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2 - After Virtue and Happiness

from Part I - After Virtue and Ethical Theory

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 October 2023

Tom Angier
Affiliation:
University of Cape Town
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Summary

The prevalence of the term ‘utility’ peaked in English-language books right around the time of the publication of After Virtue, followed by a steep decline. Meanwhile, use of the term ‘happiness’, having peaked in 1800, reversed a long subsequent decline at the same time. And ‘eudaimonia’ witnessed an exponential rise starting in 1976, at a rate of increase that remains unabated up until the present. After Virtue, in articulating a powerful Aristotelian challenge to utilitarianism, played an important role in these developments. This was not, however, by way of contributing to technical discussions amongst scholars of Aristotle. Rather, After Virtue mediated to a much broader audience the sense that the ills of capitalist individualism were due to a loss of moral articulacy bound up with deep confusion about happiness. This chapter will unpack the connections between MacIntyre’s retrieval of Aristotelian eudaimonia and his Marxism, trace the influence of MacIntyre’s accounts of happiness and eudaimonia in After Virtue on subsequent philosophical, theological and psychological discussion and consider its present trajectory.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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