In The Morality of Everyday Life, Thomas Fleming offers an alternative to the enlightened liberalism espoused by thinkers as different as Kant, Mill, Rand, and Rawls. These thinkers maintain that a problem should be looked at from an objective point of view and a decision made from a distant perspective that is both rational and universally applied to all comparable cases. Fleming instead places importance on the particular, the local, and moral complexity. For Fleming, postmodernism, which began with Nietzsche, is not the answer to moral dilemmas either. Fleming advocates a return to premodern traditions, such as those exemplified in the texts of Aristotle, the Talmud, and the folk wisdom in ancient Greek literature, for a solution to ethical predicaments. In his view, liberalism and postmodernism ignore the fact that human beings by their very nature refuse to live in a world of universal abstractions wherein the attachments of friends, neighbors, family, and country make no difference. Premodern thinkers, unlike those since the seventeenth century, recognized that particular obligations arise from specific circumstances and experiences.
Thomas Fleming is the editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, published by the Rockford Institute in Rockford, Illinois. He is the author or coauthor of several books, including The Politics of Human Nature and The Conservative Movement.