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Loyalty to Loyalty:Josiah Royce and the Genuine Moral Life

Josiah Royce and the Genuine Moral Life

Mathew A. Foust Assistant Professor of Philosophy Lander University

Publication Year: 2012

As a virtue, loyalty has an ambiguous place in our thinking about moral judgments. We lauded the loyalty of firefighters who risked their lives to save others on 9/11 while condemning the loyalty of those who perpetrated the catastrophe. Responding to such uneasiness and confusion, Loyalty toLoyalty contributes to ongoing conversation about how we should respond to conflicts in loyalty in a pluralistic world. The lone philosopher to base an ethical theory on the virtue of loyalty is Josiah Royce. Loyalty to Loyalty engages Royce's moral theory, revealing how loyalty, rather than being just one virtue among others, is central to living a genuinely moral and meaningful life. Mathew A. Foust shows how the theory of loyalty Royce advances can be brought to bear on issues such as the partiality/impartiality debate in ethical theory, the role of loyalty in liberatory struggle, and the ethics of whistleblowing and disaster response.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Series: American Philosophy

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-viii


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xiv

My life so far has funded me with indelible impressions of both the preciousness and precariousness of loyalty. Long before I learned anything of Josiah Royce, experiences both joyous and miserable taught me well the need for loyalty in a meaningful life. I suspect that in this regard I am entirely ordinary. This book exists because loyalty matters—...

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Introduction: The Treachery and Ambivalence of Loyalty

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pp. 1-9

John J. McDermott opens his introduction to Josiah Royce’s The Philosophy of Loyalty with the question “Is there a more treacherous and ambivalent virtue than that of loyalty?”1 The question is rhetorical, however, for it is at once a confrontation and a declaration. There is, for McDermott, no more treacherous and ambivalent virtue than that of...

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1. Loyalty, Justice, Virtue: Contemporary Debates

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pp. 10-25

One ongoing debate in contemporary moral and social philosophy involves how to negotiate the competing claims of partiality and impartiality. Participants in this debate often cite Alasdair MacIntyre as articulating this problem in his essay “Is Patriotism a Virtue?” Therein, he contrasts “liberal morality” with “the morality of patriotism.” Liberal...

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2. The Nature of Loyalty

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pp. 26-50

The natural way of beginning a sustained reflection on loyalty is to indicate why we should do so. Accordingly, that was the task of the previous chapter. The next thing to do, however, is to attain a clear notion of what loyalty is. Because our primary focus will be on Royce’s philosophy of loyalty, we will also want to establish what Royce conceives loyalty...

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3. Loyalty to Loyalty

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pp. 51-81

In the previous chapter, we saw that for Royce, the object of loyalty is always a cause. What we did not see, however, is what makes a cause worthy. Related to this, we are presently unclear as to how to adjudicate between or among what appear to be conflicting worthy causes. Royce’s principle of loyalty to loyalty—without which we have caught only a...

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4. Learning Loyalty

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pp. 82-109

In a recent book dealing with Royce’s moral philosophy, Dwayne A. Tunstall asserts: “The serious problem with Royce’s ethics is that it neglects the origins of ethical experience. Instead, he conceives of ethics as the rational inquiry into how we ought to live.”1 Tunstall goes on to call the failure to describe the origins of ethical experience “a noticeable...

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5. Loyalty and Community

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pp. 110-135

In a recent book-length examination of the relationship between virtue ethics and liberatory struggle, Lisa Tessman discusses several “burdened virtues,” virtues that are costly to those bearing them—particularly, those who are engaged in liberatory struggle. Given the supposedly eudaimonistic nature of virtues—embodying them is thought to be conducive to...

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6. Disloyalty

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pp. 136-156

In preceding chapters, I have considered the nature of loyalty, the principle of loyalty to loyalty, how to learn loyalty, and how to be loyal in the context of community. In this chapter, I focus on disloyalty. While one may be tempted to describe disloyalty as simply the antonym of loyalty, the discussion of the loyal traitor in chapter 5 suggests that distinguishing...

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7. Loyalty, Disaster, Business: Contemporary Applications

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pp. 157-168

In the introduction, I described the terrorist attacks on America of September 11, 2001, as particularly illustrative of the ambivalence and treachery of loyalty and so particularly illustrative of the need for critical, sustained reflection on the meaning and value of loyalty. Perhaps what makes 9/11 so illustrative is its disastrous nature. Consisting of events far...

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Conclusion: The Need for Loyalty

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pp. 169-172

I have just discussed, in the previous chapter, two contemporary applications of Royce’s philosophy of loyalty, as I have presented and advocated it in this book. The problems addressed by these applications were first introduced in the introduction, and following all that has transpired since, I felt it appropriate to address them anew. These are surely...


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pp. 173-202


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pp. 203-208


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pp. 209-212

Further Reading

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pp. 213-218

E-ISBN-13: 9780823246649
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823242696
Print-ISBN-10: 0823242692

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: American Philosophy