MacIntyre and Determinism

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MacIntyre and Determinism

Behavior is quite an interesting aspect of man to observe. All day long we demonstrate diverse types of behavior, from eating certain foods to speaking in certain ways. But of most interest is rational behavior. Behavior is rational "if, and only if, it can be influenced, or inhibited by the adducing of some logically relevant consideration." (p.297) In his essay MacIntyre tries to show us that rational behavior is not causally determined, but that it comes out of our free will.

The discovery of causal explanations for our actions, and the like, shows, or tries to show, that we could not have done other than what we did. From this, then, there would be no point to morality, which has been at the forefront of human thought for ages. But then again, to say the human behavior is inexplicable is to deny all that we have learned from the sciences.

We have already given the definition for rational behavior, but in this definition we find a point which must be clarified, that of a logically relevant consideration. What exactly is a logically relevant consideration? Well, that is logically relevant will necessarily vary from case to case. And it can vary so much that MacIntyre even goes as far as saying that the "task of philosophy might almost be defined as the task of defining 'logical relevance'." (p. 297) Rational behavior is then said to be defined with reference to the possibility of altering it by some logically relevant consideration. Thus, to show that a behavior is rational is enough to show that it is not causally determined, in the sense of it being the effect of certain conditions outside of a person's control.

Being that there is rational behavior, it must follow that there is such a thing non-rational behavior. Non-rational behavior is, of course, behavior which does not take logically relevant considerations into account. Such an act can be said to be impulsive.

As in all philosophical discourse the opposing party usually proposes a counter-attack. In this case, the determinist has launched a three-stage counter attack against free actions. Firstly the determinist argues that, in the widest sense of the word cause, the giving of a reason may function as a cause. MacIntyre argues against this by saying that "to act because you were given reasons to act would not necessarily be to act in a causally determined way.
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