Human vulnerability and practical rationality. A MacIntyrean bioethical perspective

  • Sante Maletta | Dipartimento di Lettere Filosofia Comunicazione, Università degli Studi di Bergamo, Italy.


This article focuses on some essays by Alasdair MacIntyre published in the course of thirty years. They are the main sources for the reconstruction of a bioethical perspective based on virtue ethics. This perspective “centers” bioethics on medicine as a social practice and therefore on the relation between the patient and the doctor considered within the effective social network where both alienating and liberating forms of dependency can be found. Human flourishing dos not require an utopian emancipation from all kinds of dependency; on the contrary it requires the practice of ethical and dianoethical virtues which the biological and rational relations of dependency make possible. The exercise of independent practical rationality, which is a relevant factor for realizing the human good, is not meant as an absolute autonomy but as the ability to justify choices and acts from a narrative viewpoint. According to this bioethical perspective disability, considered as the manifestation of human dependence and vulnerability, becomes an opportunity for exercising the “virtues of giving and receiving”, which realize the individual good and the common good; disability therefore encourages to re-think both the human condition and the nature of the social bonds and of social justice.



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Original Articles
virtue ethics, medical ethics, disability, social justice
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How to Cite
Maletta, S. (2019). Human vulnerability and practical rationality. A MacIntyrean bioethical perspective. Medicina E Morale, 68(3), 297-312.