We live in a time of moral confusion: many believe there are no overarching moral norms, and we have lost an accepted body of moral knowledge. Alasdair MacIntyre addresses this problem in his much-heralded restatement of Aristotelian and Thomistic virtue ethics; Stanley Hauerwas does so through his highly influential work in Christian ethics. Both recast virtue ethics in light of their interpretations of the later Wittgenstein's views of language. This book systematically assesses the underlying presuppositions of MacIntyre and Hauerwas, finding that their attempts to secure moral knowledge and restate virtue ethics, both philosophical and theological, fail. Scott Smith proposes alternative indications as to how we can secure moral knowledge, and how we should proceed in virtue ethics.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction: the problem of the loss of moral knowledge; A possible solution: linguistic virtue ethics: From Aristotle to Wittgenstein: tracing the history of the loss of moral knowledge; Philosophical, linguistic virtue ethics: MacIntyre's solution; Theological, linguistic virtue ethics: Hauerwas's answer; The failure of this answer: a critique of linguistic virtue ethics: The presupposition of epistemic access; The issues with behavior; The presuppositions of the self; The implications of this failure and the prospects for moral knowledge: Problems for philosophical theology; The charge of relativism; Epilogue: The future of virtue ethics and implications for moral knowledge; Bibliography; Index.
Effectively puts MacIntyre and Hauerwas in the doghouse of failed logicians. Smith argues brilliantly that theological ethicists who contend that all theological ethical arguments are specific to particular language groups, cannot at the same time recommend one such set of arguments as universally normative without contradicting themselves. John ("Jack") Crossley, Chair of University of Southern California's School of Religion, USA. "Scott Smith's book is a penetrating examination and critique of the major line of thought against the possibility of moral knowledge that has dominated discussions in moral theory for the last fifty years. He carefully illuminates the flaws in this line of thought and opens the door to a possible renewal of moral understanding for today". Dallas Willard, Professor of Philosophy, University of Southern California, USA