Ethics 98 (4):647-662 (1988)
|Abstract||My object in this paper is to defend the view that national boundaries may be ethically significant. The duties we owe to our compatriots may be more extensive than the duties we owe to strangers, simply because they are compatriots. On the face of it, such a view is hardly outlandish. On the contrary almost all of us, including our leaders, behave as though it were self-evidently true. We do not, for instance, hesitate to introduce welfare measures on the grounds that their benefits will be enjoyed only by Americans, or Britons, or whomever. Why, then, is it worth defending this view at length? Precisely because there is a powerful thrust in the ethical theories that are most prominent in our culture toward what I shall call universalism: namely, the view that the subject matter of ethics is persons considered merely as such, independent of all local connections and relations; and that the fundamental questions of ethics can be posed in some such form as: What duties do I owe to my fellow human beings? What rights do they have against me?'|
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