What Happened in and to Moral Philosophy in the Twentieth Century?

Philosophical Essays in Honor of Alasdair MacIntyre

Edited by Fran O'Rourke

What Happened in and to Moral Philosophy in the Twentieth Century? is a volume of essays originally presented at University College Dublin in 2009 to celebrate the eightieth birthday of Alasdair MacIntyre—a protagonist at the center of that very question. What marks this collection is the unusual range of approaches and perspectives, representing divergent and even contradictory positions. Such variety reflects MacIntyre’s own intellectual trajectory, which led him to engage successively with various schools of thought: analytic, Marxist, Christian, atheist, Aristotelian, Augustinian, and Thomist. This collection presents a unique profile of twentieth-century moral philosophy and is itself an original contribution to ongoing debate.

The volume begins with Alasdair MacIntyre’s fascinating philosophical self-portrait, “On Having Survived the Academic Moral Philosophy of the Twentieth Century,” which charts his own intellectual development. The first group of essays considers MacIntyre’s revolutionary contribution to twentieth-century moral philosophy: its value in understanding and guiding human action, its latent philosophical anthropology, its impetus in the renewal of the Aristotelian tradition, and its application to contemporary interests. The next group of essays considers the complementary and competing traditions of emotivism, Marxism, Thomism, and phenomenology. A third set of essays presents thematic analyses of such topics as evolutionary ethics, accomplishment and just desert, relativism, evil, and the inescapability of ethics. MacIntyre responds with a final essay, “What Next?” which addresses questions raised by contributors to the volume.

Fran O’Rourke is associate professor of philosophy at University College Dublin. He is the author and editor of a number of books, including Human Destinies: Philosophical Essays in Memory of Gerald Hanratty (University of Notre Dame Press, 2012).

Contributors: Fran O’Rourke, Alasdair MacIntyre, John Haldane, Joseph Dunne, Kelvin Knight, Arthur Madigan, S.J., Hans Fink, James Edwin Mahon, Stephen Mulhall, Raymond Geuss, James McEvoy, Steven A. Long, Richard Kearney, Owen Flanagan, Jonathan Rée, Elijah Millgram, William Desmond, and Gerard Casey.

“This is an impressive collection of essays, which deserves a wide audience. The book makes an original contribution to the field, since its retrospective of twentieth-century moral philosophy goes beyond the Anglophone mainstream, tackling Catholic and continental as well as Anglophone analytical thought. Given this and given its dedication to Alasdair MacIntyre, there is a strong chance that it will be read by philosophers, sociologists, historians, and cultural theorists.” — Tom Angier, University of Kent

“This is a wide-ranging collection of articles, written by some of the most interesting and significant figures in contemporary philosophy. The authors discuss MacIntyre’s thought from the very earliest days to the present time, and they cover both themes in his work (Marxism, Emotivism, Thomism) and detailed interpretations of it. MacIntyre offers an Epilogue which is characteristically sensitive and nuanced. No-one with an interest in MacIntyre or recent moral philosophy will wish to be without a copy of this excellent collection.” — Sue Mendus, Morrell Professor Emerita of Political Philosophy, University of York