This paper deploys Alasdair MacIntyre’s Aristotelian virtue ethics, in which meaningfulness is understood to supervene on human functioning, to bring empirical and ethical accounts of meaningful work into dialogue. Whereas empirical accounts have presented the experience of meaningful work either in terms of agents’ orientation to work or as intrinsic to certain types of work, ethical accounts have largely assumed the latter formulation and subjected it to considerations of distributive justice. This paper critiques both the empirical and ethical literatures from (...) the standpoint of MacIntyre’s account of the relationship between the development of virtuous dispositions and participation in work that is productive of goods internal to practices. This reframing suggests new directions for empirical and ethical enquiries. (shrink)
Aristotle is the most influential philosopher of practice, and Knight's new book explores the continuing importance of Aristotelian philosophy. First, it examines the theoretical bases of what Aristotle said about ethical, political and productive activity. It then traces ideas of practice through such figures as St Paul, Luther, Hegel, Heidegger and recent Aristotelian philosophers, and evaluates Alasdair MacIntyre's contribution. Knight argues that, whereas Aristotle's own thought legitimated oppression, MacIntyre's revision of Aristotelianism separates ethical excellence from social elitism and justifies resistance. (...) With MacIntyre, Aristotelianism becomes revolutionary. MacIntyre's case for the Thomistic Aristotelian tradition originates in his attempt to elaborate a Marxist ethics informed by analytic philosophy. He analyses social practices in teleological terms, opposing them to capitalist institutions and arguing for the cooperative defence of our moral agency. In condensing these ideas, Knight advances a theoretical argument for the reformation of Aristotelianism and an ethical argument for social change. (shrink)
Social practices are widely regarded as the bedrock that turns one’s spade, beneath which no further justifications for action can be found. Followers of the later Wittgenstein might therefore be right to agree with Heideggerians and neo-pragmatists that philosophy’s traditional search for first principles should be abandoned. However, the concept of practices has played a very different role in the philosophy of Alasdair MacIntyre. Having once helped lead the assault on foundationalism in both moral and social philosophy, his elaboration of (...) an Aristotelian’ concept of practices in After Virtue has since led him to embrace a metaphysical teleology. This paper attempts to outline MacIntyre’s Aristotelian concept, and to identify its ethical, political and philosophical significance. (shrink)
Parts 1 to 3 of this paper explore the theoretical rationale and ethical significance of Alasdair MacIntyre’s twin distinctions between goods internal and external to practices and between goods of excellence and of effectiveness. Parts 4 and 5 then relate this analysis to his critique of contemporary institutions, compartmentalisation and management. My argument is that these concepts express a teleological theory of why and how goods should be ordered which, in refusing to identify practical rationality with institutional actuality and instead (...) differentiating between rival traditions, progresses beyond the theories of Aristotle and of other, past and present anglophone Aristotelians. (shrink)
The essays in this collection explore the implications of Alasdair MacIntyre's critique of liberalism, capitalism, and the modern state, his early Marxism, and the complex influences of Marxist ideas on his thought. A central idea is that MacIntyre's political and social theory is a form of revolutionary--not reactionary--Aristotelianism. The contributors aim, in varying degrees, both to engage with the theoretical issues of MacIntyre's critique and to extend and deepen his insights. The book features a new introductory essay by MacIntyre, "How (...) Aristotelianism Can Become Revolutionary," and ends with an essay in which MacIntyre comments on the other authors' contributions. It also includes Kelvin Knight's 1996 essay, "Revolutionary Aristotelianism," which first challenged conservative appropriations of MacIntyre's critique of liberalism by reinterpreting his Aristotelianism through the lens of his earlier engagement with Marx. "This is an excellent collection. Its particular strength is its sustained focus on Alasdair MacIntyre's political thought, in particular MacIntyre's complicated relation and indebtedness to Marxism. In their introduction, the co-editors say that the reception of MacIntyre within political philosophy has largely been reductive and one-sided, namely, that he is simply viewed as a conservative communitarian. In focusing on MacIntyre's radical heritage, this volume helps correct that simplistic misperception. --_Keith Breen, Queen's University Belfast_. (shrink)
Alasdair MacIntyre has recently had published two books of selected essays, a study of the phenomenologist Edith Stein, a third edition of After Virtue, and an extensive collection of his early Marxist writings. These are reviewed, along with two recently published commentaries upon his work. The recent reinterpretation and revival of interest in that work receives much support from most of these publications. Central to this reinterpretation is the concept of practices, which MacIntyre first elaborated in After Virtue. His recent (...) work indicates how that concept may be further developed in the direction of a politically radical moral realism. (shrink)
Philosophical tradition has been challenged by those who would have us look to our own practice, and to nothing beyond. In this, the philosophy of Martin Heidegger is followed by the politics of Hannah Arendt, for whom the tradition of political philosophy terminated with Karl Marx’s theorization of labour. This challenge has been met by Alasdair MacIntyre, for whom the young Marx’s reconceptualization of production as a social activity can inform an Aristotelianism that addresses our shared practices in traditional, teleological (...) terms. Looking to the social nature of our practices orientates us to common goods, to the place of those goods in our own lives, and to their place within political communities. MacIntyre’s Thomistic Aristotelian tradition has Heideggerian and other philosophical rivals, but he argues that it represents our best way of theorizing practice. (shrink)
