22 reasons practices and traditions macintyres

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Unformatted text preview: n, accepting that he indeed has no motivation to join the army, they do not accuse him of irrationality, but of cowardice27. And finally, Williams’ account fails to acknowledge, much less explain the importance that Owen himself attributes to being falsely labeled as a coward, and his attempt to prove his family wrong. I intend to come back to these points later, after I have provided an overview of Macintyre’s criticism. 2.2 REASONS, PRACTICES AND TRADITIONS: MACINTYRE’S CRITIQUE OF WILLIAMS There is one important point on which Macintyre agrees with Williams, the concept of external reasons understood as what a purely impersonal rational agent would consider a reason for action, indeed does not make much sense. Says Macintyre: “The transformation of me with purely personal motivations that are distinctively mine into a moral agent of pure impersonality who is anyone legislating for everyone seems a project for moral alchemists CEU eTD Collection rather than philosophers.”28 However, where Macintyre does not agree with Williams is on the very distinction between “me with purely personal motivations” on one hand, and the “moral agent of pure impersonality” on the other, as the only way of framing the question about internal and external reasons. According to Macintyre, Williams’ account ignores any kind of “social mediation”, and is thus unable to acknowledge the existence of position of limited 27 Here is how James describes the accusation that the Wingraves raise against Owen: “He was the only one who had ever backed out – he was the first in three hundred years. Every one had known he was ging to go up, and now every one would know he was a young hypocrite who suddenly pretended to have scruples. They talked of his scruples as you wouldn’t talk of a cannibals god. His grandfather had called him outrageous names.”, Henry James, “Owen Wingrave”, The Complete Tales of Henry James, Leon Edel ed. (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1964) 28 Alasdair Macintyre, “The Magic in the Pronoun ‘My’”, Ethics, 94:1 (Octobar 1983), 117 19 impersonality that arises in different social practices. What is this position, and how does it come about? Macintyre explains this by drawing an analogy with the scientific practice and reasons for belief, as viewed by contemporary philosophy of science. An agent who enters into a particular scientific practice must learn to accept the standards of that practice, by which reasons for belief are to be considered good reasons, and not judge them to be such based on her own personal beliefs. Similarly, Macintyre claims, a person who is initiated into a social practice of any kind, must learn to accept what is considered as good reasons for action by the standards of that particular practice. Furthermore, this kind of initiation can lead to a genuine transformation of motivation, “and it is such irrational transformations which enable me to deliberate from a relatively, if not absolutely impersonal standpoint of anyone whose values are those of the relevant practice”29. It is on grounds of this conception that Macintyre offers what he consider...
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