Pick a virtue and analyze it using ideas we've discussed in class. (Examples of questions you should ask yourself in order to do this: What are the corresponding vices of excess and defect? What actions does this virtue involve? With which cardinal virtue is it most closely associated? Are there any vices that mimic it? Are there any vices it remedies?)
Your paper should be 800-1000 words (that's approximately three to four full pages if written out on a word processor). You should try to be as concise, focused, and organized as possible in your discussion, you should use examples to show that your analysis is a good one, you should consider possible objections to your analysis, and you should cite any sources that you use. If you have difficulty thinking of a virtue, you might consider looking at the virtues listed in the table of contents of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics or the list of virtues analyzed by Thomas Aquinas to see if you can find one that interests you; keep in mind, too, that the doctrine of the mean allows one to identify virtues for which there is no handy name.
And here are the virtues that were chosen (there are a few stragglers who haven't turned in papers yet):
Fortitude (understood as more basic than courage)
Bravery (understood as intermediate between courage and fortitude)
Patience (x 2)
Temperance (x 3)
Decency in conversation (as opposed to gossip)
Obviously the striking thing is the proliferation of fortitude-related virtues. Indeed, while there are an unusual number this time, looking back on some of the others, fortitude-related virtues seem to be definitely the most popular virtues chosen for this assignment overall (although temperance always does very well). In addition to fortitude, courage, bravery, and patience, I've occasionally had students choose faith as a virtue, and since we don't do theological virtues, they analyze it as an acquired virtue, and if you do that it inevitably ends up as related to fortitude. I'm not sure why this is. Perhaps students regard them as fairly straightforward? Or maybe they find it easier to think of clear examples that make their status as virtues plausible (great endurance perhaps being easier to see than great fairness or great decision-making)? In any case, it's a quite consistent thing.