Dependent rational animals: Why human beings need the virtues
by MacIntyre, A C (1999)
According to the author of" After Virtue," to flourish, humans need to develop virtues of independent thought and acknowledged social dependence. This book presents the moral philosopher's comparison of humans to other animals and his exploration of the impact of these virtues. Although he is most widely known for his book "After Virtue" (1981), with its critique of reason and ethics, Alasdair MacIntyre writes in other areas of philosophy as well, including philosophical psychology, political theory, and philosophy of religion. Born in Scotland, he was educated at Manchester, London, and Oxford universities. In 1969, he went to the United States where he has taught at Brandeis, Boston, and Vanderbilt universities. Since 1988, when he also delivered the Gifford lectures, MacIntyre has taught at the University of Notre Dame. "After Virtue" is one of the most widely discussed of all recent books on moral philosophy. It is the culmination of MacIntyre's deep engagement with the history of ethics. In it he argues that modern ethical theory, as it has developed since the seventeenth century, has been exposed by Friedrich Nietzsche as conceptually bankrupt. To find an alternative, he looks to ancient Greece and especially to Aristotle's concept of virtue. Although his critics consider this alternative to be something of an impossible dream, MacIntyre argues that it is central to a recovery of ethics.
Good is ascribed, that is, both to what benefits human beings as such and to what benefits human beings in particular roles within particular contexts of practice. A good human being is one who benefits her or himself and others (much more will of course need to be said about this) both qua human being and also characteristically qua the exemplary discharge of particular roles or functions within the context of particular kinds of practice, as someone may benefit her or himself and others both qua conscientious and cheerful human being and qua shepherd or nurse. (p.42)
KeywordsVirtue, Macintyre, Animals, Society, Social Dependence, Virtues, Reason
ThemesDependent Rational Animals
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