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Title: The moral resources of resistance : Alasdair Macintyre for and against Marxism
Author: Thomas, Stephen
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis is a critical examination of two different stages in the work of Alasdair MacIntyre. In particular it deals with his account of the moral resources available to radical thought in contemporary society. MacIntyre’s work presents us with two different accounts of what these moral resources might be and how they might affect the way that we conceive of radical politics. In his earlier Marxist work, MacIntyre claimed, firstly, that an intelligible morality needs to be understood as the satisfaction of desire, secondly that we could come to learn that what we really desired could be achieved through the forms of social solidarity developed in working class life and, thirdly, that we should understand Marxism as providing us with a subtle and non-reductive account of the relationship between human agency and the social structures of the economic base (chapter 1). By contrast, in his later work, most notably in After Virtue and the works that would follow it, MacIntyre rejects Marxism and instead seeks to develop an account of practical rationality based on ‘practices’ that are developed from within the confines of a tradition understood as a self-contained and linguistically based conceptual scheme. What I attempt to do in the following dissertation is to defend a form of Marxism based on MacIntyre’s earlier insights. I will argue that, whatever his claims to the contrary, and whatever its continuing interest as a critique of non-cognitivism, his later work represents a step backward from the sophisticated understanding of base and superstructure sketched in his earlier work (chapter 2). I argue that the pessimism that arises from MacIntyre’s later work starts out from an account of the negative effects of proletarianisation that is highly questionable and which undermines wide scale resistance (chapter 3). I also argue that it relies on an account of the self-contained nature of conceptual schemes that simply cannot be sustained (chapter 4). In its place I attempt to make a case for a form of Marxist humanism, a position which, I believe, is compatible both with Marx’s most important insights about the nature of human beings (chapter 5) and with the existence of a plurality of desirable goods (chapter 6).
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available