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    Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue. A Study in Moral Theory

    Johnathan R. Razorback
    Johnathan R. Razorback

    Messages : 9923
    Date d'inscription : 12/08/2013
    Localisation : France

    Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue. A Study in Moral Theory Empty Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue. A Study in Moral Theory

    Message par Johnathan R. Razorback Lun 10 Juil - 15:15


    "When I wrote After Virtue, I was already an Aristotelian, but not yet a Thomist, something made plain in my account of Aquinas at the end of chapter 13. I became a Thomist after writing After Virtue in part because I became convinced that Aquinas was in some respects a better Aristotelian than Aristode, that not only was he an excellent interpreter of Aristode's texts, but that he had been able to extend and deepen both Aristode's metaphysical and his moral enquiries." (p.X)

    "It is only because human beings have an end towards which they are directed by reason of their specific nature, that practices, traditions, and the like are able to function as they do." (p.XI)

    "I see no value in community as such - many types of community are nastily oppressive - and the values of community, as understood by the American spokespersons of contemporary communitarianism, such as Amitai Etzioni, are compatible with and supportive of the values of the liberalism that I reject. My own critique of liberalism derives from a judgment that the best type of human life, that in which the tradition of the virtues is most adequately embodied, is lived by those engaged in constructing and sustaining forms of community directed towards the shared achievement of those common goods without which the ultimate human good cannot be achieved. Liberal political societies are characteristically committed to denying any place for a determinate conception of the human good in their public discourse, let alone allowing that their common life should be grounded in such a conception. On the dominant liberal view, government is to be neutral as between rival conceptions of the human good, yet in fact what liberalism promotes is a kind of institutional order that is inimical to the construction and sustaining of the types of communal relationship required for the best kind of human life.
    This critique of liberalism should not be interpreted as a sign of any sympathy on my part for contemporary conservatism. That conservatism is in too many ways a mirror image of the liberalism that it professedlyopposes. Its commitment to a way of life structured by a free market economy is a commitment to an individualism as corrosive as that ofliberalism. And, where liberalism by permissive legal enactments has tried to use the power of the modem state to transform social relationships, conservatism by prohibitive legal enactments now tries to use that same power for its own coercive purposes. Such conservatism is as alien to the projects of
    After Virtue as liberalism is." (p.XIV-XV)

    "I should also make it clear that, although After Virtue was written in part out of a recognition of those moral inadequacies of Marxism which its twentieth-century history had disclosed, I was and remain deeply indebted to Man's critique of the economic, social, and cultural order of capitalism and to the development of that critique by later Marxists." (p.XIV)

    "I came to understand that Marxism itself has suffered from grave and harm-engendering moral impoverishment as much because of what it has inherited from liberal individualism as because of its departures from liberalism.

    The conclusion which I reached and which is embodied in this book although Marxism itself is only a marginal preoccupation - is that Marxism's moral defects and failures arise from the extent to which it, like liberal individualism, embodies the ethos of the distinctively modern and modernizing world, and that nothing less than a rejection of a large part of that ethos will provide us with a rationally and morally defensible standpoint from which to judge and to act - and in terms of which to evaluate various rival and heterogeneous moral schemes which compete for our allegiance.
    " (p.XVII)

    "What we possess, if this view is true, are the fragments of a conceptual scheme, pans which now lack those contexts from which their significance derived. We possess indeed simulacra of morality, we continue to use many of the key expressions. But we have-very largely, if not entirely-lost our comprehension, both theoretical and practical, or morality." (p.2)

    "In the real world the dominant philosophies of the present, analytical or phenomenological, will be as powerless to detect the disorders of moral thought and practice as they were impotent before the disorders of science in the imaginary world." (p.2-3)

    "Notice that this history, being one of decline and fall, is informed by standards. It is not an evaluatively neutral chronicle. The form of the narrative, the division into stages, presuppose standards of achievement and failure, of order and disorder. It is what Hegel called philosophical history and what Collingwood took all successful historical writing to be." (p.3)

    "Every one of the arguments is logically valid or can be easily expanded so as to be made so ; the conclusions do indeed follow from the premises. But the rival premises are such that we possess no rational way of weighing the claims of one as against another. For each premise employs some quite different normative or evaluative concept from the others, so that the claims made upon us are of quite different kinds. In the first argument, for example, premises which invoke justice and innocence are at odds with premises which invoke success and survival; in the second, premises which invoke rights are at odds with those which invoke universalizability ; in the third it is the claim of equality that is matched against that of libeny. It is precisely because there is in our society no established way of deciding between these claims that moral argument appears to be necessarily interminable. From our rival conclusions we can argue back to our rival premises ; but when we do arrive at our premises argument ceases and the invocation of one premise against another becomes a matter of pure assenion and counter-assenion." (p.8 )

    "We all too often still treat the moral philosophers of the past as contributors to a single debate with a relatively unvarying subject-matter, treating Plato and Hume and Mill as contemporaries both of ourselves and of each other. This leads to an abstraction of these writers from the cultural and social milieus in which they lived and thought and so the history of their thought acquires a false independence from the rest of the culture. Kant ceases to be pan of the history of Prussia, Hume is no longer a Scotsman. For from the standpoint of moral philosophy as we conceive it these characteristics have become irrelevances. Empirical history is one thing, philosophy quite another. But are we right in understanding the division between academic disciplines in the way that we conventionally do ?" (p.11)

    "In the eighteenth century Hume embodied emotivist elements in the large and complex fabric of his total moral theory; but it is only in this century that emotivism has flourished as a theory on its own. And it did so as a response to a set of theories which flourished, especially in England, between 1903 and 1939 . We ought therefore to ask whether emotivism as a theory may not have been both a response to, and in the very first instance, an account of not, as its protagonists indeed supposed, moral language as such, but moral language in England in the years after 1903 as and when that language was interpreted in accordance with that body of theory to the refutation of which emotivism was primarily dedicated.

