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History of Ethics: Comparative Study Understanding history is important for help

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History of Ethics: Comparative Study Understanding history is important for helping us to identify patterns that influence not only our intellects but also our feeling, both of which contribute to the choices we make and the actions that follow. Margaret MacMillan is a brilliant Canadian historian whose book and lectures both fascinate and inform us. MacMillan’s book, History’s People: Personalities and the Past, is a compilation of the material presented in the CBC Massey Lectures which were presented on CBC Radio’s Ideas series in 2015. The first chapter in this book, Persuasion and the Art of Leadership, will be used to help us understand the importance not only of history but, more specifically, the history of philosophy and ethics. The history of ethics is no less important than world history; in fact, ethics is influenced by politics, religion, culture, and science and technology. MacMillan recounts the personalities of three historical figures – Otto von Bismarck, the man responsible for establishing the German Reich in 1871; William Lyon Mackenzie King, the dominant political leader and Prime Minister of Canada spanning the period 1919 to 1948; and, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States who served from 1933 until his death in April 1945. Here are three quotes from these men that were cited by MacMillan in her book. Otto von Bismarck – “If I am to proceed through life on the basis of principles, it is as if I had to walk down a narrow path in the woods and had to hold a long pole in my mouth.” Mackenzie King – “The extreme man is always more or less dangerous, but nowhere more so than in politics. In a country like ours it is particularly true that the art of government is largely one of seeking to reconcile rather than exaggerate differences – to come as near as possible to the happy mean.” FDR (regarding entering WWII) – “this nation will remain a neutral nation, but I cannot ask that every American remain neutral in thought as well. Even a neutral has a right to take account of facts. Even a neutral cannot be asked to close his mind or his conscience.” What you are to do for this assignment is to choose one of the philosophers listed below and respond to the following questions. Write clearly and concisely. There are no word/page limits but your responses must demonstrate a mastery of a particular aspect of the history of ethics. Use Internet encyclopedias, materials posted to Blackboard, or other relevant materials to help guide your writing. Plato Hume Aristotle Kant St. Thomas Aquinas Mill Hobbes Nietzsche Descartes Sartre Using the quote from one of the three historical figures, compare (positively or negatively) the philosopher you have chosen re: their persuasive or leadership capabilities to that historical figure. What lasting influences on ethics today can you identify from your study of the philosopher you have chosen?

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