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Friday, June 21, 2019

Moral Argument is Rationally Interminable

Alasdair Macintyre
Why can’t mankind reach an agreement on the problems of wars, abortion, welfare state, and several other issues? Why is it that the philosophical and political debates on these issues are always unending?

According to Alasdair Macintyre, in modern times all moral argument is rationally interminable. In Chapter 2, “The Nature of Moral Disagreement Today,” of his book After Virtue, Macintyre writes:

“Contemporary moral argument is rationally interminable, because all moral, indeed all evaluative, argument is and always must be rationally interminable. Contemporary moral disagreements of a certain kind cannot be resolved, because no moral disagreements of that kind in any age, past, present or future, can be resolved.”

Macintyre notes that this challenge of there being no rational way of securing agreement in moral disputes invites us to confront the philosophical theory of emotivism. He defines emotivism as a “doctrine that all evaluative judgments and more specifically all moral judgments are nothing but expressions of preference, expressions of attitude or feeling, insofar as they are moral or evaluative in character.”

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