The State, Compartmentalization and the Turn to Local Community: A Critique of the Political Thought of Alasdair MacIntyre

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    Abstract

    Alasdair MacIntyre condemns modern politics, specifically liberalism and the institutions of the liberal state, as irredeemably fallen. His core argument is that the liberal state encourages a disempowering ‘compartmentalization’ of people’s everyday roles and activities that undermines the intersubjective conditions of human flourishing. MacIntyre’s alternative is an Aristotelian politics centred on the notion of “practice.” Defined by justice and solidarity, this politics can only be realized, he claims, within local communities which oppose and resist the dictates of the administrative state and capitalist market. Here it is argued that MacIntyre’s notion of “practice” represents a compelling ethical-political ideal. However, the belief that this ideal is best realized within local communities is rejected. In privileging local community, MacIntyre relies on a reductive view of modern states and overlooks the institutional conditions of a just polity. Against this, it is argued that a politics of human flourishing cannot succeed without an emancipatory transformation of large-scale, trans-communal institutions, in particular the state.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)485-501
    Number of pages17
    JournalThe European Legacy
    Volume10(5)
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2005

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