Deakin University
vanhooft-politicalpatriotism-2009.pdf (502.68 kB)

Political patriotism

Download (502.68 kB)
journal contribution
posted on 2009-09-01, 00:00 authored by Stan Van HooftStan Van Hooft
As evidenced by the reactions to Martha Nussbaum’s famous essay of 1996, patriotism is a contested notion in moral debate. This paper explores the suggestion made by Stephen Nathanson that patriotism might be understood as “love of one’s country”, and suggests that this phrase is misleading. It suggests that patriotism, like love, is not rational, and it fails to distinguish two kinds of object for that love: one’s cultural community and one’s political community. Accordingly, this phrase can lead to a kind of nationalism which involves chauvinism and militarism and that is, therefore, morally objectionable. The problem arises from ambiguities in the notion of “country” which is said to be the object of such love. Moreover, “love” is not the appropriate term for a relationship whose central psychological function is that of establishing an individual’s identity as a citizen. I suggest that the proper mode of attachment involved in patriotism is identification with one’s political community, and that the proper object of a patriot’s allegiance is the political community thought of without the emotional, nationalistic and moralistic connotations that often accompany the concept of community. The “political patriotism” that arises from such an attitude is sceptical of “the national interest” and does not accept that our moral responsibilities to others stop at national borders. In this way political patriotism is consistent with a cosmopolitan stance towards human rights and global justice.



Journal of applied ethics and philosophy




20 - 29


Hokkaido University


Hokkaido, Japan








This article is located on the 20th page of the attached link. Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in Deakin Research Online. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2009, Hokkaido University

Usage metrics

    Research Publications


    No categories selected