Summary: Alasdair MacIntyre’s Dependent Rational Animals

This chapter summary is part of my reading summaries series. Click here for more information on the series.

“Dependent Rational Animals: Why Human Beings Need the Virtues” is a revised and expanded version of three lectures Alasdair MacIntyre gave in 1997. It seeks to address two questions: “Why is it important for us to attend to and to understand what human beings have in common with members of other intelligent animal species?” and “What makes attention to human vulnerability and disability important for moral philosophers?” MacIntyre especially hopes that his work on the latter question will help correct the insufficient attention given to it within moral philosophy.

(You can order a copy here.)

Chapter 1: Vulnerability, dependence, animality

Chapter 2: Humans as contrasted with, humans as included in the class of animals

Chapter 3: The intelligence of dolphins

Chapter 4: Can animals without language have beliefs?

Chapter 5: How impoverished is the world of the nonhuman animal?

Chapter 6: Reasons for action

Chapter 7: Vulnerability, flourishing, goods, and ‘good’

Chapter 8: How do we become independent practical reasoners? How do the virtues make this possible?

Chapter 9: Social relationships, practical reasoning, common goods, and individual goods

Chapter 10: The virtues of acknowledged dependence

Chapter 11: The political and social structures of the common good

Chapter 12: Proxies, friends, truthfulness

Chapter 13: Moral commitment and rational enquiry

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