Examining Loyalty The Folk and The Philosopher
AuthorBaldari, John Doyle
AdvisorWilliams, Christopher T
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In the modern age of individualism, conservative concepts of loyalty have slipped into the background of the Great Conversation. While this may be true in the field of ethical philosophy, it is not true elsewhere. In this paper, I examine loyalty from the perspectives of the "folk and the philosopher" where I consider the points of view of philosophers and non-philosophers. Each presents a uniquely valuable perspective. The status of loyalty as a virtue is disputed, especially by philosophers, when it is observed that loyalty can be used in the commission of evil. It has also been denigrated as blindly emotional rather than rational. However, through my analysis, I conclude with a rational argument in sympathy with the intuition that loyalty is virtuous. Loyalness is "the quality or state of being loyal, the tendency toward loyalty." Loyalness is a virtue derived from reason that, if properly incorporated into life, will lead to excellence. Loyalness is a character trait that helps a person make good decision is about the world as a whole, by creating allegiances to objects with positive moral content. Through this tendency, the virtuous person is able to make decisions about morally ambiguous circumstances. In addition, in the event of negative moral circumstances, a loyalty can be used to direct decisions in a consistent way. Loyalness is a way of making one larger than the finite limits of the self: through good associations, one shares in the successes and defeats of the objects of loyalty. Loyalties must be tested, both through critical reflection and action. Loyalness does not assume that a particular loyalty is costly, but it does imply that, should a good loyalty become costly, the virtuous person will commit to the best interest of the object of loyalty, even at a disadvantage to the agent.