Public Reason: Vol. 3, No. 1, June 2011
MacIntyre on Personal Identity
Lia Mela

MacIntyre’s interpretation of human life is influenced by the medieval conception, which considers the human to be substantially in via. What allows MacIntyre to maintain that there is a specific “narrative unity of human life” is the conception of life as “quest” or “journey”. Thus, the self is tied up to a character and his/her unity is given as the unity of the character which is demanded by the narration. The construction of personal identity revolves around the question “what is a good life?”, adopting a structured narration as a basis for the formation of personal identity. Nevertheless, although the unity of life demands an end, the recognition of the fact of pluralism averts MacIntyre from any effort to define positively what is good. However, given the fact that the possibility of understanding life is intertwined with a specific time, place and civilization, the quest does not blindly move in a vacuum, but within traditions, since we are bearers of a specific story. I will argue that (a) as long as the notion of the end remains bereft of content, its capability of solving conflicts of values becomes weaker, (b) in this context, the problem of the coexistence of individuality and social determination is raised. 

Key words: personal identity, practice, narrative, moral tradition, modernity, individualism, autonomy, community, teleology.


Mela, Lia. 2011. MacIntyre on Personal Identity. Public Reason 3 (1): 103-113..