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A Short History of Ethics 1st Edition
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Beginners will find this a difficult book to work through. MacIntyre presumes the reader has a basic understanding of the ideas and philosophers he discusses.
But for those with adequate background this is a wonderful book, full of many insights. Be warned, though, this book is not a neutral review of the subject matter. In this book MacIntyre lays the groundwork for his own particular version of ethics (developed most fully in After Virtue).
Much of the book is dense and part of it is, arguably, poorly written. But it is worth the work needed to get through it.
But neverthelles, something drives you to continue your studies, to learn and feed upon knowledge of others, to live in times long forgotten and to think an re-think thought again and again. But without that initial spark which puts great flames in motion all would be in vain. MacIntyre book is one that feeds that flame, helping it to grow.
If one really wants to understand key questions of ethics and how, at the first place they came to be, one should start with MacIntyre. You won't find your asnwers listed here, rather contrary, MacIntyre, in his almost positivistic scepticism, states many pro et contra arguments for theories presented in his book, that reader finds himself confused on many occasions. But precisely that kind of expose is what drives one to continue searching and to complete questions posed by MAcIntyre. A task that takes whole lifetime and more.
In the end I have to mention that ethics described here concernes itself mostly with western ethics and ethical thought. East is left out. For which purpose, I'll let you find for yourself.
One reviewer on Amazon comments that MacIntyre's writing is not clear. I found his diction at times quite lucid; however, his style is learned in the early to mid twentieth-century British (Scottish) way. This book is not always an easy read, but it is an informative one. It is good for someone who is interested in the subject, who is looking for an historical introduction, and who is willing to pay careful attention.
Part of the reason why it is not an always easy read is related to MacIntyre's rebuttal to A. J. Ayer. MacIntyre, contra Ayer, believes that right understanding of the history of moral theory is not just descriptive rehearsal of what various people thought but involves the participant in the philosophical enterprise itself. Therefore, MacIntyre's history contains philosophical argumentation. It not only reproduces the reasoning process of historical persons but also demonstrates MacIntyre's own evaluation of moral theories.
I initially read the first edition, which is essentially identical to the second edition except that the latter contains an updated preface. Otherwise the two editions are the same. The preface in the second edition is essential reading and not to be skipped over. In it MacIntyre addresses weaknesses in four chapters: on Christianity, on the British Eighteenth-Century, on Kant, and on modern moral philosophy.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you liked Sidgwick, you will love this book. Smart, fair, clear.Published 8 months ago by Guy Till
This book is a very readable outline of the history of western moral philosophy. I found it highly enjoyable and also think I learned something from reading it. Read morePublished on June 12, 2014 by A. Lindholm
I needed this book for an online class and I received it well within time limit. Thanks for speedy service!Published on March 5, 2013 by Dponder
MacIntyre has an acute mind and a broad familiarity with the history of moral philosophy. This short volume is an extremely valuable contribution to the field. Read morePublished on March 28, 2012 by Honest Abe
Alasdair MacIntyre's "A Short History of Ethics" is an uneven attempt at examining the history of Western culture through the development of ethics. Read morePublished on May 5, 2010 by R. Haecker
Edit: I first read this book seven years ago. I now change some of my original observations. His section on Greek ethics is simply too good to warrant anything lower than a five... Read morePublished on March 29, 2009 by Jacob
The book arrived in a VERY timely fashion!! The book was in okay condition (not spectacular), but good enough for me and worth the savings.Published on May 9, 2008 by C. Crawshaw
Professor Alasdair MacIntyre in "A Short History of Ethics" produced an interesting book covering the long history of moral philosophy. Read morePublished on January 23, 2006 by Elijah Chingosho