Is patriotism an associative duty?

Journal of Ethics 13 (4):383 - 399 (2009)
Abstract
Associative duties—duties inherent to some of our relationships—are most commonly discussed in terms of intimate associations such as of families, friends, or lovers. In this essay I ask whether impersonal associations such as state or nation can also give rise to genuinely associative duties, i.e., duties of patriotism or nationalism. I distinguish between the two in terms of their objects: the object of patriotism is an institutionalized political community, whereas the object of nationalism is a group of people who share a common identity, often grounded in a belief in shared history, and an aspiration for collective self-government together. I explore three arguments for the thesis that a special concern for one’s polity and fellow-citizens, or one’s nation and co-nationals, is an associative duty: from reciprocity, from collective self-determination, and from the well-being of compatriots or co-nationals. I argue that the relationship among compatriots is a more plausible contender for generating associative duties than the relationship among co-nationals, although even in this case there are questions whether these are genuinely associative duties, or simply special duties. Although the relationship among co-nationals is a less plausible contender for associative duties, the well-being argument does apply to the relationship among both co-nationals and compatriots. I also suggest that there is a certain privileging of the status quo in the way that associative duties arguments work, because they tend to operate from existing relations and associations.
Keywords Associative duties  Patriotism  Nationalism  Reciprocity  Samuel Scheffler  Self-determination
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References found in this work BETA
Harry Brighouse (1997). Against Nationalism. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 26 (sup1):365-405.
Liam B. Murphy (1998). Institutions and the Demands of Justice. Philosophy and Public Affairs 27 (4):251–291.
Thomas Nagel (2005). The Problem of Global Justice. Philosophy and Public Affairs 33 (2):113–147.

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