Moral coherence in the modern world: An interdisciplinary view

Anthony L Klemmer, Salve Regina University


What is the influence of the increasing complexity and fragmentation of modern society on the moral coherence of the human person as an individual and as a community member? Researchers have tackled the question of modern moral coherence from a variety of disciplinary vantage points, with appropriate intra-disciplinary focus and depth. Rarely have researchers attempted to apply a more comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach to the researchable questions of the present study. This dissertation analyzes the impact of complex modern society on moral coherence and explores what the idea of moral coherence looks like in the modern world according to an array of thinkers from five disciplinary fields. Finally, a coherent picture of the modern moral self is constructed from this interdisciplinary selection of thinkers of the late twentieth century. ^ A working definition of the idea of moral coherence for the purpose of the present study includes coherence within the individual human person and across individual selves. Additionally, moral coherence attempts to reconcile moral judgment and action, internal and external moral and non-moral factors, and individual knowledge, experience and beliefs in the moral realm. ^ Sociologists, philosophers, political philosophers, psychologists and theologians, such as Robert Bellah, David Riesman, George H. Mead, Charles Taylor, Michel Foucault, Hannah Arendt, John Rawls, Alasdair Maclntyre, Michael Sandel, Amitai Etzioni, Lawrence Kohlberg, James Rest, H. R. Niebuhr and Stanley Hauerwas, all explore this question of moral coherence of the modern human person as an individual and community member in their work. Using hermeneutic methods to analyze the works of these key thinkers in each of these five fields, this research attempts to determine whether a coherent moral picture emerges from an interdisciplinary approach to these questions. ^

Subject Area

Philosophy|Sociology, Social Structure and Development

Recommended Citation

Klemmer, Anthony L, "Moral coherence in the modern world: An interdisciplinary view" (2009). Doctoral Dissertations (Off Campus access). AAI3376759.