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

The first is a matter of identifying a set of goods whose contribution to a good life, whatever one’s culture or social order, it would be difficult to deny. They are at least eightfold, beginning with good health and a standard of living – food, clothing, shelter – that frees one from destitution. Add to these good family relationships, sufficient education to make good use of opportunities to develop one’s powers, work that is productive and rewarding, and good friends. Add further time beyond one’s work for activities good in themselves, athletic, aesthetic, intellectual, and the ability of a rational agent to order one’s life and to identify and learn from one’s mistakes. (p.222)


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


Ethics in the Conflicts of Modernity

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