Classical political thought is almost obsessed by the limits (or standards) which Nature or God fixes for human conduct— as rulers and ruled

Part I: (20pts towards exam value) Write an essay (5 double-spaced pages) on the statement below.

1. Taking into account our class discussions as well as the reading you have done this semester, examine the following observation with reference to three (3 only!) thinkers we have studied this semester.

“Classical political thought is almost obsessed by the limits (or standards) which Nature or God fixes for human conduct— as rulers and ruled. . . The great issue for political theorists is whether these limits (or standards) are purely arbitrary, which makes them solely a matter of power or whether there are universal and objectively real limits.” {M. Sibley}

In discussing this statement, consider how each theorist identifies these limits/standards and the political and ethical implications of their respective views. Your answer should be supported with references to the readings, lectures, and discussion essays where appropriate. Lastly, briefly explain where you stand on this issue of determining standards for human conduct, and why.

Part II: (15pts towards exam value). Write an essay (5 double-spaced pages) on one of the statements below. Please indicate what essay you are writing on.

1. Write a dialogue between Plato and St. Augustine regarding human nature & the soul, the origins of the city-state, the purpose of education & the meaning & prospects for achieving the good life. {You must, of course, incorporate their ideas into the dialogue.}


2. Compare and contrast Plato, Aquinas, & Machiavelli on the qualities of a “good” ruler, the meaning of justice, and the role of the state. Finally, which thinker do you most agree with and why?


3. Both Aristotle and Aquinas embrace a hierarchy of values, but they rank values differently. What are the superior and inferior values in Aristotle and Aquinas’ hierarchy. Do we find any hierarchy of ethical values in Machiavelli or does he embrace particular values equally?

Words, words, words. They are “the skin of a living thought,” as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once said.


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