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The Particularities of Political Conversations

  • Alasdair MacIntyre


Redhead's admirable book addresses the questions, What cultural, religious, and other baggage do we bring with us to our political interactions with others, and how does it affect those interactions? I am grateful both for the way in which he has opened up those questions and for his generally accurate and always generous treatment of my views. If he has in some ways misunderstood them, this is the result only of an error of omission. For he has neglected to take adequate note both of my account of the distinctive characteristics of most political interactions in the liberal democracies of advanced modernity (except, oddly and briefly, in his footnote 208) and of the importance that I attach to the Thomistic conception of common goods. Yet, without reference to these, some of my central claims about what we bring to political conversations are apt to be misunderstood.



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1 Alasdair MacIntyre, “Politics, Philosophy and the Common Good,” in The MacIntyre Reader, ed. K. Knight (Cambridge: Polity, 1998), 236.

2 Ibid., 237.

3 Gilens, Martin and Page, Benjamin I., “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens,” Perspectives on Politics 12, no. 3 (2014): 564.

4 Alasdair MacIntyre, “Moral Philosophy and Contemporary Social Practice,” in The Tasks of Philosophy: Selected Essays, vol. 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 120.

5 Ibid., 120–21.

6 Review of Politics 52, no. 3 (Summer 1990): 344–61.

7 MacIntyre, “Politics, Philosophy and the Common Good.”

8 In Ethics and Politics: Selected Essays, vol. 2 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 101–21.


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