what is loyalty and where does it come from?

Someone who is loyal is reliable and always faithful, like your trusty dog. Loyal comes from the Old French word loial, which means something like legal, but if someone is only loyal to you because the law requires it, that is not true loyalty, which must come from the heart, not from a contract.

what is loyalty and where does it come from?

Someone who is loyal is reliable and always faithful, like your trusty dog. Loyal comes from the Old French word loial, which means something like legal, but if someone is only loyal to you because the law requires it, that is not true loyalty, which must come from the heart, not from a contract. Just as loyalties to the outside world shift and change, intimate loyalties constantly experience new states of being. But if the institution is of relatively minor importance, the development of instances of it, along with loyalty to them, will be relatively unimportant (though not necessarily to those who develop those loyalties).

Mutuality is a feature of many loyalties, and it is often a normative expectation of the loyal individual that the collectivity to which the individual is loyal will also be loyal in return (Ogunyemi). Such a commitment, he believes, will also be sufficient to ground special obligations such as those expressed in personal, familial and national loyalties. Bernard Williams has argued that if claims to universalism (whether of the consequentialist or Kantian kind) are given pre-eminence, they will lead people away from their 'grounding projects, where these include the deep attachments associated with loyalties'. It may be psychologically more difficult (and a moral hazard associated with loyalties), but that does not support a general judgement about unchosen loyalties.

What is arguable is that a person completely devoid of loyalties would be deficient as a person understood, among other things, as a moral agent. Unchosen loyalties, such as the zealous but unsentimental professional loyalty of a lawyer to a client, are not unreflective, but have their raison d'être in professional or associative teleology, such as that of the adversarial system (however, see McConnell). Peter Railton has tried to find a place for loyalties within a broadly consequentialist framework that avoids both alienation and the problem faced by Hare's two-tier system. It is about being open to the possibilities of real connection, as opposed to the fashions to which most loyalties cling.

Again, loyalties may or may not develop, depending on the extent to which those associations take on some intrinsic meaning for us beyond whatever instrumental value may have first attracted us. But the formality of Royce's position gives relatively little guidance about the content of loyalties that will not interfere with other loyalties or even about some kind of lexical ordering that resolves possible conflicts.

Mamie Dardashti
Mamie Dardashti

Hardcore organizer. Total twitteraholic. Amateur internet aficionado. Infuriatingly humble pop culture buff. Evil beer nerd.

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