Morality and community

Two factors render nearly all popular moral discourse meaningless and hopeless.

First, modernity and postmodernity assume the primacy of the individual and only then understand how individuals interact with one another. The community is more basic than the individual, thus any understanding of individuality is necessarily built upon the communal identity one holds or rejects. To start with the individual is to make any judgment of morality meaningless because the very categories of thought into which moral judgment can be placed are only possible within community. To start with community is to rest any judgment of morality upon the coherence and development of a community or the incoherence and destruction of a prior community.

Second, to build out a moral theory based on community requires us to understand traditions and the ways in which we are always participating in multiple competing traditions that define the narrative of our lives. Human lives will always be somewhat incoherent within multiple and competing traditions. The only way to find wholeness is not by defining right and wrong per se, but by understanding our part in the most determinative story and the most determinative community in which we belong.

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