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  • Loyalty to Loyalty: Josiah Royce and the Genuine Moral Life by Mathew A. Foust
  • Jacob Goodson
Loyalty to Loyalty: Josiah Royce and the Genuine Moral Life. Mathew A. Foust. New York: Fordham University Press, 2012, 236 pp. $55.

Does Josiah Royce's (1855–1916) defense of loyalty hold any relevance for us in the twenty-first century? Mathew A. Foust thinks that it does. Business ethics, the ethics of warfare, and moral interpretation of twenty-first-century fiction: these are the three areas where Foust applies a Roycean understanding of loyalty. While Foust offers a persuasive case for the relevance and viability of Royce's account of loyalty in the twenty-first century, my primary criticism of Foust's book concerns his acceptance of Royce's equation of duties and virtues. In what follows, I contextualize Royce's understanding of loyalty in relation to the political and social philosophy developed late in his writing career; I explain Foust's application of a Roycean understanding of loyalty to the areas of business ethics, the ethics of warfare, and the moral interpretation of twenty-first-century fiction; I conclude by raising questions concerning the problem of equating duties with virtues.

Royce goes into great detail about the virtue of loyalty in two separate books: The Philosophy of Loyalty (1908) and The Hope of the Great Community (1916). In The Hope of the Great Community, Royce attempts to construct a political and social philosophy based upon the Pauline virtues of faith, hope, and agape love. Loyalty falls under the Pauline virtue of faith, and he defines loyalty as "the devotion of the self to the interests of the community."1 According to Royce, "Paul describes what is essentially salvation through loyalty, salvation through the willing service of a community."2 The vices that oppose faith and, therefore, oppose loyalty are egoism and selfishness. Royce talks about hope in terms of [End Page 85] the promised universal community envisioned by the Israelites (especially the Prophets) and by the early Christians (especially the Apostle Paul). As a virtue, hope is not directed toward our own individual salvation but toward the promised universal community that nurtures peace through agape love (charity). According to Royce, the experience of war requires philosophers to clarify ideals that keep hope active and alive for citizens; in this way, Royce applies C. S. Peirce's pragmatist principle—making ideas clear to others—as the primary task of political and social philosophy. The vices that oppose hope are individualism and tribalism. Royce talks about charity strictly as a spiritual or theological virtue that requires community support; charity ought to be directed to those within one's own community and outward to those in different communities. As a virtue, charity does not concern individual good works but ought to be understood strictly as a spiritual or theological virtue—which means "that it is a virtue belonging to a community, a community which Paul conceives of as finding its future home in a heaven where the Divine Spirit both informs it and fulfils its life and its desire."3 According to Royce, "The Apostle Paul gave to its [the Christian church] inner life the character which he called 'charity,' and which he expounded to the Corinthians in one of the greatest documents of Christian literature."4 The vices that oppose charity are greed and seeking individual happiness. In The Philosophy of Loyalty, Royce sounds less theological and worries more about loyalty becoming a universal virtue. In our terms, Royce sets out to establish loyalty as a secular virtue within The Philosophy of Loyalty and then eight years later sets out to establish loyalty as a Christian virtue in The Hope of the Great Community. Mathew Foust succeeds in explaining and evaluating Royce's secular understanding of loyalty, and Foust teases out Royce's understanding of loyalty in three different contexts: business ethics, the ethics of warfare, and the moral interpretation of twenty-first-century fiction.

Simply put, Foust argues that a Roycean understanding of loyalty offers justification for the act of "whistleblowing" in the context of twenty-first-century business practices. This seems counterintuitive: by definition, whistleblowing is an act of disloyalty...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2156-4795
Print ISSN
0194-3448
Pages
pp. 85-88
Launched on MUSE
2019-06-06
Open Access
No
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