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Unformatted text preview: ents draw a distinction between
contingent and constitutive projects, between projects that are theirs and projects that define
This proclaimed connection not just between the national project as such and having a
meaningful life, but also between readiness to die for this project and making your life
meaningful, leads to the conclusion that it would be reasonable for a liberal agent to get into
situtations (or even create them) in which he could display this readiness, so that he could
“reaffirm his self-image” of somebody to whom this project is constitutive, and thus render
his life meaningful. The way such “reasonable” behaviour would be fared by liberal morality
is obvious. 3.2 THE NATIONALIST GROUND PROJECT BETWEEN FALSE BELIEF
Leaving the moral inconsistencies aside, would a nationalistic ground project really
provide a citizen of the liberal state with a reason to sacrifice her life for the state? At first CEU eTD Collection sight it may seem as if Tamir builds a solid internalist case in favour of such a claim.
However, Macintyre’s objection that nationalist ground project can not provide this reason,
since it is based on the deception of the citizens about the nature of the state they live in, must
not be rejected until we consult what Williams has to say about the motives which are based
on false beliefs. And he says the following: 59 Tamir, “Pro Patria Mori”, 233 35 “A of S [motivational set], D will not give A a reason for f-ing, if either the existence
of D is dependent on false belief, or A’s belief to the relevance of f-ing to the satisfaction of D
The example Williams gives, is that of a man who believes that the liquid before him
is gin and wants (has a motive) to make a gin and tonic. However, the liquid is actually not
gin at all, but gasoline. It is obvious that he does not have a reason to use the liquid for
making the cocktail, although he may think that he has (and that is why we can use this for an
explanation of his behaviour).
The question then is, whether it could be said that the nationalist ground project, in the
way Tamir defines it, is based on false belief or not, for if it is then a person with this ground
project in her motivational set would have no more reason to sacrifice her life for her country,
than the man from Williams’ example would have reason to mix gasoline with tonic and drink
First, if the nationalist ground project is actually the ground project of having a
meaningful life, which is then believed to be in some crucial way connected with the national
project, which is in turn seen to be essentially dependent on the state, than there are at least
two links in this chain which could be turn out to be false. It may be false that leading a CEU eTD Collection meaningful life must be connected to the national project, and it may be false that the national
project is inseperable from the state. Although there is no accepted opinion on the matter,
there are strong arguments in favour of national-cultural identity being very important for the
meaningful life of persons, and so this identity, or the possibility of this identity, might be
rightly viewed as worthy of personal sacrifices.
However, the belief that the modern liberal state is, or even can be, a bearer of this
project may very well turn out to be false. The liberal state, if it is indeed liberal, must be...
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