Download A Short History of Ethics (Routledge Classics) by Alasdair MacIntyre PDF

By Alasdair MacIntyre

A quick heritage of Ethics: A background of ethical Philosophy from the Homeric Age to the 20 th Century is a 1966 ebook at the heritage of ethical philosophy via the Scottish thinker Alasdair MacIntyre. it's the first of a chain of books by means of MacIntyre at the historical past and improvement of ethics.

The publication covers Greek ethics together with Plato and Aristotle, Christian ethical notion together with the paintings of Martin Luther and writers together with Niccolò Machiavelli, Montesquieu, Edmund Burke, Immanuel Kant, David Hume, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Karl Marx, Søren Kierkegaard, Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche. MacIntyre additionally discusses 20th century philosophers together with G. E. Moore, John Dewey and R. M. Hare.

According to a evaluation within the magazine of Philosophy, one in every of MacIntyre's basic theses within the e-book is that "moral options switch as social lifestyles changes" and hence philosophers who think there's one topic of moral inquiry are unsuitable. A assessment within the British magazine of academic experiences describes the publication as a "stimulating, if hugely impressionistic, account of the background of ethics written from the perspective of his personal convictions in regards to the country of ethical concepts".

In a assessment for The Philosophical overview, J. B. Schneewind describes the paintings as a "brilliant and provocative book" that's "not rather a lot a heritage of ethics as an essay concerning the background of ethics".

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Example text

Thoreau regards the state as an unjust and inexpedient institution—a false necessity—that molests, jails, and robs the just while slaveholding and wars of conquest go on in its name or with its power: I was seized and put into jail, because, as I have elsewhere related, I did not pay a tax to, or recognize the authority of, the state which buys and sells men, women, and children, like cattle at the door of its senate-house. I had gone down to the woods for other purposes. But, wherever a man goes, men will pursue and paw him with their dirty institutions, and, if they can, constrain him to belong to their desperate odd-fellow society.

The most significant moral duty for our present purposes is the duty to be just or to avoid being an agent of injustice. Importantly, Thoreau’s conception of justice is inseparable from his doctrine of noncomplicity. A straightforward articulation of the doctrine of noncomplicity comes in “Resistance to Civil Government”: It is not a man’s duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even the most enormous wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support.

A close reading of the text, in its context, reveals that here, where Thoreau seems to be refuting an anarchist thesis, he is in fact articulating the content for an anarchist conception of government. This might seem a strange assertion. In some ways it is. Yet it will appear more plausible if we do at least two things. 61 In addition to this, we need to pay careful attention to the kind of government that Thoreau suggests would command his respect. ” In consequence, he acknowledges that it is possible to reach relative moral judgments with respect to certain institutions.

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