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Ethics of Nationality - Miller.docx

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Department
Philosophy
Course
Philosophy 2810F/G
Professor
Jennifer Epp
Semester
Fall

Description
THE ETHICS OF NATIONALITY – MILLER  The second proposition contained in the idea of nationality is that nations are ethical communities  A powerful humanitarian sentiment every human being should matter equally to us  How can it be right to give priority or special treatment to some human beings just because they are tied to us by the kind of bonds indentified previously  Ethical universalism gives us a certain picture of what ethics is about, the elements of which are individuals with their generic human capacities  Because the principles are to be universal in form only general facts about other individuals can serve to determine my duties towards them  Relational facts, facts about some relationship in which he already stands to me cannot enter the picture at this fundamental level  An ethical universalist may well want to argue that at a less fundamental level facts such as these should count in determining my duty have to be brought in by means of an argument showing why  Ethical particularism is simply the opposite of this. It holds that relations between persons are part of the basic subject matter of ethics so that fundamental principles may be attached directly to these relations  We decide what to do primarily by considering what our relationships to others and our memberships to others and various groups demand of us  Content of our universalist – to pursue those values in relation to particular other agents rather than the whole universe of agents  We want to ensure that everyone in need gets taken care of, and that as far as possible there is no duplication of the relief  More feasible for me to transfer the necessary resources and partly because I will know more about what is actually neded by the particular people in question  Require conventions to decide who is to discharge duties such as this in particular cases  The universal perspective each of us is empowered to create special relationships of various kinds, establishing particular sets of rights and obligations  Voluntary creation route – valuable from a universal point of view for people to have the moral power tp bind themselves into special relationships with ethical content  We are tied in to many different relationships  Each of which makes demands on us and there is no single overarching perspective from which we can order or rank these demands  There is nothing in particularism which prevents me from recognizing that I stand in some relationship to all other human beings by virtue of our common humanity and our sharing of a single world  Universalists believe in ethical impartiality whereas particularists believe in ethical particularity  Partiality means treating someone favourably in defiance of ethically sanctioned rules and procedures so we don’t know what it consists in until we know what those rules and procedures are in a given case  Universalists will identify as the main weakness in particularism and conversely what the particularist will regard as the main weakness in universalism  Where the ethical demands that stem from relationships of different kinds are not brought into any rational relation with one another, so that a person who follows a particularistic ethics would receive no guidance in cases where he was pulled in one direction by one set of obligations and in the opposite direction by a second set- the inconsistent behaviour would seem to be the epitome of irrationality  A set of principles and rules varying scope that together would guide our conduct consistently and that could resolve moral dilemmas such as the one described above  Universalist we discover what duties are by abstract reflection on the human condition and on what others can legitimately ask of us  We resolve to act according to those rules; the particularist will argue this involves driving a wedge between ethical duty and personal identity. No considerations about who I am, where I have come from are allowed to influence my ethical reasoning PART TWO  The universalist sees in particularisma failure of rationality the particularist sees in universalism a commitment to abstract rationality that exceeds that capacities of ordinary human beings  National allegiances could have intrinsic significance only if we adopt some form of ethical particularism  People may share a common citizenship even though they are the bearers of separate national identities  The fact that in certain circumstances membership must be renounced does not make continuing acknowledgement of one’s nationality a matter of voluntary choice  Very difficult to see how the arguments deployed by universalists to justify obligation- creating practices such as promises and contracts which involve small numbers of individuals could be extended to these more extensive communities  States demand the allegiance of their subjects  It may be circumvented by regarding political cooperation not as a voluntary matter in the strict sense but asa quasi contractual in nature  I have an obligation to contribute to the scheme as its rules require  Although it may show why individuals derive obligations from their participation in the state, it cannot show why this kind of practice is preferable to one that has a universal or forthat matter a much narrower scope  The quasi contractual approach only generates
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