Alasdair MacIntyre

The citation gives the gist of McIntyre’s approach to ethics but as an indirect attack on Kant it fails to consider the real achievement of Kant, not the same as all ‘Enlightenment’ philosophers. It is simply a waste of breath to take this approach. Kant established the psychology of the ‘will’ as a post-Newtonian psychology that was able to mediate ethical questions, with the issue of categorical imperatives as a brilliant stand-in for that solution. By contrast Marx regresses to Newtonian robotics. There could be better solutions to Kant’s own problem than this but I don’t have one, and to throw out the whole thing for the hoodlum Nietzsche is a new birth of tragedy. It is hard to think of a more brilliant attempt to scale this Himilayan question, which most later thinkers can’t figure out because the ‘transcendental deduction’ defeats easy study.  Nietzsche’s struggles with Darwin are prescient, unresolved, and are a curve ball here, one suspects, and the damage is done.

McIntyre’s critique is not without value, but the rote dismissals of ‘virtue ethics’ simply doesn’t wash. The real issue was liberation from Mt. Sinai mythologies and Kant’s achievement here is seminal.

MacIntyre’s approach to moral philosophy

interweaves a number of complex strands. Although he largely aims to revive an Aristotelian moral philosophy based on the virtues, he claims a “peculiarly modern understanding” of this task.[8]This “peculiarly modern understanding” largely concerns MacIntyre’s approach to moral disputes. Unlike some analytic philosophers who try to generate moral consensus on the basis of rationality, MacIntyre uses the historical development of ethics to circumvent the modern problem of “incommensurable” moral notions, whose merits cannot be compared in any common framework. Following Hegel and Collingwood, he offers a “philosophical history” (as opposed to analytical and phenomenological approaches) in which he concedes from the beginning that “there are no neutral standards available by appeal to which any rational agent whatsoever could determine” the conclusions of moral philosophy.[9]In his most famous work, After Virtue, he deprecates the attempt of Enlightenment thinkers to deduce a universal rational morality independent of teleology, whose failure led to the rejection of moral rationality altogether by successors such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Charles Stevenson. He emphasizes how this overestimation of reason led to Nietzsche’s utter repudiation of the possibility of moral rationality.[10]By contrast, MacIntyre attempts to reclaim more modest forms of moral rationality and argumentation which claim neither finality nor logical certainty, but which can hold up against relativistic or emotivist denials of any moral rationality whatsoever (the mistaken conclusion of Nietzsche, Sartre, and Stevenson). He revives the tradition of Aristotelian ethics with its teleological account of the good and of moral actions, as fulfilled in the medieval writings of Thomas Aquinas. This Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition, he proposes, presents “the best theory so far,” both of how things are and how we ought to act.More generally, according to MacIntyre, moral disputes always take place within and between rival traditions of thought relying on an inherited store of ideas, presuppositions, types of arguments and shared understandings and approaches. Even though there is no definitive way for one tradition in moral philosophy to logically refute another, nevertheless opposing views can dispute each others’ internal coherence, resolution of imaginative dilemmas and epistemic crises, and achievement of fruitful results.[11]

Source: Alasdair MacIntyre – Wikipedia

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