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Alasdair MacIntyre

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Alasdair MacIntyre is a philosopher specializing in ethics. He is currently a Senior Research Professor of Philosophy at The University of Notre Dame, Indiana. His core interests include ethics, practical reason, Aristotle, and Thomas Aquinas.

MacIntyre is a key figure in the recent surge of interest in virtue ethics, which is an approach in moral philosophy that examines the development of good character, and emphasises the importance of moral goods meaningful only with respect to the virtuous person (this is what MacIntyre calls internal goods) rather than focusing on character-external phenomena such as the obligation of a moral agent (deontological ethics) or on the consequences of a particular moral act (utilitarianism). Virtue ethics is associated with pre-modern philosophers, especially philosophers before Immanuel Kant. Macintyre has argued that ancient and medieval approaches to moral thought have been more successful than modern ones, a view echoed by such philosophers as Simon Blackburn, Bernard Williams, and Martha Nussbaum. In After Virtue, MacIntyre traces a line of what he sees as decay from the abandonment of Aristotelianism by René Descartes and his followers, through the Enlightenment to the philosophy of emotivism.

Selected Bibliography

  • Marxism: An Interpretation, 1953;
  • A Short History of Ethics, 1966;
  • Marxism and Christianity, 1968;
  • Against the Self-Images of the Age: Essays on Ideology and Philosophy, 1971;
  • After Virtue, 1981, 2nd ed. 1984;
  • Whose Justice? Which Rationality?, 1988;
  • Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry, 1990;
  • Dependent Rational Animals, 1999.

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