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After Virtue

Alisdair MacIntyre, 2nd ed. (University of Notre Dame Press: May 1997, orig. 1981), 312 pages.

When “After Virtue” first appeared in 1981, it was recognized as a significant and potentially controversial critique of contemporary moral philosophy. Newsweek called it “a stunning new study of ethics by one of the foremost moral philosophers in the English-speaking world.” Since that time, the book has been translated into more than fifteen foreign languages and has sold over one hundred thousand copies. Now, twenty-five years later, the University of Notre Dame Press is pleased to release the third edition of “After Virtue”, which includes a new prologue “After Virtue after a Quarter of a Century.” In this classic work, Alasdair MacIntyre examines the historical and conceptual roots of the idea of virtue, diagnoses the reasons for its absence in personal and public life, and offers a tentative proposal for its recovery. While the individual chapters are wide-ranging, once pieced together they comprise a penetrating and focused argument about the price of modernity. In the Third Edition prologue, MacIntyre revisits the central theses of the book and concludes that although he has learned a great deal and has supplemented and refined his theses and arguments in other works, he has “as yet found no reason for abandoning the major contentions” of this book. While he recognizes that his conception of human beings as virtuous or vicious needed not only a metaphysical but also a biological grounding, ultimately he remains “committed to the thesis that it is only from the standpoint of a very different tradition, one whose beliefs and presuppositions were articulated in their classical form by Aristotle, that we can understand both the genesis and the predicament of moral modernity.” ~ Product Description

Table of Contents

    • Prologue: After Virtue after a Quarter of a Century ix
    • Preface xvii
    • A Disquieting Suggestion 1
    • The Nature of Moral Disagreement Today and the Claims of Emotivism 6
    • Emotivism: Social Content and Social Context 23
    • The Predecessor Culture and the Enlightenment Project of Justifying Morality 36
    • Why the Enlightenment Project of Justifying Morality Had to Fail 51
    • Some Consequences of the Failure of the Enlightenment Project 62
    • ‘Fact’, Explanation and Expertise 79
    • The Character of Generalizations in Social Science and their Lack of Predictive Power 88
    • Nietzsche or Aristotle? 109
    • The Virtues of Heroic Societies 121
    • The Virtues of Athens 131
    • Aristotle’s Account of the Virtues 146
    • Medieval Aspects and Occasions 165
    • The Nature of the Virtues 181
    • The Virtues, the Unity of a Human Life and the Concept of a Tradition 204
    • From the Virtues to Virtue and after Virtue 226
    • Justice as a Virtue: Changing Conceptions 244
    • After Virtue: Nietzsche or Aristotle, Trotsky and St. Benedict 256
    • Postscript to the Second Edition 264
    • Bibliography 279
    • Index 283