Presentation on theme: "Philosophy in Practice Week 7: Philosophy in Practice Week 7: National identity and special bonds of solidarity: what is it and why does it matter to political."— Presentation transcript:
Philosophy in Practice Week 7: Philosophy in Practice Week 7: National identity and special bonds of solidarity: what is it and why does it matter to political philosophers?
Structure 1.Introduction to nationalism and national identity 2.National identities 3.The importance of trust and national solidarity 4.Moral obligations to co-nationals 5.Criticism 6.Conclusion
Introduction to Nationalism and National Identity
Nationalism’s Bad Reputation Leads to: War and totalitarianism Imperialism and oppression Irrationality, partiality, closedmindedness and lies
Forms of nationalism An ideological doctrin (”we must promote the interests of the nation”) A political movement (Scottish, Welsh, or Basque nationalism, ‘new British nationalism’) –A desire for national independence (‘we need our own nationstate’) –A desire for national unity (‘we have to be in this together’). –A desire for national identity (’we must know and stregthen awareness of who we are’) A sentiment or form of subjectivity (‘the Serbians are very nationalistic’) A philosophical theory (legitimization, justification) of the importance af nations and the need for its political expression (e.g. David Miller’s theory)
Why a Theory of National Identity? The nationstate is threatened (should it be preserved?) Nationalism is many things (conceptual clarification) Nationalism can take many forms (can they be separated in practice?) AND: national identity is an inescapable part of the political and lived reality But what is it?
National Identities Miller: National communities are constituted by belief –Imagined communities –This does not mean that they are false or unimportant, but merely that their realm is the mind (like marriage and money) –”A daily plebiscite” National communities entail historical continuity –Stretches back towards an endless past –…and towards an endless future –Focus on unifying historical events – tragedies and golden ages
National Identities #2 3.National communities are active identities –Performs collective acts (often via intermediates) 4.National communities are bound to a certain geographical location –This is an essential part of having such an identity –National communities must have a homeland 5.National communities must be ”marked off from other communities by its members’ distinct traits” –People who share a national identity must have (are experience themselves as having) a particular culture
National Identities #3 Miller’s definition: national identities are imagined, entail historical continuity, are active, geographically bound and based on distinct traits. Important (implicit) part of many parts of political philosophy and politics: equality, democracy, justice, citizenship, etc. And, not least, important part of politics and the reality and life people actually live and experience. Miller holds that this should be taken seriously in political philosophy (he is what he calls, an ethical particularist). But apart from what people feel, why should we care?
Trust and solidarity Equality, citizenship, democracy, etc. are based on the bonds of trust and solidarity created and upheld by national identities. Trust and solidarity is needed to “mobilise people to provide collective goods,” “agree to practices of redistribution,” and avoid social atomisation. This provides weighty instrumental reasons for accepting the importance of national identities. But how should we treat this fact? Or rather, what does this mean regarding our obligations?
Special obligations Co-nationals must perform special duties to each other in order to maintain their relationship. As we have seen, national bonds are instrumentally important – they facilitate the provision of collective goods and comprehensive systems of redistribution These special duties are not only important, they are constitutive of the relationship between co-nationals – it could not exist in the same form without them....and national relationships should be upheld because they are also intrinsically important – they make lives better.
Special obligations vs. other obligations Having special duties means that we must prioritize co- nationals over others to whom we have duties. It means our duties are more stringent and are concerned with relative shares (i.e. Inequalities). Thus, our obligations to co-nationals should take precedence over obligations to poor foreigners and are furthermore more demanding.
Criticizing nationalism Strong bonds of identity do not exist nationally or do exist internationally (criticizing the empirical claim) Why do we have special duties to someone with whom we share an identity (criticizing the normative claim)? Overall criticism
Conclusion Nationalism has a bad reputation, but takes many different forms. In Miller’s form, national identity has been cleansed of these bad connotations. Here, national identity involves an imagined community, historical continuity, political activity, geographical boundedness, and a basis in distinct traits. National identities are instrumentally important due to their role in upholding trust and solidarity and intrinsically important since they are valuable relationships. Thus, they give rise to special obligations, which should be prioritized over other obligations (e.g. to foreigners). Miller’s account of national identities may be criticized in different ways.
Questions Is Miller’s depiction of national identity plausible? Is it a realistic depiction? Should it be in order to play the role he intends it to play? Are national identities as important as Miller take them to be? Instrumentally? Intrinsically?