Alasdair Macintyre Is Not A Relativist Essay

1871 Words May 12th, 2016 8 Pages
In this essay I aim to justify how Alasdair MacIntyre is not a relativist. To do this I will start by describing his ethical theory, which includes his account of virtue ethics, derived from his criticism of modern ethical thought. I will then explain how he is regarded by some people as a relativist due to his stress on tradition for rationality and finish by demonstrating how he is not a relativist because of the justification that some traditions are better than others.

MacIntyre deeply criticises modern ethical thought and provides an account of what he thinks has gone wrong. For MacIntyre, it fails due to the concepts and language used being deeply incoherent and irrational. Expressions of this failure in ethics can be seen in emotivism and existentialism. Its language distorts and due to this, important ethical terms such as duty, obligation and ought have lost their context. As MacIntyre states in ‘After Virtue’,
I want to ague that any project of this form was bound to fail, because of an ineradicable discrepancy between their shared conception of moral rules and precepts on the one hand and what was shared – despite much larger divergences – in their conception of human nature on the other. (MacIntyre, 2007, p.52)
Ethics since the Enlightenment is too concerned with normative rules, which leads it to failure. MacIntyre believes this is the case for modern society because we have no unity as individuals are fragmented. An individual’s family life, work life and…

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