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Title:After MacIntyre: A Critical Assessment of the Historical Method of Value Inquiry
Author(s):Johnson, Paul Franklin
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Schacht, Richard L.
Department / Program:Philosophy
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Political Science, General
Abstract:In his two books After Virtue (2nd edition; 1984) and Whose Justice? Which Rationality? (1988), Alasdair MacIntyre argues that contemporary political discourse has fallen into a fragmented and impoverished condition as a result of the fact that we have lost contact with the philosophical tradition which spawned our political and cultural practices, and sustained them for hundreds of years. He employs the methods of historical analysis and interpretation in order to disclose the source of what he perceives to be a dangerous and regrettable condition, and argues for the need to recover essential elements of the tradition of discourse in order to set things right. We are offered a choice between Aristotle and Nietzsche as the one philosopher who is best able to account for our current circumstance. He decides in favor of Aristotle, and proceeds to construct a theory of moral rationality, incorporating a critically reconstituted conception of a human telos, as the appropriate means for restoring order and coherence to our public policy debates. I find that the historical method as MacIntyre utilizes it is indeed an appropriate and effective means for coming to understand our present situation, but argue (1) that his own historical analysis is defective and (2) that he is himself more thoroughly indebted to Nietzsche's way of thinking than he can admit without seriously undermining his own position. I offer an alternative account of the philosophical tradition deriving from the eighteenth century, concentrating on the German Aufklarung and the works of Kant, Hegel and Marx with the intention of showing that Nietzsche stands within the mainstream of this tradition and offers us, contrary to MacIntyre, the more effective and respectable resources for understanding and managing the challenges that confront us today. A better appreciation of Nietzsche's writings, when set within the historical context I attempt to provide, also opens up the prospect for a more positive assessment of the contemporary political scene.
Issue Date:1992
Description:358 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1992.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI9305570
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-17
Date Deposited:1992

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