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Dependent Rational Animals: Why Human Beings Need the Virtues (The Paul Carus Lectures) Paperback – May 18, 2001
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_Dependent Rational Animals_ presents a positive account of practical rationality against the background of an understanding of human nature on which we are first of all animals -- and thus always vulnerable -- and often (some of us always) disabled. This leads MacIntyre to distinguish what he calls the "virtues of acknowledged dependence" from the more widely recognized "virtues of independent practical reasoners".
This book, an expanded series of lectures, is quite easy to read, especially when it focuses on such lively questions as whether dolphins and chimpanzees have beliefs and intentions, or why we have obligations to those thoroughly dependent human beings who will never develop into autonomous agents.
I've long thought _After Virtue_ was the best introduction to MacIntyre, but I now suspect _Dependent Rational Animals_ may be the way to go. That way, one can begin with his positive account, and locate the critique in relation to it.
The way he argues that we need the virtues is quite startling in originality. Generally, ethicists take as their standard the autonomous, self-sufficient reasoner--where "reason" means something like "able to give a logically defensible verbal justification," usually in terms of some sort of universal rule. MacIntyre sees this as a mistake. The question, he thinks, is how any of us ever come to be independent practical reasoners and what it means to be such. We must, he thinks, understand that "reasons to act" have little to do with our linguistic ability or capacity to display verbally a syllogism that concludes with the action in question. Rather, "reasons to act" are more concrete, pragmatic, and instrumental.Read more ›
There are several problems with MacIntyre's analysis. I doubt that his method really establishes a convincing human telos. No one would argue about the importance of human rational capacities and sociability, but does his analysis lead to his version of the telos?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is the clearest exposition of his thinking on what is required to live a good life.Published 16 months ago by John Pittman
Dependent Rational Animals is a must for any student considering Mind Science as a profession. Easy reading and comprehension is the hall mark of this work.Published on June 24, 2014 by Faye J. Daniel
Dependent Rational Animals is MacIntyre refusing to give up on the task of integrating Aristoteleanism and redistributionist social justice by making up a new virtue that he says... Read morePublished on December 27, 2011 by cxlxmx
Alasdair Macintire, well known for several renowned philosophical books, for example "After virtue". Read morePublished on November 22, 2006 by Prof AJ Antonites