There are some virtues that are not individual. The virtue is a product.

When we talk about corporate virtues, we usually mean the qualities that an institution displays. Its “core values,” except the real ones, not the brainstormed ones from the managers’ meeting.

But real corporate values are the ones that take a group of people to live them.

The insight that some values require a virtuous community makes sense of much of the Restoration.

Take healthy sexuality. It is a wonderful virtue, but it takes two. It is impossible for one person to have a healthy sex life all on their lonesome.

The virtue can be distorted by one person. One spouse could be frigid, or one spouse could be lustful (or domineering, or manipulative, or any other variation on damaged sexuality). But healthy sexuality takes both. Chastity doesn’t, but healthy sexuality does. (Put differently, chastity is the form that healthy sexuality takes in individuals).

I increasingly believe that honesty is a corporate virtue at the limit. Dishonesty is an individual vice. But honesty is communication, and communication always requires two. The speaker cannot be honest if the speaker is not able to hear it. Imagine you are dealing with someone who is convinced that If A, then B. You honestly need to communicate A and Not B. But if you communicate A, they will take away the dishonest message of A and B. If you communicate Not B, they will take away the dishonest message of Not B and Not A. If you communicate A and Not B, they will not receive any information from you. You have not been dishonest, but you have not communicate truth either. And it gets more complicated–most communication occurs in settings where there are hundreds of potential connotations and we just don’t have the time to address all the Not B connotations that we are not trying to communicate.

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