162HurkaLoyalty - 1 Loyalty par tiality and ethi cs Hurka...

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1 Loyalty, partiality, and ethics: Hurka on “The Justification of National Partiality” Notes for Philosophy 162 Many people are loyal to groups to which they belong. For many people, the requirement to sacrifice oneself for the sake of one’s group, if the need arises, may be the major social demand they recognize as a legitimate constraint on the pursuit of their self-interest. The question arises, to what extent does morality as best conceived (morality as it ought to be, not morality as it is conventionally understood in one or another actual society) permit, condemn, or require partiality to groups of which one is a member. Partiality to some types of groups seems morally unproblematic, whereas partiality to other types of groups seems morally problematic or even evil. Contrast loyalty to friends and close family members on the one hand and loyalty to one’s sex (to men as opposed to women, say), to one’s supposed race or skin color grouping (to whites as opposed to those deemed black-skinned or yellow-skinned, say) and loyalty to one’s nation (to citizens of the U.S. as opposed to citizens of other nations, say). Consequentialism and special ties. If the answer is given, norms of partiality to friends and close family members generally work to produce good consequences overall, whereas norms of partiality to supposed races do not tend to produce good consequences, and norms of partiality toward political communities and nations produce uncertain consequences, then perhaps approval of some types of partiality can be fit within a consequentialist morality. One might hold that establishing social duties and social norms that tag specific persons reliably with responsibility for the care of vulnerable young children is better, from a consequentialist standpoint, than establishing any alternative system that fails to include such special ties. Maybe something similar is true of the norm that friends should be specially good to friends. In course readings, Peter Singer suggests this line. Two possibilities here might be distinguished. One is that norms of parental care and friendship responsibility are good devices for securing other intrinsically valuable goods for individuals. Another possibility is that there is something intrinsically valuable, not just valuable as a means to other goals, about friends helping friends and close family members helping one another. On the latter view, it might produce more impartial value if a friend helps a friend, thereby producing a one unit net gain in happiness, than if the friend instead helps a stranger, thereby producing a one unit net gain in happiness. Let’s look more closely at the second possibility. The act-consequentialist, if she deems friendship and family to involve intrinsically valuable special ties, sees these values as agent-neutral not agent-relative values. (T. Nagel explains this distinction this way: “If a reason can be given a general form which does nlot include an essential reference to the
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This note was uploaded on 09/07/2011 for the course PHIL 162 taught by Professor Arneson during the Spring '11 term at UCSD.

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162HurkaLoyalty - 1 Loyalty par tiality and ethi cs Hurka...

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