A Short History of Ethics

A Short History of Ethics

Alasdair MacIntyre

Language: English

Pages: 304

ISBN: 026801759X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

A Short History of Ethics is a significant contribution written by one of the most important living philosophers. For the second edition Alasdair MacIntyre has included a new preface in which he examines his book “thirty years on” and considers its impact. It remains an important work, ideal for all students interested in ethics and morality.

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of their societies, such as Auschwitz or Hiroshima. But, it may be objected, this is surely a moral and not a philosophical objection to utilitarianism. To which the reply is plain: utilitarianism which appears under the pretext of offering a criterion, among other things, for distinguishing good and evil, is in fact offering us a revision of those concepts, such that if we accepted it, we could allow that no action, however vile, was evil in itself or prohibited as such. For all actions are to

Blackstone), 234 Common interest, 97 Compassion, 184, 222 Compulsion, 69 Concepts analysis of, 93 of duty, 87, 93–94 of justice, 34–35 moral, 1–3, 13, 24–25, 43 of numbers, 88 in speech, 91 Conclusions, 72 Condescension, 78 Conscience, 166, 187–188 Consent, doctrine of, 159–160 Constant, Benjamin, 195 Constantinian bureaucrats, 111 Contract, 136–137, 155, 157–158 Convention, 16, 106 Counter Reformation, 126 Courage, 39, 65, 68, 77, 106, 206, 263 Cowardice, 65 Critique of

version which in the Republic helps to sustain such a politics, he is prepared to advocate the political views which it sustained. But it is also clear that Plato’s political philosophy is not merely only justifiable if, but is only intelligible if, some theory of values as residing in a transcendent realm to which there can be access only for an intellectually trained elite can be shown to be plausible. This is the connection between the nonpolitical vision of the Symposium and the entirely

Aristotle’s moral psychology. Aristotle’s point is a conceptual one. If I in fact deliberate about something, it must be about alternatives. Deliberation can only be as to things which are not necessarily and inevitably what they are, and as to things which are within my power to alter. Otherwise there is no room for deliberation. But if I choose between two alternatives, then I must envisage something beyond these alternatives in the light of which I make my choice, that for the sake of which I

shall choose one rather than another, that which provides me with a criterion in my deliberation. This will in fact be what in that particular case I am treating as an end. It follows that if I can deliberate about whether or not to do something, it will always be about means that I am deliberating in the light of some end. If I then deliberate about what was in the former case the end, I shall now be treating it as a means, with alternatives, to some further end. Thus, necessarily, deliberation

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