Ideal Answers to Definition Questions from Midterm


Caution: These are examples of ideal answers. I did not necessarily expect anyone to come up with exactly these, and I gave out some perfect grades for answers which were short of these. Moreover, trying to get perfect scores on these may be poor strategy as the essays are worth a higher percentage of the grade.


  1. Job Lock: Job lock is a characteristic of employment based health insurance systems as in the United States where most people have health insurance through their employer. In particular job lock occurs when someone feels unable to leave a job which is detested or not suited to his or her abilities because doing so will result in the loss of health insurance. Job lock differs from the concept of “unsurance” which refers to the fact that such a system makes health insurance temporary. One reason health insurance is temporary is because someone may leave a job to look for work elsewhere or even go into business for oneself. This aspect of unsurance is directly connected to job lock. However, employment is temporary for many other reasons as well: one may be laid off, fired, become unemployable doe to injury or illness, or retire. An example of job lock would be someone who takes a job, planning to save up money to upgrade later, but before this can happen he or she has a child who has an expensive medical condition. In these circumstances the person is locked to their job as upgrading would require being without employment and hence without health coverage which can no longer be afforded. While it is true that health insurance can be purchased as a private individual, not only is it more expensive to purchase in that form, once a family member is known to require expensive coverage insurers will either refuse to cover or set exorbitant premiums and put many limitation clauses (loop-holes for themselves) in the contract.
  2. Virtue: The Greek word for virtue can be translated as excellence. Aristotle defines virtue as a state of character which promotes an individual’s human excellence (functioning well as a human). States of character are developed through habituation. Virtue aims at the mean between excess and defect in many areas of life. Thus virtue is not just about moral goodness, but refers to one’s performance in career, society and personal life in general. For example, Aristotle considers wittiness as a virtue, whereas buffoonery is an excess and lack of humour a defect. (Aristotle defines happiness as activity of the soul in accordance with virtue and a rational principle which makes virtue a requirement for happiness but not quite the same thing as happiness.)
  3. Aquinas’s list of goods: Aquinas adopts the principle of promote good and avoid evil. To clarify his meaning he explains that goods are self preservation, family, knowledge and ordered society. All things incline to maintaining their existence and so this good of self preservation is the most basic and highest in the order of goods. All living things are inclined to procreate and this is second in the order of goods. Finally, humans are inclined to learn and live in societies so these goods are next. These goals are naturally sought and so fit well with a natural law theory. For example these goods imply that suicide is wrong, that one has an obligation to provide for one’s children and that one has obligations to become educated and foster harmonious relations with others in one’s society.