Ii. virtues, human good, and the unity of a life

Inquiry 26 (4):407 – 424 (1983)
Abstract
Maclntyre's ?disquieting suggestion? concerning the apparently irretrievably anarchic state of contemporary moral discourse begs the crucial questions in any argument over the notion of ?incoherence? in moral thought and practice. Thus his attempt to establish the canonical authority of Aristotelianism fails. Nonetheless, the attempt to reconstruct a plausible Aristotelianism is of independent interest. Maclntyre introduces the quasi?technical notion of a ?practice? to locate a non?reductive teleology of the virtues. Though certain teleological expressions come naturally in a deepened understanding of the place of the virtues in a human life, they will not, at crucial points, bear the philosophically motivated teleological emphasis that Maclntyre places on them. This emphasis is a mistaken reaction to the inadequacies of expressions like ?intrinsic? and ?for its own sake?, as often used by philosophers who argue against teleological construals of morality. It is also prompted by the mistaken belief that it is required to reveal the connection between morality and a person's good. For a non?reductive construal of that connection we must focus on the meaning of action and of a life. This is in accord with some things Aristotle said. It is not in easy accord with the claim that moral judgments are factual or truth?valued, nor with the claim that such a concern with meaning can be discursively underwritten by showing it to be a requirement of any sound philosophy of action and of personal identity. This does not lead to what Maclntyre calls ?emotivism?, nor to ?non?cognitivism?
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References found in this work BETA
Peter Singer (1993). Practical Ethics. Cambridge University Press.
Simone Weil (1970). First and Last Notebooks. New York,Oxford University Press.

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