Thursday, May 28, 2020

MacIntyre’s Rightwing Postmodernism

Postmodernism is leftwing, but in his 1981 book After Virtue, Alasdair MacIntyre talks about a form of postmodernism in which there is an emphasis on traditions. MacIntyre’s traditions perform a role similar to the “scientific paradigms,” which Thomas Kuhn has described. The traditions include a worldview or conceptual scheme, and a history through time, as it’s understood by a community with its distinctive way of life and social norms. The traditions are not only rational but serve as the context in which rationality can be determined. All reasoning is conducted in some sort of tradition. 

The traditions can be judged according to the criteria of rationality, One tradition is more rational than another if it can explain the success and failure of the other tradition better than the other tradition itself can. MacIntyre shows that instead of being an escape from tradition, modernity is itself a tradition. 

According to MacIntyre, Modernity’s rejection of traditions is incoherent, and there is a need for a right-wing postmodernism. The problem of modern moral philosophy is that it neglects the notions of character and virtue and that leads to skepticism. Modernity’s focus is on what makes an act right or wrong rather than on what makes a person good or evil. Macintyre says that to learn rational ethics we have to go beyond modernity and study the Aristotelian and religious traditions which focus on the formation of character and the development of virtue.

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