- Paperback: 312 pages
- Publisher: University of Notre Dame Press; 3rd edition (March 6, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0268035040
- ISBN-13: 978-0268035044
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,006 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory, Third Edition 3rd Edition
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1) Why are there so many types of moral disagreements in modern societies?
2) Why do these disagreements never seem to end but go on indefinitely?
3) Can any moral theory be related to actual facts or is all moral language sui generis?
Not surprisingly, MacIntyre traces most of these problems to those thinkers of the Enlightenment yet it would be a MISTAKE (as the first reviewer makes) in thinking that MacIntyre is somehow laying the blame solely on the Enlightenment for the current situation. Rather, his whole thesis is that they did the best they could in defending in what they thought was the CONTENT of morality (the culture of post-Enlightenment Europe being as it were a mix of
Christian values with an intense admiration of newly re-discovered Greco-Roman pagan texts on a range of subjects) with their own philosophical methods (See Hume's reasoning on why women should remain chaste until marriage). MacIntyre's insight is that they HAD to fail. No philosophical brilliance they could muster could save the CONTENT they wished to save (for example,"always tell your mother the truth") with their prescribed METHODS of doing philosophy (for example a la Kant, "all moral laws have the character of being assented to by all rational persons at all times in all cultures"). The Enlightenment thinkers chose an impossible task and thus failed (and moreover had to fail in such a way that their failure was relatively hidden from the thinkers themselves and their respective cultures at large). It is only with Nietzche do we have a thinker brave enough to raze the CONTENT they wished to save with the METHODS and start totally anew.
Thus, half-way through the book, MacIntyre offers the reader a stark choice: either we must choose that all moral talk (talk of right & wrong) is really an attempt to impose one's will on another person a la Nietzsche or that there is form of moral language that is not undercut by Nietzsche's own rather devastating attack on (post-)Enlightenment moral theories.
Hence begins MacIntyre's foray from critique to laying out a positive philosophical programme that leads to several books (See Whose Justice? Which Rationality? &Dependent Rational Animals: Why Human Beings Need the Virtues (Paul Carus Lectures) especially) and a refining of his ideas.
Does Nietzsche win?
That is for the reader to decide. MacIntyre has been steadily producing a body of work that tries to show that Nietzsche does not win (it starts as a whisper in this book and finally gets turned into a shout in later works). However, like all philosophy, his attempt is an argument, and it is up to the reader to decide if it is a good one.
5 stars, hands down. I really hope you decide to buy(or check-out) this important work which deserves to taken seriously for years to come. ( 20 and counting!)
Overall, I think this book is an incredible account of traditional Catholic Christian ethics and is a must for a Catholic as well as anyone else wanting to advance a conservative moral system.