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.
What Aristotle and Aquinas stress is our fallibility, our liability to error, without such shared deliberation. “In important matters we deliberate with others, not relying on ourselves for certitude” (Nicomachean Ethics III, 1112b10–11), wrote Aristotle, while Aquinas was more emphatic, arguing that a single individual is always liable to consider some aspects of a particular case at the expense of others, a danger that may be remedied if one consults with others (Summa Theologiae Ia–IIae, qu. 14, art. 3)...It matters, then, as I also noticed earlier, with whom we deliberate and how we deliberate with them...The particular forms that such critical deliberation takes will be significantly different in home, school, and workplace, but there can be moments of crisis in the ongoing life of each when it is of crucial importance both for the projects of home, school, and workplace and for the individuals engaged in those projects...‘What is my good qua human agent?’ In answering this latter question, we decide how the various aspects and relationships of each role are to be integrated into a single life and how the unity of that life ‘What is my good qua human agent?’ In answering this latter question, we decide how the various aspects and relationships of each role are to be integrated into a single life and how the unity of that life. (p.192)
KeywordsDesire, Practical Reason, Aristotle, Neo-Aristotelian, Marx, Aquinas, Politics, Ethics, Self-Knowledge Moral Philosophy
ThemesEthics in the Conflicts of Modernity
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