After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory
Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1981. First edition. Octavo. Original cloth and dust jacket (not price-clipped). Minor edge wear to dust jacket, and typical color fade at spine of gray to light green (though less than usual), else fine. Fine in near-fine dust jacket. Item #57
A fine first edition of Alasdair MacIntyre’s (b. 1929) masterpiece—a book regularly counted among the twentieth century’s greatest works of ethical philosophy, and the book that ushered in a revival of Aristotelian thought and virtue ethics. First published by the University of Notre Dame Press in 1981, After Virtue has since been reissued in two subsequent editions; the second edition, published in 1984, added a postscript by MacIntyre responding to certain critics of the book, and the third edition, published in 2007, added a prologue (“After Virtue after a Quarter of a Century”) in which he reflects on the development and prospects of the ideas put forward in the book and reiterates his commitment to its central theses. After Virtue sets forth MacIntyre’s evaluation of the historical and conceptual roots of the idea of virtue, diagnoses the reasons for its absence in private and public life, and offers a proposal for its recovery. What MacIntyre discovers and exposes is the tendency for modern liberal societies, rooted as they are in Enlightenment individualism, to neglect and deny their narrative histories as they fragment into a heterogeneous collection of individual ends. MacIntyre looks to the Aristotelian tradition of virtue ethics as a tradition in which virtue remains encompassed within the narrative of a human life—a life lived out within a community that retains a shared vision of the “good.” As MacIntyre concludes in his prologue to the 2007 edition, “it is only from the standpoint of a very different tradition, one whose beliefs and suppositions were articulated in their classical form by Aristotle, that we can understand both the genesis and the predicament of moral modernity.” This is a fine first edition of one of the most influential works of philosophy to come out of the twentieth century.