Chapter

Enlightened Loyalty

George P. Fletcher

in Loyalty

Published in print August 1995 | ISBN: 9780195098327
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199852901 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195098327.003.0008
Enlightened Loyalty

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The author attempts to define the limits of loyalty. Although constitutive cultural experiences affect virtually all Americans, multiculturalism implies that one of the intersecting circles of personal loyalties dominates the others. When Randall Kennedy argued against “perspectivalism,” the belief that the ethnicity of an author lends a distinct perspective to his work, he was accused of disloyalty to his racial group. Justice and loyalty conflict in personal, professional and political decisions. The ethics of loyalty are incompatible with the universal moral theories of Kant and Bentham that demand an unattainable spiritual perfection. In the trend toward multiculturalism there is a danger of a breakdown in neutral, rational discourse between members of disparate communities. If loyalty is the criterion for validation, the capacity for discussion with members of other groups is lost. The challenge for our time is uniting the particularism of loyalty with the universal demands of impartial justice, mutual respect and rational discourse.

Keywords: multiculturalism; justice; moral theory; Bentham; loyalty; particularism; rational discourse; perspectivalism; Randall Kennedy; Kant

Chapter.  9780 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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