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Dependent Rational Animals: Why Human Beings Need the Virtues (The Paul Carus Lectures)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  312 ratings  ·  29 reviews
To flourish, humans need to develop virtues of independent thought and acknowledged social dependence. In this book, a leading moral philosopher presents a comparison of humans to other animals and explores the impact of these virtues.
Paperback, 180 pages
Published May 18th 2001 by Open Court (first published May 13th 1999)
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Jennifer
Jan 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
This is a beautiful and moving work of philosophy. It is also an important book; a necessary corrective to a culture that increasingly seeks to root out disabled humanity through eugenics and euthanasia.

Unfortunately, I don't think the arguments work, and I especially dislike the moves in the beginning to assign practical reason to dolphins. MacIntyre, in stressing our animality, has to a certain extent lost sight of what is so unique about our humanity.

Nevertheless, I was profoundly moved by
...more
Brendan
Aug 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful, lucid, and for me, reorienting work in philosophical anthropology and ethics. MacIntyre weaves together the Aristotelian/Thomistic trajectory of his earlier work with recent work in animal intelligence, on the one hand, and with an explication of the concept of dependency as a constitutive feature of human identity and agency, on the other.
MacIntyre rather convincingly demonstrates that a continuum of intelligence is at work in nature, that other animals exhibit what must be
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Kathleen
MacIntyre is one of those figures whom I respect immensely, and agree with on important points, and yet I just can't get fully on his side. This book is fantastic example of MacIntyre's later thoughts. He makes a really wonderful case for the necessity of human communities of giving and receiving as the environment in which humans best flourish through their practicing of the virtues.
It's a fantastic argument against liberals and "rational" choice theorists for a community of concern, recogniti
...more
Tim
Jul 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: school-reading
I can see why MacIntyre has been recognized as one of the greatest philosophers of our time. Incorporating everyone from Aquinas to Marx, Aristotle to Nietzsche, MacIntyre shows how an analysis of animal intelligence determines how we view “beliefs”, “knowledge of self”, and what it means to be a part of community (among many other issues). The book covers a lot of ground in its 165 pages, but it is accessible, and is refreshing in that sense in that not a lot of prior philosophical reading is r ...more
Vagabond of Letters, DLitt
5.5/10.

Not up to par with 'Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry' or 'After Virtue'. Some reviewers recommend starting with DRA as an entree in to MacIntyre's oeuvre. Don't listen to them. None of his truly original insights are in this book, though a lot of fluff about animal rights is. If I'd started here (instead of with 'After Virtue'), I'd have written the author off as a common second-rate philosopher and read no more of his works - and been spared exposure to some of the most radical and
...more
Jeffery Nicholas
Mar 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite MacIntyre book. It is accessible and makes some excellent points about human nature and the virtues. There's a lot in here about language, about dolphins, and about dependence and independence. It is well worth the read.
Luke Juday
Jun 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Alasdair MacIntyre could write a shopping list and I would give it five stars. But fair warning: this book is similar to his other work in that the language is unhelpfully dense and the argument gets off to a slow start. MacIntyre feels the need to go in depth on what seems like an obscure philosophical point about the nature of rationality in animals (particularly dolphins) in order to set up his real argument. But it’s worth the wait. Like in After Virtue, the really groundbreaking chapters ar ...more
Luke
Oct 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Moral philosophy should reflect the fact that many parts of our life involve dependence on and embedding in social relationships. Reasonable short discussion on other social animal examples and on how we develop as rational practitioners in the context of virtues (categorized as either supporting "rational independence" or "acknowledged dependence"), but overall thin.
Billie Pritchett
Nov 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
According to philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre in his book Dependent Rational Animals, there are three facts about ourselves as people that we sometimes forget and that some people never learn. One of these facts is that a sign of maturity is learning to separate ourselves from our immediate desires. It may seem tempting to own every desire we have, come what may, but when we reflect upon what desires arise in our mind, we can make better decisions. Sometimes this will mean sacrificing immediate wa ...more
Zachary
Jan 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book continues to be a much needed corrective in the field of philosophy that has far too often overlooked human animality and dependence. What MacIntyre argues, in the briefest possible terms, is 1) that human and animal rationality share more than we have usually recognized, 2) human dependence defines human flourishing and virtue, and 3) these, in turn, define what ought to be features of political organization and rational inquiry.
As with all of MacIntyre's writing, there is a lot pack
...more
Arjun
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I found the first half of the book on the rationality of animals to be middling, by the high standards I set for MacIntyre. There were certainly some interesting insights, but it's not a topic that deeply interests me. On the other hand, the second half of the book is stellar... up there with the best parts of Whose Justice? Which Rationality? (which is his magnum opus, in my view). His commentary on family and the parent-child relationship in particular is fascinating. If you are interested in ...more
Megan
Dec 11, 2010 is currently reading it
Mac gives me a serious headache. Organization: thy friend is not Alasdair MacIntyre.
Jim Cook
Mar 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Alasdair MacIntyre’s Dependent Rational Animals is a very clear account of his core beliefs as a moral philosopher. It also has the merit of being quite readable. It’s most interesting flaw, however, is it’s Utopianism.

