Is Patriotism a Virtue?

  • Robert W. Jenson


Alisdair McIntyre famously insisted that we must always ask about a presumed virtue, whose virtue is this? Virtues are specific to human communities and associations, so to understand a virtue you have to ask what group honors it.1 To be sure, a community fully in tune with its own construal of reality would not think to pose such a question about its own typifying virtues. But in the case of America,2 which is not now well in tune with itself, and in the case of the presumed virtue of patriotism we have to ask. When we do, the answer is not far to seek: when we invoke patriotism in any plausible sense of the notion, we pull from our grab bag of virtues one that belonged to the old Romans.3 It is the Roman sense of patria and virtus that must provide such force as the notion of a virtue, “patriotism,” may still have for us.


Banal Logic Ultimate Concern Worldly Polity Unjust Violence Lutheran Church 
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Copyright information

© Michael G. Long and Tracy Wenger Sadd 2007

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  • Robert W. Jenson

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