49 pages 1 hour read

Alasdair MacIntyre

After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 1981

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Important Quotes

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“Emotivism has become embodied in our culture.”

(Chapter 2, Page 22)

Emotivism is the philosophical and societal tendency to which MacIntyre is principally opposed in After Virtue and against which the book is written. MacIntyre believes that emotion, not reason, now serves as the basis of most of modern moral discourse. This quote reflects MacIntyre’s conviction that philosophical ideas become “embodied” concretely in social experience.

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“A moral philosophy—and emotivism is no exception—characteristically presupposes a sociology.”

(Chapter 3, Page 23)

Building on the previous quote, MacIntyre declares one of his major ideas, that moral philosophy is embodied in “the real social world” (23). More specifically, a moral philosophy includes not just moral principles and rules but also an explanation of attitudes, motives, and intentions as they affect moral action.

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“Bureaucratic rationality is the rationality of matching means to ends economically and efficiently.”

(Chapter 3, Page 25)

For MacIntyre, bureaucracy and the bureaucratic manager are among the characteristic features of modern society. Bureaucracy claims to be value-free and interested only in carrying out technical processes efficiently; consideration of virtue does not enter into the bureaucratic ethic. In this way, bureaucracy contrasts strongly with older moral traditions.