Posted 12 March 2009
Moral and political philosopher, Alasdair MacIntyre, honoured at UCD
Alasdair MacIntyre, leading contemporary philosopher, was conferred with an honorary Doctor of Letters by University College Dublin on 10 March 2009.
The philosopher, whose influence has extended to economics, business, management and politics, was awarded the Doctorate alongside graduates from the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School.
Delivering the citation, Professor Fran O'Rourke, UCD School of Philosophy, noted, “There is no such thing as a MacIntyrean philosophy; rather the MacIntyrean practice of seeking ground-making answers. Like Socrates, MacIntyre relentlessly follows the question where it leads, and over decades he has struggled with real questions: What is the appropriate role of shared deliberation in the political lives of communities? What is the connection between ethics and politics? How can we find a basis for the moral condemnation of evil in its various guises? How can a human enquirer, standing within a peculiar tradition and history, seek a truth that transcends that tradition and that history?”
Professor Fran O'Rourke, UCD School of Philosophy, with philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre, who was conferred with an honorary Doctor of Letters by University College Dublin on 10 March 2009.
“MacIntyre’s enquiry has led him to visit various schools of thought, framing different periods of his career: analytic, Marxist, Christian, atheist, Aristotelian, Augustinian Christian, and Thomist. These stages are unified by his perennial honesty and deep humanism. His fundamental sensibility to what is central and profound in human affairs is expressed first, by fascination with the products of human thought and action, particularly as these reveal the characteristics of particular cultures and traditions; second, by sympathy and admiration for human achievement, be it intellectual, moral or, in the broad sense spiritual; and third, by a desire to understand these achievements from the ‘inside’ as an engaged participant.”
Alasdair MacIntyre’s most famous book, After Virtue (1981), revealed the inconsistencies inherent in the various conflicting ethical systems born out of the Enlightenment, and which for the most part have shaped current social and political values. The common error, he argued in the book, was the failure to adequately ask the most basic of all questions. We ask what is it to be a good manager, teacher, or parent, but neglect to ask: what is it to be a good human being? MacIntyre encouraged his readers to rediscover with Aristotle the centrality of the virtues as concretely exemplifying the goals and practices of the good life.
The UCD School of Philosophy, whose expertise in the area of Continental Philosophy was recently ranked as one of the top ten globally by The Philosophical Gourmet, hosted the International Society for MacIntyrean Enquiry at UCD 6-8 March 2009.
Watch Alasdair MacIntyre’s public lecture at the event, “On having survived the academic moral philosophy of the twentieth century”.
Alasdair MacIntyre has written widely in philosophy since his first book, Marxism: An Interpretation, appeared in 1953. He has taught at Oxford University, Princeton University, Brandeis University, Boston University, Wellesley College, Vanderbilt University, Duke University, and the University of Notre Dame.
In 1989 he was a Luce Visiting Scholar at the Whitney Humanities Center of Yale University. He has also served as President of the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association.
He is the author of over thirty books, and has made prominent contributions to the history of philosophy, moral philosophy, political theory, philosophy of the social sciences, and philosophy of religion.