Volume 60, Issue 1, March 2020
Patrick H. Byrne
Desiring and Practical Reasoning
MacIntyre and Lonergan
In his most recent book Alasdair MacIntyre criticizes the dominant moral system of advanced societies, which “presents itself as morality as such.” Yet, he argues, its primary function is to channel human desires into patterns that will minimize conflict amid distinctively modern economic and political arrangements. Although he appreciates how what he calls “expressionism” has unmasked this ideological function of modern morality, he points out that expressionism is also impotent to provide adequate moral guidance amidst the “conflicts of modernity.” He proposes that Neo-Aristotelianism’s account of reasoning and desire has the ability to overcome the moral failings of these modern modes of thought. Yet he relies on an excessively deductive version of reason and overlooks Aristotle’s fuller account of desire. The article shows how Bernard Lonergan’s account of both provides a superior account of both Aristotle’s own writings and the actual human phenomena of reasoning and desire.