Liberal Loyalty: Freedom, Obligation, and the State
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Many political theorists today deny that citizenship can be defended on liberal grounds alone. Cosmopolitans claim that loyalty to a particular state is incompatible with universal liberal principles, which hold that we have equal duties of justice to persons everywhere, while nationalist theorists justify civic obligations only by reaching beyond liberal principles and invoking the importance of national culture. In Liberal Loyalty, Anna Stilz challenges both views by defending a distinctively liberal understanding of citizenship.
Drawing on Kant, Rousseau, and Habermas, Stilz argues that we owe civic obligations to the state if it is sufficiently just, and that constitutionally enshrined principles of justice in themselves--rather than territory, common language, or shared culture--are grounds for obedience to our particular state and for democratic solidarity with our fellow citizens. She demonstrates that specifying what freedom and equality mean among a particular people requires their democratic participation together as a group. Justice, therefore, depends on the authority of the democratic state because there is no way equal freedom can be defined or guaranteed without it. Yet, as Stilz shows, this does not mean that each of us should entertain some vague loyalty to democracy in general. Citizens are politically obligated to their own state and to each other, because within their particular democracy they define and ultimately guarantee their own civil rights.
Liberal Loyalty is a persuasive defense of citizenship on purely liberal grounds.
being pressed into a cosmopolitan stance) is to adopt some form of liberal nationalism, by conceding that the cultural nation is an important prerequisite for justice, since nationhood explains how bounded political obligations might be generated, and therefore helps us to vindicate the particularity assumption that is so deeply embedded in many of our beliefs about the state. “Liberal theorists,” notes Will Kymlicka, “invariably limit citizenship to the members of a particular group, rather than
Simmons would have to concede that we were obligated to the state on grounds of natural duty alone.14 By establishing a framework of uniform public laws, in other words, it may actually be that a legitimate state brings a condition of equal freedom into being for the very ﬁrst time. In what follows, I will argue that the value of equal freedom does require the establishment of legitimate states. If this line of thought can be shown to be correct, then we must accept that there is an important
even when I am not holding them, since otherwise my freedom would be jeopardized, and my external freedom is what I innately have a coercive right to protect. Kant calls this postulate of practical reason a permissive law (Erlaubnisgesetz): a permissive law provides us with an authorization to do something that would not normally be morally allowed.29 In this case, it permits me to unilaterally limit your original common right to the use of external objects by coercing you to respect my private
to conventions such as these, they obey no one, but only their own will” (SC, 63). By submitting to a set of equal and reciprocal laws that place limits on our sphere of action, Rousseau thinks, we gain back the freedom from others’ interference that we would have enjoyed in a totally solitary and independent state of nature, like the one he depicts in the Discourse on Inequality. By submitting to law, I make it the case that I do not have to Democracy • 69 obey another person’s will within my
it guarantees—is unimportant, so long as it draws these bounds based on the equal consideration of every citizen. That means that if we are to have conﬁdence in the legitimacy of the laws, we require an even greater conﬁdence in the solidarity and trust that supports our commitment to equal consideration. To be legitimate, the law must attempt to guarantee freedom and equality for all, not the domination of some by others. Since citizens can only secure their freedom by obeying a general will,