What Happened in and to Moral Philosophy in the Twentieth Century?
Philosophical Essays in Honor of Alasdair MacIntyre
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University of Notre Dame Press
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Title Page, Copyright Page
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In a celebrated phrase Dante praises Aristotle as “master of those whoknow.” Aristotle would be happier, I believe, described as “master of thosewho desire to know.” Aside from the fact that those who already know haveno need of a master, Aristotle was convinced that as humans we can nevermaster all there is to be known about ourselves and our place within the...
Chapter 1: On Having Survived the Academic Moral Philosophy of the Twentieth Century
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I was already fifty-five years old when I discovered that I had become aThomistic Aristotelian. But I had first encountered Thomism thirty-eightyears earlier, as an undergraduate, not in the form of moral philosophy,but in that of a critique of English culture developed by members of theDominican order. Yet, although impressed by that critique, I hesitated, for...
Part I: Reading Alasdair MacIntyre
Chapter 2: Keeping Philosophy Relevant and Humanistic
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It is a privilege to participate in honoring one of our great living philoso-phers, but it is also somewhat daunting, the more so when the thinkerhas ranged as widely and proceeded as deeply as has Alasdair MacIntyre.One response to the challenge of discussing his ideas at this stage of hislong and highly productive career is to survey his writings: identifying...
Chapter 3: Ethics at the Limits
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Some of the diﬀerent reasons for one’s indebtedness to philosophers whomone has read may be gleaned from Iris Murdoch’s dictum that “to do phi-losophy is to explore one’s own temperament while at the same time at-tempting to discover the truth.”1In some philosophical writings one findsintuitions, and a way of articulating and defending them, with which one...
Chapter 4: Alasdair MacIntyre’s Revisionary Aristotelianism
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This essay argues for the significance of Alasdair MacIntyre’s revisions tothe tradition of Thomistic Aristotelianism. After contextualizing MacIn-tyre’s philosophical development within Aristotelianism’s recent history,it summarizes his account of the moral importance of a teleological con-ception of goods, identifying a problem for past Aristotelian accounts of...
Chapter 5: Alasdair MacIntyre
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While drafting this paper I went through a phase of illusion in which Ithought I might tell you how Alasdair MacIntyre’s philosophical achieve-ments had changed the climate of English-speaking academic moral phi-losophy and were beginning to transform the surrounding culture. Myeyes were opened, however, as I read his 1992 essay “What Has NotHap-...
Chapter 6: Against the Self-Images of the Age
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Alasdair MacIntyre has always insisted on the social and historical situated -ness of even the most abstract forms of thinking, while at the same timetrying to avoid the pitfalls of relativistic historicism. His work has involveda serious engagement, not only with the standard figures of the history ofphilosophy, but also with marginal philosophers of earlier periods and with...
Part II: Complementary and Competing Traditions
Chapter 7: MacIntyre and the Emotivists
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...“Do this, because it will bring you happiness”; “Do this because Godenjoins it as the way to happiness”; “Do this because God enjoins it”;“Do this.” These are the four stages in the development of autonomousEmotivism looms large in Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue: A Study inMoral Theory.1 Chapters 2 and 3—the first two real chapters of the book,...
Chapter 8: Naturalism, Nihilism, and Perfectionism
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Can any moderately well-worked-out, general philosophical position everbe decisively refuted? Consider emotivism, for example, and more particu-larly that highly influential variant of it propounded in Charles L. Steven-son’s Ethics and Language.1 Perhaps only its equal and opposite partner incrime, G.E. Moore’s intuitionism, is now so widely presumed to share the...
Chapter 9: Marxism and the Ethos of the Twentieth Century
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One of the things I have always most admired about Alasdair MacIntyre’swork is the particular kind of intellectual courage it exhibits. This virtuemanifests itself in a number of ways, including a willingness to addresslarge philosophical questions head on and to give straightforward answersto them. This is a form of courage, rather than merely of some other more...
Chapter 10: Parallel Projects
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The advocacy of virtue ethics by Alasdair MacIntyre has given this brandof moral philosophy a distinctive place among the moral theories cur-rently taught in departments of philosophy throughout the English-speaking world; indeed it must be acknowledged that his intellectualeﬀorts have given virtue ethics a prominence in present-day discussion...
Chapter 11: The Perfect Storm
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The title of this essay—“The Perfect Storm”—is perhaps rather an oﬀ-putting title for a paper that might be expected to celebrate the positiveachievements of Thomistic moral thought in the twentieth century. Andin fact the twentieth century saw many positive developments withinTho mistic moral theology and philosophy. However, the gravamen of my...
Chapter 12: Forgiveness at the Limit
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Several contemporary thinkers have responded to the question of the lim-its of forgiveness. Jankelevitch and Primo Levi have both aﬃrmed the im-possibility of forgiving those who do not ask for forgiveness. Arendt talkedof the impossibility of forgiving radical evil; and more recently Derridahas written of the impossibility of pure forgiveness tout court....
Part III: Thematic Analyses
Chapter 13: Evolutionary Ethics
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The Origin of Species introduced a mode of thinking that in the end was bound to transform the logic of knowledge, and hence theDarwin’s theory has no more to do with philosophy than any otherOne’s only owned by naturel rejection. Charley, you’re my darwing. Evolution is the prevailing paradigm for today’s understanding of human...
Chapter 14: The Social Epistemological Normalization of Contestable Narratives
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Consider what it is to share a culture. It is to share schemata which intelligible action by myself and are also means for my interpretation of the actions of others. My ability to understand what you are doingand my ability to act intelligibly (both to myself and to others) are oneAlasdair MacIntyre’s writings on narrative self-understanding—on...
Chapter 15: History, Fetishism, and Moral Change
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One of the most intriguing questions about morality, it seems to me, iswhat happens when it changes. What happens, for example, when the sub-ordination of women to men, or their exclusion from higher educationor the professions, ceases to seem innocuous or natural and starts to beregarded as a grotesque abuse? Or when corporal punishment goes out of...
Chapter 16: Relativism, Coherence, and the Problems of Philosophy
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The eventual topic of this paper is the perhaps grandiose question ofwhether we have any reason to think that philosophical problems can besolved. Philosophy has been around for quite some time, and its record iscause for pessimism: it is not, exactly, that there are noestablished results,but that what results there are, are negative (such-and-such is false, or will...
Chapter 17: Ethics and the Evil of Being
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What has been achieved in twentieth-century ethics? The diversity of ethi-cal discussions precludes a simple answer. Currents of thought have comeand gone, but the presiding god of modernity still sits on its throne—autonomy. The god may take many forms: Kantian, utilitarian, existential-ist; it may tire of its individual form and mutate its self-determination into...
Chapter 18: The Inescapability of Ethics
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As a philosophical theory, as contrasted with a theological view or anassumption of popular science or an emotional intuition about fate,determinism fails because it is unstateable.However far we impinge (for instance for legal or moral purposes) upon the area of free will we cannot philosophically exhibit a situation in which, instead of...
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This epilogue is an expression of quite unusual gratitude both for thepapers in this volume and for the wide-ranging, yet incisive discussionsthat earlier versions of them generated at a conference at University Col-lege Dublin in March 2009. The range of critical perspectives on variousaspects of my work was and is impressive. Were I to live long enough to...
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Gerard Casey is Associate Professor of Philosophy at University College Dublin, Adjunct Professor at the Maryvale Institute (Birmingham, UK), and Adjunct Scholar at the Ludwig von Mises Institute (Alabama). A graduate of University College Cork, he received his MA and PhD from the University of Notre Dame. ...
Index of Names
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Page Count: 544
Publication Year: 2013