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Patriotism as an Environmental Virtue

  • Philip Cafaro
Articles

Abstract

Define “patriotism” as love for one’s country and devotion to its well-being. This essay contends that patriotism thus defined is a virtue and that environmentalism is one of its most important manifestations. Patriotism, as devotion to particular places and people, can occur at various levels, from the local to the national. Knowing and caring about particular places and people and working to protect them is good for us and good for them and hence a good thing overall. Knowing and caring and working less on behalf of more remote places and people is also good, since it allows us to focus our efforts, act effectively, and do more good in the world. Philosophical analyses of patriotism by Alasdair MacIntyre and Martha Nussbaum are complemented by the more “down to earth” understanding of the virtue presented here. While patriotism’s dangers are undeniable, so are the dangers stemming from lack of patriotism. The proper answer to bad patriotism is not cosmopolitanism, but good patriotism: the kind illustrated by environmental activists.

Keywords

Virtue Patriotism Cosmopolitanism MacIntyre Nussbaum Thoreau 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA

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