Multicultural Citizenship essay

This essay will try to explain if any individual has special obligations to co-national relationships. It will investigate on the source of our duties towards our co-nationals. There is an aim to clarify the difference between obligatory co-national duties and permissible co-national partiality. Both duties are usually confused in the literature of global justice, and the relation of both to the wider concept is usually expressed less clearly. Presentation and elaboration of co-national duties will be presented in this paper.

This will show David Miller’s ideas on nationalism and national identity to a large number of important issues in the contemporary debates on, among others: global justice, citizenship, moral responsibility, political self-determination and personal identity. Miller makes clear, however, are the specific steps in his argument for the conclusion that members of nations have duties of justice to their co-nationals purely in virtue of the fact that they are co-nationals. Relationship between obligatory co-national duties and permissible co-national partiality

Philosophical literature on cosmopolitanism and nationalism often focuses on the ethical issues that arise from our tendency to display partiality towards our co-nationals. Whether this partiality is consistent with the demands of justice is not a concern to many. Much attention is not paid on the idea of whether a favoring of co-national is required by, forbidden by, or simply irrelevant to justice. We either do owe our duties of justice (duties that are, in principle, enforceable) to our co-nationals or we do not.

If we do, the duties may be either (wholly or partially) constitutive of justice or merely instrumental in achieving justice. If we do not, then we might still have some room, consistent with justice to our co-nationals, to treat them with a degree of partiality, but it is also possible that even a minimal degree of partiality may be forbidden by justice (Samuel, 2001,p. 84). We thus find that the conceptual relationship between justice, co-national duties and co-national partiality can be characterized by the following theses:

Strong Nationalism- the demands of justice are wholly constituted by co-national duties. It is an account of justice that follows the historical advocated approach by either Herder or fitcht. Today, it is very rare and largely discredited. Few people think we do not owe any duties of justice to the people who are not members of our national group or not to practice non-national duties. Thus this option can be put aside because it is irrelevant. Moderate Nationalism-the demands of justice are partially constituted by co-national duties.

Strong Cosmopolitanism-there are no co-national duties and the demands of justice are inconsistent with any degree of co-national partiality. It is almost as rare and implausible account of justice as strong nationalism. For example, if one was in a position to help a friend or a stranger, one is required to help the friend though they are in a position to help the stranger. The strong justice to cosmopolitanism is to help the one who truly needs the aid. This means that to satisfy the demands of strong cosmopolitanism, a perfect impartibility will have to be enforced involving both co-nationals and non-nationals.

Weak Cosmopolitanism-the demands of justice are best served by, but are not constituted in any way by, co-national duties. Moderate cosmopolitanism-there are no co-national duties but the demands of justice are consistent with some degree of co-nationals partiality. Moderate nationalism-the demands of justice are partially constituted by co-national duties. It believes that we are justified not only in favoring our co-nationals once any prior obligations of justice we might have are fulfilled but also favor our co-nationals as a matter of justice.

This explanation fails to distinguish between moderate nationalism and weak cosmopolitanism. The failure is due to analysis of the content done on different approaches at the wrong levels. The real difference lies between the level of their conceptualization and not the level of their application. For the weak cosmopolitan, one way to implement justice might be to stipulate that co-nationals owe each other special duties of justice that are not owed to non-nationals.

This might be because what justice demands at a foundational level is that every individual is guaranteed a certain level of welfare and the best way of achieving this level of welfare for all individuals is to assign responsibility for providing it to each individual’s co-nationals. The weak cosmopolitan conceptualizes justice independently and prior to the introduction of any acts about nationality. We can not arrive at a conception of justice without first analyzing and incorporating facts about nationality.

This is to say that some or all of the elements of nationality actually influence the basic formulation of the fundamental principle(s) of justice. Because no two nations are the same, the incorporation of the elements of nationality at the formative, conceptual stage in theorizing about justice means that we get different conceptions of justice for particular nations. Thus the weak cosmopolitan is contrasted with the moderate nationalist approach. The moderate nationalist argument for co-nationals duties

It is tempting to accept the justification for enforceable co-national duties according to Miller’s presentation towards the end of On Nationality: our failure to ‘embrace a national identity and the obligations and commitments that go along with it’ would lead to a society that ‘would be unable to sustain itself-it could not call on its members’ loyalty when under attack, for instance-and so in the long run it could not provide the conditions under attack, for instance- and so in the long run it could not provide the conditions under which they could pursue their personal visions of the good life in security.

