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1984 (6) Heft 1

Symposium über Alasdair MacIntyres, "After Virtue"


Abstracts | Inhalt | Editorial

Alasdair MacIntyre
The Claims of After Virtue

Abstract: After Virtue claims that it is characteristic of contemporary society that its debates are peculiarly unsettlable; that this state of society affairs is the result of the failure by the thinkers of the Enlightenment to construct a rational, secular defence of shared moral principles; and that the Aristotelian tradition of the virtues provides the only rationally defensible alternative to post-Enlightenment morality.

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Richard E. Flathman
Culture, Morality and Rights: Or, Should Alasdair MacIntyre's Philosophical Driving License Be Suspended?

Abstract: Taken at face value, Professor Maclntyre's charge that modern culture is "emotivist" is conceptually incoherent and betrays epistemological confusion. Examination of the modern concept and practice of rights indicates hat his comparisons between modern and pre-modern cultures exaggerate the irrationality, individualism, and fragmentation of the former, the rationalism, unity, and communalism of the latter. There are important differences among the several cultural forms that Maclntyre distinguishes. It is less clear that, lacking (as he admittedly does) a satisfactory account of moral reasoning, Maclntyre has made persuasive his case for abandoning modern liberalism in favor of communalism inspired by pre-modern cultures.

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Alan Gewirth
Rights and Virtues

Abstract: It is first shown that, contrary to Maclntyre, human rights are not 'fictions'. I then summarize my own argument for human rights, and reply to Maclntyre's objections. Turning to his own positive doctrine, I indicate that it is confronted with 'the problem of moral indeterminacy', in that it allows or provides for outcomes which are mutually opposed to one another so far as concerns their moral status. I then take up Maclntyre's triadic account of the virtues and show that each phase - practice, narrative order of a single life, and moral tradition - is morally indeterminate, as are also his accounts of the morality of law and the virtue of justice. My conclusion is that moral virtues must be based on human rights if the virtues are to have morally justified contents.

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David Miller
Virtues and Practices

Abstract: Maclntyre presents an account of the virtues first in terms of practices and then in terms of the narrative unity of a person's life. He fails, however, to observe an important distinction between self-contained and purposive practices; if the virtues are to be understood by reference to practices, they must be of the latter kind. By the same token, a defence of the virtues must refer to the social purposes which practices serve rather than to the goods internal to practices. An appeal to the idea of narrative unity does not save the position in the absence of any concrete specification of the good life for man. Maclntyre's attempt to reconstitute the virtues falls foul of the moral pluralism that he has earlier diagnosed so acutely.

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Annette Baier
Civilizing Practices

Abstract: Maclntyre's contrast between contemporary individualist versions of morality, expressive of arbitrary selfwill, and some less willful or less arbitrary moral guidance, is queried. All social practices, both those Maclntyre disapproves of and those he prefers, are claimed to contain elements of arbitrariness, and some scope for the expression of some individual human wills. Maclntyre's neglect of the question of what allocation of power a particular practice or set of practices involves is contrasted with Hume's due but not undue attention to this matter. Maclntyre's treatment of Hume's place in the history of the Aristotelian conception of the moral life as cultivation of virtues is criticized and tentatively explained as really due not to Hume's anti-rationalism, but to his acceptance of the political and commercial practices which Maclntyre distrusts, and to his rejection of the non-Aristotelian religious concepts of other-worldly goods, sin and redemption from it, which Maclntyre wants added on to Aristotle's moral theory.

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Diskussion / Discussion

Richard Rorty
A Reply to Six Critics

Abstract: Professors Maclntyre and Rosenberg are more inclined than I to believe that 'philosophy' names a natural kind - a distinctive sort of inquiry with a continuous history since the Greeks. Their criticisms of my book reflect this disagreement. Mr. Montefiore brings to light various ambiguities in my use of such terms as "edifying philosophy" and "Continental philosophy". His criticisms make good points against the concluding portions of Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. Professors Bennett and Turnbull rightly say that I have over-simplified the current situation in Anglo-Saxon analytic philosophy, but I would hope that these simplificatons do not affect the gist of my argument. Dr. Köhler very helpfully traces connections between my metaphilosophical views and my discussion certain first-order issues.

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