The point in which this can be clearly seen is the

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Unformatted text preview: ursued by one joining the army. The tradition has become a matter of habit, and not of deliberation. 45 It is no wonder then, that Owen frames his dissent not in the terms of the tradition, but in the terms of pacifist rhetoric he has found in the literature. And of course, framing it this way makes the question impossible to settle within the tradition his family belongs to.46 To once again revert to the terminology of philosophy of science, I am not offering any “crucial experiment” for choosing between Williams’ and Macintyre’s accounts of internal/external reasons distinction, but I am inclined to argue that Macintyre’s account has larger “explanatory power”, at least when the Owen Wingrave example is concerned. The point in which this can be clearly seen is the way it is able to explain the accusation for cowardice that Owen’s family raises against him, and also his need to prove that the accusation is false. Williams’ account is unable to notice this as important, since according to it, cowardice and scruples would be equally internal reasons for action. On Macintyre’s account, however, there is a significant difference between the two: cowardice would show CEU eTD Collection Owen’s lack of virtue, and his incapability to transform his motivation from “purely personal” (i.e. self-interested), to the role that fits his role in the relevant practice. The reasons his family is offering could still be good reasons, they just would not have force for him, due to his own character deficiency. His scruples, however, show something entirely different: that he no longer considers the reasons of his family to be good reasons, regardless of whether they 44 After Virtue, 221-222. Jeffrey Stout claims that Macintyre is seriously misconstruing Burkes concept of a tradition in Tradition and Democracy (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2004). Whether that is true or not, however, is a question I do not intend to deal with here. 45 Owen’s grandfather makes a claim that Wingrave military tradition stretches for three hundred years. For the role of the army in different periods of British history, see Jock Haswell, The British Army: A Concise History” (London: Book Club Associates, 1975.) 46 On the three main traditions of evaluating wars in modern discourse, and their mutual incommensurability, see the opening pages of After Virtue. 27 would have force for him or not. And he is prepared to risk his life to prove this. James’ finishing remark in which he compares Owen’s dead body to that of a dead soldier, only corroborates that there was nothing wrong with Owen’s character, or with his motivational set. Not only did Owen possess the virtue of courage, but he also possessed a sort of character that his role required him to develop – a soldierly character47. The conclusion, then, makes itself clear, if there was nothing wrong with his courage, there was something wrong with a reason for action offered by his family and hence with the tradition in which it is considered to be a good reason. One more interesting, and important consequence follows from Macintyreian reading of the story, and this is the following: even if Owen would, hypothetically, be convinced by his familly’s appeals to tradition, if he would suddenly, through an act of “imagination or conversion”, become motivated to join the army, this still would, according to the reading I proposed, not mean that he had a good reason to do so...
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