chapter  1
16 Pages

The Irrelevance of Ethics

ByAlasdair MacIntyre

At the end of Plato’s Phaedrus Socrates addresses a prayer to Pan and other local gods, a prayer that concludes: ‘May I think him rich who is wise; and of gold may I have only as much of it as a temperate man might bear and carry with him’. Plato’s thought is this: that we may measure ourselves and our activities either by the standards of wisdom and temperateness, the standards of the virtues, or by the standards of money, but that we cannot do both. We have to choose between them. Yet we here now inhabit a culture in which on the one hand the truth of Plato’s thought is recurrently confirmed, while on the other our dominant economic institutions and our business schools continue to present themselves rhetorically as fostering and often attaining excellence by both standards.