Book Review: After Virtue (3rd Edition), by Alasdair MacIntyre

After VirtueThis is one of those books that I’ve had for several years, really wanted to read, but kept putting off to get through some easier reads. It took me a few days to get through this dense work of philosophy, but I am blessed to have finally completed Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue (3rd ed.). I’ve had concerns and suspicions for years as to the foundations of moral arguments, particularly those of political establishments, but did not have the philosophical and historical background with which to articulate those concerns beyond simple observations of impractical and illogical teleological claims (or lack thereof). Without being well read in Aristotle, Nietzsche, Sartre, Hume, Hegel, Hobbes, Marx, and many others, some of us are unable to fully appreciate and adequately assess MacIntyre’s arguments; so, we are left having to trust that MacIntyre has himself fairly and honestly done so with other philosophers. I do; and still lacking in this area, I am going to piggyback on MacIntyre with this one.

MacIntyre, a self-proclaimed Aristotelian, ultimately argues that Aristotle was wrong in his approach to morality, but that his arguments can be (are) broken down and restated to express a proper view. Basically, MacIntyre corrects Aristotle and helps us understand modern morality and the faults of arguments therein. This is an eye-opener; however, now thirty-four years since its first publication, it seems we still have a long way to go from academia to expressing these things in a way that pragmatically appeals to the general populous in order to make any kind of real change in the way we approach morality, virtue, and governance by way of such arguments.

I think I am right to assume this isn’t going to be on most people’s reading list, and even fewer will get excited enough about the material to do anything with it. So, I am going to make specific recommendations with this one. If you are or anticipate finding yourself working in any of the following fields, read and wrestle with this book: ethics, law, philosophy, politics, theology.