On The Virtue Of Patriotism

On The Virtue Of Patriotism July 5, 2010

I think the MaverickPhilosopher‘s construal of the virtue of patriotism is generally on target and consistent with my framework for understanding the virtue of pride (which would be important since patriotism is, manifestly, a sub-species of pride) and humility (which I essentially wrote last week and am almost ready to post).  The maverick one writes:

Patriotism, however, is a good thing, a virtue. Like any virtue it is a means between two extremes. In this case, one of the extremes is excessive love of one’s country, while the other is a deficiency of love for one’s country. The patriot’s love of his country is ordinate, within bounds. The patriot is neither a jingoist nor a neutralist. Both are anti-patriots. To confuse a patriot with a jingoist is like confusing a dissenter with a traitor. No doubt sometimes a jingoist or chauvinist will hide beneath the mantle of patriotism, but just as often a traitor will hide beneath the mantle of dissent. The patriot is also not a xenophobe since ordinate love of one’s country does not entail hattred or fear of other countries and their inhabitants. Is patriotism, defined as the ordinate love of, and loyalty to, one’s country justified?

Although it does not entail xenophobia, patriotism does imply a certain partiality to one’s own country precisely because it is one’s own. Is this partiality toward one’s own country justifiable?  If it is, then so is patriotism.  As Socrates explains in Plato’s Crito, we are what we because of the laws.  Our country and its laws have overseen our nurturance, our education, and the forming of our characters. We owe a debt of gratitude to our country, its laws, those who have worked to maintain and defend it, and especially those who have died in its defense.

See my defense of pride in one’s country in the comments section to this post from yesterday.

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