Alasdair MacIntyre: Critic of Modernity by Peter McMylor

By Peter McMylor

This ebook is the 1st complete size account of the importance of Alasdair MacIntyre's paintings for the social sciences. MacIntyre's ethical philosophy is proven to supply the assets for a robust critique of liberalism. His tradition is obvious because the notion for a serious social technology of modernity.

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In practice we have a marked tendency to appeal to different bits of the fragments, hence our difficulty. The cultural and intellectual response to this situation is the emergence of emotivist ethics, in which arguments about values are considered to be nothing more than statements of individual preference; argument tends to become a species of rhetoric which makes a person’s feeling present to the world; so they can exhibit the choosing of a position—as we see in the following definition, the moral critic has resurfaced in a new guise: Emotivism is the doctrine that all evaluative judgements and specifically all moral judgements are nothing but expressions of preference, expressions of attitudes or feeling, in so far as they are moral or evaluative in character…factual judgements are true or false; and in the realm of fact there are rational criteria by means of which we may secure agreement… But moral judgements, being expressions of attitude or feeling, are neither true nor false and agreement…is not to be secured by any rational method… It is to be secured if at all by producing certain non-rational effects on the emotions or attitudes of those who disagree with one.

Even if we grant the priority of sociological factors in deciding the fate of Marxism, we cannot neglect the role of intellectuals and ideas. 1 We should note, therefore, that long before political developments seemed to question Marxism, there was, by the end of the nineteenth century, a powerful weight of pessimism in European culture concerning the emancipatory potential of the application of human thought to the world. Stuart Hughes has shown, this pessimism took the form of a critique of the Enlightenment in general, and of Marxism in particular, focusing positively on concepts like the Freudian unconscious and Nietzsche’s ‘will to power’.

With moral vocabulary ripped from its context, we are left only with the fragments of the originally meaningful moral scheme. The fragments are used, or referred to in everyday life, so we continue to act as if there continued to exist an overarching moral framework within which to relate to one another. In practice we have a marked tendency to appeal to different bits of the fragments, hence our difficulty. The cultural and intellectual response to this situation is the emergence of emotivist ethics, in which arguments about values are considered to be nothing more than statements of individual preference; argument tends to become a species of rhetoric which makes a person’s feeling present to the world; so they can exhibit the choosing of a position—as we see in the following definition, the moral critic has resurfaced in a new guise: Emotivism is the doctrine that all evaluative judgements and specifically all moral judgements are nothing but expressions of preference, expressions of attitudes or feeling, in so far as they are moral or evaluative in character…factual judgements are true or false; and in the realm of fact there are rational criteria by means of which we may secure agreement… But moral judgements, being expressions of attitude or feeling, are neither true nor false and agreement…is not to be secured by any rational method… It is to be secured if at all by producing certain non-rational effects on the emotions or attitudes of those who disagree with one.

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