Hermeneutics and Human Finitude: Toward a Theory of Ethical Understanding

By P. Christopher Smith | Go to book overview

1
MacIntyre and the
Disarray of Analytical
Moral Philosophy

IT IS NOT AT ALL DIFFICULT TO SAY just where Gadamer's hermeneutical theory might be brought to bear on the contemporary discussion of ethics. MacIntyre After Virtue and the controversy it has engendered are the obvious place to look if for no other reason than for the similarity of the issues they have raised to those raised by Gadamer, a similarity that will be made clear as we proceed. 1 In this chapter I wish, first, in a systemimmanent exposition, to explore what seem to me to be the relevant arguments MacIntyre makes -- relevant insofar as they treat issues that could also be addressed if one started from Gadamer's hermeneutics -- and to examine how he has defended himself against the criticisms of these arguments advanced by his analytically minded adversaries. My task here is to make clear that he has not only unsettled the traditional analytical schools of thought but in fact transcended their limitations. Second, I would like to juxtapose MacIntyre's critical treatment of "rationalist" ethics with Hegel's parallel critique of Kant's moral philosophy. Third, using Hegel as a point of departure, I will attempt a system-transcendent critique of MacIntyre-system transcendent to the extent that Hegel, while dealing with many of the same questions as MacIntyre, comes from a very different tradition quite outside the horizons of MacIntyre's

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Hermeneutics and Human Finitude: Toward a Theory of Ethical Understanding
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Abbreviations ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Notes xxvii
  • 1 - Macintyre and the Disarray of Analytical Moral Philosophy 1
  • Notes 94
  • 2 - Language as the Medium of Understanding) 105
  • Notes 171
  • 3 - The Ethical Implications of Gadamer's Theory of Interpretation 179
  • Notes 257
  • Conclusion: Gadamerian Conservatism 267
  • Note 281
  • Bibliography 283
  • Index 287
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