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Issues » 2005/4 - Probation and Mediation »

Jane Prior

The virtue ethics of Alistair MacIntyre in the context of social care practice


In this paper the virtue ethics of Alistair MacIntyre are introduced. He is critical of the Enlightenment project and in particular of scientific rationality and the influence of this on philosophy and asserts that the inevitability of scientific rationality on morality is emotivism. After examining what MacIntyre un-derstands by emotivism deontic accounts of morality are rejected in favour of an aretaic account. He argues that an account of the virtues provides a coherent account of morality and the self. It is suggested that these notions are attractive to the social care worker and academic who wish to reject technicist and managerial accounts of professional practice. Particular attention is given to MacIntyre’s notion of a practice and the social context of practices, referred to as communities of practice. The paper sets an agenda for much needed debate regarding what the virtues of social care practice might be and how the internal goods of such a practice could be evaluated.

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