In that sense, we better embrace the national identity and the obligations and commitments that go along with it, or free-ride on the backs of people who do’(Miller,(995), p. 165). This is a sure argument for accepting the validity of co-national duties but clearly, it is a ‘Universalist’ argument. It appeals to the instrumental value of nationality in helping us to realize the kind of stable and secure environment we need in order to successfully lead our lives. This kind of argument in deed cannot provide the primary justification for co-national duties.

Rather than looking for a way of providing a derivative justification of co-national duties, from the ‘Universalist’ perspective, ‘the particularist’s defense of nationality’, says Miller, ‘begins with the assumptions that memberships and attachments in general have ethical significance (Ibid. , p. 65). This statement hints at the difficulty facing any purported critique of Miller’s position. The fact that the co-national relationship is ethically significant enters the argument at such a basic level that attempts at undermining the foundations of the position are rendered almost impossible.

In his latest book though, Miller offers his most detailed and explicit justification to date of the ethical significance of the co-national relationship, thus offering his critics a way into the debate. There are, says Miller, three criteria that a relationship must satisfy if it is to qualify as the kind of relationship that is legitimately able to ground special duties(of a particular kind) between members(Oxford University,2007, P. 35). Such a relationship must be: Intrinsically valuable, constituted by generally acknowledged duties and not premised on justice.

For Miller, intrinsically valuable is the most important. He contrasts the relationship that exists between the members of a syndicate formed in order to facilitate the purchase of a racehorse. The individual members of the syndicate each have a desire to own a racehorse, a desire that currently cannot be met without the help of others. This lack of ability to achieve a desire unilaterally provides the rationale underlying each individual’s decision to join the syndicate.

It also reveals the purely instrumental value the syndicate has for each member, for as soon as any single member can afford to purchase a racehorse on his own, he will have no hesitation in terminating his relationship with the other members and leaving the syndicate (Scheffler, P. 49). By contrast, Miller argues that the intrinsic value of friendship can be seen by the fact that we do not terminate the relationship once we no longer obviously benefit from it. ‘People’s virtue of being involved in this type of relationship; when friendships dissolve for one reason or another, this is a loss’ (Miller, P.

35). When a friendship comes to an end, we lose something that provided us with a unique source of value. To say that something is intrinsically valuable is to say that one cannot fully understand the concept without at the same time recognizing it as a source of value. One cannot simply understand the concept without at the same time recognizing it as a source of value. If one denies friendship because of any reasons then we conclude and say they have never experienced any type of real friendship.

Miller has two supporting arguments for this; firstly, if national identity was only instrumentally valuable- a means of guaranteeing the stability of democracy or achieving social justice , for instance-then, in the same way we find that the racehorse-owning syndicate member has no hesitation in terminating his membership when some other means to achieve his ends becomes available, we would find people regarding with indifferences which particular national identity they have so long as the general goods which nationality makes possible continue to be provided.

But this is not how people do; in fact, see their national identity is maintained (Ibid. , p. 38). Secondly, just as there are good things about being in a friendship or in being part of a family, there just are good things about having a national identity that one is objectively wrong to deny.

People who deny there significance of their national identity in circumstances that such an identity is accessible to them are missing out on the opportunity to place their individual lives in the context of a collaborative project that has been handed down from generation to generation, involving among other things the shaping of the physical landscape in which they live, and whose future they could help determine, by political participation and in other ways (Ibid. , p.

39). The fact that the co-national relationship, like other important types of human relationship, is intrinsically valuable means that, objectively speaking, the lives of those individuals participating in a particular co-national relationship will go better than the lives of those individuals who, for whatever reason, do not participate. Miller is aware that there is ‘a logical gap between nationality being intrinsically valued and its being intrinsically valuable’.

He echoes the words of John Stuart Mill “ the sole evidence it is possible to produce that anything is desirable, is that people do actually desire it”, the onus surely falls on those who want to deny the value of national attachments to show why people’s actual valuations are misguided(Ibid. ,p. 38). The point is that, although there is very little chance of finding an intrinsically valuable relationship that is not positively endorsed by anyone, this is not because positive endorsement is what determines a relationship’s intrinsic value.

