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MacIntyres Positive Account of the Virtues Ways in which it is not Aristotelian: – Gives up Metaphysical Biology – Gives up Close Connection to the Political.

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Presentation on theme: "MacIntyres Positive Account of the Virtues Ways in which it is not Aristotelian: – Gives up Metaphysical Biology – Gives up Close Connection to the Political."— Presentation transcript:

1 MacIntyres Positive Account of the Virtues Ways in which it is not Aristotelian: – Gives up Metaphysical Biology – Gives up Close Connection to the Political Structure of the Athenian city-state; – Gives up Strong Doctrine of the Unity of the Virtues Core Conception of the Virtues – Practices – Narratives – Traditions

2 MacIntyres Definition of a Practice By a practice I am going to mean any coherent and complex form of socially established cooperative human activity through which goods internal to that form of activity are realized in the course of trying to achieve those standards of excellence which are appropriate to, and partially definitive of, that form of activity, with the result that human powers to achieve excellence, and human conceptions of the ends and goods involved, are systematically extended. Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue, 3d ed. (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2007), 187.

3 Practices are: Coherent and complex Socially Established human activity (through which) Goods internal to that form of activity (are realized) In the course of trying to achieve those standards of excellence (appropriate to and partially definitive of those powers with the result that) Human powers to achieve excellence and human conceptions of ends and goods are systematically extended.

4 Practices vs. Not Practices Practices: – Chess – Game of Football – Architecture – Farming – Physics – History – Painting – Music – Politics Not Practices – Tic-tac-toe – Throwing football with skill – Brick-laying – Planting turnips

5 Features of Practices Their relation to authority. – The paradox of creativity and improvisation Practices are not sets of technical skills. – No fixed endend is extended and transformed Practices are not to be confused with their institutional settings. – Practices require institutions, but are not identical with them.

6 Internal and External Goods Internal Goods – Found only within practices – Can be identified only by those within practices – Not scarce–hence not objects of competition External Goods – Scarce – Available outside practices – Examples: Prestige Status Money

7 Defining Virtue in relation to practices A virtue is an acquired human quality the possession and exercise of which tends to enable us to achieve those goods which are internal to practices and the lack of which effectively prevents us from achieving any such goods. Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue, 3d ed. (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2007), 191.

8 How Are Virtues Related to Practices? 1) Virtues define our relation to others in practices. 2) Virtues define our relation to past participants in practices. 3) Virtues allow us to resist the corruption of practices by institutions.

9 MacIntyres Most Important Insight (According to him) Consider the example of a highly intelligent seven-year-old child whom I wish to teach to play chess, although the child has no particular desire to learn the game. The child does, however, have a very strong desire for candy and little chance of obtaining it. I therefore tell the child that if the child will play chess with me once a week I will give the child 50 cents worth of candy; moreover I tell the child that I will always play in such a way that it will be difficult, but not impossible, for the child to win and that, if the child wins, the child will receive an extra 50 cents worth of candy. Thus motivated the child plays and plays to win. Notice however that, so long as it is the candy alone which provides the child with a good reason for playing chess, the child has no reason not to cheat and every reason to cheat, provided he or she can do so successfully. But, so we may hope, there will come a time when the child will find in those goods specific to chess, in the achievement of a certain highly particular kind of analytical skill, strategic imagination and competitive intensity, a new set of reasons, reasons now not just for winning on a particular occasion, but for trying to excel in whatever way the game of chess demands. Now if the child cheats, he or she will be defeating not me, but himself or herself. Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue, 3d ed. (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2007), 188.


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