Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry: Encyclopaedia, Genealogy, and Tradition

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They offer the structure as an explana- tion, without recognizing that, if descriptively accurate, it is itself something to be explained. Notre Dame, Ind. In this book, which contains his Gifford Lectures, Alasdair MacIntyre fur- ther develops the theory of rationality and morality set forth in Whose Justice?

[PDF Download] Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry: Encyclopaedia Genealogy and Tradition

Which Rationality? MacIntyre begins these lectures by noting the contrasts among three approaches to moral enquiry: the encyclope- dic, represented by Adam Gifford himself and by the editors of the ninth edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica; the genealogical, represented by Friedrich Nietzsche, among others; and the tradition-directed, represented preeminently by Thomas Aquinas.

Moreover, he argues, these three ways of conceiving of the nature of moral enquiry are grounded in three different conceptions of rationality. This view has been wholly discredited, even though it continues to inform academic life in unrecognized ways. This is not MacIntyre's view, but he concedes that it has not yet been decisively undermined.

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In contrast to both of these views, a conception of rationality as tradition- directed enquiry, which MacIntyre himself defends, holds open the possibility of genuine rational enquiry, but only on the basis of the substantive starting points given by a particular tradition of enquiry. Moreover, only those who have acquired the intellectual and moral virtues that will enable them to participate in the ongoing development of a tradition will be capable of genuine rationality.

Review of Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry: Encyclopaedia, Genealogy, and Tradition

Hence, it may well happen that a particular account of morality is entirely rational from the point of view of one tradition, and yet remains unconvincing to those who stand within another tradition, or who have never learned how to par- ticipate in tradition-directed enquiry at all. And yet, it does not follow that rational enquiry can only take place within tra- ditions, leaving us no resources for rational debate with exponents of rival tradi- tions.

Those standing within a particular tradition are capable of realizing that their tradition generates questions that it cannot resolve by its own resources. For this reason, they are also capable of recognizing the rational superiority of a rival tradition, if that rival can offer a better resolution of their own internal diffi- culties than their own tradition could provide.

For example, a modern encyclopedist should be able to see that her own tradition cannot satisfactorily account for the increasing incidence of fundamental moral disagreements, which on her view should rather be diminishing. Moreover, she should be able to acknowledge that either the genealogist or the Thomist can better account for this phenomenon, and therefore, that in this respect, at least, either of these tra- ditions is rationally superior to her own.

Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry - The Gifford Lectures

It is impossible, in the scope of a brief review, to do justice to the breadth of MacIntyre's learning or the subtlety of his arguments. He makes his case, far more than this summary has been able to suggest, through a careful analysis of the history of intellectual debate, especially in Aquinas's time and in the nine- teenth and twentieth centuries. For this reason, any assessment of his work must depend in part on an assessment of the persuasiveness of the case that he makes for his readings of Aquinas, Nietzsche, Henry Sidgwick, and scores of others.

But there can be no doubt that this book, together with its predecessors, represents a major contribution to the current debate over the nature of rational enquiry. He offers an alternative to two equally unpersuasive views: either there is one univer- sally valid set of standards for rationality and morality, all evidence to the con- trary notwithstanding, or rational enquiry is possible only within self-contained communities, if at all. Since our views on the nature and scope of rational enquiry will at least partly determine what we take the academic study of religion to be, it is obvious that MacIntyre's work deserves the careful attention of every scholar of religion.

Moreover, MacIntyre is one of the very few major philosophers for whom a theo- logical tradition is central to his own work. For this reason, he deserves the atten-.

Twin Powers: Politics and the Sacred. Grand Rapids, Mich. By the "sacred," Molnar understands the force generated by an objective, divine reality that is utterly efficacious and transcendent to and independent of the finite world. Thus depicted, the sacred is the source of all power, which Molnar, in turn, formulates as superordination rather than as shared efficacy. Political power is sure and true to the degree th2.

All you need to Know about Belief - Culture - Tradition and Morality by James Wildman

Communal flourishing and rectitude depend, then, on a hierarchical cosmology that mediates divine power and law to church and state. These institutions should reflect the higher, immutable order in the lower, passing realm of human experience. Seen in this light, modern emphases on equality, democracy, pluralism, change, and linear historical thinking are either symptoms or effects of the rejection of the sacred. Molnar repeatedly denies that the sacred can be done without or artificially reconstructed.

But he never seriously considers whether the sacred can be differ- ently grasped within other cosmologies besides the traditional.


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Browse All Figures Return to Figure. MacIntyre concludes by considering the implications for education in universities and colleges. This saves money on the projects I want to implement. The best books I buy because I want to study them in more detail and I want to keep them in my library. Whenever I find, browsing the Internet, a free online online library with books in PDF format that I like, I keep it in my notes to recommend it.