Liberal Contractualism - Partial and Particularist, Impartial and Cosmopolitan

Is there an inherent contradiction between national patriotism and liberalism in the cosmopolitan sense of the word? The question is addressed in this paper, which makes the argument - in line with contract theory - that political allegiance result from a sense of duty and loyalty to a state.

ARENA Working Paper 16/2000 (html)

Andreas Føllesdal

Several authors have explored or defended moderate nationalism, characterised by limited partiality for fellow nationals or fellow citizens, and loyalty to the laws and institutions of one's own society. Critics have argued that such loyalties are incompatible with "cosmopolitan" universalist liberalism, on at least two grounds. The article seeks to rebut these objections from a liberal contractualist position similar to that of Rawls, Dworkin and Scanlon. Liberal theories are thought to disallow deviations from impartial treatment and therefore rule out substantive special claims among compatriots. The scope for contractualist partiality is the subject of section 2. Liberal theories are also considered unable to account for political duties -- the duty to comply with the just laws and institutions of one's own state. The contractualist grounds for political allegiance are addressed in section 3. This is not to say that liberal contractualism endorses nationalism understood as a principle of political order, that political and cultural/ethnic boundaries should coincide. A brief sketch of some elements of Liberal Contractualism is presented in section 1.

Tags: legitimacy, normative political theory, internationalisation
Published Nov. 9, 2010 10:52 AM