In the Twilight of Modernity: MacIntyre and Mitchell on Moral Traditions and Their Assessment

Journal of Religious Ethics 19 (1):21 - 54 (1991)
Abstract
This essay compares Alasdair Maclntyre's and Basil Mitchell's recent work in religious ethics and ethical theory. The focus is on the interconnections among theories of human nature, sociocultural context, moral thought, and theories of rationality, all of which have a bearing on our prospects for assessing moral traditions. While I note many of the striking parallels between their positions, I also point out that they differ regarding their appreciation of the impact of social and cultural context on morality. In distinction from Maclntyre, Mitchell combines an appreciation for moral tradition with an awareness that in order to assess traditions we must have some critical resources that are relatively tradition-independent. He finds these in theories of human nature and in general standards of rationality. Furthermore, from Mitchell's perspective, Maclntyre seems to employ similar resources in developing his position.
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