Interest in Aristotelianism and in virtue ethics has been growing for half a century but as yet the strengths of the study of Aristotelian ethics in politics have not been matched in economics. This ground-breaking text fills that gap. Challenging the premises of neoclassical economic theory, the contributors take issue with neoclassicism’s foundational separation of values from facts, with its treatment of preferences as given, and with its consequent refusal to reason about final ends. Contributions critically engage with aspects of (...) corporate capitalism, managerial power and neoliberal economic policy, and reflect on the recent financial crisis from the point of view of Aristotelian virtue ethics. Containing a new chapter by Alasdair MacIntyre, and deploying his arguments and conceptual scheme throughout, the book critically analyses the theoretical presuppositions and institutional reality of modern capitalism. (shrink)
Alasdair MacIntyre is an Aristotelian critic of communitarianism, which he understands to be committed to the politics of the capitalist and bureaucratic nation state. The politics he proposes instead is based in the resistance to managerial institutions of what he calls 'practices', because these are schools of virtue. This shares little with the communitarianism of a Taylor or the Aristotelianism of a Gadamer. Although practices require formal institutions. MacIntyre opposes such conservative politics. Conventional accounts of a 'liberal-communitarian debate' in political (...) philosophy face the dilemma that Alasdair MacIntyre, often identified as a paradigmatic communitarian, has consistently and emphatically repudiated this characterization. Although neo-Aristotelianism is sometimes seen as a philosophical warrant for communitarian politics, MacIntyre's Aristotelianism is opposed to communitarianism. This paper explores the rationale of that opposition. (shrink)
This compelling and distinctive volume advances Aristotelianism by bringing its traditional virtue ethics to bear upon characteristically modern issues, such as the politics of economic power and egalitarian dispute. This volume bridges the gap between Aristotle's philosophy and the multitude of contemporary Aristotelian theories that have been formulated in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Part I draws on Aristotle's texts and Thomas Aquinas' Aristotelianism to examine the Aristotelian tradition of virtues, with a chapter by Alasdair MacIntyre contextualising the different readings (...) of Aristotle's philosophy. Part II offers a critical engagement with MacIntyrean Aristotelianism, while Part III demonstrates the ongoing influence of Aristotelianism in contemporary theoretical debates on governance and politics. Extensive in its historical scope, this is a valuable collection relating the tradition of virtue to modernity, which will be of interest to all working in virtue ethics and contemporary Aristotelian politics. (shrink)
This compelling and distinctive volume advances Aristotelianism by bringing its traditional virtue ethics to bear upon characteristically modern issues, such as the politics of economic power and egalitarian dispute. Clearly divided into three parts and featuring a contribution from Alasdair MacIntyre, this volume bridges the gap between Aristotle's philosophy and the multitude of contemporary Aristotelian theories that have been formulated in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Part I draws on Aristotle's texts and Thomas Aquinas' Aristotelianism to examine the Aristotelian tradition (...) of virtues, with a chapter by Alasdair MacIntyre contextualising the different readings of Aristotle's philosophy. Part II offers a critical engagement with MacIntyrean Aristotelianism, assessing MacIntyre's development of Aristotelian themes and revealing their conflict with modernity. Firmly establishing the relevance of Aristotle's thought today, Part III demonstrates the ongoing influence of Aristotelianism in contemporary theoretical debates on governance and politics. Extensive in its historical scope, this is a valuable collection relating the tradition of virtue to modernity, which will be of interest to all working in virtue ethics and contemporary Aristotelian politics. (shrink)
Alasdair MacIntyre has long believed that philosophy should be conducted with reference to its past. Since After Virtue, he has argued that philosophy’s past should be understood in terms of rival traditions. This essay attempts to chart the development of MacIntyre’s historical thinking about ethics against the longer development of liberalism’s rival tradition of thinking about history, drawing contrasts with what was said by Immanuel Kant on progress, R. G. Collingwood on civilization, and John Rawls on pluralism.
Alasdair MacIntyre is one of the most controversial philosophers and social theorists of our time. He opposes liberalism and postmodernism with the teleological arguments of an updated Thomistic Aristotelianism. It is this tradition, he claims, which presents the best theory so far about the nature of rationality, morality, and politics. This is the first reader of MacIntyre's groundbreaking work. It includes extracts from and his own synopses of two famous books from the 1980s, After Virtue and Whose Justice? Which Rationality? (...) as well as the whole of several shorter works and two interviews. Together, these pieces constitute not only a representative collection of his work but also the most powerful and accessible presentation of his arguments yet available. The MacIntyre Reader concludes with Kelvin Knight 's clear, concise, and insightful overview of the development of MacIntyre's central ideas and how they have developed in his writings. Students will find this book a powerful and accessible introduction to one of the great thinkers of our time. "The publication of the new MacIntyre Reader--a fascinating anthology of his work from his Marxist beginnings to his Thomistic conclusions--provides an interesting opportunity for reconsidering the man's thought." --The Weekly Standard Kelvin Knight is Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of North London. (shrink)
Analytic philosophy began in G.E. Moore's critique of idealist accounts of reality, implicating as dilemmatic F.H. Bradley's identification of the good with self-realization. Neither the tradition of British idealism nor the successor tradition of analytic metaethics was able to sustain the salience previously enjoyed by the concept of good. The essay's second part analyzes Alasdair MacIntyre's account of that longer tradition, and his argument that Aristotelianism's conceptual scheme provides the best solution to modern moral philosophy's dilemma about the human good.