Patriotism and human rights: An argument for unpatriotic patriotism [Book Review]

Journal of Ethics 13 (4):347 - 364 (2009)
This paper centres on the question as to whether human rights can be reconciled with patriotism. It lays out the more conventional arguments which perceive them as incommensurable concepts. A central aspect of this incommensurability relates to the close historical tie between patriotism and the state. One further dimension of this argument is then articulated, namely, the contention that patriotism is an explicitly political concept. The implicit antagonism between, on the one hand, the state, politics and patriotism, and, on the other hand, human rights, is illustrated via the work of Carl Schmitt. However, in the last few decades there has been a resurgence of interest in patriotism and an attempt to formulate a more moderate form, which tries to reconcile itself with universal ethical themes. Some of these arguments are briefly summarised; the discussion then focuses on Jürgen Habermas’s understanding of constitutional patriotism. This is seen to provide an effective response to Schmitt’s arguments. There are weaknesses in the constitutional patriotic argument which relate to its limited understanding of both the state and politics. This leads me to formulate my own argument for “unpatriotic patriotism.” The discussion then examines and responds to certain potential criticisms of this argument.
Keywords Constitutional patriotism  Jürgen Habermas  Human rights  Patriotism  Politics
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References found in this work BETA
Alasdair MacIntyre (2003). Is Patriotism a Virtue? In Derek Matravers & Jonathan E. Pike (eds.), Debates in Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Anthology. Routledge, in Association with the Open University

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