49 pages 1 hour read

Alasdair MacIntyre

After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 1981

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Key Figures

Alasdair MacIntyre

The moral and political philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre was born in 1929 in Glasgow, Scotland, and studied at the University of London, Manchester University, and the University of Oxford, majoring first in classics and then philosophy. Although his early philosophical interests leaned toward Marxism, MacIntyre became disillusioned by what he came to perceive as moral outrages perpetrated in Marxist regimes and, particularly, the inability of Marxists to rationally defend them. Published in the late 1950s, MacIntyre’s essay “Notes from the Moral Wilderness” represented his response to this dilemma, outlining a standpoint in which human good might be achieved in community with others rather than on an individualist basis.

Developing these ideas over the following decades, MacIntyre gave them a more complete statement in After Virtue (1981), to this day his most frequently read and discussed work. Drawing on his background in classics, MacIntyre argues in After Virtue that it is the ethical philosophy of Aristotle, rather than Marxism or liberal individualism, that provides a solution to modern moral problems. Macintyre’s body of work emphasizes the importance of history and narratives in the formation of philosophical and social beliefs and practices.

MacIntyre added to his advocacy of Aristotle a commitment to the social and moral thought of St.