Cover image for Dependent rational animals : why human beings need the virtues
Dependent rational animals : why human beings need the virtues
MacIntyre, Alasdair C.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Chicago, Ill. : Open Court, [1999]

Physical Description:
xiii, 172 pages ; 24 cm.
General Note:
Includes index.
Vulnerability, dependence, animality -- Humans as contrasted with, humans as included in the class of animals -- The intelligence of dolphins -- Can animals without language have beliefs? -- How impoverished is the world of the nonhuman animal? -- Reasons for action -- Vulnerability, flourishing, goods, and 'good' -- How do we become independent practical reasoners? How do the virtues make this possible? -- Social relationships, practical reasoning, common goods, and individual goods -- The virtues of acknowledged dependence -- The political and social structures of the common good -- Proxies, friends, truthfulness -- Moral commitment and rational enquiry.
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BJ1012 .M326 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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To flourish, humans need to develop virtues of independent thought and acknowledged social dependence. In this book, a leading moral philosopher presents a comparison of humans to other animals and explores the impact of these virtues.

Author Notes

Although he is most widely known for his book "After Virtue" (1981), with its critique of reason and ethics, Alasdair MacIntyre writes in other areas of philosophy as well, including philosophical psychology, political theory, and philosophy of religion.

Born in Scotland, he was educated at Manchester, London, and Oxford universities. In 1969, he went to the United States where he has taught at Brandeis, Boston, and Vanderbilt universities. Since 1988, when he also delivered the Gifford lectures, MacIntyre has taught at the University of Notre Dame.

"After Virtue" is one of the most widely discussed of all recent books on moral philosophy. It is the culmination of MacIntyre's deep engagement with the history of ethics. In it he argues that modern ethical theory, as it has developed since the seventeenth century, has been exposed by Friedrich Nietzsche as conceptually bankrupt. To find an alternative, he looks to ancient Greece and especially to Aristotle's concept of virtue. Although his critics consider this alternative to be something of an impossible dream, MacIntyre argues that it is central to a recovery of ethics.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Choice Review

MacIntyre (Duke Univ.)--one of the foremost ethicists of the past half century--makes a sustained argument for the centrality, in well-lived human lives, of both virtue and local communities of giving and receiving. He criticizes the mainstream of Western ethics, including his own previous position, for not taking seriously the dependent and animal sides of human nature, thereby overemphasizing the powers of reason and the pursuit of autonomy. MacIntyre wishes to construct an ethic based on a view of human nature in which humans share traits with other animals, are often reduced to dependency on others, and yet can rise to the status of independent rational thinkers capable of directing their own lives. In this neo-Aristotelian ethic, the virtues of both acknowledged dependence and independent reasoning are required to live well as humans. These virtues, however, require communities to foster them. MacIntyre thinks that both the modern family and the nation state fail as such communities and suggests that we must seek other types of social congregations in order to develop well as human beings. This important work in ethics is essential for the professional philosopher and is highly readable for students at all levels and for thoughtful citizens. J. H. Riker; Colorado College