Alasdair MacIntyre Additional Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Ballard, Bruce. Understanding MacIntyre. Lanham, N.Y.: University Press of America, 2000. A short introduction for those approaching MacIntyre for the first time.

Ballantoni, Lisa. Moral Progress: A Process Critique of MacIntyre. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2000. Challenges MacIntyre’s belief that a return to traditional values will restore society’s moral center, arguing instead that disputes over moral issues keeps them central to human experience and furthers moral progress.

Casey, John. Pagan Virtue: An Essay in Ethics. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990. A very useful general discussion on virtue ethics from a distinguished moral philosopher.

Engelhardt, H. Tristram, Jr., and Daniel Callahan, eds. Knowledge, Value, and Belief. Hastings, N.Y.: Hastings Center, 1977. This contains a chapter on MacIntyre’s earlier work, put within the context of the Hastings Center Institute of Society, Ethics, and Life Sciences, with its focus on applied ethics, and where MacIntyre worked for a year.

Fuller, M. B. Making Sense of MacIntyre. Brookfield, Vt.: Ashgate, 1998. This book attempts to understand and pinpoint some of MacIntyre’s philosophical positions.

Gunnemann, Jon P. “Habermas and MacIntyre on Moral Learning.” In The...

(The entire section is 484 words.)


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Alasdair Chalmers MacIntyre is one of the most significant of contemporary moral philosophers. His significance comes from his belief that moral philosophy should speak to modern culture and social debate and should engage with other areas of knowledge. His writings show a clear and expert grasp of such related areas as sociology, theology, politics, and literature. His basic stance is traditional and historicist, and is critical of liberalism and postmodernism.

MacIntyre was born the only son of two Scottish doctors, both graduates of Glasgow University. He was educated privately and at Epsom College, south of London. From 1947 to 1950 he majored in classics at Queen Mary College, London, but decided to pursue graduate study in philosophy at Manchester University. His classical studies always stood him in good stead: His knowledge of Plato, Aristotle, and the pre-Socratic philosophers was based on a thorough knowledge of the original Greek, as his knowledge of the Roman jurisprudence writers and early church theologians was based on their Latin.

At this stage he considered himself both Christian and Marxist. His first book, Marxism: An Interpretation, was written shortly after his appointment in 1951 as lecturer in the philosophy of religion at Manchester. Though by 1968, when it was reissued as Marxism and Christianity, he had changed his beliefs, he declined to revise the original text, noting that “one cannot entirely discard either without discarding truths not otherwise available.” He continued to study traditional theology, and politically his antiliberalism continued to have a socialist basis. These beliefs were eventually discarded since, he believed, they failed to meet the actualities of the modern world. He saw many modern theologians as disguised atheists.

In 1957 MacIntyre moved to Leeds University, where he published a rebuttal of Freudianism as well as a book expressing his...

(The entire section is 797 words.)


(Critical Survey of Ethics and Literature)

Author Profile

In his book After Virtue, Alasdair MacIntyre analyzes theories of morality with regard to culture and states that virtue is found within the community, in its ethos, or character, and not in the individual alone. He argues that the Enlightenment abandoned the belief in a divine origin of morality and overemphasized the individual. This leads, says MacIntyre, to a breakdown of the triad of ethics: “man-as-he-happens-to-be,” “man-as-he-would-be-if-he-realized-himself,” and a divine system of rules to be followed. Such grounding of morality in human nature can produce moral relativism. MacIntyre is looking for a balance between the utilitarian concept of morality as...

(The entire section is 667 words.)