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A Short History Of Ethics: A History Of Moral Philosophy From The Homeric Age To The Twentieth Century

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  260 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
In this classic work, Alasdair MacIntyre guides the reader through the history of moral philosophy from the Greeks to contemporary times. He emphasizes the importance of a historical context to moral concepts and ideas. MacIntyre illustrates the relevance of philosophical queries on moral concepts enabling the reader to understand the importance of a historical account of ...more
Published (first published April 1st 1966)
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Jacob Aitken
Review of Alasdair MacIntyre’s A Short History of Ethics

The title of the book is misleading. It gives one the impression that AM will gives us a survey of the history of ethical positions. While he does do this to a degree, that is not the point of the book. AM’s argument is that key terms in ethics change meaning with the change in language and/or social custom (269). Secondly, key moves in philosophy and social theory change ethical foundations.

AM begins with Greek ethics and gives a thorough
Russell Freeman
Aug 01, 2014 Russell Freeman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a helpful survey of moral philosophy beginning with Homer and ending with the prescriptivism of R. M. Hare. MacIntyre's history is never simply summary. He continuously critiques the philosophers whose views he provides. For some, this constant analysis will be grating, but it forced me to engage consistently with MacIntyre. His diagnosis of "modern moral philosophy" was a fitting culmination to the book. In other words, the book truly ends and doesn't simply stop with the most rec ...more
Mark Rossiter
Sep 27, 2013 Mark Rossiter rated it it was amazing
A couple of years ago I stuck “History of Ethics” into Amazon and it came back with a two-volume tome by Vernon J. Bourke. I bought it and read it, to the end, on the principle that, once you’ve started, you have to stick it out. It was excruciating; a laundry list of pretty much what anyone who ever opened their mouth about ethics had ever said, couched in unintelligible technical terms, with no penetration, depth, or real understanding. I learned close to nothing, and it took forever. Hence I ...more
Alexander Frost
Oct 08, 2010 Alexander Frost rated it it was amazing
Whilst I agree with the reviewers below that this brilliant book can be quite dense at times, Alisdair does not read as if he is trying to be pompous or difficult. Unique amongst philosophical writters, I left with an overwhelming sense that that the subject merely deserves a degree of deferential depth and attention.

Aside from the fascinating insights into ethics through the ages, one of the most interesting aspects of this book is the relationship between changing social structures and the co
Nov 21, 2008 Adam rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
He is truly brilliant, and his understanding of ethics throughout history is unprecedented. BUT, this book is supposed to be a short history of ethics, one a non-specialist should be able to pick up and it doesn't live up to that. It's short, but it's quite cumbersome at moments. That being said, he really includes everything through Western civ on moral theory. From pre-Socrates up to current (late 20th c.) ethical thought. You can read short pieces about Hume, Nietzsche, Aristotle, Aquinas, et ...more
Eduardo Garcia-Gaspar
Aug 03, 2016 Eduardo Garcia-Gaspar rated it liked it
Shelves: filosofía
Una breve historia de las ideas sobre moral y éticas que me ha servido para tener un panorama general de las distintas ideas al respecto en diferentes momentos, desde los griegos hasta la actualidad. Obtuve un panorama que me pareció razonable acerca de la historia del descubrimiento de la Ética: tantas y tan diferentes ideas en un compendio fascinante. No, no es un argumento en favor del relativismo moral, creo yo, sino una historia de los intentos para descubrir la verdad ética.
En la edición
Feb 10, 2012 Daniel rated it liked it
An alright introduction, though incredibly unbalanced (e.g. 100+ pages on Plato and Aristole vs. 10 pages on Christianity up until the Reformation (~1,500 years). However, as he readily admits in his preface to the 2nd edition, his brief chapter on Christianity was not only woefully brief, it was also woefully false as he relied on what is now considered well-refuted liberal German scholarship concerning the kingdom and the eschaton.
Richard Newton
May 01, 2013 Richard Newton rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
This is an intelligent and useful overview of the development of ethics, or at least the western approach to ethics. It balances well the needs of a history of ideas and providing some useful explorations philosophy itself. Not too difficult to read without a deep philosophical education, although some familiarity with certain concepts is helpful.
Jun 11, 2015 Shua rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Here's a quick summary: "We are ever, and always, wrong about ethics. Our current model of ethics is wrong, but we won't know how wrong and in what ways until a later generation speaks up and explains to us in simple, unambiguous words how we messed everything up."

Really enjoyed this book!
Nov 30, 2013 Santaraksita rated it really liked it
May 05, 2010 Maya rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook, philosophy
Not a very easy read but an interesting one none the less.
A very good book as an overview on the evolution of philosophical views about what constitutes ethical behavior.
Mort Shahmir
An excellent brief review of philosophy.
Luke Echo
May 31, 2014 Luke Echo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This really is quite a good summary of the History of Ethics. I know MacIntyre leans towards a certain type of conservatism but it was still rather balanced.
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Alasdair Chalmers MacIntyre is a leading philosopher primarily known for his contribution to moral and political philosophy but known also for his work in history of philosophy and theology. He is the O'Brien Senior Research Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame.
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“History is neither a prison nor a museum, nor is it a set of materials for self-congratulation.” 0 likes
“Plato in both the Gorgias and the Republic looked back to Socrates and asserted that "it is better to suffer tortures on the rack than to have a soul burdened with the guilt of doing evil." Aristotle does not confront this position directly: he merely emphasizes that it is better still both to be free from having done evil and to be free from being tortured on the rack.” 0 likes
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