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A Short History of EthicsA Short History of Ethics

Alasdair MacIntyre

Narrated by Tim Dalgleish

Available from Audible

Book published by University of Notre Dame Press

A Short History of Ethics is a significant contribution written by one of the most important living philosophers. For the second edition Alasdair MacIntyre has included a new preface in which he examines his book “thirty years on” and considers its impact. It remains an important work, ideal for all students interested in ethics and morality.

Alasdair MacIntyre is Rev. John A. O’Brien Senior Research Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author of numerous books, including After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory, revised edition and Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry: Encyclopaedia, Genealogy, and Tradition.


“The second edition of this classic will be more widely read than the first, one expects, if only because in the intervening three decades the author has become perhaps the most important moral philosopher in the English-speaking world.”

First Things

“MacIntyre’s highly respected Short History has been translated into six languages. Out of print in English for several years, its reappearance in this second edition is a welcome event. MacIntyre is always provocative, and this book will continue to excite engagement with fundamental moral issues.”


“This brilliant and provocative book is not so much a history of ethics as it is an essay about the history of ethics, with numerous examples. For that reason it is interesting and philosophically important in a way that most short histories of some branch of philosophy ‘from Homer to today’ are not.... It is important, not as one more pedantic history, but for its demonstration that the history of ethics can be more than a chronologically ordered set of summaries with occasional connective remarks about influences and refutations. MacIntyre presents an extended argument about human nature and society, morality, and the historical development of Western civilization, leading to the conclusion that to understand and to do moral philosophy properly it is necessary to study history—the history of morality as well as the history of ethics. One may wish to quarrel with some of his supporting arguments, with certain interpretations of particular authors, or with aspects of his outline of the history of morality. But by combining a rich socio-historical apparatus with a high degree of critical acumen [MacIntyre] has presented us with a detailed example of a kind of history of ethics which is far superior in depth and philosophical relevance to any of the existing varieties.”

Philosophical Review

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