Virtues in a post-traditional society
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The shift from a customary, tradition-based society to a commercial and law-based one issues in an oppositional dialectic that pits a reactionary conservatism against a dogmatic individualism prioritising rights. Clark (2002) claims that the conditions of the new impersonal bureaucracy fail the basic needs of the human psyche for bonding and meaning. I argue, however, that the values associated with this modern society, namely equality, fairness and individual autonomy, are the internal goods of this particular “social practice” (in MacIntyre’s sense), and hence virtuous participation in such a practice can be regarded as implicit in this outlook. What prevents this being explicit is the blind spot about agency that characterises modern global culture. A recent example of this can be seen in attempts to re-think ethics and religion ‘naturalistically’.