Ideas of Alasdair MacIntyre, by Theme

[British, b.1929, Professor at Duke University, North Carolina.]

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1. Philosophy / B. History of Ideas / 4. Early European Thought
In the Reformation, morality became unconditional but irrational, individually autonomous, and secular
1. Philosophy / B. History of Ideas / 5. Later European Thought
The Levellers and the Diggers mark a turning point in the history of morality
In the 17th-18th centuries morality offered a cure for egoism, through altruism
1. Philosophy / B. History of Ideas / 6. Twentieth Century Thought
Twentieth century social life is re-enacting eighteenth century philosophy
1. Philosophy / D. Nature of Philosophy / 6. Despair over Philosophy
Philosophy has been marginalised by its failure in the Enlightenment to replace religion
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 9. Limits of Reason
Proof is a barren idea in philosophy, and the best philosophy never involves proof
3. Truth / A. Truth Problems / 3. Value of Truth
Spinoza's life shows that love of truth which he proclaims as the highest value
12. Knowledge Sources / D. Empiricism / 5. Empiricism Critique
To find empiricism and science in the same culture is surprising, as they are really incompatible
13. Knowledge Criteria / E. Relativism / 4. Cultural relativism
Relativism can be seen as about the rationality of different cultural traditions
14. Science / A. Basis of Science / 4. Prediction
Unpredictability doesn't entail inexplicability, and predictability doesn't entail explicability
14. Science / B. Scientific Theories / 1. Scientific Theory
Social sciences discover no law-like generalisations, and tend to ignore counterexamples
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 2. Psuché
When Aristotle speaks of soul he means something like personality
18. Thought / B. Mechanics of Thought / 6. Artificial Thought / a. Artificial Intelligence
AI can't predict innovation, or consequences, or external relations, or external events
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 1. Nature of Value / f. Fact and value
The value/fact logical gulf is misleading, because social facts involve values
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 2. Happiness / b. Eudaimonia
'Happiness' is a bad translation of 'eudaimonia', which includes both behaving and faring well
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 1. Nature of Ethics / c. Purpose of ethics
The good life for man is the life spent seeking the good life for man
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 1. Nature of Ethics / d. Ethical theory
We still have the appearance and language of morality, but we no longer understand it
Unlike expressions of personal preference, evaluative expressions do not depend on context
Moral judgements now are anachronisms from a theistic age
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / b. Rational ethics
The failure of Enlightenment attempts to justify morality will explain our own culture
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / c. Ethical intuitionism
Mention of 'intuition' in morality means something has gone wrong with the argument
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / e. Human nature
When 'man' is thought of individually, apart from all roles, it ceases to be a functional concept
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / h. Expressivism
Emotivism cannot explain the logical terms in moral discourse ('therefore', 'if..then')
Nowadays most people are emotivists, and it is embodied in our culture
In trying to explain the type of approval involved, emotivists are either silent, or viciously circular
The expression of feeling in a sentence is in its use, not in its meaning
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / j. Ethics by convention
Sophists don't distinguish a person outside one social order from someone outside all order
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 1. Virtue Theory / a. Nature of virtue
Maybe we can only understand rules if we first understand the virtues
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 1. Virtue Theory / d. Virtue theory critique
Virtue is secondary to a role-figure, defined within a culture
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / e. Character
Characters are the masks worn by moral philosophies
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / h. Right feelings
If morality just is emotion, there are no external criteria for judging emotions
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 3. Virtues / c. Justice
'Dikaiosune' is justice, but also fairness and personal integrity
23. Ethics / D. Deontological Ethics / 2. Duty
My duties depend on my identity, which depends on my social relations
23. Ethics / E. Utilitarianism / 1. Utilitarianism
Since Moore thinks the right action produces the most good, he is a utilitarian
25. Society / A. State of Nature / 2. Natural Freedom
I am naturally free if I am not tied to anyone by a contract
25. Society / A. State of Nature / 4. Natural Rights / a. Natural rights
There are no natural or human rights, and belief in them is nonsense
25. Society / D. Social Rights / 1. Legal Rights / a. Basis of rights
Fans of natural rights or laws can't agree on what the actual rights or laws are
28. God / A. Divine Nature / 4. Divine Contradictions
If God is omniscient, he confronts no as yet unmade decisions, so decisions are impossible
29. Religion / C. Monotheistic Religion / 4. Bible
The Bible is a story about God in which humans are incidental characters