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  • Print publication year: 2007
  • Online publication date: September 2009



We all have loyalties; think of some of yours. Probably, many of your loyalties are to other people: your friends, for example, and perhaps your colleagues, parents, children or romantic partner. You might also be loyal to certain institutions, like a university or a political party; or to your favorite brands or shops or restaurants; or to your pets, your country or your profession. Some of your loyalties, probably, are very important to you, playing a major role in your life and your self-conception; examples might be your loyalties to your spouse and children. Others, while having their place, probably do not seem quite so important: your loyalty to a local coffee shop, say, or your loyalty to your favorite football team.

If you are loyal to something, then you probably favor it, in one way or another, in your actions. You might promote its interests, treat it with respect or veneration, follow its orders, or act as its advocate. But loyalty is not just a matter of how you act; it is also a matter of how you think, and how you are motivated. If you are loyal to something, then thoughts of it may inflame your passions, it may be something towards which you feel warmth and affection, and you may be saddened by thoughts of its suffering or demise.

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