20. Contemporary Communitarianism (I)

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Moral Foundations of Politics (PLSC 118)

In addition to the traditionalist-conservative view covered last time, the other anti-Enlightenment school the course explores is contemporary communitarianism. While Burke and Devlin appealed to tradition as the basis for our values, communitarians appeal to the community-accepted values as the basis for what should guide us. Communitarian Richard Rorty criticizes the Enlightenment endeavor of justifying philosophy from the ground up from indubitable premises as a fool's errand and a dangerous mug's game. The main focus of today's class is the communitarianism of Alasdair MacIntyre. Professor Shapiro introduces this school by exploring the symptoms of the problem wrought by the Enlightenment. One is the rise of emotivism and complete moral subjectivism; that is, the abandonment of the instruments for making moral judgments as a consequence of trying to justify philosophy from the ground up. The second symptom is the triumph of instrumentalism and the rejection of teleology, which is actually a coping mechanism for society's deep pluralism of values. Professor Shapiro discusses MacIntyre's two symptoms, as well as introduces his conceptions of practices and virtues.

00:00 - Chapter 1. Introduction: Alasdair MacIntyre and Contemporary Communitarianism
05:25 - Chapter 2. Alasdair MacIntyre and Other Anti-enlightenment Thinkers
12:13 - Chapter 3. A Closer Look at MacIntyre's Book
16:18 - Chapter 4. Emotivism: From Subjective Certainty to Relativist Morality
22:52 - Chapter 5. Instrumentalism Has Triumphed: A Separation between Means and Ends
28:04 - Chapter 6. Emotivism and the Rejection of Teleology
41:24 - Chapter 7. Some Definitions: Practice and Virtue

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: http://open.yale.edu/courses

This course was recorded in Spring 2010.