MacIntyre and The Ethics of Catastrophe

Humana Mente 29 (2):204-220 (2021)
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ABSTRACT MacIntyre characterises liberal societies as suffering distinctive, structural forms of malaise: they are a ‘disaster’, a ‘moral calamity’, sites of ‘barbarism and darkness’. I argue that, whilst we well understand why MacIntyre thinks liberalism is false, it is unclear why this falsity should imply such moral catastrophe. I begin by motivating the question and distinguishing it from the classic liberal-communitarian debates. In particular, I highlight liberalism’s ability to offer ‘workarounds’, accommodating at least some of MacIntyre’s commitments and so forestalling the prospect of moral disaster. I then introduce two arguments which supply the missing premises, in each case juxtaposing MacIntyre with other critics of liberalism. First, I argue that liberalism’s conception of the private sphere systematically marginalizes MacIntyre’s vision of pedagogy. I compare the argument and the attendant conception of privacy with Adorno’s. In §5, I introduce the second premise: I argue that liberalism espouses a conception of maturity that actively undermines MacIntyre’s model of development, subverting liberal ‘workarounds’. I contrast this claim with recent attacks on liberalism by Deneen. I close with some methodological implications: MacIntyre’s case against liberalism should be seen as a form of external, not immanent, critique.



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Sacha Golob
King's College London

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References found in this work

The Ethics of Authenticity.Charles Taylor - 1992 - Harvard University Press.
Critique of Forms of Life.Rahel Jaeggi - 2018 - Harvard University Press.
The Morality of Freedom.Joseph Raz - 1986 - Philosophy 63 (243):119-122.
The morality of freedom.J. Raz - 1988 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 178 (1):108-109.

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