Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 5
  • Cited by
    This chapter has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Gregson, John 2019. Marxism, Ethics and Politics. p. 135.

    Lennon, Mick 2017. On ‘the subject’ of planning’s public interest. Planning Theory, Vol. 16, Issue. 2, p. 150.

    Verschoor, Marco 2015. The quest for the legitimacy of the people. Politics, Philosophy & Economics, Vol. 14, Issue. 4, p. 391.

    Lennon, Mick 2015. Finding Purpose in Planning. Journal of Planning Education and Research, Vol. 35, Issue. 1, p. 63.

    Dawson, David 2009. Conflicting stories of virtue in UK healthcare: bringing together organisational studies and ethics. Business Ethics: A European Review, Vol. 18, Issue. 2, p. 95.

  • Print publication year: 2003
  • Online publication date: November 2009

6 - MacIntyre's Political Philosophy


In this chapter I will take up questions concerning MacIntyre's political thought as that thought has developed from After Virtue onward. MacIntyre's political thought is best understood in terms of its opposition to, and as an attempt to describe an alternative to, the political form that dominates modern life: the state. On MacIntyre's view, the modern state is trapped in a dilemma: it is unable to justify itself without bearing a substantive conception of the good, but the state is entirely unfit to bear a substantive conception of the good. State politics is indefensible, incoherent in theory and practice (section 1). A set of political institutions, to be rationally justifiable, will have to be able to sustain politics conceived as a practice and will have to be carried out locally within the enabling constraints set by the natural law (section 2). But there are serious questions to be raised concerning both MacIntyre's criticism of state politics and his endorsement of a politics of local community: it is unclear whether the state is as deeply flawed an institution as MacIntyre suggests and it is unclear whether the politics of local community, as MacIntyre describes it, is not itself deeply incoherent (section 3).


Just as MacIntyre takes the central task of moral philosophy to be that of accounting for the rational authority of morals (After Virtue, p. 52) – the failure of the Enlightenment project is just the failure to exhibit that authority– MacIntyre takes the central task of political philosophy to be that of accounting for the authority of political institutions.

Recommend this book

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this book to your organisation's collection.

Alasdair MacIntyre
  • Online ISBN: 9780511609961
  • Book DOI:
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to *