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2008 (30) Heft 1

Revolutionary Aristotelianism: Ethics,Resistance and Utopia


Guest-Editors: Kelvin Knight / Paul Blackledge

Editorial | Inhalt | Abstracts

This special issue is composed of revisions of papers originally presented at a conference on Alasdair MacIntyre’s Revolutionary Aristotelianism: Ethics, Resistance and Utopia, hosted by the Human Rights and Social Justice Research Institute at London Metropolitan University from 29th June to 1st July 2007. In publishing them, Analyse & Kritik demonstrates a continuing interest in MacIntyre’s work which began with an important symposium on After Virtue in 1984, 6(1). Now republished in a third edition, After Virtue remains central to the understanding of his work in several of the papers below (Duckworth 2007; as some papers deal with MacIntyre’s theoretical development, reference is also made to different editions). As in the earlier symposium, MacIntyre responds in a way that clarifies and extends his past arguments, his present position, and his relation to rival theories of moral, social and political practice. As the title of his response suggests, much more remains to be said on the subjects that are opened here.

The first group of papers refer, in ways that MacIntyre commends, to his characterization of his philosophy as part of an ‘Aristotelian’ tradition of enquiry. The origins of this tradition are illuminatingly located by Carey Seal in the ethos of the Greek polis. Cary Nederman, a leading historian of political thought, carries Aristotelianism into the Middle Ages, demonstrating how the tradition was progressed and democratized through the excision of Aristotle’s aristocratic disdain for manual workers. Similarly, Kelvin Knight argues that MacIntyre’s further development of the tradition helps it to rebut Heideggerian critique.

MacIntyre specifies that his Aristotelianism is ‘Thomistic’, and this is the subject of the next group of papers. In an interpretation of MacIntyre’s own development that he vigorously contests, Alex Bavister-Gould argues that his turn to Thomism represents a break from the argument of After Virtue. Thomas Osborne advances a Thomist defence of modern states against MacIntyre’s moral critique of modernity, whereas a robustly Thomist defence of that critique is mounted by Christopher Lutz.

The third set of papers begins with another interpretation of MacIntyre’s philosophical development from After Virtue onward, in which Marian Kuna explains the continuity in MacIntyre’s increasingly explicit acceptance of an Aristotelian metaphysics. A more novel case for the centrality of theoretical philosophy to MacIntyre’s practical philosophy is proposed by Piotr Machura. Both Seiriol Morgan and Benedict Smith elicit important clarifications of MacIntyre’s philosophical position. Smith does so by comparing his position to that of John McDowell, Morgan by challenging his critique of modern moral agency.

MacIntyre’s critique of characteristically modern theory and practice is the concern of the final six papers. Timothy Chappell argues that MacIntyre is wrong to reject liberalism’s account of radical disagreement, because such disagreement is less peculiar to modernity than MacIntyre contends. Bill Bowring argues that the bases of many rights in popular struggles for social justice affords grounds for the critique of capitalism, and this is an argument to which MacIntyre accedes with an alacrity that some may find surprising. Paul Blackledge points towards a reengagement with the idea that workers might possess the resources for socialist resistance to capitalism through a preliminary anti-critique of MacIntyre’s mature critique of Marxism, in response to which MacIntyre offers an affirmative account of his present relation to the tradition of which he was once a leading British protagonist. A clarificatory paper by Ron Beadle, the leading practitioner of a MacIntyrean empirics, argues that modern corporate management, because it necessarily prioritizes external goods, can never satisfy the criteria for what MacIntyre calls a practice. Finally, Russell Keat proposes market socialism as a third way between the capitalism that MacIntyre opposes and the politics of local community for which he continues to argue.

Other papers from the conference are published in a special issue of Philosophy of Management 6(3) (edited by Ron Beadle and by the target of Beadle’s critique here, Geoff Moore), and in a book, Virtue and Politics (edited, like this issue, by Paul Blackledge and Kelvin Knight), including MacIntyre’s opening address to the conference. The event has been declared the first conference of an International Society for MacIntyrean Philosophy. The second annual ISMP conference will be at St. Meinrad in Indiana, and future conferences are planned at University College Dublin and ISM University, Vilnius. The kind of interest in MacIntyre’s work that has been sustained by Analyse & Kritik looks set to grow.

Kelvin Knight, Paul Blackledge


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