    The theory in question borrowed from the early nineteenth century the name of 'intuitionism' and its immediate progenitor was G.E. Moore. 'I went up to Cambridge at Michaelmas 1902, and Moore's
    Principia Ethica came out at the end of my first year ... it was exciting, exhilarating, the beginning of a renaissance, the opening of a new heaven on a new earth.' So wrote John Maynard Keynes (quoted in Rosenbaum 1975, p. 52), and so in their own rhetorical modes Lytton Strachey and Desmond McCarth y and later Virginia W oolf, who struggled through Principia Ethica page by page in 1908, and a whole network of Cambridge and London friends and acquaintances. What opened the new heaven was Moore's quiet but apocalyptic proclamation in 1903 that after many centuries he had at last solved the problems of ethics by being the first philosopher to attend with sufficient care to the precise nature of the questions which it is the task of ethics to answer." (p.14-15)

    "First that 'good' is the name of a simple indefinable property, a property different from that named by 'pleasant' or 'conducive to evolutionary survival' or any other natural property. Hence Moore speaks of good as a non-natural property. Propositions declaring this or that to be good are what Moore called 'intuitions'; they are incapable of proof or disproof and indeed no evidence or reasoning whatever can be adduced in their favor or disfavor. Although Moore disclaims any use of the word 'intuition' which might suggest the name of a faculty of intuition comparable to our power of vision, he none the less does compare good as a property with yellow as a property in such a way as to make verdicts that a given state of affairs is or is not good comparable to the simplest judgments of normal visual perception.

    Secondly, Moore takes it that to call an action right is simply to say that of the available alternative actions it is the one which does or did as a matter of fact produce the most good. Moore is thus a utilitarian; every action is to be evaluated solely by its consequences, as compared with the conséquences of alternative possible courses of action. And as with at least some other versions of utilitarianism it follows that no action is ever right or wrong
    as such. Anything whatsoever may under certain circumstances be permitted.

    Thirdly, it turns out to be the case, in the sixth and final chapter of
    Principia Ethica, that 'personal affections and aesthetic enjoyments include all the greatest, and by far the greatest goods we can imagine ... ' This is 'the ultimate and fundamental truth of Moral Philosophy'. The achievement of friendship and the contemplation of what is beautiful in nature or in art become certainly almost the sole and perhaps the sole justifiable ends of all human action.

    We ought to notice immediately two crucial facts about Moore's moral theory. The first is that his three central positions are logically independent of each other. There would be no breach in consistency if one were to affirm anyone of the three and deny the other two. One can be an intuitionist without being a utilitarian; most English intuitionists came to hold the view that there was a non-natural property of 'right' as well as of 'good' and held that to perceive that a certain type of action was 'right' was to see that one had at least a
    prima facie obligation to perform that type of action, independently of its consequences. Likewise a utilitarian has no necessary commitment to intuitionism. And neither utilitarians nor intuitionists have any necessary commitment to the values of Moore's sixth chapter. The second crucial fact is easy to see retrospectively: the first part of what Moore says is plainly false and the second and third parts are, at the very least highly contentious. Moore's arguments at times are, it must seem now, obviously defective -he tries to show that 'good' is indefinable, for example, by relying on a bad dictionary definition of 'definition' -and a great deal is asserted rather than argued. And yet it is this to us plainly false, badly argued position which Keynes treated as 'the beginning of a renaissance', which Lytton Strachey declared to have 'shattered all writers on ethics from Aristotle and Christ to Herbert Spencer and Mr. Bradley' and which Leonard Woolf described as 'substituting for the religious and philosophical nightmares, delusions, hallucinations in which Jehovah, Christ and St. Paul, Plato, Kant and Hegel had entangled us, the fresh air and pure light of commonsense' ". (p.15-16)

    "Carnap's version of emotivism." (p.18)

    "Emotivism has become embodied in our culture. But of course in saying this I am not merely contending that morality is not what it once was, but also and more importantly that what once was morality has to some large degree disappearedand that this marks a degeneration, a grave cultural loss." (p.22)

    "It is not surprising that Weber's understanding of values was indebted chiefly to Nietzsche and that Donald G. Macrae in his book on Weber (1974) calls him an existentialist ; for while he holds that an agent may be more or less rational in acting consistently with his values, the choice of anyone particular evaluative stance or commitment can be no more rational than that of any other. All faiths and all evaluations are equally non-rational; all are subjective directions given to sentiment and feeling. Weber is then, in the broader sense in which I have understood the term, an emotivist." (p.26)

    -Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue. A Study in Moral Theory, University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, Indiana, Third edition, 2007 (1981 pour la première édition américaine), 286 pages.

    « La question n’est pas de constater que les gens vivent plus ou moins pauvrement, mais toujours d’une manière qui leur échappe. »
    -Guy Debord, Critique de la séparation (1961).

    « Rien de grand ne s’est jamais accompli dans le monde sans passion. »
    -Hegel, La Raison dans l'Histoire.

      La date/heure actuelle est Lun 6 Déc - 14:08