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We prize loyalty in our friends, lovers and colleagues, but loyalty raises difficult questions. What is the point of loyalty? Should we be loyal to country, just as we are loyal to friends and family? Can the requirements of loyalty conflict with the requirements of morality? In this book, originally published in 2007, Simon Keller explores the varieties of loyalty and their psychological and ethical differences, and concludes that loyalty is an essential but fallible part of human life. He argues that grown children can be obliged to be loyal to their parents, that good friendship can sometimes conflict with moral and epistemic standards, and that patriotism is intimately linked with certain dangers and delusions. He goes on to build an approach to the ethics of loyalty that differs from standard communitarian and universalist accounts. His book will interest a wide range of readers in ethics and political philosophy.Read more
- A good introduction to the different debates about the role of loyalty in ethics and politics
- Contains an extended philosophical discussion of disloyalty
- Promotes debate about the ethics of patriotism and friendship
- Winner of the 2009 American Philosophical Association Book Prize
Reviews & endorsements
“This smart, stimulating, and challenging book is a welcome addition to the relatively sparse philosophical literature on loyalty...This review has not been able to do full justice to the intricacy, perspicuity, and even, at some level, to the evenhandedness, of Keller’s discussion...For the moment, it represents the best discussion we have of loyalty.”
--Jay Kleinig, John Jay College, CUNY, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
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“The Limits of Loyalty is a well-written, fascinating, thought-provoking, and unsettling book that certainly deserves to be read.”
--Marinus Ossewaarde, The Review of Politics
"Loyalty is at once a non-negotiable value and the root of much suffering. Coming to terms with this duality, Simon Keller argues in his timely and important. The Limits of Loyalty, requires that we recognize not one kind of loyalty, but a diversity of loyalties, some of which merit our allegiance, and some not. The result of this compelling reconsideration is a subtle and shrewd work of philosophical moral psychology, which will not only provoke unsettling reflection on the most vexing and indispensable of human relations - lovers, friends, family, and country - but also revivify central debates in philosophical ethics and political theory. It deserves to be widely resonant."
--John M. Doris, Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology Program, Philosophy Department, Washington University, St. Louis
"The Limits of Loyalty is a refreshingly original, cogently argued and lucid work. It is first-rate, important and readable philosophy."
--David Lyons, Boston University
"Simon Keller’s The Limits of Loyalty is a bold and careful, dramatic and soundly argued examination of loyalty, its obligations, its psychology and its impact on morality. Keller argues that personal loyalty and political patriotism cannot be considered unqualified virtues. Because their partiality is susceptible to dangerous moral blindness, their exercise needs to be defended and justified by larger and more encompassing moral considerations. This important book raises fundamental questions in moral theory; it addresses them clearly, with a wealth of convincing examples."
--Amelie Rorty, Harvard University
"Fascinating – a clear-sighted and often surprising philosophical exploration of loyalty in our lives as parents or friends, lovers or patriots. With a calm and dryly humorous eye, Keller weighs up the complexities, both moral and epistemological, of commitments that are too readily taken for granted."
--Rae Langton, MIT
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- Date Published: August 2010
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9780521152877
- length: 248 pages
- dimensions: 229 x 152 x 14 mm
- weight: 0.37kg
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
1. What is loyalty?
2. Friendship and belief
3. What is patriotism?
4. Against patriotism
5. Filial duty: debt, gratitude and friendship
6. Filial duty: special goods and compulsory loyalty
7. Is loyalty a value? Is loyalty a virtue?
8. Communitarian arguments for the importance of loyalty
9. Josiah Royce and the ethics of loyalty
Postscript: universal morality and the problem of loyalty
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