What would a course on ethics look like if it took into account Alasdair MacIntyre’s concerns about actually teaching students ethical practices? How could professors induct students into practices that prompt both reflection on their cultural formation and self-knowledge of the ways they have been formed by it? According to MacIntyre, such elements are prerequisites for an adequate moral education. His criticism of what he terms “Morality” includes the claim that most courses don’t even try to teach the right things. He charges that academic teaching has little if anything to do with character formation, whereas thick practices can transform lives in ways mere argument can never do. Even those who appreciate his arguments and agree with his criticisms, however, may find implementing more adequate forms of ethical instruction in the university classroom a tall order.
My goal in this essay is to provide a sketch of my own experimental course on normative ethics in order to illustrate what teaching according to a more MacIntyrean program might look like.