MacIntyre’s Educational Project Applied: Cultivating Independent Rational Agents with Virtuous Dispositions

  • Steven A. Stolz
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Education book series (BRIEFSEDUCAT)


Before an agent can become an independent rational agent, they must learn from authoritative others who are mature and experienced agents in the goods internal to a given practice. So learning from others within the context of tradition-orientated takes on decisive importance because the young, immature, and inexperienced need to be taught what the good is, and why individuals or tradition-orientated communities rank-order goods in order to achieve their end qua human being. It is only as a parent in a family, or as a student in school or university, or worker in a trade, and so on, that an agent acquires or fails to acquire the virtues in the pursuit of discharging these roles and functions. It is in these contexts we have been educated into, that the practices found in tradition-orientated communities depend for their flourishing on the exercise of those virtues which bring about both individual goods and common goods that are shared by others in making and sustaining a life that is directed toward our human good. Whether human beings transition from dependent to independent reasoners, and flourish as members of a tradition, to MacIntyre is contingent on how the virtues of both rational independence and of acknowledged dependence have been acquired and practiced. One of the central tasks of tradition-orientated communities concerns the cultivation of both the moral and intellectual virtues that enables an agent to be able to identify a range of goods in each situation and respond with that action which is best for that particular agent to do in the situation. Crucial to this cultivation is an expectation that members committed to a tradition-orientated community will be continually open to dialectical challenge by testing every point of view in a systematic fashion to see if it withstands rigorous scrutiny from within and from outside. Indeed this feature of dialectical challenge is a central tenet in MacIntyre’s educational project that finds application in his account of a Thomist education that is against education of our age. As a result, for the purposes of this chapter I will be concerned with the discussion of the following: first, I provide a critique of MacIntyre’s account of the virtues, and why human beings need the virtues. In particular, I pay close attention to how human beings transition from dependent to independent rational agents with virtuous dispositions through tradition-orientated communities; and, lastly, I explore the reasons why MacIntyre is against education of our age.


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Copyright information

© Steven A. Stolz 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.La Trobe UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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