MacIntyre and Malcolm on the Continuity Between the Animal and the Human

Tove Österman


In this paper will discuss Alasdair MacIntyre’s call for a re-evaluation of human
rationality. I think what MacIntyre does is interesting as an attempt to point
to a misunderstanding of human rationality prevalent in much of philosophy,
where human rationality is defined in contrast to the animal and bodily aspects
of our existence, and where the judgments we make of animals are seen as
necessarily anthropomorphic. However, I will argue that he is not entirely
successful in his criticism since he shares the key assumptions underlying the
problem he tries to address, and instead of elucidating the animal features of
human rationality the result is an intellectualisation of animal responses to
fit them into the (traditional) view of rationality. To this, I will contrast
another way of viewing a possible connection between animal and human
rationality, Wittgenstein’s notion of “primitive reactions” as it appears in
Norman Malcolm among others.


philosophy; 20th century philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; animal; rationality; language; primitive reaction

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