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Conservative political theorists often contrast tradition with reason and its stability with conflict. This, however, is a misleading ideological use of the concept of tradition, says the contemporary Scottish philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre.

MacIntyre reconceptualises ‘tradition’ as a historically extended, socially embodied, continuous argument, which is in part about the goods that constitute that tradition. Here, goods are understood as the (often trans-generational) pursuit of which gives the tradition its purpose and point. For a tradition to continue living, the virtues relevant to the pursuit of the goods need to be exercised.