After Virtue by Alastair McIntyre: Making Ethical Theory Useful

Select an idea, any single notion presented in your peers’ presentation of After Virtue, and apply it to an ethical problem that is important to youThe idea you chose could be Macintyre’s, or it could belong someone else he refences, even if it’s someone he completely disagrees with. If it is found in After Virtue itself, you should peruse those readings and quote them at length. It could be a concept, like “practices” or “internal goods,” a theory like Utilitarianism or Emotivism, or a way of grouping theories like Consequentialism or Deontology. It could be anything you can latch onto and wrap your head around from the work we do with Macintyre’s book.

The important thing here is that you take one of these abstract, refined ethical notions that we have considered and that you try to apply it to an ethical problem that matters to you. Regarding the thing you connect to the reading, you have wide latitude. You can, if you wish, choose between an ethical problem that is important to you personally— because it is, for example, crucial to your identity and your values, or its relevant to your life experience—or, instead, choose to think about a broader social issue that you feel important and worthy of consideration.

Regardless of what you chose, I want you to follow these four basic steps in framing this intervention. As with all my prompts, you are to use these insofar as they are useful. You are by no means bound to answering all or any of these questions. In this instance, they only serve to illustrate the basic steps I wish you to follow.

First, begin by talking about the ethical issue you’ve chosen: What is, what crucial facts or ideas do we need to have explained to us to understand it? What are the stakes and who are the stakeholders? Why do you think it is important, and how does it relate to you?
Second, outline the concept or theory you see applicable to your concerns: What, in your own words, is this idea, and what are its crucial axioms/assumptions? Why did this idea stand out to you? What is appealing about it?
Third, talk about how it applies to the ethical issue you have chosen: Where, specifically, is the connection you see? What is that connection? What crucial insights does it reveal that you would not have seen otherwise?
Finally, reflect on how this connection changes your perspective: What does the application of your chosen concept or theory do regarding your thinking on this ethical issue of importance? Does a solution reveal itself? Or is the problem simply reframed? If so, in what new way do you see the problem and how is that view useful, or at least promising?

Sample Solution