Political discussions about rights

I’ve been reading up on economics and theology lately, and it reminded me of a larger issue in our culture that I’d like to wonder out loud about.

Alasdair MacIntyre, in his magisterial After Virtue, argued that many of our current political debates are intractable because we have no common moral framework from which to argue.

My question is: do you, dear reader, agree with this? He uses this idea to explain why debates about abortion, for example, devolve into screaming matches. That is, because our method for determining what a basic right is is just ultimately our feelings or intuitions, when people have differing intuitions it is impossible to persuade the opposing side to change.

This would even true, I think, when debating with a utilitarian of the most rigorous kind, because even utilitarians take “the greatest good for the greatest number” as a moral absolute, a right.

So: are we stuck in an interminible shouting match based on competing emotions? Or do we still have a common moral framework, in the Western world (or, to make things simpler, Canada or the USA)?