Alasdair MacIntyre

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Transcript Alasdair MacIntyre

Alasdair MacIntyre
• After Virtue
MacIntyre’s Quartet
• After Virtue (1981)
• Whose Justice, Which Rationality (1988)
• Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry: Encyclopaedia,
Genealogy, and Tradition (1990)
• Dependent Rational Animals: Why Human Beings
Need the Virtues (1999)
A Disquieting Suggestion
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Catastrophe and Fragmentation
Language is in a grave state of disorder
Can only be detected by philosophical history
Academic history is useless
If true, will necessarily appear implausible
Three Interminable Moral Disagreements
• The moral justification of war
• The moral permissibility of abortion
• The nature of social justice
Three Features of These Arguments
• Conceptual incommensurability of premises
– Hence interminable and shrill arguments
• Purport to be impersonal rational arguments
– In tension with first feature
• Variety of historical origins
The Emotivist Hypothesis
• Emotivists believe that “Contemporary moral argument
is rationally interminable, because all moral, indeed all
evaluative, argument is and always must be rationally
interminable.”
• Emotivism is “the doctrine that all evaluative judgments
and more specifically all moral judgments are nothing
but expressions of preference, expressions of attitude or
feeling, insofar as they are moral or evaluative in
character.”
Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue, 3d ed. (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2007), 11, 11-12.
Emotivism Fails as a Theory of Meaning
For three reasons:
• Failure to identify moral feelings or attitudes
• Can’t explain impersonal force of moral reasons
• Expression of feeling is a function of use not meaning
Emotivism as a Theory of Use
• Outcome of a three-stage history:
– First: Moral practice embodies genuine objective and
impersonal standards which provide rational justification for
actions and can themselves be rationally justified.
– Second: unsuccessful attempts to maintain objectivity of
ethics but rational justification breaks down.
– Third: Emotivism widely accepted because of recognition
that claims to rationality of discourse fail.
MacIntyre’s Hypothesis
“… One way of framing my contention that morality is not
what it once was is just to say that to a large degree people
now think, talk and act as if emotivism were true, no matter
what their avowed theoretical standpoint may be. Emotivism
has become embodied in our culture.”
Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue, 3d ed. (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2007), 22.
Emotivism and Contemporary Culture
• “… we live in a specifically emotivist culture.”
• “… a wide variety of our concepts and modes of
behavior—and not only our explicitly moral debates
and judgments—presuppose the truth of emotivism, if
not at the level of self-conscious theorizing, at least in
everyday practice.”
Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue, 3d ed. (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2007), 22.
Moral Philosophy and Sociology
• “A moral philosophy characteristically presupposes a
sociology.”
– Moral agency must be socially embodied
– Understanding a moral philosophy requires spelling
out what its social embodiment would be.
Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue, 3d ed. (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2007), 23.
Key to Social Content of Emotivism
“… the fact that emotivism entails the obliteration of any
genuine distinction between manipulative and nonmanipulative social relations.”
Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue, 3d ed. (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2007), 23.