory, why is it a mistake to understand morality as a system of rules that limit self-interested behavior? Using Aristotle’s theory, explain why one ought to keep promises, repay debts, etc. Discuss two difficulties do you see for Aristotle’s virtue ethics? And how might a virtue theorist best respond to those difficulties?

• The best life for a person to lead is a happy life
o Why? The function argument
• Aristotle’s theory of virtue (615, 624-625)
o Genus means “kind”—a specific difference
• State – a mental/rational state
• Clearly define what a virtue is
• Explain the function argument
o The function of people is to seek happiness (flourishing)
• What does it mean to be happy?


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