The Historical Self

George P. Fletcher

in Loyalty

Published in print August 1995 | ISBN: 9780195098327
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199852901 | DOI:
The Historical Self

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This argues that loyalty arises within the context of a relationship from shared experiences and personal history and is contingent upon these factors. Betrayal is a breach of an obligation of loyalty. Personal commitment and partiality distinguish loyalty from the impartial morality propounded by eighteenth century moral philosophers. Impartial morality posits a universal self with obligations to humanity whereas the historical self generates the loyalty to particular groups that forms our identity. Loyalty is the obligation implied in the personal sense of historical connection to a defining set of familial, institutional and national relationships. Political reliability (defined by the author as that which is under question in cases of suspected disloyalty) and professional loyalty, neither of which is based in the historical self, are tangential to loyalty. History breeds relationships and these bonds generate a system of ethics different from the universal imperatives of liberal morality.

Keywords: personal history; relationships; loyalty; betrayal; impartial morality; obligation; universal self; historical self; political reliability; professional loyalty

Chapter.  8789 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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