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Camden Philosophical Society: Alasdair MacIntyre’s “Dependent Rational Animals”

Tuesday, June 18 @ 3:30 pm 5:00 pm

The Camden Philosophical Society continues on the broad theme of philosophy as a way of living. The work to be discussed is Scottish-American moral and political philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre’s book Dependent Rational Animals. The hybrid gathering will be at 3:30 pm on Tuesday, June 18. All are welcome to participate, in-person at the Picker Room of the Camden Public Library or by Zoom.

If you wish to participate via Zoom, please email sarahmiller@usa.net. You will receive a Zoom invitation on the morning of the meeting. Click on the “Join Zoom Meeting” link in that invitation at the time of the event.

Major themes from the book that we expect to explore in June, and possibly continuing into July, are: Why it is important for humans to pay attention to and understand what we have in common with other intelligent animals; what makes “attention to human vulnerability and disability important for moral philosophers”; and how it is that developing the “virtues of rational independence and the virtues of acknowledged dependence” require social groups (communities) that differ from either the modern family or the national state.

Dependent Rational Animals was written in 1999 and is available for free online here: https://vdocuments.net/alasdair-macintyre-dependent-rational-animals.html?page=1 Given the two-month gap until our next meeting, we recommend that those planning to participate in our June discussion read significant portions of the relatively short book. Readings should definitely include the Preface and first two chapters, which cover the first two of MacIntyre’s three main themes. Chapters 3-5 are not vital. Chapters 6-11 cover the third theme. 12 is not vital, albeit interesting. The last chapter begins with a useful summary and a discussion of grounding. The last bit on Nietzsche can be skipped by those not interested in Nietzsche.

MacIntyre is a self-described Aristotelian-Thomist (as in Aquinas). He is a renowned proponent of virtue ethics, notably in his 1981 book After Virtue, and also of communitarianism in contrast to liberal capitalism.