| February 24, 2014

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In contrast to ethical philosophies that focus on moral obligations, pleasure, or utility, Aristotle’s ethics centers on his unique understanding of the good life, which aims at happiness or “flourishing” (eudaimonia) by means of the habitual cultivation of virtue (areté). For this assignment, please write a short paper that examines the role of virtue in the good life by carefully comparing Aristotle’s account, given in Books 1-3 of his Nicomachean Ethics (Marino, 43-84) with another text that describes moral virtue.
N.T. Wright, “What Am I Here For?” (Blackboard). N.T. Wright is a New Testament scholar who has written numerous books on Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, and the early church. This essay is from his recent book After You Believe: Why Christian Faith Matters (2012). He notes that while Christian ministers, pastors, and priests often focus on getting people to believe in Christianity, or to join the church, they are rarely able to describe how life is supposed to be different after someone believes. To address this challenge, he considers the moral teaching of the New Testament according to the category of “character,” which he believes to be synonymous with “virtue.”
Writing Instructions
This essay requires careful reading of Aristotle’s text, which is complex and often difficult to summarize. In order to make sense of Aristotle’s views, it will be important to show the connection between his main ideas, such as: happiness/flourishing (eudaimonia), virtue, habit, and the doctrine of the mean or intermediate. This summary of Aristotle is a central part of your paper, and you should strive to write it concisely and accurately.
In writing about your comparison text, your essay should clearly explain how it relates to Aristotle’s conception of ethics. In developing this section, you may want to consider the following questions: What insights does this text provide for ethics? How does this text compare to Aristotle’s understanding of virtue? Does this text largely agree with Aristotle and so provide additional support for his ideas, or does it offer a criticism or an opposing position?
Suggestions for Writing a Successful Paper:
You should compose your paper as if writing for a general audience, made up of persons who are intelligent but unfamiliar with the authors or texts you are discussing.
Your introductory paragraph should clearly communicate both the topic and the thesis of your essay. The function of this introduction is to orient the reader to what you are writing about and to the position you are arguing in the paper. Your paper should also include an appropriate conclusion paragraph that sums up your argument and restates your overall position.
Although this paper is short and focuses on interpretation, it still requires that you identify and defend a clear thesis. This means that your paper should not merely be a collection of general statements or assertions about a text, nor should you simply give your opinion without offering adequate support. Instead, you should back up your explanation with examples or evidence from the texts. In other words, you should give your readers reasons for thinking that what you are saying is accurate.
It is important to recognize the difference between thesis statements and themes/topics. A theme or topic simply names the issue under discussion in the paper, while a thesis statement makes a claim about that issue. For example, this sentence names a theme/topic: “In this paper I will talk about Aristotle, the New Testament, and virtue.” By contrast, this thesis statement makes a particular claim about that topic: “In contrast to Aristotle’s description of moral virtue as cultivated by natural habit and upbringing, the New Testament presents genuine virtue as a gift of the Spirit.” For more information on thesis statements, see
Your sentences and paragraphs should clearly communicate what you are trying to say, and you should organize these in such a way that readers can easily see how your individual points relate to the paper’s overall argument. Avoid excessively informal language, contractions, sentence fragments, and run-on sentences. Also, take care to structure each paragraph around a unified and coherent theme that relates to your thesis. (For more information on writing clear and effective paragraphs, see
Writing a strong and successful paper requires backing up your claims with fitting quotations. There is no specific number of quotations that you should use, but in general it is better to use several brief quotations rather than a few long ones. When including a quotation, make sure that it fits in with what you are writing in a way that will be clear to your readers. In some cases, you may need to provide additional information to clarify the meaning of the quotation.
This assignment does not require any additional research beyond the texts mentioned. However, you are welcome to use additional sources for help, provided that you cite them. You may want to consult the following online source on Aristotle: If you are writing on Aristotle and Augustine, you may also find this page helpful (especially section four, “Ontology and Eudaimonism”): If you consult these sources, be sure to list them (along with any other sources) in a bibliography or works cited page, even if you did not quote them in the paper.
Formatting Guidelines
Please give your paper an appropriate title. (You do not need a separate title page). Include your name and the date on the first page of the paper, either on the top left corner or the top right corner.
The paper should be 3-4 pages, in 12 point Times New Roman font, with 1” margins.
The paper should be formatted according to the Chicago Manual of Style. (For more information on this style, see However, for the sake of simplicity, you may cite the texts parenthetically with the author’s name followed by the page number, as “(Aristotle, 25)” or “(Wright, 10).” You can also cite the additional chapters from Augustine’s City of God, Book XIX (on Blackboard) as “(Augustine, Ch. 25).” If you are choosing your own text, you may also cite it in parentheses with the author’s name and page number, but be sure to include the full information in the bibliography.
Bibliographic entries in Chicago style should be formatted as followed (this is the entry for the Wright text):
Wright, N.T., “What Am I Here For?” in After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters (New York: HarperOne, 2012), pp. 1-26.
Your bibliography should include a citation from every source that you consulted for the paper. The bibliography will not count as one of your pages.
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