For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

Ethics in the Conflicts of Modernity: An Essay on Desire, Practical Reasoning, and Narrative

by MacIntyre, Alasdair (2016)


Alasdair MacIntyre explores some central philosophical, political and moral claims of modernity and argues that a proper understanding of human goods requires a rejection of these claims. In a wide-ranging discussion, he considers how normative and evaluative judgments are to be understood, how desire and practical reasoning are to be characterized, what it is to have adequate self-knowledge, and what part narrative plays in our understanding of human lives. He asks, further, what it would be to understand the modern condition from a neo-Aristotelian or Thomistic perspective, and argues that Thomistic Aristotelianism, informed by Marx's insights, provides us with resources for constructing a contemporary politics and ethics which both enable and require us to act against modernity from within modernity. This rich and important book builds on and advances MacIntyre's thinking in ethics and moral philosophy, and will be of great interest to readers in both fields.

Key Passage

About human goods what is of the first importance from this point of view is, as I have already emphasized, that individuals should understand that they can achieve their own individual goods only through achieving in the company of others those common goods that we share as family members, as collaborators in the workplace, as participants in a variety of local groups and societies, and as fellow citizens. Take away the notion of such common goods and what is left is a conception of the individual abstracted from her or his social relationships and from the norms of justice that must inform those relationships, if the individual is to flourish. It is because of the common goods served by productive work that justice is so important for the relationships of the workplace. (p.106)


Desire, Practical Reason, Aristotle, Neo-Aristotelian, Marx, Aquinas, Politics, Ethics, Self-Knowledge Moral Philosophy


Ethics in the Conflicts of Modernity

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