På väg mot ett ickerelativiserande traditionsbegrepp. MacIntyre och Newman


  • Erik Åkerlund


The concept of tradition has made a revival in many different Christian traditions. The introduction and use of this concept tends sometimes to be relativizing when it comes to questions of truth. In this article, two uses of this concept that claim to be “non-relativizing” will be presented and discussed, especially with respect to the question of developments of traditions: those of Alasdair MacIntyre (1929–) and of John Henry Newman (1801–1890). MacIntyre explicitly acknowledges his debt to Newman when it comes to the concept of tradi-tion he uses. However, whereas MacIntyre puts different traditions against each other within the field of eth-ics, Newman rather treats “partial traditions” within a larger tradition in the field of theology and dogmatic history. Also, whereas MacIntyre’s main perspective is the internal dissonances within a tradition, Newman takes the overarching perspective of describing developments as responses to challenges external to the tradi-tion. It is argued that Newman’s way of describing and reconstructing the development of, or rather within, a tradition provides better presuppositions to compare the relative merits of different (partial) traditions than does MacIntyre’s. The conclusion is that a more faithful reception of Newman’s concept of tradition would have led MacIntyre further from the brink of relativism.