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Ethics and Politics: Selected Essays, Volume 2

by MacIntyre, Alasdair (2006)


Alasdair MacIntyre is one of the most creative and important philosophers working today. This volume presents a selection of his classic essays on ethics and politics collected together for the first time, focussing particularly on the themes of moral disagreement, moral dilemmas, and truthfulness and its importance. The essays range widely in scope, from Aristotle and Aquinas and what we need to learn from them, to our contemporary economic and social structures and the threat which they pose to the realization of the forms of ethical life. They will appeal to a wide range of readers across philosophy and especially in moral philosophy, political philosophy, and theology.

Key Passage

These and similar facts support a crucial generalization: that the dominant culture of postEnlightenment modernity lacks any overall agreement, let alone any rationally founded or even rationally debatable agreement, on what it is that would make it rational for an individual to sacrifice her or is life for some other or others or what it is that would make it rational to allow an individual’s life to be sacrificed for the sake of some other individual or some group or institution. But this does not mean that within that culture there is no way of arriving at practically effective agreements on the basis of shared norms and values. It is rather that what shared norms and values there are vary from one compartmentalized context to another, within each of which the relationships between rights, duties, utility, and presupposed contract are understood in a way that is the outcome of the power relationships which dominate that particular context. Hence practically effective agreements embody conclusions that also vary from one context to another. And, given that there are no generally agreed rational standards available for deciding how competing claims concerning rights, duties, utility, and contract are to be adjudicated, it could scarcely be otherwise. (p.184)


Macintyre, Aristotle, Aquinas, Telos, Marxism, Moral Disagreement, Moral Philosophy, Ethics, Free Markets, Enlightenment


Ethics and Politics, 2 Vols

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