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After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory, Third Edition 3rd Edition
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The strength of MacIntyre's work is his sustained critique of modernity and the "natural rights" tradition. He reintroduces the concept of "narrative" as an ethical tool. I will highlight the main ideas:
The Ghost of "Human Rights"
Rights have a highly specific character and are resistant to the idea of universality. The language of rights talk differs from century to century and place to place, at each moment reflecting more the demands of th community rather than the story of humanity. And when rights are attempted to be universal in scope, they reflect, not the needs of humanity, but the agenda of the powered elite. Rights talk can be rehabilitated, but only in terms of local community's narrative.
Contrary to his critics, MacIntyre is not arguing for a naive return to Aristotle. Rather, he points out the resilience of the Aristotelian tradition and then critiques its shortcomings. He uses Aristotle as a foil against Nietzsche. The importance of virtue at this point is not simply to demonstrate that Aristotle is the last word in ethics, but to show that it is impossible for consistent moderns to be virtuous. A virtue can only be understood in light of its telos (184). "The" good orders "our" goods.Read more ›
He writes with seeming mastery of the western tradition. However, he rarely makes citations. For example, in his discussions of Kant he usually does not even mention a text by name, let alone provide citations. When discussing other writers he will sometimes mention a particular book but then supply no or very few citations. Rather, he tends to discuss thinkers in general: the problems they were trying to address, how they failed and how they are historically situated.
In outline, his argument is that in the period between 1630 and 1850, morality came to signify a distinct cultural space of rules of conduct which are neither theological nor legal nor aesthetic. Once that understanding of morality became a received doctrine, Northern European Enlightenment thinkers attempted to provide a rational justification for morality (39). However, by freeing morality from teleology (whether Aristotelian or Christian), theism and hierarchy, they in effect undermined any rational foundation or criterion for morality.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Nietzche or Aristotle? That truly is the question. Is every man the moral arbiter of his own world and life, or should he submit himself to a greater good? Read morePublished 1 month ago by C. S. Godwin
A thoroughly challenging and helpful piece of reasoning about the disintegration of our culture and values.Published 2 months ago by Rev. Dr. J. Dirk Reek
The first half of the book is a breakdown of the many presuppositions that lurk behind moral philosophy today. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Max Nightingale
After Virtue is one of those works which will stand the test of time as a initiator of a discourse long forgotten in the western world. Read morePublished 6 months ago by silentalan
I am not a philosophy major. I had to read it with a dictionary and Wikipedia for the major themes. Interesting thesis and worth the read, but be prepared!Published 7 months ago by B. Hoyt
No doubt about it, this is a dense book that requires close reading and prizes critical thought. Once you finish it though, you will never view the world the same way ever again,... Read morePublished 8 months ago by J. Doble
MacIntyre is one of many voices who lay the blame for todays ills at the feet of the 18th Enlightenment. To make his case, he sets up and destroys a series of straw men. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Blackhorse
An excellent work, and one deserving of far more time than I have at this moment. This will be a placeholder until I return, but if you're considering this book, it demands to be... Read morePublished 9 months ago by SkyCaptain