Culture, Tradition and Translation in the Philosophy of Alasdair MacIntyre
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A specific form of relativism characteristic for Alasdair MacIntyre's philosophy is discussed in the paper. The authors focus on mutual translatability between languages in the context of conceptual schemes connected with tradition constituted moral enquiry. They locate the source of MacIntyre's relativism in incommensurability of various conceptual schemes and discuss the chances of its overcoming. They address their attention to two claims made by MacIntyre: a weaker one (i) that there does not exist a language that would be neutral with respect to non-linguistic reality, and a stronger one (ii) that non-linguistic reality does not exist at all. Consequently the choice of language predetermines the body of truths that can be expressed in that language. A gradual improvement of descriptive adequacy is however possible. MacIntyre points out that it is always possible to adopt a new language that enables a better description of some moral problems, especially when the traditional language is unable to deal with some aspects of moral dilemmas. To this strategy he adds another. It is also possible to learn a new language as a 'second-first-language'. The ultimate goal of the paper is to assess these proposals.
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