Alasdair MacIntyre's Dependent Rational Animals (SP 2021)

Alasdair MacIntyre’s groundbreaking study, After Virtue (1981) changed the course of Anglo-American philosophy and helped initiate renewed interest in virtue. He further developed his thought, both with regard to practical rationality, in Whose Justice, Which Rationality (1988) and concerning character of obligation and possibility of cross-cultural/cross-communal discussions concerning the good in Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry (1990).


Dependent Rational Animals (1999), however, marked a new turning point in his thought. Here he looks more closely at the central role of animality in human nature, and the difference this makes for any adequate account of human flourishing and the traits of character that render this flourishing possible. This slender volume both takes seriously that the principals of practical reasoning are universally given as part of human nature and also that we learn to apply these principles in community. Like all other higher animals, we must be initiated into the practices of a community in order to develop the traits of character (virtues) that make human flourishing possible. Moreover, the very virtues that enable us to become independent rational agents are also those that dispose us to acknowledge our communal dependence. This course will study these notions as advanced in this remarkable book.


Instructor: Michael Sherwin, o.p.

Classroom: à déterminer (MIS04)

Day and time: Tuesday 15h15-16h00

1h, 1.5 CP

  • Course Syllabus

    à déterminer

  • Bibliography

    MacIntyre, Alasdair, Dependent Rational Animals: Why Human Beings Need the Virtues (Chicago: Open Court, 2001).


    MacIntyre, Alasdair, L'homme, cet animal rationnel dépendant : Les vertus de la vulnérabilité (Paris: Editions Tallandier, 2020).