The book defends “three sets of theses.”
1. Our commonality with and resemblance to other intelligent species.
2. The moral importance of acknowledging our vulnerabilities, afflictions and disabilities, and the resulting dependencies these states create for self-understanding.
3. T
...more
Daniel Silveyra
Feb 04, 2019 rated it liked it
The motivating idea behind the book - that our conception of virtue must be tied to the fact that human beings are often dependent on each other (via infancy, old age or disability) - is powerful and relevant.

The book doesn't pretend to be more than a sketch of this argument and its implications. Despite this, I found the sketch to be ultimately unsatisfying relative to the appeal and promise of the idea. I suppose I would have preferred a longer book, or rather, one that had taken longer to wri
...more
Manuel Taboada
May 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Todos somos dependientes al principio de nuestra vida, y casi todos en la vejez. Y entre ambos momentos, experimentaremos situaciones de dependencia por enfermedad o accidente. Además, dependemos de los demás para alcanzar el estado de seres racionales prácticos, como otros dependerán de nosotros. Se crean así relaciones de reciprocidad cuyo éxito depende de la practica en la comunidad de una serie de virtudes muy específicas, y que según MacIntyre, no pueden desarrollarse únicamente en el ámbit ...more
Pavlogreen
Esta es mi primera lectura de McIntyre y a juzgar por el contenido no será la última. Diré antes que nada quea la obra le faltan páginas que le habrían otorgado mayor unidad y coherencia interna, pero más allá de ese detalle concreto Animalesracioinales y dependientes es un gran libro. Parte de una acertada exposición del estado de la cuestión en torno a animalidad y racionalidad para embarcarse inmediatamente en un sosegado y certero análisis de las condiciones en las que el ser humano se desar ...more
Joseph Sverker
A very good book that argues convincingly how independence and autonomy can only be achieved through dependency. The rational thinker is fostered and does not make him or herself independent by breaking loose from one's dependency. The links to animals and how MacIntyre is reasoning about animal intention and so on are also well worth thinking about.
Malola
Dec 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Interesante libro.
Hay partes en que su discurso se vuelve repetitiva.
Buen análisis de nuestra acknowledged dependence y independent rational reasoning.
Javier
Feb 16, 2019 rated it liked it
MacIntyre makes a good argument in this volume about how we humans are essentially dependent, or vulnerable, as well as rational animals. I highly recommend it!
Weronika Janczuk
Feb 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Intriguing angle to take on the question of virtue, drawing heavily on Aristotle and Aquinas. MacIntyre first considers what "it is in and from our animal nature that we share with members of other intelligent, but non-language-using species, such as dolphins, a consideration designed to show not only that we are right to ascribe to members of at least some of those species intentions and reasons for action, but also that in our own beginnings as rational agents we are very close to their condit ...more
Sancho
May 04, 2016 rated it liked it
Humans, like other animals, are vulnerable, and dependent on their bodies. However, the author explores the differences between humans and other animals. In particular, he focuses on practical reason, which helps humans to function more effectively in comparison. However, another requirement to function well is the ability to receive help from others, especially when one is disabled (e.g. during childhood, sickness, and senility). Disabilities need to be considered in any account of human beings ...more
Ahmaud
Apr 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book feels more like a primer, as there is so much more that the argument for the type of dependence MacIntyre gives could provide. For me, this book served as a reminder that I need to consider my needs, in accordance with my human and individual nature. Furthermore, all this must be done with the Divine light shining upon me. Where I "reason" from standard to which I appeal to justify any given activity must also be good and proper, and so it too must be evaluated. No independent practica ...more
Michael
Jan 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
A thought-provoking analysis of two main themes that MacIntyre has not spoken much of before: disability and vulnerability, on the one hand, and virtues of dependence and independence on the other. I really appreciated how he strung together discussion of animal intelligence and virtues of dependence in human beings -- especially those of us who are physically or mentally handicapped who need certain things from others (according to MacIntyre, not the central government) to help us thrive. I've ...more
Taryn Janati
Jan 31, 2014 marked it as to-read
Appeals to ethology are not always welcome in moral philosophy, but we had better get used to them. The traditionally unquestioned gap between "Rational Man" and "the unreasoning brutes" is no more substantial than is the division, so long revered in ancient Cosmology, between the "sublunary realm" and the "superlunary realm." For an exemplary exploration of what the animal kingdom may have to teach us about the nature of morality, see A. MacIntyre,
"Dependent Rational Animals: Why Human Beings N
...more
Bryan Kibbe
May 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
An excellent argument for continued focus on the extent to which we are deeply dependent human beings, contrary to illusions of heroic individualists. MacIntyre writes well, offering helpful summaries along the way and a collection of resources worth further investigation. As an introduction to a broader study of human dependance this is a great book.
Marcio Silva
Apr 29, 2013 rated it liked it
Some good points and really interesting arguments on "acknowledged dependence". But I think the author could have been more direct - at some point in the first half, I began to think I was reading a book about dolphins. Also, that last bit about Nietzsche seemed a little off. Three stars (although I really like the author).
James
Dec 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
What's that, Flipper? You're an Aristotelian pursuing the virtues specific to your species? Awwwwwww... ...more
Yi Shen
Nov 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ethics
Life-changing!
Richard Heyduck
rated it it was amazing
Jan 06, 2013
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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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