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Liberal Loyalty

Liberal Loyalty: Freedom, Obligation, and the State

Anna Stilz
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Liberal Loyalty
    Book Description:

    Many political theorists today deny that citizenship can be defended on liberal grounds alone. Cosmopolitans claim that loyalty to a particular state is incompatible with universal liberal principles, which hold that we have equal duties of justice to persons everywhere, while nationalist theorists justify civic obligations only by reaching beyond liberal principles and invoking the importance of national culture. InLiberal Loyalty, Anna Stilz challenges both views by defending a distinctively liberal understanding of citizenship.

    Drawing on Kant, Rousseau, and Habermas, Stilz argues that we owe civic obligations to the state if it is sufficiently just, and that constitutionally enshrined principles of justice in themselves--rather than territory, common language, or shared culture--are grounds for obedience to our particular state and for democratic solidarity with our fellow citizens. She demonstrates that specifying what freedom and equality mean among a particular people requires their democratic participation together as a group. Justice, therefore, depends on the authority of the democratic state because there is no way equal freedom can be defined or guaranteed without it. Yet, as Stilz shows, this does not mean that each of us should entertain some vague loyalty to democracy in general. Citizens are politically obligated to their own state and to each other, because within their particular democracy they define and ultimately guarantee their own civil rights.

    Liberal Loyaltyis a persuasive defense of citizenship on purely liberal grounds.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3070-1
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. PART ONE: Equal Freedom and the State

    • 1 Introduction
      (pp. 3-26)

      Of the many facts about the contemporary world that we tend to take for granted, one of the most pervasive is that it is a world of separate states. We may have much else to say about the character of these states—that they ought to protect human rights, or that they ought to be democratic—but, at least until recently, the fact that organized political life will take the form of a plurality of sovereign states was not often drawn into question.¹ Moreover, we not only tend to assume that the state willexistas a background fact about...

    • 2 Authority
      (pp. 27-56)

      As we saw in the introduction, there is a tendency within cosmopolitan political philosophy—illustrated in its critique of the particularity assumption—to view the citizen’s relationship to the state as a matter of moral irrelevance, a mere artifact of geography. For interactional cosmopolitans, a citizen like Sally owes no special political obligations to her state or her compatriots; instead, she only has moral duties of justice to her fellow human beings. As I indicated, one way of defending the political obligations that we intuitively attribute to Sally is to argue that the state is a morally important association because...

    • 3 Democracy
      (pp. 57-84)

      In the last chapter, I argued—through a reading of Kant’s political theory—that a condition of justice can only be brought into being by means of state authority. As we saw, equally free individuals must possess rights that are not naturally defined—what Kant callsacquired rights. Kant’s main assertion is that the only way to “fill in” the terms of our acquired rights consistently with each person’s innate claim to be treated as a free equal is via a public mediating institution, the state. This is because any private means of settling the bounds of these rights will...

    • 4 Political Obligation and Justice
      (pp. 85-110)

      I began this book by noting that many political philosophers have had an increasingly difficult time reconciling their view that the liberal state is based on the moral principle of equal freedom of persons with two widely shared convictions, both of which are summed up in the particularity assumption. The first is that citizens may have political obligations—not directly reducible to their moral obligations to other persons qua human beings—to the institutions of their own state above others, even when those other states are equally just. Vindicating this belief would require us to offer an account of how...

  5. PART TWO: Solidarity and Allegiance

    • 5 Freedom and Culture in Rousseau
      (pp. 113-136)

      The argument in part 1 established that our general duties of justice give us good reasons to construct and uphold democratic states, since they are necessary in order to define and enforce our acquired rights while maintaining our independence from domination by other private persons. But in the second part of the book I seek to address an important criticism that is frequently leveled against justice-based accounts of political allegiance like the one I so far have defended. The criticism is that a justicebased account cannot establish a sufficiently tight connection between the citizen’s general obligation to establish and uphold...

    • 6 Nationalism or Patriotism?
      (pp. 137-172)

      Like Rousseau himself, contemporary political thinking is torn over the question of whether reflective understanding is enough to provide citizens with a reason for allegiance to their compatriots and institutions or whether additional cultural reasons are also required. Theliberal-nationalistcamp—notably David Miller, Yael Tamir, and Will Kymlicka—claims that citizens’ solidarity with their compatriots and allegiance to their particular state can only be justified by an appeal to the ethical importance of national cultures. Indeed, they argue that it is reasonable to maintain separate states in the first place only because these states protect our membership in distinct...

    • 7 Democracy as Collective Action
      (pp. 173-208)

      As we saw in the last chapter, the crucial part of the liberal-nationalist challenge turns on the assertion that constitutional patriotism cannot explain why citizens have sufficient reason for allegiance to their particular institutions, or for solidarity with their compatriots, on the basis of their commitment to justice alone. Indeed, a key worry about Habermas’s position is that insofar as he has a good response to this liberal-nationalist challenge, that response may entail an appeal to just the sort of histories, traditions, and ethical identities that nationalists claim are so important. If the thesis that a commitment to justice can...

    • 8 Conclusion
      (pp. 209-212)

      Recall that in chapter 1 we initially raised the problem of political obligations by considering the case of Sally from Toronto in some detail. Our commonsense moral intuitions at that stage supported the view that being a Canadian citizen makes some moral difference to what Sally ought to do, by shaping her practical responsibilities. For example, we held that, at a minimum, she ought to

      1. obey Canadian laws rather than US laws, as long as these laws were sufficiently just;

      2. participate in Canadian elections and political debates;

      3. pay her taxes to Canadian revenue authorities, rather than to...

  6. Bibliography
    (pp. 213-220)
  7. Index
    (pp. 221-230)