Alasdair MacIntyre's Views and Biological Ethics: Exploring the Consistency

Some of the most fundamental questions which moral philosophers have been grappling with include: What makes us moral beings? Is morality a product of culture or nature or both? Are ethical norms and principles universal and unchanging or are they relative, being rooted in specific socio-political and historical contexts? Can ethical conclusions be derived from descriptive statements?

This book addresses these and similar questions through a comparative study between Alasdair MacIntyre’s views and biological ethics. It discusses how both MacIntyre’s views and biological ethics highlight the importance of human biology for human morality. Based on this discussion, the book proposes that both the rational and the biological (including the emotional) dimensions of humans have to be considered in order to understand the complex and multi-layered phenomenon of human morality. As such, it will prove to be a valuable resource for undergraduate and postgraduate students of moral philosophy, especially those interested in studying the biological approach toward ethics, Thomistic Aristotelian ethics and metaethics.


Sherel Jeevan Joseph Mendonsa is a Jesuit priest and Lecturer at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, having received his PhD in Philosophy from the same institution. He holds a BA in Economics and an MBA in Management. In addition to ethics, his areas of interest in philosophy include philosophy of religion, neurophilosophy and philosophy of biology.

"Sherel Jeevan Mendonsa’s work is very helpful in bringing together the perspective of a contemporary Aristotelian, Alasdair MacIntyre, and the positions debated in evolutionary ethics. From his reading of MacIntyre, Mendonsa argues that our rationality as thinking beings is founded upon, but not completely determined by, our animality; rationality and animality are related to each other. Exploring the complexity of this relationship of grounding without determination is a major challenge once the reality of an evolutionary process has been accepted. Some authors use the term ‘emergence’ to speak of this, and while appropriate language and formulation is crucial, the solution cannot be purely verbal, but must provide a genuine understanding of the relationship. The transdisciplinary conversation provided in Mendonsa’s work is a welcome and valuable contribution to developing the required understanding."

Dr Patrick Riordan, SJ Senior Fellow for Political Philosophy and Catholic Social Thought, Campion Hall, University of Oxford

"The work is very well-structured, and the general argument of the thesis is convincing, also thanks to the accurate critical analysis of primary and secondary sources. It can be considered both as an important contribution to the interpretation of MacIntyre’s thought and as an ingenious discussion of the question of the relation between morality and biology."

Prof. Sante Maletta University of Bergamo, Italy

"A happy entrant into contemporary philosophical enterprise – be it for academic or other purposes – has but to be willing to grapple with an enormously huge pool of information awaiting his or her assimilation. At the service of such an enterprise is this admirably innovative meta-ethical study. Its author seeks to amalgamate Alasdair MacIntyre’s remarkable contribution to contemporary ethical thought and an ever-captivating scientific influence in understanding human life and its evolution. MacIntyre’s own project to reinstate virtue ethics while paying homage to Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition is not only well acknowledged by this author, but it is also found to permeate a unified view of human natural history partly borrowed from Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory. Nature and nurture are thereby underscored as complementary and inseparable hinges upon which the complex phenomenon of human morality has always to be seen as oscillating and its foundations guaranteed. Were a reader’s interest bent towards tracing biological origins of human morality or connecting ethical deliberations to human animality, this wonderfully written book would certainly be edifying, if not enthralling, to read."

Dr Macharia Timothy Maina Reverend Father of the Congregation of Holy Cross, Uganda

Buy This Book

ISBN: 1-5275-9130-1

ISBN13: 978-1-5275-9130-1

Release Date: 7th December 2022

Pages: 260

Price: £67.99

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ISBN: 1-5275-5014-1

ISBN13: 978-1-5275-5014-8

Release Date: 18th September 2023

Pages: 260

Price: £33.99

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