Journal of Ethics 13 (4) (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.|
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