by contrast on the alternative account of morality

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Unformatted text preview: e and from whom I learn the principles or precepts of morality are and must be irrelevant both to the question of what the content of morality is and to that of the nature of my commitment to it [...] By contrast, on the alternative account of morality which I am going to sketch, the question of where and from whom I learn my morality turn out to be crucial for both the content and the nature of moral CEU eTD Collection commitment.”16 MacIntyre’s hypothesis claims that moral rules have to be acquired within some specific community. And since the morality of a community is always historical, and shaped not only by certain canonical texts (which may be shared by a larger number of different communities), but also by the “way in which members of the particular community responded to some earlier situation or series of situations”, it must be particular in its character and differ greatly from the universal and a-historical rules of liberal morality. This is even more obvious 16 Ibidem, 213 9 when we take into account that the way moral rules are interpreted and apprehended depends on particular institutional arrangements practiced in the given community. MacIntyre admits that this line of reasoning may be criticized from the liberal standpoint. It is true, the liberal critic might say, that moral rules are first acquired this way, but they can only be considered as moral rules because they represent an applied version of the universal moral rules, and the process of moral reasoning for individuals presupposes a process of abstracting these rules from social particularities and contingencies. However, MacIntyre raises two objections to this line of criticism. First, he says, it is not just that we first acquire moral principles in a particular community, but that these principles must be justified with reference to a particular, socially specific good, which is inseparable from a particular kind of social life. “Goods are never encountered except as thus particularized”, claims MacIntyre, and concludes: “It follows that I find my justification for allegiance to these rules of morality in my particular community, I would no reason to be moral”17. Second, he adds that the weakness of will and susceptibility to temptation make it difficult for an average individual to persist in obeying the moral rules if she is left to her own devices. That is why individuals need a moral community to support them in the moral CEU eTD Collection choices they make, and it is only in such a community that an average individual is capable of continuous and sustainable moral agency. Also, the communities which treat their members with certain moral expectations show them a kind of respect which is necessary for the longterm development of the person’s moral capacities. For all these reasons, morality is seen in this conception, as inseparable from the particular community in which it is practiced. Taking all this into account, Macintyre comes to the following conclusion: 17 Ibidem, 217 10 “If first of all it is the case that I can only apprehend the rules of morality in the version in which they are incarnated in some specific community; and if second it is the case that the justification of morality must be in terms of particular goods enjoyed within the life of particular communities; and if third it is the case that I am characteristically brought...
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This note was uploaded on 02/06/2013 for the course ENGLISH LI 21 taught by Professor Han during the Fall '13 term at Tsinghua University.

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