Document Type

Article

Publication Date

January 2006

Abstract

This article sketches the foundation for a general theory of society. Rejecting portrayals that make society a field of exploitation and dominance, it proposes instead an account that locates the foundation of society in its service of certain basic goods. Society is a kind of friendship. It is to be defined based on the goods of friendship and the projects that serve those goods. Its elements, including those of obligation, office, shame, and rehabilitation, further those goods. The society that emerges from this account is a "society of life."

This article also proposes the concept of "components of society," reflecting the observation that society is comprised not only of individuals, but also of villages, towns, business organizations, leagues, and alliances that further interests and ideologies, and even perhaps clubs and teams for sport and recreation. Such groups are not the same thing as society as a whole. Some may have no connection with it-a few even work against it-but many can rightly be considered components of society. Building on its account of the society of life, this article identifies the elements that make an association a component of society. This article then sketches the outline of a morality of components of society, which morality indicates when a smaller association should regard itself-and be regarded by others-as a component institution.

This article proposes that marriage and the family are properly regarded as components of the society of life, reflecting and instilling basic goods of society. This may further the project, recommended by Cardinal Trujillo, of relocating marriage "in its place as a natural institution.

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