Winter Session, 2012-2013
STUDY QUESTIONS FOR THE FINAL EXAMINATION
Four of the seven questions that follow will comprise the final examination for this
course. Of those four you will be required to answer two, and your answers will count equally.
You will have some choice as to which questions to answer and which thinkers to discuss, but it
will be limited. It would therefore be prudent for you to prepare ALL the following questions --
and where alternatives are offered within a question to prepare both or all of them.
Don't waste valuable time trying to decide which questions to study; spend it studying the
questions. At the actual examination, there will be no aids allowed, so don't plan to bring notes.
In the interests of fairness to all students, neither the lecturers nor the teaching assistants will
discuss these questions with any students. Students are encouraged to discuss them among
1. "The philosophers have only interpreted the world ...; the point, however, is to change it."
(Marx, Eleventh Thesis on Feuerbach). How adequate is Marx's characterization of "the
philosophers" to Plato? To Machiavelli, Hobbes, or Locke? (Discuss Plato and any ONE of
these three modern thinkers.)
2. Outline Machiavelli’s understanding of virtù, as described in Chapter 15 of The Prince and
elsewhere in The Prince and The Discourses. Then, compare and contrast Machiavelli’s
understanding of virtue as instrumental with Plato’s conception of virtue as tied to human
3. According to Thomas Hobbes, what is justice? Compare and contrast Hobbes's
understanding of justice with that of Thrasymachus in Plato's Republic.
4. Compare Plato and Locke on the proper role of the family in human life.
5. Compare and contrast Aristotle and Machiavelli on the nature and political significance of
“the people.” Does either theorist endorse democracy? Why or why not? (Note: In
discussing Machiavelli, be sure to use material from both The Prince and The Discourses.)
6. In Book 3, Chapter 9 of the Politics, Aristotle criticizes one Lycophron the sophist for
asserting that law is a compact and a guarantor among the citizens of the just things.
According to Hobbes, Lycophron is correct, and the law is exactly what he said it was, no
more, no less. Focussing on Aristotle’s reasons for rejecting the adequacy of understanding
society in terms of a social compact, and Hobbes’s reasons for endorsing this notion, discuss
their fundamental differences concerning the origin and purposes of civil society.
7. Contrast Aristotle’s reservations concerning the role of money in human life with Locke’s
celebration of it.