chapter  5
20 Pages

Equality, Vulnerability and Independence

ByJohn O’Neill

In the opening chapter to Dependent Rational Animals Alasdair MacIntyre takes Adam Smith to exemplify a particular attitude of philosophers to the facts of human vulnerability, affliction and dependence. While Smith recognises the ‘perspectives of ill health and old age’ in which such facts are evident, he ‘finds reason at once to put them aside’ (MacIntyre 1999: 2). Thus on the one side, Smith recognises the existence of vulnerability and dependence:

However, having acknowledged these facts of human dependence and vulnerability, Smith claims in better health we put such ‘splenetic philosophy’ aside and that it is good that we do so.