Moral community

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A moral community is a group of people drawn together by a common interest in living according to a particular moral philosophy.

Many moral communities are often associated with a religion and advocate that religion's conception of a good life. The congregation of a church, synagogue, or mosque is a typical moral community. However, some moral communities, such as the American Humanist Association, are secular and advocate particular interpretations of secular ethics. In itself, 'moral community' is a value-free descriptive term, and thus, so are the range of potential practises that are condoned within disparate moral communities. During the Aztec ascendancy in Mexico and Central America, human sacrifice and ritual cannibalism were core aspects of ceremonial religious endeavour, designed to satisfy divine interests. Until the nineteenth century, chattel slavery was condoned within Western European societies, and for one half-century, apartheid was condoned within the moral community of white Afrikaner inhabitants of South Africa.

At times, disparate moral communities have conflicting interpretations of what constitutes ethical conduct or an ethical life. Fundamentalist Protestants oppose reproductive rights and same-sex marriage, while many mainline Protestants support the legality of both. In other instances, particular professions or occupations have particular interpretations of situational and professional or occupational moral conduct- for example, many military combattants might kill members of opposing armed forces within a theatre of war. By contrast, many medical organisations oppose the practices of voluntary euthanasia or physician assisted suicide because they believe that it violates their traditional Hippocratic Oath pledge not to intentionally harm another.