Rather, it is because without positive endorsement of the value of a relationship we have no other clue to its value. The fact that there are some people who endorse a relationship’s value is, thus, not a necessary condition of it having value but a necessary condition on our being able to perceive it as valuable. Although Miller’s contribution on intrinsically valuable relationship is quite convincing it has two main constraints. First, it says that any relationship that is legitimately able to ground moral duties must somehow be constituted by the duties it entails.

‘The duties must be integral to the relationship in the sense that the relationship could not exist in the form it does unless the duties were generally acknowledged’ (Ibid. , P. 35). The second constraint is that, if a relationship is able to ground duties of justice, its existence must not be premised on the unjust treatment of others (Ibid. , pp. 34-6). It is important to stress that, for Miller, the special duties constitutive of a relationship are not merely an ethical superstructure erected on top of an attachment whose real basis is something else-they are central to the way that the relationship is understood by the participants.

An alternative way of saying that a relationship is ‘constituted by a set of duties’ is to say that one cannot genuinely participate in that relationship without at the same time accepting the force and validity of the associated duties. One is thus committed to a contradiction if one simultaneously tries to claim both that one is a genuine participant in a particular co-national relationship and that one does not have certain characteristic obligation to one’s co-nationals. The reconstructed moderate nationalist argument for co-national duties

1) The only empirical evidence we have that something is intrinsically valuable is that a majority of people do actually value it intrinsically. 2) A majority of people intrinsically value their participation in a relationship with their co-nationals. 3) Participation in a relationship cannot be intrinsically valuable if the relationship’s existence is premised on injustice. 4) The co-national relationship’s existence is not premised on injustice. Therefore: 5) Participation in the co-national relationship is intrinsically valuable. 6) People’s lives go better if they participate in intrinsically valuable activities.

7) We are morally justified in coercing people if doing so makes their lives better. 8) It is only possible to coerce people into participating in a relationship if it is constituted by generally acknowledged norms. 9) The co-national relationship is constituted by generally acknowledged norms. Therefore: 10) It is morally justifiable to coerce people into living according to the norms that regulate the co-national relationship. Point 5 means that participation in the co-national relationship is intrinsically valuable. The last four points generally show that enforceable co-national duties do exist.

Many things in the world hold intrinsic value for human beings, the most immediately obvious are those things that all human beings require as a matter of physiological necessity. But the list does not end there. A complete list of intrinsic goods, at least according to Miller, includes a whole range of other goods that are specific to particular societies. Within each community one finds a shared conception of the range of activities that together make up a normal human life. According to Amartya Sen, we might think of these as a set of functionings that each person is expected to be able to perform (Miller, p.

210). Interestingly, one does not have to be a member of a particular society in order to see that people who are members of that society and who are unable to live according to that particular society’s social norms are therefore unable to live minimally decent human lives. Miller says that we have the capacity to recognize and acknowledge harm even when we do not ourselves subscribe to the norms in question. For example, one may lack religious commitments but they can understand what it means to be a religious outcast in a society in which religion plays a central role in everyday life.

Harm, according to Miller means that, individuals who fail to exercise intrinsically valuable functionings lead lives that are somehow impoverished. Conclusion There is no need to force people to do things or function in a particular way even though there is an agreement about the value of these functionings. What justice demands is that people can function in these intrinsically valuable ways if they so wish. Moreover, co-nationals have duties of justice to each other in virtue of their shared nationality.

This means that the participation in a co-national relationship is significant to any individuals’ life. To fully enjoy and appreciate the value of our relationship we need to have assurances that the protection of our interests is not dependent on our continued participation in any particular relationship or set of relationships. In addition, by grounding justice in the values of our existing relationships, we ensure that the demands of morality fit more closely with our sentimental attachments and this may indeed make it easier for most people to act justly.

It is impossible to achieve this moral emotional synthesis for everyone thus the suffering of those who do not fit in will tend to be greater than the benefits received by those who do.


C. F. , Kymlicka, Multicultural Citizenship. Cf. Lawrence Blum (1998), Theorizing Multiculturism: A Guide to the Current Debate, pp. 73-99. Gail Presbey, Philosophy and Social Criticism 29(5) 2003. Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Ethnicity and Nationalism: Anthropological Perspectives(1993).